Running any business is a lot of work. Running a photography business isn't any different. Sure, there's no greater freedom that the opportunity to do something with your life that you love, but that doesn't mean it isn't work!
As a photographer, you wear a lot of hats. You're responsible for a lot moving parts that all have to fit together perfectly. And, if you're like most of the 26 million other small business in this country, you're doing it all on your own. That means that you're dealing with everything it takes to run a photography business, including:
Meeting with prospective clients. Handle Contract/payments, Keep track of expenses. Keeping track of client information, Photographing weddings/portraits, Conducting Sales/Viewing Sessions, Backing up Images, Editing Images, Process Images. Uploading Images to online viewing Take Orders, Fulfilling Orders, Packaging and Delivering Orders, Record, File and Remit Taxes, Handle Marketing, Blogging, Designing and Maintaining Website, Design and Selling Albums, Produce Prints/Products, Handle Accounts Payable, Research and purchase new gear, etc...
By the way, that's not even an exhaustive list! It's just some of the things that photographers deal with in their business on a regular basis. It just scratches the surface of what you have to do to build a profitable photography business. There's just one problem - doing all of those things isn't sustainable.
It's not possible for you to do everything, but even if it was - you still shouldn't. In fact, I have a rule. I didn't make it up, but it's one of my core values as an entrepreneur and business owner.
ONLY DO WHAT ONLY YOU CAN DO.
What do I mean? Exactly that. Look at your business honestly, and figure out the stuff you need to be doing, and only do that. Find someone else, or create a system, to do the rest. Why? Because, If you're a wedding or portrait photographer, chances are, you have very little margin in your business - and as a result - in your life.
Systems Create Margin
I like to think of margin as the difference between all the things we're doing (our responsibility), and all the things we're capable of doing (our capacity). For many of us, we have little or no margin - and end up feeling like our friend above. If you scroll down, you'll see this post, where I share results about how photographers spend most of their time.
The fact is, most of us spend much of our time on things that don't necessarily help us grow our business - they just help us barely keep our head above the water. So, what if we were able to create systems that helped free up some of that margin - so we could spend more time on things that really helped us build our business.
So what do I mean by "systems?" Everything you do on a regular basis should have a system: a repeatable process to complete common tasks. In my business, I have systems in place for our accounting, our workflow, client relationship management, sales, and ordering. Each of these systems is designed to be efficient - saving me time.
For example - I block time each day for responding to email and other communication that needs my attention. My image editing workflow takes me about 4 hours on Monday, and my album pre-design takes about 1.5 hours on Wednesday. I create repeatable systems for the things that have to get done.
It's Not Always Cheaper To Do It Yourself
Far too often, photographers fall for the fatal flaw of running a business - the belief that it is always seems cheaper to do something ourselves - than to pay someone else to do it. While there are numerous reasons that this isn't true, there are two specific reasons that I think it's worth it to consider hiring someone else (outsourcing) to handle aspects of your business.
My general rule is this: If it's IMPORTANT, and you either 1) hate doing something, or 2) aren't any good at it, or 3) it doesn't make you any money, it's worth it to pay someone who is.
Basically, outsourcing to a trusted partner can save you time and grief when it comes to a lot of areas of business. Outsourcing can also save you a LOT of money when you begin to consider what your time is worth - and what you can do with your time to grow your business when you take things off your plate.
Here's a few of the partners I trust to help me grow my business:
ShootQ for client relationship management, booking, workflow and communications
ShootDotEdit for image post-processing
ShootProof for online hosting of image galleries for wedding clients
Preveal for in person client viewing software on my iPad. (It's super simple, and it's gorgeous!)
Your turn! What systems and partners have you found that make running your photography business a little bit easier? Leave a comment below...