Are you ready to start off 2018 strong and full of confidence?!
When you are a beginner photographer, trying to get your name out there, trying to take control and show you have authority in your niche, it can be hard when you don't really have the experience. However, getting a workflow set in stone, following it, and being consistent, will help boost your confidence and get ahead in the game.
If you are on track to become a professional photographer with an inkling of success, then one of the most important things you will need to incorporate into your business is a great workflow.
To simply explain it, a workflow is how you accomplish all of your business tasks in a given order to create a consistent routine.
Having a consistent workflow set in motion will not only help you stay organized, but it will assist you in completing tasks more efficiently.
A workflow isn’t just about taking pictures and editing them. It starts the moment you talk to a potential client on the phone or email, delivering their images, to staying on their radar in order for them to book future sessions.
Creating a plan is essential. Knowing your goals and how you’d like to accomplish your tasks is a vital part of succeeding in this industry. You shouldn’t just rush into this guns blazing and end up creating a lot of mistakes to begin with.
Take a few minutes – or all the time you need- to brainstorm how you’d like to set up a system that will work for you personally. Write out some goals you want to accomplish with each session. How do you want to leave the session feeling, and more importantly, how do you want your clients to feel about you, and your business.
Below is a breakdown of my workflow system. You are more than welcome to save this page, jot down these ideas, or even send me a message if you have any questions!
Client contacts and asks for pricing and availability. Make a list of every single thing that is included in a session with you. For example, one hour, 15 images, online gallery, etc. Those are all the typical things photographers offer. Most everyone knows that. Add a few extra things in there that others don’t think to add in. Such as, free consultation of the location and outfits. I mean, you are more than likely going to talk to the client about that anyway right? Also free technical services after the session if there are any issues with downloading or printing. There are so many things that are such a habit for us, or things that we forget about because they are second nature, we forget that non photographers just don’t think about that stuff. It is a good thing to let them know, these are the kinds of things that are included in a session fee, and what they get from you. Sit down and create a template that has everything included, and then add the balance due at the end. Save that template to use everytime you have an inquiry.
Client books you. Yay! Congrats! Now it's time to get down to business! The first thing is a deposit. I know a lot of photographers just starting out, forgo the deposit. They think they don’t need it. And then the day of the session comes and they get stood up. Or the client cancels last minute because they broke a nail. Without getting into the psychology of sales, I’m going to tell you this short and sweet little tip. When humans invest even the smallest amount of money into something, they are committed to it. Do not go any lower than $25. Also, if you don’t have a Paypal account, you really need one. It is so convenient! Plus, when you have a paypal business account, you get a debit card. It makes keeping track of business purchase so much easier!
Next is the contract! I have also seen beginner photographers skimp on this as well. Please don’t. It is something so simple to have, affordable, and will cost you way less in the long run then going to court over something that could have been avoided. If you don’t have one, please click on my link and check them out at BP4U here. If you need help, I will be more than happy to help you!!
I want to share with you this amazing tool that I recently started using in my business and I really have no idea how I lived without it before!!! Acuity. OK, its an online appointment scheduling tool. I have it integrated into my website. So when we get to the point of scheduling, I send them the link that is on my website, they pick the day and time that I have available, its scheduled! But that's not the best part. The best part is it will immediately send the client an email, thanking them for booking, and then there are 2 buttons, one for signing the contract, which I have linked, and then one button for paying the deposit!!! All in one! I don’t have to send 4 different emails anymore! Check out Acuity here. Use it, and then try to tell me you don’t love it! If you have any questions about it, by all means, please ask me!!
Welcome them! They booked you, now what!? A couple paragraphs up, I mentioned that we get in sucha habit with how we do things, that a lot of information doesn't get relayed to the client. I am a VERY firm believer in letting my clients in on every detail. What to expect from our session from the moment we meet at the location, to the day I deliver their images. Just a little bit of communication can go a long way! If they are new to you and your business, they have no idea what to expect. What should they where? How is the session going to go? Can they bring props? Provide as much detail as you can to them. Send them a welcome email explaining the process. Or, go one step further and create a welcome packet! Its like a brochure. Filled with all the extra little tid bits that they didn't know they needed to know, and will help you stand out! Check out the ones from BP4U right here! They have them for every niche', and they are all customizable!
- Bonus Tip: Either in your welcome packet, or welcome email, include a couple special forms to get to know them, as well as staying informed of birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, so that you can post past sessions on your business page, tag them, and stay on their radar for booking future sessions. Take my Client Information Spreadsheet and make it your own!
-Super Bonus Tip: If you photograph families or just children, we all know how silly kids can be infront of the camera. Some times, a little too silly. Well, thats because they are uncomfortable. Moms and dads tell them how to behave, but if they are just meeting you for the first time, they are nervous! Take my Icebreaker Form to send in your welcome packet. Mom and dad will fill it out with tons of information on what their kids interests are. TV shows that they like, favorite characters, music, etc. That way, when you first meet, you can...break the ice with them by talking about things that they love and make them feel more comfortable with you.
- Location: If the location for your session has been decided on and if it is outdoors, or a public venue, get to work verifying that there isn't an event planned for the date and time of your session. Nothing can ruin an experiece more than getting to the spot and there is a pubic event going on. If you are in the Springfield IL area, you know that Washington Park is a very popular place for sessions, as well as city events. As well as events, its best to go there to physically make sure that the area you plan on shooting in, isn't under any kind of construction. Washington Park recently replaced a bridge over the pond. So there was quite a bit of construction vehicals, bright orange cones and bright orange barriers all around. It also would not hurt to visit the location the day before the planned session, just to double check.
