Over the past year, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about ways to reduce stress and become more efficient. It’s made a HUGE difference to our business and is some of the best time and money I’ve ever spent.
To do this, I sat back and analyzed the things that I most procrastinated doing and then started to brainstorm better ways to do them. Here are five things that have made a huge impact to my sanity and our business, especially during our peak times of the year.
1. Get your email under control
An efficient system for dealing with email has made an immense difference to our business. I used to use Outlook and just sort things into folders, but then I learned about all the benefits that you can gain by using Gmail’s platform via Google Apps (not an actual @gmail.com email address; just their email software). It was transformational to me. I don’t dread checking my email, and the important stuff doesn’t get lost amongst a sea of other non-essential emails.
Not only that, but now I never forget to follow up with a client and spend less time composing emails.
It took me 3-4 days to get it fully set up, but once it was up and running it has totally changed how I approach emails, and I no longer dread checking them. It’s that amazing. And the best part: it’s free. Super awesome. You can read all about the system I use in this 7-Part series called “Taking Control of Your Email Inbox Once and For All“. It starts super basic but moves into the really helpful stuff at the end.
2. Move from DVDs to Flash Drives
I used to make beautiful, custom printed DVDs that I’d deliver to each of my clients with their photo on the top. It was lovely.
The problem was that I hated taking the time to create them, and I often procrastinated printing them and ended up delivering images later than I should have.
I switched flash drives from Pexagon Tech with our custom logo on it earlier this year (use code: PHOTOFLASH9 for 25% off for photogs) , and I was shocked at how much easier it was to create. All I had to do was drag and drop my images on to the drive’s folder. It was already custom printed with my logo, so there was no extra work involved. Once the files transferred over, I just put it in my packaging and sent it out. Super easy and fast. No more procrastinating on getting my clients their images, and I saved a lot of time since I didn’t have to create a custom disc for them.
3. Reduce trips to the post office
Instead of stopping once a week or so at the post office to mail clients their images (many of my wedding clients live out of state), I simply wrote down how much postage I’d need for each of the packages that I send out regularly and bought the exact amount in stamps so that I could send them from home.
For example, when sending out my flash drives I always package them with the same things inside so it always weighs the exact same. I just stick on the postage, drop it in my mailbox instead of making a trip to the post office, and it’s on its way. SO much faster, and no fancy scale is needed.
For prints and products, I started drop shipping to my clients directly. While I lose a bit of personal touch from not getting to package them with my own branding, it’s free at ProDPI to include a printed thank you note with your order if you drop ship, so I simply do that and use their premium packaging options. It’s more expensive, but it’s totally worth the few dollars I spend to not have to take another trip to the post office.
4. Streamline and Track your client workflow more efficiently
I refined my system for tracking clients and making sure that I deliver everything I need to on time without dropping the ball. I highly recommend Rachel’s Workflow Chart to help track your sessions, or if you run a high-volume business to invest in a client management system such as ShootQ or Tave.
5. Outsource your editing and album design
This is both the most difficult thing to do and the most rewarding. It’s difficult because it means giving up some control, but even more so it’s difficult to find a company that can do this to your standards.
But let me tell you, this has been the most freeing thing I’ve done since starting my business. It was super hard as I’m a control freak about my quality, but once I found someone who could match my editing, it was the best thing ever. Truly. Yes, it costs more, but it is SO worth it. With the extra time, I’m able to do more profit-making activities that more than make up for the money I’m spending for editing and album design.