Automating parts of your business can feel overwhelming and impersonal, but there are many benefits to both the photographer and the client. For the client, it can mean a consistent and swifter delivery from start to finish. For the photographer, it means reducing the mental load and saving on one of our most valuable and finite resources: TIME. Automating is important even for the beginner photography business owner and many of these things are very low cost if not free!
So what should we automate and how can we make it so our clients don’t feel like they are talking to a robot?
- Emails This is the easiest thing to automate! Every business has a workflow that clients go through, even if you don’t officially have it mapped out. When a client inquires, you send an email that includes the same information every time. The day before a session, you send an email that includes the same information every time. When a client receives their gallery, you send an email that includes the same information every time. So why are you writing these from scratch each time?
Create a document or a canned email in Gmail that has all of the information the client needs for each step. I include a little bit of my personal life and a lot of my personality in that copy. Then when I’m ready to send it out, I go in and adjust details for each client to show that the information was sent just for them. These emails never look like an automated response but save me time, mental load, and get the client all of the information they need without me forgetting a step.
- Client Relationship Management Software (CRM) – Speaking of mental load, there are so many more steps besides email that make up the client experience. Did I send out that contract? Did my client get their prep instructions? Was that invoice paid on time? Did I remember every little step that makes our sessions run smoothly? A client relationship management software makes sure your workflow is seamless and the same for every client. Software like Dubsado can also allow your clients to book a session on your calendar without all of the back and forth.
Built into this software, you can add smart fields so that the client’s name, session dates, and other details can be automatically customized in all communications. This keeps it from feeling robotic. I’ve had many clients compliment the professional look and ease of use of Dubsado, telling me this is definitely a win for both client and photographer.
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- Client Galleries and Ordering Ordering prints and products for my clients take up so much of my time and pulls me out of my zone of genius. I still want my clients to have access to those items from professional labs though! I would hate for them to spend the money they do on my services and talent and then get prints from wal-mart that are all kinds of off.
My favorite way to automate this process is by using gallery software. Shootproof and Pic-Time are two that I have personal experience with and am happy to chat about! They both have benefits, but for the simple sake of allowing clients to order many high-quality items without me being involved, I really love Pic-time! Clients can design their own albums, calendars, framed prints, and more through their simple software. Pic-time also has some built-in promotional emails you can use or you can create your own that they will automate for you. To personalize this experience further, the photographer can create an album or send a selection of suggestions to each client that might be the perfect purchase for them.
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- Sending client gifts Of course gifting clients is not a must for every photographer. For me, I love treating my clients to a little something special to let them know I appreciate them and that I’m thinking of them. Client gifts work towards building that relationship. So how do we automate them? I love sending a Greetabl gift near the holidays with the client’s images included in the packaging! These are cost-effective, easy to order, and ship directly from the company to the client taking that step out for me.
Another option is Touchnote, which will mail a customized photo card for your client. I love how these little personalized touches can be automated so that our clients feel special!
- Social media The whole point of social media is to connect and network so how could this possibly be taken over with automation? The good news is we can automate at least part of the process! I love using software like Planoly or Tailwind to load my posts for the week and then schedule them out to be posted at the most active times on my account. Tailwind will tell you the best time to post and even suggest the best hashtags to use. I batch my social media posting and can get the caption writing and image selection done for the whole week in less than an hour.
I keep the social part of social media by commenting and interacting daily, and also by posting to my stories throughout the day. No one can tell that my captions and posts were not written and shared natively.
Which of these automation has made the biggest difference in your business? Which will you add next?