Colie James: How Photographers can use Dubsado to grow their business

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Colie James Interview, How You Pictured It Podcast. How Photographers can use Dubsado to grow their business

In this first interview episode of How You Pictured It, I’m chatting with Colie James about all things CRM and Dubsado for Photographers. 

We talk about:

  • When you should get started with a CRM
  • Why Dubsado is a great choice for photographers and creatives
  • Customizing your offer for each inquiry
  • How Colie helps photographers set up their CRM
  • The CRM Blueprint

Listen in for more!

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Find 2022 Black Friday Deals for Photographers at

About Kate Hejde

Kate Hejde is the host and creator of How You Pictured It Podcast and Dear Kate Brand Strategy. She helps photographers create a profitable business that fits into their lives. With over 10 years of experience running her own photography business, while raising three kids, Kate believes that business is not one size fits all and that you define your own success.  Kate teaches through her podcast as well as through courses, group coaching, and 1:1 mentoring. 

Check out Kate Online: Website | Instagram | Tiktok | Pinterest


Kate: 0:14
All right. I am excited to introduce my very first guest to the podcast Colie James. We have been friends forever, it feels like, um, but she is also a, um, expert in Dubsado she’s a photographer, a family photographer, and I am excited to bring her on and have her talk to you more about CRMs and Dubsado specifically Colie, do you want to introduce yourself?

Colie: 0:40
I mean, you did a pretty good job. The only thing that I’m gonna but in is you weren’t one of my oldest friends. I, for the listening audience, I met her when I photographed, uh, her and her husband and her oldest daughter when she was pregnant with Drew, which is her middle. And we have been best friends ever since. She said her friend. I’m, I’m her bestie, but I’m gonna let that

Kate: 0:58
pass. Yes, yes, yes. So that was 2012, 10 years? Yes. All right, Colie.. Let’s just jump in real quick and talk about what is a crm, what is Dubsdao?

Colie: 1:10
So a CRM is a client relation manager, and basically it is a piece of software that allows you to manage most of your business in one central location. Um, there are many CRMs. There are a handful that are specifically created for photographers and other creatives, and you and I are both Dubsado users. Um, I have been using Dubsado since 2017. Um, I had a journey as I tried to find the perfect fit. And let me just start by saying, no CRM is perfect. All of them require a little bit of ingenuity in using them, but Dubsado is the best that I have found for myself and all of my photographer friends. Great.

Kate: 1:54
So tell me like what prompted you to look for a CRM in the first place?

Colie: 1:59
I was getting tired of sending the same damn emails over and over again. Um, I mean, and I thought I was absolutely brilliant when I started saving all of my emails as template drafts. Inside of Gmail so that I could send them. But the problem with doing it that way is then I still didn’t have like a central location for all of my client data. Like I could search for their name inside my email, but like there was no way for me to click on a client’s name and just see all of their information, like their emails, their invoice, their contract, those kinds of things. And. Actually not Core Hat. I’m actually not sure how I heard about a crm, but the one that I started off with was 17 hats. Um, way back in, I think it was 2015. And so, you know, once I figured out what a CRM was and I started using one, I was like, oh, this is the best thing ever. Yeah.

Kate: 2:50
Yeah. Yeah. Tell me kind of like what you think the stage photographers need to be at before they jump into a CRM or where they should start putting this idea in their head that this is something that they need.

Colie: 3:02
So I joke around that one of the myths around getting a CRM is that people feel like they should be super busy and have a lot of clients in order to invest in a crm, and that is 100% not the case. I think that as if you’ve had two or three clients, I think you’re ready for a crm. You’re ready for a CRM so that you can set yourself up for success and have all of these systems in place and have all of your client data centralized so that as you grow your business, you are not struggling to manage your clients at the same time. Yeah. Yeah,

Kate: 3:34
I totally agree. I, um, remember before having a CRM that I would, you know, I had all of these different programs that would send contracts or send, um, forms or send, like, send questionnaires to clients. And, um, just trying to remember all of those steps and keep everything in place. It definitely made it so that like in my early days, my, uh, process and my systems were so inconsistent that none of my clients were getting the same experience from me, even though. My goal, I wanted everybody to get the same great experience. I, my brain does not process all of those little steps and tasks every single time. So having a CRM made it so that I could, um, could keep track of everything. Yes.

