No. 1 - 17 Hats (Client Management Software) I put off upgrading my "system" of how I managed my clients for a long, long time. How long? Embarrassing long! I was using several different apps from Apple (iCal, Mail, Notes, Pages and Numbers) to keep track of my inquires, weddings, booked sessions, invoices and expenses. It was becoming very overwhelming and I would wake up in a panic because I wasn't sure if I had crossed all my "T's" and dotted all my "I's". With a in-depth demo from one of my closest friends, I began to see the light and 17 Hats was about to become my main squeeze. I decided to tackle setting up my client management software in January (a relatively slow time for wedding photographers) so I wouldn't be rushed or in the middle of a deadline. I watched several "how-to" video's, made some emergency texts to my friend, and within two weeks, I was ready to go. I easily integrated 17 Hats Leads Form into my website and I can now track all of my new inquires. I created several workflows for each type of session I photograph and setup my calendar to sync with my iCal (sorry, Apple, I can't quit you ;) My questionnaire's are finally easy to use and I can eventually use 17 Hats for my invoicing and billing but I'm not there just yet. Baby steps... 17 Hats has made my life so much easier and way more efficient that I want to kick myself for taking so long to do it. So, take my advice, if you have more than 5 weddings a year, offer mini-sessions, photograph a ton of families, look into a CRM that is right for you! 17 Hats was the easiest for me to setup myself. I tried Tavé (too difficult) and I've heard wonderful things about Dubsabo. I should mention that 17 Hats is not perfect and missing some features from their competitors BUT they are implementing reporting soon, which is really my biggest complaint. However, you can easily export your data and make your own reports using a pivot table (PIVOT! Hello Ross Gellar Fans ;) so for myself, it wasn't a deal breaker. I signed up at the end of the year with a full two year subscription when they were running a promotion which saved me money! Oh, and if you use my referral link, you will save 10% OFF your year subscription.
No. 2 - Planoly - Oh, how I love Planoly, let me count the ways! Instagram is one of the biggest and best tools for my business. It's how I get my work out there the fastest, interact with clients, vendors, viewers and just about ALL of my couples. However, using Instagram can feel like a full time job and figuring out your grid layout can become challenging. It's a visual tool so it really does need to look visually pleasing. Enter Planoly! A cloud based visual planner for Instagram. It's amazing and so easy to use. It's a paid service ($84 per year) and you can schedule, plan, and post all of your images. Recently, Instagram allowed third-party applications, such as Planoly, access to Auto-Post images directly to your feed without your approval. For me, this was a game changer! I love being able to schedule & auto-post my images in advance. I do, however, have to go back in and tag images with locations, vendors, and clients because you cannot automate that process but since I'm on Instagram every single day (let's be honest!) it's not a big deal. There are other Instagram programs you could use - Later is free - but it's really what works best for you. Also, you can use several of Planoly's other features such as shopping links, reporting and analytics. So fancy!!
No. 3 - Calendly - This might be one of my all time favorite applications ever! Calendly is a cloud based online scheduler and it rocks my world! Why do you need an online scheduler? Because scheduling phone calls with potential couples can take forever trying to find a date and time that works for everyone. It can also be very frustrating for the couple and I want to make things as easy as possible right from the beginning. By using Calendly, I send out a link to my calendar that has my availability for the next two weeks. Next, the Bride can easily see when they are available to chat and choose a date and time that works for them. Last, they click the time, book the appointment and I get an email confirmation - BOOM - we are all set!! I have to admit that once I implemented this system into my New Inquiry process my meeting rate increased 10 fold. The best part, Calendly is FREE for the first calendar. They offer upgrade features that you can pay for (email & text confirmations) or you can simply leave it as is with one event type and keep it free.