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 Business / Studio Management tools: Tave, 17Hats, ShootQ, Pixifi, Honeybook, Dubsado, Studio Ninja, Sprout Studio (described in no particular order).
And if you’re having website troubles along with all the other challenges and worries, time to get yourself a theme from Flothemes. We’ll help you set it up and be there for any support questions and tech challenges after launch.
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:
Automation – Send automated invoice reminders, replies to certain inquiries, etc.
Task management – 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.
Client Communication – 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.
Taxes – Advanced tax reporting and options for any type of tax scenario.
Payment – 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.
Promo for Flothemes Users: Use the code FLOTHEMES20 when creating a new trial account. Once you subscribe, you will get a 20% reduction of the month to month subscription fee for the first year.
What Flothemes clients say about Tave:
www.joshuawybornphotographic.com, site built with Osaka
“Tave is great! My clients absolutely love how easy it is to sign contracts and pay for services which has in turn helped my business grow at a rate of 460% on last year. My old method of spreadsheets and iCal could not have dealt with the amount of bookings and information needed for the drastic growth but Tave had no issues with it at all. On average, I say about 5 hours work per client just from keeping all of my admin in Tave.”
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:
Client Communication – 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.
Financials – 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.
Analytics – 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.
Promo for Flothemes Users: Use the code flothemes2016 on the Sign up form in the promo field. It offers two complimentary months of ShootQ. The code will expire on 9/30/16.
What Flothemes clients say about ShootQ:
www.sebastienbicard.com, site built with Fiji 2
“I have been using ShootQ for the last 3 years. I’m the kind of guy who needs help to stay organized and as much as the beginning was difficult with the set up, I’m extremely happy to use it. It literally never failed me. I found the interface to be simple and maybe not enough user friendly but their workflow process, contracts, questionnaires build in system and finance follow-up are great. Cons? Their database is not accessible so playing with your finance or lead information is close to impossible. They are working for almost a year now on the new version that I haven’t tried yet so I could not recommend it as this moment.”
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.
Project management – 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.
Promo for Flothemes Users: Use the code FLO3FREE to get a free 3 month free trial. Sign up here.
What Flothemes clients say about Pixifi:
“I use Pixifi and love it… the real winner for me is that Pixifi is the only CRM that does truly automatic booking. My clients choose services, pick a date, sign contract, and pay all without me needing to do anything. It then automatically sends an order received email and then sends out reminders, questionnaire,etc… and creates a workflow for me. All without me needing to be online.
Pixifi also has SMS, Gift Cards, an app, the ability to have multiple brands, customizable client portals, html emails and emojis.. honestly I could go on and on about this system. It’s truly an all in one. The only thing it’s missing is synced image galleries.
I’ve tried almost all the other CRM and none of them have all the features I need. It’s not the prettiest, but it works the best and has the BEST customer service. Tim (the programmer) is always working on new features and updating the ones we have.
But yeah, if you’re wanting true automatic booking, Pixifi is the way to go!”
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:
Client Communication – 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.
Project management – 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.
Financials – 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.
Promo for Flothemes Users: 50% Off Monthly Subscription for the 1st year. See details here
Dubsado began as a husband and wife business, who realized that their workflow was inefficient, and they were spending too much time on emails, contract sending and other back and forth tasks. So they came up with Dubsado, a hub for all business activities, where they could easily keep track of things. By now, the team grew to 12 members, who are simply rocking it, according to many Dubsado users.
Lead collection & management – embed lead forms to collect info about your potential clients, keep track of all entries with lead funnels, and follow up with each at exactly the right time.
Client & Project Management – Keep track of all your bookings and know exactly what’s happening when for each client. Set workflows, to enjoy automations on emails, forms, contracts, invoices, etc, and by adding your branding and integrating your calendar – you’ll be reassured that every step is taken care of.
Payments – Dubsado allows you to get paid right online, in any currency, even get tipped extra. You can set up recurring invoices if needed, and allow clients to have auto-deductions (if you run a subscription based business). And of course, the automated invoices that you can plan ahead.
Contracts – Create proposals or quotes so clients can pick from your services, sign the contract online and pay the invoice all within one form. Send them questionaries before or after, to collect more info or feedback about their experience.
Bookkeeping – Dubsado allows you to easily sort and envision how much you’ve earned, broken down by services. You can export statements on profits or losses, to be able to share them with your accountant.