Colie: 4:18
The funny thing about having a CRM is that the first step to putting systems in your business isn’t actually to go find a piece of software. It’s to make sure that you are clear on what you want to happen with your client from the moment that they inquire until you finally deliver the service. So I make a joke when people are ready for systems. I’m like, no, we’re not talking about software yet. Let’s talk about the emails that you wanna send. Let’s talk about how you wanna collect your money and what the payment schedule is. Like, you should think about all of those things before you try to integrate them into a piece of software to do it for you. Because even though cRMs have different features and different limitations, all of them allow you to book clients in less than five minutes with a proposal, an invoice, and a contract. All of them allow you to send some form of automated emails. So the choosing of the software is not the most important thing. The place that you start is what you actually want to do with your clients. Of course that varies depending on what kind of business owner you are, how many times you wanna be in contact with your clients. Uh, what kind of photography services you offer, whether you are I ps or you offer digital galleries. I mean, all of these things come into play when you are doing the strategy for the systems that you want to implement in your business. Yeah, yeah,

Kate: 5:35
absolutely. So let’s talk about how you settle on Dubsado and like why you recommend that for family. Um, a newborn kind of photography. Yeah,

Colie: 5:45
so the thing is, guys, we are visual artists as photographers. And I’m a filmmaker, which is honestly why I chose Dubsado. But I am gonna tell you this and then I wanna say it applies to any kind of visual artist. I make family films, I make newborn films. I. I want clients to be able to see films when they are deciding how much money to pay me. So the fact that in all of the Dubsado forms, you can embed a video in a lead capture, in a questionnaire. In the proposal itself, the fact that I could put videos in front of my clients at the same time that they are choosing whether or not they are just gonna go with photos. Or they’re gonna get my signature photo plus video session. That helps me close the deal and get a higher percentage of those clients to invest in video. So that is why I actually went with Dubsado. I mean, and everything is so on brand. Versus some other CRMs that I won’t I won’t name them, but I mean, some of them let you customize nothing. Like everything is in an ugly green color. Like I want my clients when they end up in my CRM and I’m asking them for money, I want them to be wowed in the same way that they were when they found me on my website. Yeah,

Kate: 6:56
yeah, absolutely. I’ve even had clients compliment my crm. Like say, I loved the way that the pricing came across, which, let’s clarify. Proposals are how you send pricing information to, um, to clients. So that’s, um, kind of just the terminology in. Dubsado, but that’s how you let people know what you charge. Um, besides having maybe something on your website, it’s where you detail all of the pricing and you can like, cool. You talk a lot about how you can match the proposal to the client so you get them the right offer, right?

Colie: 7:34
Yes. One of the things that I recommend to any photographer is that you take five minutes, just five minutes before you send the offer to the client, and you make sure that any visuals that you’re including the proposal are exactly what they’re trying to hire you for. So I always love to bring out the newborn example because I have a lot of clients where I have photographed them for their first baby, and then I have a lot of clients where I have photographed them. After they had babies and they’re coming to me for like their second or their third or their fourth. And I wanna make sure when they open that proposal that they see exactly what they’re going to get from me. So if you are a first time parent, I am actually not putting any sibling images anywhere on your proposal. It is baby only. It is maternity with no siblings and then it is first time parents with them and their new baby. And the reason that I do that is because when you see the images, I want them to be like, oh yeah. That’s exactly what we could get from her, and it does make it easier to convert them into paying clients.

Kate: 8:37
I love that, um, idea of being able to really customize the images. I honestly, I don’t do that right now, and you got me thinking that I should be doing that. The other thing about that is that you’re only sending them pricing for the service that they’re interested in. Right. Um, I know before I was. Using a CRM and using like this proposal and pricing system, I was sending them, um, like a pdf, which who opens that and actually like, reads through it, right? Like why did we think that was a good idea? Um, but that was, that was the thing, right? When I was, um, using that, that was what everyone was doing was the PDF of pricing. And, um, I feel like it was so overwhelming for the client. Mm-hmm. And it didn’t show that, Hey, I’m listening and I know what you’re looking for and here’s how I can help you with that problem.

