Because running a photography business never turns out to be quite as easy as it looks, many professional photographers seek out answers to questions about business growth, getting more clients, and marketing techniques.
And there is a lot of great information out there, but those so-called “tips” on how to build an efficient business as a photographer can end up sounding tedious and sometimes complicated – even I get that.
But there are a few techniques you can easily adopt that will allow you to win and retain as many clients as possible.
In this brief article, I’m going to focus on some core automations you can put into place, which simplify things tremendously, remove all that busy-work, and allow you to spend more time doing what you love, while putting more money in your pocket where it belongs.
Sound good to you? Great, let’s jump in…
Scheduling Made Easy: Any Time, Any Place
One way to look at business is that your main goal as a professional photographer (besides being great at your job, of course) is to maximize the amount of time you have available to fit in more clients.
Because more clients = more success!
We only have so much time in a day, so a great way to maximize your client load is to focus on minimizing the amount of time you spend dealing with the small stuff that just gets in the way – what you might call the logistics of running the business – and that all starts with booking and scheduling photography jobs.
Your clients are just like you – they LOVE things that help make their life easier – and a great place to start is to simplify the booking process.
How can you do that?
Create a system that makes it incredibly easy for clients to send you requests.
That starts with enabling clients to access your booking system any time, any place, day or night, from their phone or computer, whether they’re in an office or in a crowded room. This means providing easy scheduling prompts from your website, your social media pages, and even your email signature.
Success loves speed, so give your clients a quick and seamless process for gathering the details of their event or whatever it is they’re hiring you to photograph for them:
- The date and time…
- Duration or amount of time they need you for…
- The scope of the assignment…
- What their planned budget is…
This quick and easy collection of information will make your clients feel like they’re being heard, without ever forcing them to get on the phone to call you!
Of course, doing this will also save you tremendous amounts of time.
For example, you won’t need to spend time going back and forth, asking questions, playing phone-tag, or trading voicemails. Not only that, you should receive these requests in real-time so you can quickly respond with a quote, a contract, or a simple confirmation.
Then BOOM – the job is yours.
Billing And Invoicing Simplified
Next, it’s time to simplify the process of getting paid.
Hands up if you just LOVE invoicing, billing, and accounting – yuck, right? Sure, it’s great to see the money in your bank account, but who wants to spend hours fiddling with writing invoices, sorting out billing, or poring over accounting data?
In fact, invoicing can often be one of the most problematic parts of a business.
If you’ve ever been in the situation where your invoices seem to disappear into a black hole, or it takes months to get a client to pay what they owe you, you’ll know all about that! Such things can suck up a ton of your time, and you never know how long (or if at all) it will take a client to pay their bill.
Instead, bypass the invoicing slog altogether for as many of your jobs as possible.
Rather than leave it all to chance, integrate a reliable payment system that allows you to accept deposit payments up front from each and every job (and yes, systems like these do exist).
While you’re at it, why not take that a step further and request that your clients reserve your time with a credit card or other payment source right at the beginning?
Doing it that way demonstrates to your clients that you’re a professional and your time is valuable.
This will bypass the invoicing process completely, allowing you to save time, get paid immediately, and not give your client an excuse to be lazy or to get out of paying you.
If you’re still inclined to invoice, desktop invoicing solutions and “self-made PDF” invoices have been around for years, although they can be time consuming and require you to be in front of a computer to do all this extra work.
Seriously, you already spend enough of your life chained to your computer editing photographs, so why not give yourself a break, cut the chains, and get a mobile-based invoicing tool?
With that you can invoice any clients you need to while on the go, even as you’re walking out the door to or from a job.
You can include your name and logo, and have it look 100% professional. Besides, it’s a pretty great feeling to send out an invoice while you’re leaving one assignment, and get notified that it’s been paid as you’re walking into the next session.
Getting Paid: Fast, Secure And Convenient
Your business runs on money, and can’t survive too long without it.
So, at the end of the day, you need to make sure you get paid the right amount, and on time. As you may have learned already, that may not happen if you fail to make this process easy for your clients.
I know that, as artists, it can sometimes feel flat-out awkward asking for the money.
Other times, just the task of following up on payment can be both incredibly time-consuming and frustrating. Then, of course, there are always those invoices here and there that never get paid and end up slipping through the cracks like a leak that never gets plugged.
Here are some easy tips to fix all that:
- Give your clients the easiest and most pleasant payment experience you can provide…
- Allow (and encourage) them to pay you from their mobile phones, and not just their computers…
- Incentivize them to pay you quickly, online, and through a secure system…
- Make the payment experience professional, so they’re happy to open up their wallets for you…
- Adopt tools to help you get a real sense of how your business is doing. That means who’s paying you, who owes you what, how much you’re making by month, by client, etc.
Efficiency Inevitably Leads To Success
Scheduling. Billing. Payments.
Optimizing yourself and your business around those three core pillars will increase your ability to take on more clients, and therefore put more money in your pocket.
Of course, you may ask yourself:
“Well, yeah, in an ideal world this would all be great, but how many different tools do I need to get these best practices to work?”
A valid question, for sure, but you’d be surprised by all the recent tools that have been launched for photography professionals that are focused on solving these exact problems.
PocketSuite is a new free iPhone app for photography professionals, designed to help them run and build a better business.
PocketSuite empowers you with the ability to schedule appointments, invoice customers, collect payment, track income, and communicate with clients – all from a single and easy-to-use app.
Recommended by Forbes, MarketWatch and TechCrunch
Have Questions About PocketSuite?
If you have questions about the app, listen to my interview with Sam Madden (the co-founder of PocketSuite) where I asked him about every aspect of this great tool for photographers:
3 Steps To Remove Stress From Your Photography Business
If scheduling, writing invoices & chasing up payments take up too much time, make your photography business more efficient with the free PocketSuite app...
It’s often been said that efficiency inevitably leads to success so invest in the technology that works with your business today. Get PocketSuite, and start maximizing your photography business’s potential tomorrow.
You’ll be glad you did, and just think about all the things you could be doing with the time you’ll save in the process.
About The Author: Sam Madden
Sam Madden is the co-founder of PocketSuite, the first mobile business tool for independent professionals and solopreneurs.
Sam spent most of his career researching and investing in business technology for small and medium-sized businesses. He’s since shifted all of his focus to build great technologies like PocketSuite to help eager and independent professionals succeed.
You can read more about Sam’s mission on Entrepreneur Magazine.