March 27, 2018
Picture it. One #bossmama running all aspects of a thriving business on. her. own. This is her dream. A way she helps her child learn about hard work and making things happen. A way to fuel her creative passion. But it includes so much more than that. It includes the creation of whatever product she’s selling, the packaging, the delivering, the bookkeeping, sales and income taxes, upkeep of really expensive equipment, software, website updating, advertising, brainstorming, designing, client communication, emails upon emails, networking, scheduling, quotes, invoices, office supplies…all with daily responsibilities of children and home. I’m fairly certain I forgot a few things. Anyway, this list of responsibilities may have given you a headache. But I’m living proof all this can be managed with a few good routines and maybe some sanity-saving apps.
Office Hours: The very first routine I implemented for business was setting office hours and routines. I can’t stress enough the importance of adhering to a schedule. I love my career and business so much, I could literally work all hours of the day if I allowed myself. However, that’s not realistic and my family surely wouldn’t appreciate it. I’ve set my office hours to meet the needs of what needs be done “business-wise” daily. This doesn’t include shooting time, just the basic needs of running the backend. My official office hours aren’t just blocks of random time, they’re carefully chosen for a few reasons. I tend to work best in the morning and most of my sessions are scheduled in the evening. Our afternoons are busy with sports, dinner, family time, etc. so mornings just make more sense for me.
There are definitely times I need to be flexible with my work hours, especially now that we are homeschooling. But for the majority of the time, my hours stay pretty consistent. Since I have a schedule, I know the allotted time I have to complete business tasks therefore, I’m more productive!
Emails: This really should go along with “office hours” because email time can definitely spill over to personal time. I used to have my work email on my iPhone, but I removed the app several months ago. I found that I was a wee bit obsessive and checking my inbox waaaaay too often. I felt like I needed to have a consistently clear inbox in order to be “on top” of business. There were times I would respond to clients about non-emergent issues while I was cooking dinner or getting ready for bed (or even in the bed!). That’s not healthy! Again, I adore my job, but I need personal time outside of work for other interests. Now I check email only when I’m in the office.
Studio Software: Four years ago, I was still using paper contracts, handwritten receipts, made multiple trips to the bank, etc. Can you imagine the amount of paper and ink I used and the storage needed for all those records? In comes new photography studio software, 17 hats to the rescue! This web-based program cut my office time literally in half and my paper trail to almost zero! My clients love how organized and neat my invoicing and contract system is! 17hats keeps my contacts, client projects, workflow, session agreements, payments and invoicing, and calendar organized and integrated. It’s not just for photography businesses either. Any small business could utilize this system and I highly, highly recommend it!
Mile IQ: This app is magical! I used to be awful at keeping a mileage log which lead to missed tax deductions! This app automatically tracks each of the drives I make and allows me categorize them in any way I need. I even use this app for tracking personal charity and medical miles!
Mail Chimp: This marketing tool helps me keep my email lists organized. It’s so wonderful to put together a quick seasonal email to my clients and send to everyone at once! I can easily manage multiple email lists such as my main newsletter list, VIPteam lists, and Blog Subscriptions. I like keeping my clients informed and Mail Chimp is FREE up to 2,000 subscribers!
CoSchedule: Goodness, this program has freed up so much time for me! Social media is ever-changing and constantly moving. I’ll admit it’s hard to keep up. About three years ago, I was at a point where I needed to either hire a social media assistant or subscribe to CoSchedule. After doing the research, CoSchedule was a no-brainer. This web-based platform allows me to preschedule all of my social media content in advance. It will automatically post my WordPress blog to Facebook, set reminders for Instagram posts, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, and more! CoSchedule will post at a time I choose or the best time according to their built in analytics. Here’s my actual screen shot of my social media calendar from my busiest month last fall. You can see I have a lot of posts to organize!
If you’re in business for yourself and find it hard to manage, I hope some of these tools can help. Working smarter so I can enjoy all aspects of my career is so important as well as making time for my family!
Need more? I offer short and sweet mentorship opportunities for photographers and small creative businesses. Learn more here!