Colie: 9:31
Exactly. I actually go with two schools of thought. The first school of thought is, I’m a firm believer that when someone wants to pay you money, you just need to close the deal. If you need to close the deal for whatever your bare minimum is, and you can always upgrade them later. But the alternative to that is with these proposals, not only can you include whatever your bear offer is, you can offer them the opportunity to upgrade when they book. Now I say that it’s two different schools of thought because. For example, I told you that I do photos and photos plus video. Occasionally I have sent a proposal that has the offer for photos only, and then the offer for photo plus video and I will get pushback. Oh, okay. We’re just trying to decide. If we wanna book video and what I respond is, no, you need to secure your date. Just book a photo session and you have until the day before I show up at your house to let me know that you wanna add video. I just need to make sure that my microphones are charged I need to make sure that the memory cards that I put in my camera are big enough. But like that is not what should be hampering your decision right now. It’s are we a good fit? Am I offering what you want? And do you want to work with. Point blank. End of story. If you do, go ahead and choose a photo only session and we can work the rest out later.

Kate: 10:45
Yes, absolutely. I love that. I know that getting a CRM can be scary for a lot of people. It’s overwhelming to figure out how to use it, like figure out the software, what goes where, and all of those things. How do you help people with that?

Colie: 11:02
So I help people in a few ways. Number one, if you’re a photographer, which most of your listeners are, I have a course called the CRM Blueprint. That course was specifically written for family photographers. It has my signature system that I have used in my business for at least the last five or six years. It includes one click templates where you can click and copy my proposal into your account and then customize it for your business. You know, your copy, your images, your brand colors. The second offer that I make is a v i P day, and that tends to be for like more established, um, entrepreneurs. Like if you’ve had your business for like three or four years and you are killing it, you just don’t have time to manage all your clients. And quite frankly, you don’t have the time to set up the CRM on your own. They typically come to me for my v i p experience, which is I take two solid days and build everything for you. So it’s like a completely done for you.

Kate: 11:57
That’s awesome. Tell me more about the CRM Blueprint course.

Colie: 12:01
Uh, it, I love it. Like, I love that we have a community of photographers only to where not only can you come in and ask like your CRM questions for Dodo, we have a lot of people that ask questions about their business, you know, pricing, marketing, all of those kinds of things. But in the course, I have taken the approach that technology should not be complicated. I have tried to make it as simple as possible. All of the videos with the exception of three, are all under seven minutes. So I’m literally walking you through a screenshot video of what you do step by step, and then I have templates that go along with it. I have a student only Facebook group, so that if you have questions beyond what I’ve given you in the course, or you need to customize or something is not working properly, you can hop into that student only group and ask your questions or submit them for a live q. So

Kate: 12:51
would this be good for someone who is pretty new in photography as well as somebody that’s more established?

Colie: 12:57
It would be, and the reason that I love the course for people who are newer is you’re literally taking my system, and this is actually how I treat everyone in my course. Whether you’re a brand new photographer or you’ve been in business for a while, I give you my system and I tell you, I want you to implement my system from A to z. After you’ve done that, we can customize it as much as you want. We can remove steps. We can add steps, but I do it this way so that I make sure that everyone has the same foundational knowledge of how to use Dubsado. And what I have found in my own business is the best policies. And systems to convert more of your leads into booked clients. Um, but I do have quite a range of people. I have people who are in their first year. I have people who are in their 10th year. It really is a very wide range of how long they’ve been in business.

Kate: 13:48
I love that there’s support on top of just the course as well. That’s, um, that’s always something that I look for when I’m shopping for courses. Um, and then you’re done for you one click templates. That’s amazing. So I just wanna emphasize those one click templates. They are so cool. Um, I’ve made one myself to share, um, for a proposal, but Colie has a proposal, lead capture everything you can think of in the, in the CRM blueprint course so that you really can just like, Set up your, your Dubsado account pretty quickly. How long do you think it usually takes to get people set up from start

