Photographer systems | Resources for photographers | Top business resources | Elopement Photographer
Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below, but these are all products or services I use and recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally used.
After a few years of being in the photography and entrepreneur industry and lifestyle, I have worked hard at trying to find the best business resources to make my life easier. Let's face it, being an entrepreneur can be a lot of work. You are literally everything to your business (unless you outsource or have a time member!). This includes being the photographer, shooting, editing, finance, marketing (social, SEO, pinterest, etc.), website, client management, and more. There's a lot and it can be overwhelming, so I wanted to share the business resources I personally use to make my life easier.
These business resources when taken the time to learn them, can really make your life more streamlined. You didn't become an entrepreneur to work 24/7. You want it so you can own your life. If you don't have proper systems in place, you'll start to find yourself getting burnt out. The exact opposite of what you wanted to do in the first place.
While most of these cost money and take time to learn, they will improve your life and give you time back. So let's get into it!
Website host and themes
The amount of variety of website platforms and themes you can choose from can be confusing and overwhelming. So my biggest advice is to do your research. I know it takes time, but everyone works best in different ways. You can't just take what someone else does and assume it will work for you. However, I can provide you with what I use and why I love these platforms.
Website Resource #1: Siteground or Bluehost
Siteground and Bluehost are web hosting platform, which you need when you use wordpress (make sure you have wordpress.org). Bluehost I found to be very reasonable in price and they are always having discounts. Not only that, their customer service is wonderful. However, I recently switched over to Siteground because of their reputation for being faster, more reliable, and their customer service. Of course as a photographer and SEO being such a key in my business, having my website be fast and reliable was most important. Siteground is a bit more in terms of investment, but it's worth it in my eyes.
To build a wordpress website using Bluehost, you can go to my step by step instructions here.
Website Resource #2: WordPress
After tons of research and hearing other professionals point of view, I'm so glad I stuck with WordPress from the very beginning. HOWEVER, make sure to read the step by step instructions in the link above because there is a difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org. What I love most about WordPress is its ability to be customizable with plugins. There are also so many themes to use and make it something that feels you. Which gets me to my next point...
Website Resource #3: Flothemes
Flothemes is the wordpress theme brand that I use and I love it so much. I'm someone who changes my mind constantly. So when I'd purchase a theme, I'd get sick of it in 5 months and then have to buy a new one. With Flothemes new "Flexthemes", these are pretty much completely customizable. They give you tons of templates, but feel free to customize them yourself. They also have incredible customer support if you need any guidance or help with anything.
Website Resource #4: Narrative
Within your website, you should absolutely have a blog. Blogging is great for SEO and getting people to your site, and hopefully booking you. I had been blogging my posts just normally through wordpress and flothemes. Then I found narrative. Narrative is generally for when you are blogging heavily with photos to drive storytelling and creating amazing SEO. The more people who visit your blog and your site, the better for your google rankings. Narrative makes it easy to customize, build beautiful photo sequences and you can even add in text and video to them as well.
Podia is basically a less expensive Kajabi. I struggled with choosing a platform for a while, but Podia has been so simple and doesn't break the bank. Plus, it has all of the features you really need as a photography business educator. You can put in courses, digital products, have affiliate programs and much much more. I've loved it so far and they continue to make updates and improvements.
A lot of people fear money and talking about it. I completely get it too. Who wants to talk about the debt they're in or how they aren't even making any money right now in the first year of their business? But, I am a firm believer that money needs to be talked about. You need to understand your financial state and where you are in order to be successful - business and personal wise. These are some tools that I find extremely helpful in my business and money.
Finance resource: Quickbooks
Quickbooks or even Xero, are tools that are a must within your business in my opinion. It is an investment per month, but it is so insanely helpful when automating your business. One thing to note is to make sure to get Quickbooks online - not Quickbooks Self Employed. I made this mistake, and trust me on this one, do the Quickbooks online right away. I think Quickbooks is extremely intuitive and easy to use. It shows you the data that you need to know such as your profit/loss statement or even potentially how much you owe in taxes. You can even make it so it automatically tracks your mileage which is super helpful, especially if you're a photographer.
Finance resource: Gusto
Now that I've become an LLC and S-corp, I've had to make some changes within the financial part of my business. One of them being the fact that I have to pay myself a salary. That's where Gusto comes in. Gusto is a small business payroll system that automates your payroll and financial piece. It's absolutely incredible to pay yourself and any employees you may have. I had my CPA set it all up to make sure it was correct, and now it's just automated. If you are making that next step within your business, Gusto is a great software to use.
As photographers, editing is an obvious necessity for what we do. However, there is a lot of workflows and systems we can use to make it go by a lot quicker. In the beginning of my career, it was taking me hours and hours to go through the hundreds or thousands of images I took. But with these systems in place, you can easily get more of your time back.
Editing resource #1: Lightroom / Photoshop
Lightroom and photoshop are the editing softwares I use. I primarily stick with lightroom, and photoshop is just if I need to make significant adjustments to an image. You can build out your own presets to automatically add to your photos, or purchase others that match your style. This will make the editing time go by a lot quicker and smoother.
Editing resource #2: Photo Mechanic 6
Photo Mechanic is something I heard about from other lead photographers in the industry. I was culling my images through lightroom... and with weddings, that could literally take forever. So I decided to give Photo Mechanic a try and I will never look back. It makes it simple to cull, choose your favorites, save and more.