- Avoid the awkward silences: Unless you have shadowed with a more experienced photographer, you may not have thought about the tiny little detail that happens all the time at sessions, the awkward silence. Everyone gets nervous meeting new people. Everyone has that little voice inside of them saying, "oh gosh, I really hope I don't say something so random they think I'm weird". Its totally ok! You are normal! But what you can do to help avoid that nervous feeling, is jot down some questions and conversation starters that you can talk about. When my daughter was starting a new school last year, I think I was way more nervous than she was! But the advice I gave her for talking to new kids and making new friends is always be positive and always compliment someone on something. And the same applies to adults. Compliment their outfits. An accessory that mom is wearing. Ask her where she got it from. Ask them where they are from, where they work, etc. Photographers we also know all to well, when we are adjusting our settings on our cameras, or evaluating the last few shots taken, clients feel uncomfortable because they don't know whats happening, or what they should do. Explain to them what you are doing. I mean, don't go off explaining why you are going from F stop 3.5 to F8 and taking a second to adjust your ISO. You will for sure lose them! But keeping the awakward silences away by just letting them know that you are making a few adjustments in camera to make sure you capture the best images, will let them know that everything is going the way it should, and reassure them that you are capturing a masterpiece!
-Planning ahead for your locations will help the flow of the process as well. When you are checking out your locations, map out each spot in your head, on your camera, or even on your phone, of where you are going to pose them, as well as the background. Are you still struggling with how to pose subjects? Be sure to check out these posing guides. They can also be downloaded to your phone so that you can take a quick look at them to jog your memory!
- After the session: You nailed it! You can't wait to start editing these images and getting them posted! Slow down a bit!! You need to back up these images FIRST! You do not want all of your hard work to go down the drain because with electronics, anything can happen or go wrong! So how do you back them up? You can use a cloud based storage system like Dropbox. Or, an external hard drive. Check this one out from Amazon. $64 is not that much money to invest compared to something happening and losing an entire session. Especially if its a wedding!
-Cull the images. Go through the entire session and get rid of the ones that you know for a fact will not be in the final delivery. You know, the ones where people blinked, or someone is fixing their hair that blew in their face. Then, pick your absolute favorite shot to edit so that you can get a sneak peak posted. You typically want to post the sneak peek the same day or one day after the session. If you are unable to tag your clients on social media, send them a quick message letting them know you posted it and you would love if they could share it!
-Almost Done: When you are almost finished, send them a quick update: “Hey, I just wanted to stop in and let you know that I am almost done with your images! I am right on schedule! Can’t wait for you to see them!" Keeping them in the loop of what is going on, gives them a bit of reassurance. Non photographers forget that we do just a bit more then clicking a button and taking their pictures.
- Delivery: There are many variations for delivering the final product. Some photographers deliver with only IPS (In Person Sales). That is when the client dosen't get to see any images until the photographer is done editing and has ordered sample prints. They reveal the products to the clients and they can purchase right there, and order more. I am tossing around the idea of getting into this type of service, when I have more time to devote to it. As for now, I deliver my final images through an online album service called Pixieset. I have used them for about 3 years now and absolutely love them! The presentation is gorgeous, and it is so easy to use. I send my clients their album to their email. They can download the images, as well as order prints and have them sent straight to them.
-Bonus Tip: I know that there are times when clients get so excited about seeing their images and sharing them for the world to see! That is an amazing compliment right!! However, they tend to forget that they are not allowed to alter the images in any way. Such as cropping them, or adding Instagram type filters to them. So before I send out their album, I always send an email reminding them what I LOVE for them to do with the photos, as well as what they are not allowed to do with them. They are on the look out for their album email so I know they will see this email first. You are more than welcome to grab a copy of this template that I use, and use it for yourself! Just click here.
- Done? Nope. not at all. If this client is an ideal client for you, then you are going to want to stay on their radar for futur bookings. An easy one is if you grabbed the Client Spreadsheet above, you enter in the date of their sessions. When one year since the session is approaching, you can send them an emial reminding them that it will soon be one year since their last session, and you would love to get them in your books again!
-Are you friends with them on Facebook or any social media accounts? Interact with them and share in their joys and accomplishments. Send good thoughts for their sorrows. Be a friend. Not a business. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Seems pretty easy right? It really can be. No need to over think being a friend.
-Not friends on social media? Then you should think about getting into email marketing or blogging! Its a great way to show off your work to potential clients, and keep them up to date on any sales you might be running. If you have any questions about either, I would be more than happy to answer any questions you have! Just post a comment below, or come join my Facebook group right here!
Rinse and repeat!!
After you have carefully thought out your workflow, putting it in to action is what really matters.
By sticking to your method each and every time you start to work on a new client, this workflow will become ingrained within yourself and will lead you to a quicker outcome every time. And if you start to notice that something isn’t working out like you thought it would, switch it up a bit. Find out what works, and what doesn’t.
Once you really start getting involved in the business of photography, you realize just how much goes into it. I know it can seem overwhelming. I will agree, it kind of is at first. But stick to it, and be consistant and you will succeed! If you would like some help on how to actually get clients, and KEEP them, you should check out this ebook How to Get and Keep Loyal Photography Clients. It is packed full of so much information on marketing, and how to exceed your clients expectations to keep them coming back again and again! Just click the image below!
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