by Casi Yost
You started your business because you had a cool idea, were creative, or wanted to spend more time working on doing what you love, right? Then the good old business hammer hit you hard and you had less and less time to be creative and actually do what you wanted to in the first place.
This is where you need to automate. I’m not saying that you have to outsource everything you do, but you need to think about the tasks that you do over and over again and find a way to make them happen automatically. Sometimes there aren’t ways to automate tasks that take a human touch, things like DM’s, client phone calls, and reaching out to other businesses, and the way I manage those is to batch like work together.
Thankfully there are innovative businesses who have created tools to automate daily tasks. I’m going to chat with you about how to identify those tasks and which businesses I love to use. I’ll also talk about my process for work batching.
Which tasks do you have to do over and over for each new customer or client? For me, it included:
- Sending a welcome email with information about my business and what I offered.
- Sending a proposal, invoice, questionnaire, and timeline all in separate emails using different programs like PayPal, DocuSign, Google Docs, Google Sheets. All are great but waste time because they’re in different locations.
- Depositing client retainer fees into my checking account.
- Putting client’s wedding dates on my calendar.
- Setting up thank you emails and gifts.
- Periodic check-in emails.
- One-year anniversary email.
- Editing and delivery of photos.
- Gathering email addresses from photographers and sending out email marketing campaigns.
2) Which resources would allow me to automate many of these tasks? I found that I wasn’t the only one who wanted this solution. There are many CRM services or Customer Relationship Management programs.
- Honeybook allows me to keep my communication, contracts, proposals, invoices, questionnaires, and timelines all in one location.
- It also allows me to fill up my calendar automatically so I don’t forget to write down a client’s date.
- Client payments are automatically collected and deposited into my account and reminders for payment are sent to clients at specific intervals.
- Check-in emails are sent to clients periodically.
- For editing and delivery of photos, especially large weddings, I can outsource my editing to companies like Photographers’s Edit, or Freedom Edits and they can edit things like reception photos, candids, or other shots that only need a light touch. This saves hours of time.
- For gathering email addresses, I use a plugin from MailChimp on my website and it gathers emails and compiles them into a list for me. I create campaigns to be sent to my mailing list on specific dates throughout the year.
- Finally, I use Tailwind to plan my Instagram and Pinterest feeds to auto-post for me.
What are the activities that you could do all at one time that you can’t automate? These are things that involve the human aspect of your business.
- For me, I like to respond to all of my Facebook and Instagram comments once in the morning and once in the evening. I have a unique way of doing it though. I go onto my business Facebook page and then I can respond to comments on Facebook as well as Instagram. It is the coolest feature! I bet you didn’t know you could do that! Let’s be honest, if you try to respond to all social media comments throughout the day, you can get super distracted and waste so much time scrolling. I try to eliminate that and only engage with others and respond to comments and DM’s.
- I batch work tasks that are the creative parts of my business. Each day of the week has something different.
- Sundays are for scheduling out my social media posts and plugging them into Instagram and Pinterest. I also review my calendar for the week so I know what I should be doing each day.
- Mondays are for writing blog posts.
- Tuesdays are for updating my website with any necessary information, additions to my galleries, or blog posts.
- Wednesdays are my day off. Usually, I need to meal prep for the rest of the week and catch up on household things. You know, normal life stuff.
- Thursdays are for shooting content for my blog. If I talk about my gear, I need to take photos of it for example to go along with the post. If I have a few blog posts coming up, I like to batch all the photos that will go into those posts and get them ready for posting to my site.
- Fridays are creative days. I get to dream big and strategize. This is probably the most important day. Your business will not thrive and grow if you’re not trying new things and finding new ways to expand.
- Saturdays are open mainly because I usually have to go grocery shopping, go shoot an engagement, or do other projects that take me from the house when it’s not wedding season.
There are so many things you can do to save time. It really depends on the kind of business you are in, but utilizing work batching and automation will allow you to free up time and be efficient so that you can focus on what you got into the business for in the first place – to have freedom and create. Take the time to set up these systems to run for you and you will see that you can regain control over that work/life balance.
Let me know if this helps you out! Drop a line or message me over on my social accounts!
All the best,
Casi Yost, Wedding Photographer and Community over Competition advocate.
Casi is a wedding photographer and educator based out of Oregon. When she isn’t dancing it up with coupes at weddings, she hosts workshops for women wanting to start their own photography business. She is a passionate about community over competition and how it can heal broken businesses.