We all love amenities that make our lives easier, whether it be the Drive-Thru at Dunks, online bill pay, or the E-Z Pass lane on the highway. In my business, there are services I use that I love so much because they ultimately save time and increase productivity.
Here are some life hacks they don't teach you in art school.
Squarespace is a website platform It. Is. Incredible. After being unhappy with Wordpress and its clunkiness, I found Squarespace almost two years ago now. Their designs are clean, modern, and simple. There is so much room for customization, it's straightforward, you don’t need to know HTML or CSS to create a beautiful website. They automatically incorporate analytics, SEO, mobile optimization, storefronts and shopping carts, and blogging is something you can do in your sleep. At the end of the day, you get a gorgeous home base for my business and brand, for a really affordable price. Oh, did I mention they have the nicest support staff who answer all your questions within the hour, 24 hours a day? Yep!
Pixieset is my wonderful gallery host. Every single client shoot gets uploaded to Pixieset as a modern grid with a customized and branded header. Clients can “favorite” pictures, download their favorites, send album notes to me, purchase prints, products, and digital files (that you can custom fulfill through your own lab or choose one of theirs). It has custom domain mapping, so your client’s page can be clients.yourphotography.com/smith. You pay by data storage amount. This last step in my workflow is so easy: Pixieset sends my clients who have purchased the digitals a link to download the photos instantly without me lifting a finger. This is great for when you're on the go or traveling and don’t want your clients to wait!
3) Facebook Post Scheduler
Do you have a life? Obviously. Forget to post your Facebook updates at peak traffic times? No problem! On your Facebook business page, you can schedule posts to be published automatically. You can queue up a photo, write a caption, and add a link to your blog, and schedule to be published on Thursday at 5pm. Once a week, I’ll queue up the next seven days and don't even need to think about it!
Want to save hours culling? PhotoMechanic. I admit - Justin & Mary recommended this to me during a workshop in January 2014 and it took me at least a year to buy it. Best $150 with free updates for life. You know that little lag time in Lightroom when your RAW file is loading? Eliminated. In PhotoMechanic, it processes the RAWs like JPGs, so culling is instant. You can use a star rating system or just delete. It cut my culling time in half. On average, I spend 20 minutes culling a portrait session and 60 minutes culling an entire wedding. They have a free trial - so stop procrastinating like I did and your newfound time will thank you.
My significant other often calls me “Lena Mintisola” now. He introduced me to Mint this summer, which is a money management website. Sounds scary - but it’s actually so much fun! It’s free, and easily connects to your bank accounts and credit cards. You can track and analyze your spending, categorize your purchases, set BUDGETS by category every month, set bill reminders, goals, and rename expenses. You can take a quick peek at your phone on the Mint app, too, and see pie and bar graphs to moniter your monthly grocery budget to see how much you have left to spend, or if one more martini is really a good financial decision. It’s a great way to figure out, “What did I spend on my business this month,” as well as truly learn what's going in and what's going out.
In business, as in life - organization is key. I keep Notes on my Macbook called “Shoot Schedule” and “To Do”. On my To Do list is a daily “win the day” list, weekly goals and blog calendar, miscellaneous work, orders coming in, and deadline reminders. On my Shoot Schedule is a list of ordered dates by month of 2015 + 2016 weddings and shoots, containing location, client name, and outstanding balances still owed. I keep these days marked off in my calendar as well, but I like having a double system so I don’t overbook a day or forget to log a shoot. Notes also auto-sync to your phone so you can have all the info about you upcoming day, month, and year wherever you go!
Formerly Google for Business - My old mail server was through my domain host, which was great, but actually only archived the latest 250 emails… I found out the hard way. I migrated everything over to Google for Business, which is basically a Gmail account ending with @website.com name. Everything is archived forever and connects to my calendar, drive, spreadsheets, and presentations. I love using the color flagging system and folders to separate clients from brides, vendors, and everyone in between.