What Flothemes clients say about Dubsado:
www.brianschindler.co, site built with Crowd 2
“Dubsado has made my life easy. I was hesitant to switch over to a CRM because I thought that I had it all under control, but Dubsado has shown me where my customer experience was lacking when it came to consistency and what each customer experienced. Scheduling forms to send out, invoices, emails to send right after the wedding, all of it does it on it’s own and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have TIME back. Admin days used to take forever, but now I just check my Dubsado tasks every morning, shoot off a few emails, and I’m all caught up. That, and I love the seamlessness that it works with FloThemes and how it all looks. We all can agree that when a form is obviously different from the website, it can look fake. Thankfully, Dubsado works beautifully with FloThemes and I know that it gives clients even a bigger vote of confidence when it feels like everything happens in rhythm rather than chaotic. Thankfully, Dubsado gives me the rhythm and allows me to rest easy.”
A all in one business software created by a team of photographers, for their peers. Sprout Studio combines studio management software with online galleries, wall portrait sales tools, design proofing, bookkeeping and many more exciting features.
Client management – Embed contact forms to your site, so Sprout Social easily collects all your inquiries and keeps info organized about your leads. You can also keep tabs organized on each client, to know exactly which step of the workflow are they in. Sprout Studio’s powerful automation engine, allows you to streamline and automate your workflow and client communications.
Invoicing & Payment – Create orders or invoices, specify billing or shipping details, taxes, payment schedules and more. Your clients can pay with a credit card via Paypal, Stripe, Authorize.net. Mailing a check is also an option, if you love the old fashioned type of process.
Contracts & Bookkeeping – impress your clients with a whole booking experience. Send them a booking proposal, where they can easily choose a package, sing a contract, make a deposit and fill out a questionary with more info. All customized and branded accordingly.
What Flothemes clients say about Sprout Studio:
www.jeanmoree.com, site built with LVY 2
“After using another studio management system for 7 years and then testing out almost every other choice out there, I chose Sprout Studio and am thrilled with it. It does what a studio management system should do by truly having everything all-in-one (online galleries, sales galleries, orders attached to shoots, etc.). By using Sprout, I was able to reduce the number of other services I was paying for since everything is all contained in Sprout.”
Created by a wedding photographer and experience designer and UX specialist, Studio Ninja claims to be the world’s most user-friendly photography business management software, that can help you save time, become more organized & efficient, hence increase your profits.
Client management – embed contact forms to your site to easily collect information from leads. Keep client details organized and easy to navigate. Send quotes, invoices & questionaries, have clients sign contracts electronically, make notes, keep track of emails and payments done.
Invoicing & quoting – Add your branding, setup your payment terms and enjoy online payments. You can also set to get reminders when payments are due/overdue.
Workflows & automation – Never miss any deadlines, and keep your client communication organized. Set reminders, link email templates and have Studio Ninja automatically keep in touch with your clients for you.
Promo for Flothemes Users: Use code FLOTHEMES for 50% OFF your first 12 months with Studio Ninja. The team with help you get started via a 1 on 1 demo, and will migrate your data for FREE if your are coming to Studio Ninja from a different CRM.
What Flothemes clients say about Studio Ninja:
www.navyblur.co.uk, site built with Osaka
“We joined Studio Ninja over a year ago and haven’t looked back! We were on the hunt to automate and organise our workflow and this ticked every box we needed. They are still in the earlier stages but they make up for that big time with update after update, awesome customer service and a FB User group which feels like a proper community that they actually listen to which we think thats a rarity! The workflows you can create a easy to set up and will change your life, want to set up an auto email to (kindly) ask for your remainder to be paid 30 days prior to their wedding day?! It can be set up in a flash! Their portal based system allows for photographers clients to see all their items in one window, questionnaire, contract, invoices and now Shootproof galleries can be seen in each tab, simples!”
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.
Project Management –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.
Workflow –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.
Time Tracking – 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.
Promo for Flothemes Users: Use the code FLOTHEMES to get 10% off each month on any lite or unlimited plans.
Pixieset’s Studio Manager
Though this last option hasn’t been launched yet, we’re big fans of the products created by the Pixieset team, and have no doubt that their Studio Manager will make the life of photographers easier, more streamlined and organized. What’s promised right now is – client management with automated workflows, digital contracts, invoices, payments and e-signatures. The perfect combo to get you going, especially, when it can all be connected and integrated to other crucial tools of your business, such as your proofing galleries, your online store for prints, as well as your website. How cool is that?
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.