When I first started my photography business, I struggled as I tried to keep up with my boudoir sessions. I couldn’t keep up with who needed retouched, who had upcoming sessions, whether or not they had signed contracts or paid their session fees. Honestly, I needed to systematize my creative business quickly, before I lost complete control.
I started using Trello for my workflow and things definitely became easier to manage. The thing I love about Trello is that you can pick up and move the cards as each client moves through your workflow, check off items in a checklist, AND sync your card to other applications like your calendar, HelloSign, and even Dropbox.
Even with all of my systems in place, I made a big mistake in the middle of the initial Covid-19 Stay-at-Home order.
How my system “failed” me.
In the beginning of March, I had no idea what Covid-19 was. Honestly, I’m not someone who watches the news, and I don’t pay attention to it on Facebook. When they issued the Stay-at-Home order and life as we all know it stopped, I was really thrown off.
I’ve mentioned it before, I systematize everything in my boudoir photography business, from my marketing, to my sessions, even the way I shoot my sessions. I batch out literally everything. All of my sessions are shot in 3 days. When I get home, I batch out my culling. Then, I batch out my retouching(by sending it to my retoucher) and even my album design and ordering.
Within 40 hours, EVERYTHING in my boudoir business is done for the month.
I failed myself in the month of March, though.
After sending a session to my retoucher, I didn’t back it up. It was a session on a payment plan, and so I wouldn’t need to order the session until October 2020.
Instead of designing the album, and then backing it up as I always do, I let it sit in Dropbox until I deleted it for my next session dates.
Then, October rolls around. My client’s final payment ran, and I saw the email reminding me that it was time to order her album.
When I looked in her folder on my hard drive, the only thing in the folder is the raw images.
So, I think to myself, don’t panic.
Hannah, my retoucher usually has archives. So I emailed Hannah, but she’s had a crazy busy year this year as well, and her archives only go back to May.
This client’s session was in March. They were gone.
No it’s not the end of the world, but it did end up costing me money and driving up my COS(cost of sales).
Thankfully, I had the raw files, but I still had to pay for retouching services twice.
I wanted to tell you this story is to remind you that mistakes will happen no matter what, but they happen a lot less when you systematize your business.
So, let’s talk about how you can systematize your business.
Let’s start with a few questions to ask yourself.
- What do you do over and over every day?
- What do you repeat to clients regularly?
- Are there things you forget to do that you need to do?
Take those questions and plan out what you can systematize in your business.
Anything you do over and over obviously needs to be in a workflow and if possible batched, which we will chat about in a bit.
Take the things that you repeat to your clients over and over in email and create templates so you can easily copy and paste.
One of my coaching clients is taking her consultation speech and creating small videos to place in her website for potential clients to watch. The goal for this is to increase her client booking rate without the need for a consultation prior to their photography session.
Batching can cut out so much time in your business.
It’s been proven that switching from task to task can cause mental fatigue. On top of that though, how much time do you waste setting up for each task when you are constantly switching?
Sit down and write out a list of what you can easily batch out as you start. Below are a few ideas.
- Social media scheduling
- Email newsletters
And you can even break those down even more if you wanted. Let’s take social media scheduling.
- Planning out photos
- Deciding on captions
- Hashtags ideas
- Scheduling on Instagram
- Then Facebook
- And Pinterest
The moral of the story here is that the more you break down and batch out your work, the less time it will take since your brain isn’t constantly switching from one idea to the next.
The key is to actually use that time to do the work you are batching and not get side tracked. Don’t pick up your phone and scroll Instagram or really quickly check that email that just came in.
Systematize your business with a workflow.
Workflows in your business are non-negotiable. Each type of task you do, from client projects, to your marketing, and everything in between will typically require the same steps every time.
Write out those steps for each task, then create some sort of workflow template so you can manage your systems and keep track of where you are and what you’ve done versus what you need to do.
Here’s a sample of my client workflow checklist. Scroll up to see a sample of how I move each card to the next list in Trello so I always know exactly where they are in my process.
Do you have to use Trello?
Although I highly recommend and love Trello, it’s definitely not your only option. You an also use ClickUp, Airtable, Asana, Monday.com, and so many other options.
I tell my coaching clients and students in my 90 Day Dream Biz course, there are so many ways to achieve the same goal. Take what you learn from coaches, blogs, and courses and apply it in the best way for YOU. The best way for you may not look the same for someone else and thats totally okay.
This is your business and YOU are the boss!