Let’s agree, running a photography business isn’t easy. Weather you are only starting your creative adventure, or are an experienced full-time photographer, videographer, event planner or entrepreneur – keeping track of everything, from emails and appointments to projects, leads, invoices and taxes can be incredibly overwhelming. And as your business grows, you just get busier. Sticky notes, To Do apps, little notes that you draw on your hand won’t do the trick anymore.
It’s hard to deny the need and appeal of getting a platform that could take care and automate a large part of your tasks and responsibilities, simplify your workflow and save you hours – time that you could be spending on the creative work.
While there are tons of various apps and software that can lift this heavy burden off your shoulders, we would like to focus in this article on the following five Studio Management tools: Tave, 17Hats, ShootQ, Pixifi and Honeybook (described in no particular order).
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The idea of creating 17Hats appeared when the team started noticing many entrepreneurs and creatives with amazing business ideas and no knowledge of how to run a business – drowning in paperwork and trivial day to day activities. There was no time left for the creative things. Clearly there was a need for an all-in-one business management app. That’s how 17Hats came to exist. The team claims that on average, their users spend under 10 minutes a day working on their business. Insane, right? Let’s move on to the features the Studio Management tool offers:
Overview of your business
Before diving into each task, get a quick overview of what’s happening with your business and workflow. Take a peek at what emails, tasks and appointments you have for the next 3 days, check the to dos and reminders that are coming up soon, etc.
Client management & Communication
The software synchronizes with your email (Gmail, Hotmail,other popular mail providers), tracks all messages and automatically files them into the suitable project associated with that particular client. 17Hats is built to help you improve your interaction with clients and some of the features are similar of a lite CRM system You can separate your contacts into Clients, Hot Leads, Cold Prospects or Other and approach each group differently. If you are still typing each email manually, 17Hats allows you to create and personalize templates for emails, invoices, quotes or contracts.
You can organize your work by projects, tied to your contacts. Label and store tasks, to dos, contracts, notes, emails, events, time tracking, phone logs, etc for each project. This will make it incredibly easy for you to keep track of everything.
17Hats divides each of your projects into 3 phases – Pre booking tasks, After booking tasks and After Project tasks. This ensures you provide a smooth and pleasant experience for each of your clients.
If you get paid by hours, the system allows you to track how much time you spend on certain tasks, even including billing rates and descriptions if relevant.
Lead Capture Forms
These are inquiry forms that can be embedded on your site and would send the collected details straight to your Hot Lead list.
Bookkeeping, Invoices & Client Payments
Quotes are quite easy to draft. Once the client accepts it, the quote turns into an invoice that the system sends to the client when the project is finalized. You can collects e-signatures and online payments through credit cards or paypal. You can even specify how you want the payment done, when sending the invoice (deposits, installments, etc). All the documents and transfers are tied to a Bookkeeping program.
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Though Tave was designed specifically for photographers, it can be easily used by any other creative. Similar to the other tools described in this article, Tave is designed to handle a large part of your creative business, simplify your process, workflow and life. here a some of the great features Tave has to offer:
Send automated invoice reminders, replies to certain inquiries, etc.
To do lists, fully featured calendars, even weather maps to plan around sunny/rainy days.
Customizable, Responsive & WordPress friendly
Add your branding (logo, colors and fonts) to your client facing pages, use your sub-domain to get extra personalized pages. Easily access Tave anytime, from anywhere – one web app, which works smoothly on any device.
Track your emails, quotes, contracts and invoices. Create and send questionaries that automatically update your database. Automate and personalize your messages so clients receive reminders about the status of the project or upcoming billing.
Track your own results
Generate reports and fun charts to monitor and analyze your business’ performance. Use the profit Centers to track your money flows and conversion rates.
Advanced tax reporting and options for any type of tax scenario.
Connect Tave to popular proofing and online payment gateways, e-sign your contracts and enjoy instant transactions.
Great Customer Support
Tons of great reviews, fast reply rate and Facebook Support group in addition.
Flothemes Integration details here.
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Their slogan is “Shoot More, Work less”. ShootQ was designed by photographers for photographers, but does not exclude other creatives who have found it helpful for their business too (event planners, videographers, DJs, etc). They also offer top-notch client service through live phone support, as well as the classic email and 1:1 setup assistance. And here are some of the features we would like to point out:
Create templates and questionaries, collect useful information from clients and leads, customize and automate email templates to save time in the future. ShootQ allows you to filter contacts, to focus on the strongest sales leads first. Keep track of all past and current communication, easily review clients’ booking and order history, important dates and milestones.
Create elegant branded contracts and invoices, save time and boost your sales with the help of an online booking service that allows clients to review and sign contracts online. Collect payments faster, configure taxes and shipping costs, etc. ShootQ also allows you to share pricelists with potential customers via a link or embed on your website.
Project Management and Workflow
Never miss any deadlines, organize and filter your tasks to see what’s upcoming and prioritize for the following days. Build custom reusable workflows to smoothly complete tasks, that are both – in the pre-order and postorder stage. Set reminders, automatically send emails and questionaries.
Generate insightful reports. Manage your data, analyze your bookings, sales & referrals with the help of graphs and statistics. Know exactly how your business is performing.
Flothemes Integration – details here.
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It all started with Tim Hussey, the Owner of Pixifi, back in 2007 when he started his wedding photography business and needed an easy and efficient way to track his leads and clients. Having a background in web development, he decided to build himself a quick database management app, which kept getting more complex as his business grew. In 2008 the Pixifi beta was launched, and after testing it with hundreds of photographers and developing the product based on the collected feedback – Pixifi as you know it was launched in 2010. Here are some of its key features that you might love:
Online booking system & Client Management
An all in one system, very flexible and available anywhere from any device. Allows your clients to book appointments, choose the type of service they are interested in, even the team member they want to work with. Your customers can pay directly through your booking system. You can sync it with your Google calendar, mark your available slots or working hours for a better experience.
Financials & Client Communication
Create contracts and have your clients digitally sign them instantly. Avoid boring contracts, choose from the multiple templates that Pixifi offers, or create custom layouts. Send invoices, track all your expenses and profits, keep tabs on taxes, etc.
Personalize your dashboard to get an overview on the things that matter the most for you. Set a timeline, add deadlines, reminders and to dos. Never forget or miss out on anything.
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HoneyBook was established by four friends who were in the middle of planning their major life events and stumbled upon painful paperwork, countless contracts, emails, phone calls, vendors and all those other small details that take up so much time and energy. The founders soon realized that this is a common struggle for many people, and after speaking and collecting feedback from multiple creative businesses and their clients – HoneyBook came to life. Their slogan is “Book fast. Get paid Faster” which clearly describes the purpose of this amazing tool – to simplify and improve your workflow. So here are some of the main features offered by HoneyBook:
Create a digital workspace which allows you to invite your clients and collaborators. This makes it easy to keep your communication, documents, appointment details all organized in one place, under the corresponding project.
Each project has a timeline with steps or so called “status” of your project. You can easily verify if you need to follow up with a client, send a proposal, email or setup a call. No tasks are left forgotten or overlooked. Integrate your calendar, set alarms or reminders.
Personalize and add your branding to proposals, contracts and invoices. Collect e-signatures and online payments from clients. Send them reminders about the upcoming billing.
Reports and Client Questionaries
Generate reports to analyze your performance for a given period of time. Create and send questionaries to your customers, to collect information and feedback from them.
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If you are using one of these studio management software we would love to hear more about your experience, feedback and recommendations. Also, in case you are using a different tool that you simply love, and feel we should research and include into this list – do let us know, as we love to experiment with new products and share our thoughts with you folks.