April 28, 2020
Are you a photographer and starting to get overwhelmed working in your business? Do you spend more time on back end business tasks?Feel like you’re juggling a million tasks all at once? Curious on what you really need to run a successful photography business? Listen. I’ve been there. Being a photographer, doesn’t consist of just capturing beautiful weddings or carefree kids frolicking in open fields. Honestly, that’s not even half of what a photographer does.
However, are you feeling overwhelmed not even sure what to invest your hard earned money in? I get it, there are so many tools out there. The process of finding out what tools work for your business can be overwhelming and also very expensive. Look, I’ve been there. I have taken the guesswork out of it for you so you don’t have to go through the trial and error. Here is a guide of the must-have tools for my business. Seriously, these are the tools I cannot run my business without and use almost every.single.day., save me time, save me money (yeaaaas!), and provide a better experience for my couples and mentees.
15 Apps & Tools Every Photographer Needs
Hands down the best investment I have ever made in my business. If you don’t have a client management software, get one. I honestly couldn’t fathom being able to run my business successfully without it. It is an all-in-one client management platform where you’re able to keep all your client communication streamlined, send proposals, contracts, receive payments, send questionnaires, and create timelines. There is no more wondering where that email went or what is next to ensure your clients have the absolute best experience with you.
My favorite feature of Honeybook is the tools section. It tracks all your numbers so it let’s you know how your business is doing financially, where your leads are coming from, and what your booking rate is. This is imperative for any successful business.
Quickbooks Self Employed
This app is amazing and one of my biggest lifesavers (and money saver). Say goodbye to keeping a box full of receipts and spreadsheets for taxes. The app links to your credit or debit cards to track all your transactions. It also runs in the background and tracks all your mileage. Whenever you sit down to sort through them, it shows a description of each drive (a map to show your route, the distance driven, and date) so it’s pretty easy to go through them quickly! Also, it works by utilizing a “swipe left, swipe right” feature, so all you have to do is swipe one direction for all business expenses, income, and business drives, and another for all personal expenses and drives. One of my favorite features is you can also divide transactions and upload receipts. For the mileage, it automatically factors in the IRS standard mileage rate for the year, so they take care of all the math!
AccuWeather and Fox 4 WAPP
I use these apps together. AccuWeather is my favorite to be able to track the weather. I also use Fox 4 WAPP in case weather….happens. Ya’ll know how unpredictable the weather is in Texas but this app is usually on the dot. I use both these apps to also track rain. Talk about a lifesaver on wedding days when rain is in the forecast!
Time & Date
As a photographer, I’m assuming you love to do as many of your sessions during golden hour. Whenever I am planning out the time for a session or helping a couple plan their timeline, I turn to Date & Time. I can put in the location and the date and it’ll tell you the sunrise and sunset.
My absolute favorite thing about GoldenCoil is that you can customize your planner to your needs. I use my Golden Coil Planner to make a weekly color coded to-do list that is broken into five different categories: client management, business tasks (marketing/website tweaks/back end business management), social media, blogging, and editing. I then assign each day a task to focus on. There are some days that I focus on 2 or 3 different tasks. For example, Monday’s are assigned to client management and blogging. My GoldenCoil Planner ensures that I don’t miss a task that needs to get done. I also enjoy the “ideas” and “note” section for anything that I may need to jot down.
This is a MUST HAVE for blogging. Blogstomp is so fast and easy to make collages and instantly size your photos for your website. I personally use Blogstomp over other popular blogging tools because my blog doesn’t live within their platform. This is great if I decide to no longer use the platform or the platform crashes.
There are so many planning tools for Instagram, however, I have decided to use Planoly because I can schedule my Instagram and Pinterest. I personally like Planoly because I can use it on my desktop and phone.
Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop
This one is kiiiiind of a given. This is where I am able to edit the images to be able to deliver my couples final product. I personally use both Lightroom and Photoshop for all my client work. I start my process in photoshop to color correct and crop images. Then, I take images into photoshop for any extra touch up that may need to be done such as removing distractions and retouching skin. Bonus: If you pay for Adobe Creative Cloud, you automatically have access to the Lightroom App to ensure your phone photos look cohesive with your professionally edited images.
Again, there are a ton of online gallery services out there. I personally have always enjoyed the backend of the platform plus my clients all seem to enjoy it. Couples seem to enjoy that they can order prints directly from their gallery and create a Favorites list to share with their loved ones.
This is the newest service I have been using. This platform allows you to reduce the file size without affecting the overall quality of your image. I use this on any image (besides blog images) that go on my website. This ensures that my website speed is as fast as possible to provide a great experience on my website and increases my ranking on Google. ShortPixel has a variety of subscription levels – I personally use their “free” account which works perfectly for my business needs.
Say goodbye to photoshop to create any graphic designs for your business. This platform is perfect to create on-brand graphics, Instagram stories, client guides, infographics, ect. I have used both the free account and the premium account. The free account will work, however, I personally like the premium account for the extra features.
If you’re anything like me, listen to several Podcasts while editing, or continuous learning, you have notes everywhere. I use Google Docs for literally everything. I keep a running google doc of everything (discovery calls with potential couples, things couples say to me, survey responses, commonly asked questions, blog ideas, Instagram caption ideas). Best part is you don’t have to wonder where you wrote it down at. It’s all right there. Can’t find it? Use the find tool (ctrl + f). Easy.
I cannot say enough good things about ShowIt. I recommend ShowIt to annnnyone looking for a website building platform. Their customer service is top notch. My favorite thing is the drag & drop feature so gone are the days of needing to know how to code. You can find templates to fit any budget — free to luxury.
This platform is great for seeing how visitors are really using your website in real time. I use this information to make adjustments to my website when needed.
Google Business/Google Analytics/Google Search Console
These three platforms work hand in hand with each other. These platforms let you know how your website is performing on Google. It shows you how people are finding you, what links potential leads are landing on, and where you rank on Google.
I hope you’ve found some new resources to implement in your business this year. Honeybook and Quick Books are seriously lifesavers when knowing your numbers and taxes. These have worked great for growing a six-figures business. I hope they’ll be beneficial for you this coming wedding season.
Kyrsten Ashlay Photography is a Dallas and Southern California Based Destination Wedding Photographer specializing in romantic, soulful, and warm imagery for wildly in love couples. Did you enjoy these must-have time saving apps and tools? Be sure to check out Six Ways to Increase your Client Experience. If you’re a photography professional and you’re struggling, please know that I am here for you. I want to see you succeed. You have me in your corner cheering for you. If you are wanting a one-on-one learning experience, I would love to schedule a free 15 minute business mindset call with you today.
Are you a Dallas or Southern California Bride? You can also visit my website for more Dallas weddings! If you’re looking for a wedding photographer to capture your special day in Southern California or the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, I’d love to hear from you! Or have you seen enough and want to book this Dallas Wedding Photographer for your upcoming wedding or event?! Send me a note and let me treat you to coffee (or a fancy gin & tonic)– can’t wait to connect!