When you’re running your own business, especially on such a seasonal niche as photography can be, your schedule can get hectic at times.
But spending so many hours behind the camera and the computer, editing photographs, organizing tasks, handling SEO and social media, doesn’t necessarily mean your business is flourishing.
It could also be that some things are taking you too much time, draining your energy and making you less efficient.
Whether at the end of the day everything is planned ahead or you’re frustrated because of an even longer to-do list, it all depends on how you use your time.
That’s why I’d like to share with you some of the most effective photography time-saving tips that will help you get a fresh and productive start in 2017. Below are my favorite tips and tricks, so enjoy!
Handle activities in bulk
Many of your frequent tasks are repetitive. For instance, you might have to write and send up to four emails a month, publish up to four blog posts a month, post up to 10 messages a week on a particular social network and so on.
If you spend your days trying to do a little bit of everything, you might feel like you’re doing nothing at all. Moreover, these rhythm breaks might affect your creativity in the sense that it is easier to write several blogs on your shooting sessions once you’ve written the first one. So if you got over the warm up, don’t stop there, continue writing all the blog posts you need.
Here are a few examples of how you can schedule your most important tasks in bulk:
- Allocate an entire day a week (or month, depending on how many times you publish), to write your social media posts. Use a service such as Hootsuite, to schedule them in advance, so you won’t have to worry about them during the week.
- Allocate another day for writing your blog posts. If you have a WordPress website, you can save all the posts as drafts and schedule them for publishing on your desired date and time.
- Use an email marketing software such as MailChimp, ConvertKit or Aweber, to schedule your emails for delivery.
Streamline the editing process
Editing is one of the most consuming parts of your work as a photographer. Nevertheless, it is also the part that makes a significant difference in the quality of your services. While you cannot afford to be shallow about it, it doesn’t mean you cannot be more effective on this chapter.
Ask yourself what editing software you’re using. Are there alternatives you could try that will get you the same results in less time? What are your other photographer friends or acquaintances using?
If you’re stuck to the good old Photoshop to edit your photographs, for example, perhaps you could give other software, such as Lightroom, a try. Many photographers appreciate this software, not just because it is easier to use, but also because of the extra features that it includes, like slideshow creation or album designing.
Stay on top of your inbox
Whether you already have a base of subscribers you’re emailing to or you’re just used to communicate with prospective clients via email, chances are you check the inbox at least several times a day. The problem with that is that you always know when you’re starting, but you never know when you’ll get out of there.
No matter what email service you’re using – Gmail, Yahoo or anything else – there are different filters you can set that will help you better organize emails. Gmail, for instance, will categorize your emails, by default, into three main groups: Primary, Social, and Promotions. You should also be able to create your own folders and personalize different senders with particular labels and colors.
But if you’re not a very technical user or you don’t really feel like setting up filters, there are some other simple tricks that will help you go through your emails without wasting time:
- Never start the day by checking emails – do the most important work first and then check your emails;
- Try to make a schedule for when you should check your inbox and how much time you will spend – a 25-minute session about two times a day should be enough. If you need more, add an extra session, but try to spread them throughout the day, so you can cover more time zones. At the same time, this will allow you to handle some urgent messages on the same day, without making customers wait for an answer until next day.
- Eliminate all the distractions – use your inbox for business only, do not subscribe to publications that will send you offers and information you don’t really need. Stick to the bare necessities for maintaining relationships with vendors and suppliers.
- Take some time to plan an optimal number of folders with appropriate names and then stick to it. A “Read later” or “Reply later” folder, for instance, is a must have. You decide how else you’d like to categorize emails.
- Use templates and canned responses – most email services will let you create templates and save them on your account. But if you feel more comfortable, you can simply create drafts from frequently asked questions that you usually answer over and over and save them as Word documents on your computer. When you need one of them, you just copy-paste and customize or personalize where necessary.
- Also, take some time to plan the most common canned responses you would need, such as:
- How to reject a client who’s not within your work budget;
- How to let a client know about your additional charges, whenever you’re asked to do additional editing;
- How to invite a client to discuss in person the services you can offer;
- The questions you should ask for determining if that client would be a good match.
- Follow up the smart way, with an automatic tool like the one provided by Boomerang – it is very easy to use and lets you archive messages for a specific period of time that you choose. When time is up, if you haven’t received a reply, the initial message will pop up again in your inbox, as an unread message, remembering you to follow up.
Invest in good booking software
Professional booking software allows potential clients to look at your calendar and see what openings you have available. Based on your open hours and their own availability, they can go further and book a session with you, one that you can confirm right away if your calendar is up to date.
Having your agenda in place is good for both you and your clients. But when the clients can personally have a look at your calendar and choose their times themselves, you’re saving a lot of time and cut that back and forth communication.
Another significant advantage of using professional booking software is that it will make your business look more professional. How many photographers out there offer their clients the luxury to plan events ahead with minimum supervision and have them confirmed on the spot?
To draw a conclusion, these photography time-saving tips for 2017 focus on prioritizing everything. From how you start your day and the order in which you should handle some tasks to how you can group common tasks to cover your business needs in advance, it’s all about thinking through and thinking smart.
At times, it might involve using particular software, be it free or paid. Even if it takes a bit of time in the beginning, until you get used to it, do not step back from anything that could ease your work in the future.
And remember, your success doesn’t measure in how many hours you work a week, but rather in how much time you afford to spend on what matters to you most.
Looking to save even more time? Sign up for a subscription to Strawberry Kit and receive a monthly digital subscription box full of mini session templates, forms, cards, collages and much more that saves you time and money each month. Click here to create your account and get instant access to all that is in our library right now.