Colie: 14:26
to finish? So the funny thing is, I wasn’t tracking this, but recently I have put these end of module check-ins. So now as my students are filling ’em out, I can actually see how. Fast. They are going through the course. I had one person who did the entire course in one day. That sounds ridiculous, guys. I know. She went through the whole course, she implemented everything and then she went back and customized. But like she had a working system after one day. On average. It’s more like 10 days until you get like, From my inquiry to delivery system integrated, but I also wanna emphasize that the course is set up so that you can do as much as you can when you can. So if all you have the bandwidth to do this week is basically set up your inquiry workflow; so that when people fill out your contact form and they’re telling you what service they’re interested in, they’re getting an automated lead response, you are able to send them a proposal, you’re able to schedule a consultation call. Like you can do that and then you can take a break. And then you can set up the booking workflow. Like I wanna emphasize, because this, even if you don’t buy my course, even if you’re gonna do it yourself, you just have to start and you have to start wherever you have the capacity to do it. So if you can set aside a few hours every day, you can go through my entire course in. If you can only do a few hours a week, you can do my entire course in one month. It is totally up to you. And I do have, um, click up templates that will show you which lessons to do on what day, depending on how much time you want to commit every day or every week.

Kate: 16:01
So I know when I was getting started with the CRMs and even like when I was like changing pricing and things like that throughout my business, I would feel like I had to wait until like there was a lull in clients so that I, you know, I didn’t have some clients doing this and some clients doing that. How do you kind of combat that with the um, crm?

Colie: 16:23
So, first of all, I just wanna say your CRM and your systems in general they’re a living thing, okay? Guys, you will never set them up and just leave them alone for the rest of your business. That is not how it works. You are going to update your prices. You’re gonna update your offers, you’re gonna update your messaging. You’re gonna have new and better photos every single year that you’re in business. What I teach in the course is that I want you to do the setup and then at least every six months I want you to evaluate what you have so that you can improve it. But the whole, you’ll have clients here and you’ll have clients there. Um, I do teach you in the course how to duplicate your workflows so that you can leave clients that are in their current path alone. And then you can make new workflows that, like, say you’ve decided you’re gonna start using in 2023. I mean, there is a lot of customization that’s available inside of Dubsado so that you can apply different things to different clients.

Kate: 17:17
That’s, that’s really cool. All right, let’s go back to really the reason that you switched to Dubsado, which was that it was beautiful, um, and that you could change the branding and change, um, you know, your photos and everything to really match your website and give, uh, clients like a. Continuity between where they came from and then where you’re sending them with, um, proposals and all of that stuff. Um, let’s just talk about the importance of that. Like what, why is that so important

Colie: 17:48
to you? So one of the mistakes that I think photographers fall into when they’re choosing a CRM or even when they’re setting it up is as photographers, we spend a lot of time and money setting up these beautiful websites. I mean, it’s ingrained in us from the beginning. You need a website that has your portfolio, that shows people what you’re getting. And what I have come to find is that photographers 100 percent understand that they should put all of that time and effort into their website, but then they don’t do the same effort in their crm. So it’s like, oh, they landed on your website, they fell in love with your work. And then if you have a CRM that isn’t beautiful like Dubsado, it’s like you’re handing them a computer generated receipt from like 1990. When you’re asking them for the money. So the one thing that I tell everyone is if you have recently done your website, you should take all of that stuff that you put on your website and just put it into your crm. One of the pieces of pushback that I get from a lot of photographers is they say, but co, you know, if I put all of that stuff on my website, isn’t it gonna be like duplicated on the crm? Aren’t my clients gonna feel like they’re just reading the same stuff over and over again? Guys, news flash. People do not go through your whole website just like they don’t see every post that you do on Instagram. And so, yes, it is perfectly acceptable for you to reuse. All of that amazing content that you put on your website and carry it over to your crm. If you have good testimonials, they will help you sell your services, put ’em on your website, and put ’em on your crm. A good set of frequently asked questions will get rid of all of the booking friction when you present them with the offer, because you don’t wanna send them a proposal and then they think of like five questions and they have to email you to wait for you to respond to then book you like you wanna. As much booking friction as you can. And so all of the really good information that you put on your website probably has a place inside of your crm, whether it’s on a questionnaire, on your lead capture, on your proposal, or in those templated emails that I encourage everyone to create.

