2018 was really good guys. I mean it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows because it’s LIFE but all in all it was pretty stellar. My business grew, I made more relationships with other photographers in the area and I managed to find a little more work life balance than I had in the past. One thing I plan to do more of on this blog is share what has been working for me in the hopes that you too could benefit from it. Share the love y’all! So here are a few things I put into place last year that were game changers for me:
- Upwork. My husband is self-employed and has always been a big advocate for Upwork. It’s a super easy to use online platform where you can hire freelancers for basically any task whether it’s short term or long term. Something I have struggled with since I started my business was giving up control of editing. I actually like editing but I don’t like sitting in front of my computer for hours on end in the summertime when I could be out shooting, playing with my daughter or just chilling on the beach. I finally took the plunge and searched Upwork for some experienced editors. One benefit of using this platform is that you are in total control of your project and if there are any issues along the way you have an amazing customer service team to help you rectify them. Also often times the amount you pay for quality work is less than you would by hiring someone you know as there are people from all over the world on Upwork. This is how it works: you post a detailed job including a budget and people can either apply or you can invite freelancers you think may be a good fit. They either decline or accept the application and send you some more information on themselves or offer to do some test images in this case. I went through a number of people submitting some test images for me until I found my girl (shout out to Uliana because she’s my savior!). It took a few weddings for her to get completely dialed in on my editing style but she was so open to my feedback that it was really no big deal. And once she got it…man oh man. This girl rocks it. This was my post wedding workflow: download 6+ cards and 5,000+ images onto my computer to cull. Cry every time I looked at the amount of images I had to go through. Have a drink or two. Start culling again. 20 hours later thank god I’m almost done. Load approx. 800 images into Lightroom. Cry again because I haven’t even started editing. Drink some more. Go to AA. Hahahah. I’m kidding but you get it. It was a LOT OF TIME. Now my workflow looks something like this: download my cards onto my computer and do a super super rough cull which takes maybe 20 minutes. Uliana does culling and editing for me and charges per photo so I do try to lower the cost by at least getting rid of the blatantly terrible images with closed eyes, etc. Next I export my Lightroom smart preview catalogue which takes maybe 5 minutes, upload it to google docs and send Uliana the link. She usually has the images culled and edited, delivered to me within 10 days. From there I do go through every image making sure they are perfect before I deliver them to my clients and make tiny tweaks here and there. All in all I probably spend 2 hours working on an 8 hour wedding whereas before I would have spent 20 hours. Worth the money? Ten fold. This has been a serious GAME CHANGER for getting my life back.
- Honeybook. This is kind of embarrassing but until this year I was still asking clients to print out their contracts I sent them and email them back to me….cringe. Not only that but I was always terrified I was going to double book myself because if I booked a wedding or session it’s up to me and my sometimes scattered and tired mom brain to put it not only into my calendar on my phone but into my google calendar. Lastly I was using a totally different invoicing system so when I was emailing clients I would be not only working in word amending my contracts but in my invoicing system which just made things way too confusing. One day I was mindlessly watching Instagram stories and I saw that another photographer had a 50% off referral code for Honeybook. I had heard good things about it so decided to give it a try. A little impulsive? Maybe. But I was also paying $20 a month just for my invoicing account and this was about $27 a month for EVERYTHING – invoicing, expense tracking, email system including batch emails, a booking calendar that would actually make sure I can’t double book myself, etc. For an extra $7 it was kind of a no brainer. The very best thing about it was that all I had to do was email their customer service team my questionnaires, contracts, pricing lists and whatever else I wanted to be accessible and they input it for me. Because I’m so crunched for time, the start up process for anything else had given my anxiety. Who has time to set up an account where you have to type every single word of your contract out ? This was a major selling feature for me. And seriously I am sooooo in love this with system. It is so so user friendly, looks professional and my clients absolutely love being able to sign everything online. Also there is no more fumbling around in drawers of paperwork looking for client’s contracts or questionnaires when you need to refer to them. I’m not super organized when it comes to this type of thing so having everything in one place is a no brainer. You can even link your bank account so if your client wants to pay by credit card, a third party is used (fees are less than Paypal or Square) and is deposited into your bank account days later. You don’t have to process anything on your end (including receipts) which is one less thing to do. I can’t believe I waited 8 years to do this…..not sure what I was thinking. If you guys want to give it a try feel free to use my referral code for 50% off by clicking here. Worth it!
- Gleam. My husband also introduced me to this (what a useful guy). I wanted to run a giveaway for clients but wasn’t sure how exactly to do it and particularly in a way that would benefit my business. Enter gleam which is an amazing business growth platform. It allows you to run contests or free draws if your audience completes a certain action. For example I gave away a $100 off coupon for any session and a $50 Amazon card recently. To enter, participants got an entry for joining my email list, following me on social media platforms or sharing the contest with friends. You can define the actions as well as the number of entries they get for each action. Essentially this builds the momentum of your contest organically and it’s amazing how many people you can reach. I’m still learning about this one but it definitely helped me build my email list rather quickly! I’m happy to share more as I learn more (I mean when my husband teaches me more lol).
So there you have it – 3 pretty amazing discoveries that really grew my business or improved my quality of life in 2018. I hope that you got something out of this post or at least it inspired you to find ways to take back a little more of your personal time or branch out in different ways to grow your business.
I’m going to leave you with some of my favorite images taken in 2018! Thank you times one million to all my amazing, trusting, lovely clients who I had behind my camera last year and all the years before that. I truly have the best job in the world.
Peace out 2018 and bring it on 2019.