Starting a photography business sounds easy. Get camera, post on Facebook, get paid. NOT. Running a real, profitable photography business is so much more than that and requires planning, education and tools to help you be successful without pulling out all of your hair or running yourself into the ground (physically and financially). Here are my must-have favorite and best photography business management software programs and apps that have helped me get sane and run my business with a little more ease.
Quick FYI: This post does contain affiliate links which may compensate me monetarily or otherwise when you use them to make qualifying purchases.
Helping photographers launch and maintain sustainable businesses
Picsello is a new tool on the photography market as of 2022, and it’s already making some serious waves. Hands down I can say that this is the best option if you’re just starting your business, feel overwhelmed by other CRMs & galleries, or you just want a smart and seamless all-in-one solution.
I was able to get a deep dive into this software before it launched and I am really impressed by how simple it is to set up and how easy it is to get a proposal to a client. The super smart integration between the CRM and the gallery blew my mind because it automatically applies what you sell in a package to their gallery with options to upsell. It even has built in email marketing!
My top favorite features:
- Very user-friendly and back to basics – no complex coding required.
- Integrated email marketing!
- Smart communication between the package you book and the client’s download and purchase.
- Easy upselling of digitals and products
- Pricing calculator with real world data to help you figure out what to charge for your service.
Sign up for a free 3 month trial with Picsello today and see how it can change your business!
Customer Relationship Manager (and more, let’s be real)
Maybe Picsello is a little too basic for your CRM needs. No problem, Táve has your back. I signed up with Táve after I had thoroughly trialed Honeybook (like, I was ready to buy Honeybook) and I have since also tried Dubsado. Táve is, in my opinion, the most robust CRM out there and is owned and integrated with the popular gallery delivery system, Shootproof. I could probably go on for days about why I love Táve and truthfully it could be an entire blog post unto itself, but I’m just going to lay out my top reasons it’s the best CRM as concisely as I can.
- Fully customizable branding with CSS and no Táve branding on any client-facing pages – this also includes custom domain options.
- Advanced quotes allow you to save popular packages for easy emailing of proposals and upselling prior to the session.
- Handle emails, quotes, contracts, invoicing and questionnaires all directly within Táve. You can even bundle multiple questionnaires and contracts into a quote proposal.
- Detailed and customizable automations for lots of hands-off aspects of your workflow. I hardly ever talk to my clients about money which is amazing for me.
- Create and assign different workflows for different types of jobs (e.g. wedding or newborn) and also different types of products and a custom workflow will be created specific to the type of job and products your client books with you. So you don’t have to check off unnecessary tasks that don’t apply to your job or drop the ball on something because a task didn’t get added to a workflow tree where you needed it.
- Email tracking is in depth, letting you know about every open and link click a client makes.
- Detailed trend reporting so you can track booking rates and what marketing efforts are paying off.
- Robust income and expense reporting, so no need for Quickbooks.
- You don’t need a special app to use on your phone or tablet, it’s completely mobile optimized.
Sign up for Táve with my referral link and get an extended 60 day trial!
Smart & Beautiful Galleries
Just because I use Táve doesn’t make me an automatic Shootproof lover. My preferred gallery delivery system is Pic-Time. Pic-Time is like an extension of what I do to maintain my client relationship. I haven’t trialed the other major gallery platforms extensively, but have done lots of feature and price comparisons, so I feel confident saying that for the price you pay, Pic-Time is the most comprehensive gallery delivery platform out there. Other platforms like Pixieset and Sprout Studio are moving to become the all-in-one thing, where you’re getting your gallery & CRM or gallery & website with one subscription. But Pic-Time is focused on being the BEST gallery system out there, so every feature release they bring is an improvement on the client’s gallery experience or yours as the photographer.
I have so many features I love about Pic-Time, and many of them can be found in other gallery providers. So the things that I think set Pic-Time apart are:
- The sheer number of integrated print partners, particularly for global print needs. Pic-Time is not a US based company, so many of their print shop partners are based around the world, making Pic-Time the ideal gallery choice for the international photographer.
- Sales features, particularly the automation of it. You can design all sorts of sales campaigns, some of them quite in depth, and save them to just one-click install in a new gallery and then your special sales for that gallery are automated for you.
- Integrated album design features, so clients can either design their album themselves right in the gallery and order from your gallery store OR you can upload pre-designed album spreads to the gallery and they are able to make specific notes directly on the uploaded images.
- Custom branding with colors, fonts and domain naming. It also has a very detailed and extensive watermarking system
- The ability to collect client testimonials that will link directly to your Google reviews (Sa-weeeet!)
Use my referral code (N6UNZ2) when you’re signing up to gain an extra free month on your Pic-Time subscription!
Because ain’t nobody got time for that!