Another one you could look into which is free is Bridge by Adobe. I know a few photographers who decided to go this route because it is free with your adobe membership. I personally haven't tried it, so I couldn't give feedback on it, but if you wanted something that is "free", then this could be a good option!
Editing resource #3: JPEG Mini
JPEG Mini is a one time fee program that will optimize the photos are your site, and on your external hard drive. Basically, the larger the image size, the more room it takes up. JPEG Mini reduces the file size without reducing the quality. With images on websites, you want the beautiful quality, but reduced size to keep the speed of your site fast. This is where I felt JPEG mini was absolutely crucial to my business. Plus, it's just a one time fee and you have it for life.
To create an ultimate client experience, it doesn't just end with the edited images, but also how you actually present them. There are several gallery systems that you could use. Why use something like this instead of dropbox or something like that? Most of these have beautiful and simple setups, a store that your clients can purchase through, and email system and more.
Gallery resource: Pic-time
I switched to Pic-time at the beginning of 2020 and I can't look back. I absolutely love the layout, the ease of use, the print shop and most of all the automation system. With the automation tools and print shop, my print sales have increased tremendously. Basically the automation tools help to create an email workflow in a variety of scenarios to send reminders and discounts to your customers. Truly, it is an incredible way to get your time back and make passive income.
Workflow Resource #1: Dubsado
When it comes to building out workflows, a CRM system is going to be your best friend. BEST friend. I personally use Dubsado and I don't think I'd ever switch to anything else. About a few weeks ago, I watched all the tutorials and dove deep into all its functions and I am just mind blown. Not only that, the brand continues to make improvements and add new features to make it better and better. Here are just some of the things that I do with Dubsado:
- Client portals - this is where each of your projects information lives, and keeps your clients organized too. Put contracts, invoices (they can pay directly here), questionnaires, addresses, to do lists and more.
- Email templates - to create a consistent workflow that reduces your time working, email templates are a huge one. You can create emails that you can customize and use throughout the elopement process.
- Questionnaires - build out beautiful questionnaires and easily send to your clients.
- Set up zoom calls - have your clients automatically set up calls with your calendar that can connect to your google calendar AND zoom. It's honestly been incredible and there is less back and forths (less time put into emailing).
Workflow Resource #2: Asana
If you are working with multiple team members, Asana is a great place to work from. I use this with my virtual assistant and I am telling you, it is a game changer. You can simply put in a task or to do list for yourself or your team member. There you can make comments, have a conversation within each task, give status updates and more. I absolutely love this program.
Workflow Resource #3: Contracts
No matter the stage of your business, you need solid contracts to protect you and your business. Don't be one of those people that said "I should have done this" and has to live with regrets. The sad reality is, there are some real shitty people out there. Set yourself and your workflow up the right way from the very beginning, and breathe. The Legal Paige has epic contracts that a ton of photographers and creatives use for their business. Plus, my favorite thing about buying Paige's contracts is how much time it saves me. It's truly a blessing.
Use code KELSEY10 at checkout for an extra $10 off!
I have a love hate relationship with social media, but let's face it, we have to show up for our current and future clients. This could be an entire blog post in itself, but I want to get into the social programs I use to market my business. This is going to be outside of the actual platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), but more of the programs I use to streamline my business.
Social Resource #1: Creator Studio
I recently just started using the Creator Studio in Facebook and it has CHANGED my life. Generally I would spend too much time each day planning my post for the day, thinking about a caption and more. Now, I can automate both instagram and facebook, batch work, and plan ahead. I can now spend one day a week planning it all out and letting it go by itself, without me having to be on the apps.
There are other paid versions of doing this such as later or tailwind, but heck, it's free!
Social Resource #2: Tailwind
I know I just mentioned Tailwind, but one thing that doesn't have a great way of automating is Pinterest. And Pinterest is a hidden gem of finding potential clients. While it used to be looked at as a social platform, it actually is transforming into a visual search engine. Bloggers use Pinterest to generate traffic to their sites, but it is just being founded by Photographers. If you're business isn't on Pinterest, then I'd make the change now. Tailwind is a great way to automate your pinterest pins. Why is doing this important? "Fresh pins" on pinterest is what does so well. Generally you want to post at least 10 new pins per day. A fresh pin could be a new photo that Pinterest hasn't seen, or even something new you create on canva. Tailwind will help you automate and not feel like you have to be on Pinterest 24/7!
If you want more information on how I use Tailwind, visit my blog post here.
Marketing Resource #1: Wandering Weddings
If you're an elopement photographer and not on Wandering Weddings, you're missing out. This was created by elopement photographers themselves and has transformed into this incredible online resource for people looking to elope. This includes vendors! The owners have focused heavily on SEO, making sure that they are number one on google no matter where you are looking to elope. This means, you'll be found by couples in your area easily, all for just $200 per year.
I also wrote a blog post here that gives you my honest thoughts about being a member.
Marketing Resource #2: Flodesk
Email marketing is not dead. I repeat, it is not dead! There are some email brands out there, but what I've found is Flodesk being an incredible option for photographers. I've used Convertkit as well, but I honestly love that Flodesk is a newer brand because they listen to their customers. They make adjustments. Their forms are beautiful and easy to create. And email marketing is a way to build more income, serve your clients, and keep everyone in the loop.
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