When I mention essential tools for photographers, people always think of cameras. They're right, but there are more essential tools for us. In this tutorial, you'll find some great tools for those running or starting a photography business.
When people dream of a life as photographers, they only see the bright side of it: taking pictures. Either outdoors in nature or photographing famous people, news, whatever different photographers do. But in fact, many photographers spend more time sitting at a desk than taking pictures. The business of photography has another side: editing, filing and selling pictures.
This means you need to find other tools to use when your camera sits atop the shelf behind you or in your bag. For the first two, editing and filing, I guess you already have the tools. But for the business side of it you need to find tools that make for a simple but precise way of making people aware of you. You should also need to know how much money you've earned and where that money is. This must all be done in a way that allows you to still time to go out and photograph more.
The Internet has changed the way we do a lot of things and also the way we show our work and contact the public, either customers or potential customers. The phone is not the primary form of contact it was before, now it's only one more option along with email.
Some photographers have discovered that a blog and social media can pass messages to many people. Also the way we keep track of your investments and profits has changed. Now one photographer is likely take care of their entire business themselves just using a computer.
I've moved to digital cameras back in 2000, after Canon launched the EOS D30, but it has taken me a long time to change some of my older habits to a more digital world. It was only this year that I decided to invoice clients online.
It was also after that experience that I felt I had the basis for an interesting article for photographers starting out, showing them the essential "brave new world" tools to run their business. Besides their cameras, that is. So here is my list of three essential business tools. It's not definitive, but it's a good guide to get a starting point for your career.
Having your own website is important as it will be a window not just for your work but also for your personality as a photographer.
A website is a window to display your work. It's a 24/7/365 open door for your business. So choose it wisely. It should be simple, easy to navigate, and able to tell people what you do and can do for them. Either go for those "quick to setup" websites or do it yourself, but build something that reflects your personality as a photographer.
I've always built my websites using Joomla software, and I like to keep them simple. I have my own URL at www.joseantunes.com and I do not have a blog, although that is something that can attract people if you write interesting stuff.
The online invoicing systems make for an easy way to bill clients and keep track of everything, from anywhere in the world.
This was a recent experience for me, but I am hooked. For years I enjoyed using paper invoices, the feeling of posting letters, the walk to the post office or mailbox, the ceremonial of buying stamps, etc. I also used an old typewriter far longer than I needed too before moving on to a computer, so it feels the same way.
Now I've experienced Fresh Books for invoicing people, and I am amazed. With these kind of systems, you can prepare and send an invoice to a client from any computer anywhere in the world (with Internet connection, that is). You can have regular invoices sent out by the system, invoice in different currencies, know which clients owe you money and how much, send late payment reminder emails and much more.
One can keep track of so many things that I feel like a kid playing with a new toy. Try it, either at Fresh Books or at any other company offering the same service and you'll feel like me. There's no way back to old paper invoices.
StudioCloud lets you control different aspects of your business and is a free software if you just need the basic options
The Star Trek Bridge
I call it my Star Trek Bridge, but it's really called StudioCloud. It's a desktop software that provides an integrated system including Client Management, Scheduling, Point-of-Sale, Bookkeeping, Reporting, Marketing Campaigns, Project/Event/Order Management and much more! It even does invoices (I prefer to have those elsewhere though, but there are advantages to have them here if you use the full possibilities of StudioCloud).
If you're managing a busy studio and have lots of clients and sessions, StudioCloud might be your choice in terms of invoicing. It has everything you need to create price lists, packages, products and services, and the invoice system reflects that. But StudioCloud is also a calendar for appointments, a project management and marketing campaign creator and it even lets you sell photos online using StudioCloud's Online Proofing and in-studio using StudioCloud's In-Studio Proofing.
In fact, there are so many options that sitting at my computer looking at StudioCloud I just feel like Captain Kirk (or Picard) on the bridge of the Star Trek Enterprise. The program lets you control all aspects of your business from its interface. And while you have to pay if you want some of the more advanced options, like using the Cloud, the basic version, which sits in your computer, is free. So give it a try and if you decide that you want more, explore the available plans. But for single photographers starting a career, the free version might be enough.