I SUCK at Instagram, like really bad. I am an old fogey who loves my Facebook and it took me forever to get hip to the Instagram game. And all social media is a fickle beast. Later makes it so that I can look like I have my ish together and keep all the algorithms happy, making my business presentation on social media seamless and professional. From the Later scheduling app, I can schedule posts to my Facebook and Instagram, and also do limited Pinterest scheduling. I can spend an hour or two on one day and have all my social media set for the next week or so, which is perfect!
Later can store prewritten captions and common hashtag combos, making writing your posts fast and easy. Plus it has all sorts of data to help you choose the best time to post to maximize the impact your social media posts make. It also tracks all performance of your posts so you can see just how well your account is performing with your hard work. Best of all, it can post to your Instagram and Facebook accounts for you automatically. No having to making sure you see the notification it sends to your phone reminding you to post!
Use my referral link to get an extra 10 posts per month free when you sign up!
Don’t get sucked down a Pinterest vortex
Pinterest is another platform that I just could not get into, and when I would try it would take me HOURS to pin my own content and then find other people’s pins to save and share and AARRG! Tailwind makes it easy to keep my Pinterest going and driving some visitors to my site. I can create pins, assign them to a auto-post loop, and forget about it! Tailwind also has a community feature where you can add your pins to a community’s pool of content and other members of that community can pin them to their boards, helping increase your visibility and traffic.
You can also create unique pin designs that are branded to you right in the Tailwind creator. Their Chrome extension is also pretty awesome, making it so that you can pin images from your website easily and schedule them for the best time to post. So just like later, I spend a little bit of time creating new Pinterest content every few weeks, and then it’s just set it and forget while it manages pinning my content to my boards, which are then re-pinned and clicked through by other Pinterest users.
Use my referral link to get a free month of Tailwind before you commit to buying! But trust me, you’re going to want this.
Gotta get that money!
Square was I think the very first thing I signed up for when I started my business. I wanted a professional way to accept payments and I had already had bad experiences with PayPal through my SO’s business. I researched and landed on Square after reading a LOT of reviews. It’s easy to use, integrates with Táve, and when you sign up they send you a card reader to be able to accept payments on the fly through your phone with their app. The fees are pretty standard with most other processors out there, and I can say that after having a weird snafu where my client accidentally disputed a charge she made with me, Square was really great at helping me through the dispute process and getting it resolved in my favor.
Use my referral link to get up to $1000 in processing free of fees!
Protect Your Clients’ Data!
I consider Crashplan to be essential to my business. It’s the backbone of my safe data practices and gives me the piece of mind I need to sleep at night. I researched all the popular options, and Crashplan is the best for two main reasons” affordability and practicality. It costs me only $11 a month for Crashplan to backup two external hard drives and my OneDrive from my main workstation. My initial backup did take a couple weeks, but now it runs pretty quickly any time I create new files or download my RAWs from my memory cards. The thing that I love the most about it is that it’s kind of set it and forget it. I do get regular emails alerting me to my back-up status, so if for whatever reason back-ups stall I find out about it pretty quickly and can get on with support if needed. Also, if I happen to unplug one of my hard drives Crashplan will not view that data as having been deleted, unlike some other cloud services where they want you to remember to plug in your EHD every thirty days to keep it backed up.
9. Adobe Creative Cloud Suite
Extend Your Creativity
Lots of photographers just use Photoshop + Lightroom to edit their photos. But I consider the whole Adobe Creative Cloud suite to be of value to the modern professional. First off, I need to have Acrobat, not just to read PDFs but also to edit them, like signing an agreement a partner vendor sends over. I also regularly use InDesign and Illustrator. Illustrator helps me to create and manage my brand elements and InDesign helps my create beautiful documents of any size and layout. I use both in tandem to put my special stamp on things, and I use PS, ID and AI to create custom graphics I use for advertising. I do also get my hands dirty with some film editing in Premier, despite the fact that I do not offer videography services, in order to create special videos for social media sharing or photography education.
To have to many powerful tools at the tips of my fingers is well worth the $60-ish a month I pay.
Edit at Warp Speed
The biggest game-changer in my business for 2021 was adopting the use of ImagenAI. This intelligent AI photo editing algorithm learned my specific style of editing based off of 5000+ images in Lightroom catalogues that I uploaded. Once my custom AI profile was created, I was able to upload a wedding and have the AI edit all 500+ photos in a matter of minutes. When I downloaded it, many photos did not need additional editing and using ImagenAI allowed me to deliver 5 wedding galleries in a matter of 3 weeks.
And this isn’t just putting a preset on your images. It looks at the different kinds of images you have and applies image-specific tweaks to help provide a uniform and finished look to your gallery. Furthermore, you can re-upload a catalogue that it has edited for you after you’ve made your final tweaks and it will learn how you changed it and fine tune how it works for future catalogs.
Use my referral link to get an extra 500 free edits when you first sign up.
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