The hardest lesson that I’ve learned as I built my wedding photography business is that so little of being a wedding photographer is actually taking photographs. The time spent with a camera in hand, capturing those wonderful, happy moments is a tiny proportion of the job and in addition to being a photographer we are also head of marketing, social media manager, copywriter, accountant, boss, p.a. and tea maker! These are my top tips for being more productive and organised.
Organisation and productivity were never a strong point of mine but are something I have had to learn to do, fast. I used to think that meant getting as much as physically possible done in a set amount of time. The more you could squeeze into those few hours each day my daughter was at school, the more productive I thought I was being.
I’d write a huge ‘to do’ list of every little thing I could think of and feel a smug sense of achievement if I ticked off one or two more than I did yesterday but never understood why I still felt like I hadn’t moved forwards. The more organised I tried to be, the more overwhelmed I became. I had it all wrong.
Organisation and productivity aren’t about doing ALL the things, it’s about doing the RIGHT things.
Not only that, it’s about finding ways to do those things and managing all those roles more efficiently and consistently.
Hands up who gets super excited when next year’s diary goes on sale? Gorgeous leather bound in a stunning new colour with beautiful white blank pages and you look forward to sitting down with different coloured pens and writing on birthdays and anniversaries. I know, I did this too BUT (and I am sorry to break it to you, I really am) unfortunately the way forward is digital! And before you move on and think that this one isn’t for you because you LOVE your paper diary, read the reasons why.
A digital calendar can be with you everywhere. How many times did you buy a lovely A5 diary only to find it didn’t fit in your new bag? You are out and about and get a call or are asked about your availability and you have to say you’ll get back to them when you can get back to the diary. We all have our phones with us and how much more convenient is to just take a quick look and know instantly.
I usually managed to get to mid – february before dates for appointments started changing and I had to start crossing out. I used to HATE crossing out and it would be just as annoying when you didn’t have the right colour pen to add a type of date in – I know this is you too, you can’t deny it! A digital diary never gets crossed out, a press of a few buttons and the date or time can be changed – it always looks neat and tidy.
Lastly, it’s so easy. You can have client management systems, zoom, Microsoft teams, emails all talking to it and adding dates automatically. And you can share it with anyone else that needs to know what you are up to. No more calls from Husband/mum/kids asking whether we are free for a trip to the in-laws because they can look at it themselves in seconds.
Providing a consistent service to all of your clients is key to building good relationships and an even better reputation. You want them to feel that they get the same high level of service at every touch point on their journey with you. But doing the same tasks and the same emails can be monotonous and if time isn’t on your side it is easy to rush, perhaps even miss a step and risk tarnishing that impression you have made on them already.
Client management systems such as Studio Ninja (my system of choice) or 17 hats etc make this so simple and easy. You set up your workflow exactly as you want it and then it is the same for every single client. If you don’t yet use a system like this then create templates for emails or communications that you send regularly to save time.
Set up automatic emails at various points of the client journey to deliver useful content or information to them.
Email marketing systems can work with your contact forms to automate your responses to enquiries. You know that the couple will have received your investment guide instantly and you can relax until the next morning to reply to them personally.
A technique called the Pomodoro technique which came about in the 80’s is a fantastic way to keep focus. It works on the basis that you allow yourself time blocks of 25 minutes to work and then have a 5 minute break before then continuing. Once you have completed four pomodoro’s then you have a slightly longer break.
I was so sceptical of this as I used to work for longer periods than just 25 minute, probably more like an hour. But I would always start to be distracted towards the end of the hour anyway; check my phone, read the emails, dip into something else, so realistically I was probably being productive for much less than the full hour anyway.
This is how I make it work:
Write a list of tasks, prioritise them and allocate pomodoros.
Turn off email and message notifications and ONLY check in during the breaks
DON’T ignore the breaks. Use them to have a drink, check messages, put the washing on etc
I use Alexa to set my time alarms for me.
I hope that you find these useful. You can find more information on starting and running your Wedding Photography business here.