Kate: 19:57
Yeah. And I find that even, um, repeating stuff within your website is important too. The brand messaging has to be cohesive from the first headline to when they get to that contact page. Um, but repeating stuff, kind of ingrains that in your client’s head and gets them understanding that you understand them and, um, that you’re the right person for them. But they have to see it more than once to really understand, um, what you’re saying. Honestly, I’ve even had clients that use my language from my website in. Inquiry to me, like, because it’s so, um, clear and concise on the website and then repeated back into those other forms and pieces.

Colie: 20:43
Yes. One of the headlines that I have somewhere on my website, I honestly don’t remember where it is, but it says something to the effect of, you deserve to be in the photos too. And I have had so many people that when they inquire with me, they’re like, I am ready to be in the photos. I am tired of always being the one to take ’em on my iPhone. I mean, they’re using the language. So it’s like planting a seed, like I’m speaking to them and telling them that I can solve this problem that they may have not even realized that they had. I mean, a lot of people. They think that they’re doing a good job because they’re taking all of these iPhone photos. But then, yeah, you’re doing a great job of documenting your children, but like, where are you right? So I’m really speaking to whoever’s taking the photos. Now, I have learned this over a while. Um, for a while I was speaking to mothers, but then I realized fathers are the documentary people and some households. So then I changed up my language to be, don’t you wanna be in the photos? And tried to make it a little gender neutral, but. Clients are definitely picking up what I’m saying on my website, and it’s carrying over into their inquiry, which then I am double downing on everywhere in all of the communications that I’m sending them through my cr.

Kate: 21:54
Love it. All right, I’m gonna go ahead and wrap up for today. Um, I do want to say that Colie has a special offer for you for, um, black Friday, and she has a freebie for you as well to help you decide. Um, go ahead, Colie. Tell me what the

Colie: 22:11
freebie is. So we are gonna link to my CRM comparison guide because I get a lot of questions, guys like, but is Dodo really right for me? And the truth is, it’s not right for everyone. And the truth is, if you have some other CRMs, I might not automatically recommend that you switch to Dodo just because I love it and just because Kate loves it. So if you wanna do a little bit of your own research, Kate is going to link my comparison guide inside of the show. And guys, if you wanna take advantage of Dubsado’s Black Friday sale, go ahead and hit me up in my dms if you have any questions. Because beyond helping people get set up in Dubsado, I wanna make sure that everyone is using a CRM that feels good for them. And so if I don’t think it’s a good fit for you guys, I’m real honest, I’ll tell you. Yep.

Kate: 22:58
Yep. That’s awesome. Um, so we’ll link to the Dubsado sale for you for Black Friday. We’ll link you to the CRM blueprint and we’ll link you to the, um, comparison of CRMs for you as well. So you can find those show notes in the app that you’re using or at Dear kate branch 28. Uh, for episode 28. Colie, thank you so much for being here. I loved having you as my first guest.

Colie: 23:27
Thank you, Kate. It was amazing to be your first guest. I’m so honored that you chose.

Kate: 23:35
I hope you had some great takeaways from this conversation with Colie of Colie, James. Uh, she really does know so much about Dubsado. She’s always my first resource, when I have a question. And helps me out with so much on that systems and workflows thing. That keeps my clients coming back because they’ve loved the experience they had with me. I did want to let you know about some other things that are going on for black Friday and small business. Saturday, cyber Monday, the whole shebang. Um, I am putting together a guide for you on my website of all of the deals that I’m finding. It’s at dear Kate brand Friday. And you’ll find things from gear to educational opportunities to software and all of those good things. I have some added bonuses for you for some of those softwares, like Dubsado where you get an extra discount if you use my link. Also on that page, you’ll find my offers for black Friday. I’m offering a bundle of soft proofing, made simple and simple package pricing templates. For $47, usually they’re $47 each. So you’re getting a steal of a deal on that. Um, and then also I’m offering a brand new masterclass that is called The Roadmap to Your DIY Website. I’ll be walking you through all the things that you need step-by-step to build your own website. One that you can be really proud of that shows who you are, shows what you offer and who you offer it to so that it’s easy for people who land on your site to say, yes, this is for me so that they can book with you full of confidence This is a two hour live masterclass. And you’ll get live feedback from me as you work through the steps to getting your website mapped out. All right. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Good luck with all of your shopping and traveling. If you’re doing that. And I will talk to you soon. Bye.

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