Simple Systems to create a Sustainable Photography Business

Simplified Business

June 19, 2023

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I believe in a slower, simpler approach to doing business. One rooted in intention, meaning & purpose, where you find that beautiful (yet often seemingly elusive) balance between deeply supporting your clients, honouring your creativity, and reclaiming your time, energy and heart.
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A woman looking at her laptop, with a cup of tea, trying to figure out how she can make her photography business more sustainable

Is your photography business energetically sustainable? If you have been in business for a while, you might have experienced (or are starting to experience) burnout as a result of overworking or not building in enough time for yourself. 

Sometimes, the longer you have been in business the more you have the tendency to over-complicate your systems and processes. 

It’s only natural that if you are a couple of years into your business journey, that there will come a stage where you need to start simplifying your processes and tools to bring more ease and freedom back into your business.

You might have some systems and processes that have served you well in the past or even that you have become quite attached to, but don’t necessarily add value or make things as stress free as possible.

Something I often see with my more experienced clients is that they get very comfortable in the system they have pieced together for themselves, and have accumulated tools and processes over the years that they have grown out of. 

Their systems are often set up with functionality in mind, without thinking about how their clients might experience their process on the receiving end. 

Which is why I would encourage you to take a step back and look at your systems and processes from an outside perspective, and start to redesign your workflow in a really intentional way – taking into account what you need and what your client needs in order to enjoy a stress-free experience.

And while I do think that client experience is extremely important, I feel that your experience as the business owner is equally, if not more important. As the heart and soul of your business, prioritising your needs and boundaries when designing your system is key to building a thriving and sustainable photography business.

As a creative human running a business it can be so easy to get overwhelmed by the challenges of managing clients, editing photos, marketing, and endless administrative tasks.

In this blog post, we will explore essential systems and tools that can help you simplify your workflow, reduce stress, and create a thriving and sustainable photography business. By implementing these strategies, you can reclaim your time, focus on your creative work, and provide remarkable experiences for your clients.

By prioritising ease and simplicity, collecting your years worth of knowledge and experience, and embracing a minimalist approach to designing systems and processes, you’ll not only reclaim valuable time but create more freedom and pleasure in your business.

Embracing a Minimalist Mindset to help you create a more sustainable photography business

In order to embrace a more minimalist approach with your systems and processes you will need to have a shift in your mindset and become more intentional or mindful about the way you do things. 

By letting go of overly-complex ideas or processes you make room for what truly matters, creating space for clarity, creativity and your own peace of mind.

I believe in first taking a look at what is working really well for you, and then decluttering or removing anything that is not serving you or your clients. This is the first step to making your photography business feel more energetically sustainable.

Sometimes this means letting go of tools or apps and investing in something like Dubsado which can do multiple things all in one tool. It might look like simplifying your booking process or extending your on-boarding workflow so that it feels less overwhelming for your clients .

It’s only once you have simplified that I recommend adding anything into your process or workflow. 

And if you do decide to add some additional brand touchpoints to your process make sure that they add value and aren’t simply being added just for the sake of it. Everything in your process should be very intentional and have a specific reason or intention behind it.

Streamlining Your Administrative Tasks

It can be so hard to let go of old patterns. Often I see clients doing things for no other reason than that’s the way they have always done it. 

It can feel safe (and sometimes faster) to do things the way you have always done them before. In the short term – typing a quick email or adapting a past email as a template can feel easier than having to build an entire system and list of canned emails from scratch, but in the long term you will end up saving so much time and energy.

I truly believe that it can be so helpful to have a fresh perspective or set of eyes in your process to find ways to automate or eliminate administrative tasks. And if this is something you are hoping to do, I have a helpful guide on how to do just that (scroll to the bottom of this post)! 

Streamlining might also mean investing in one system or tool instead of a whole bunch of free tools. Something as simple as having a CRM (client relationship management tool) like Dubsado (and yes, I always recommend Dubsado over Studio Ninja) can help with online scheduling, preparing proposals & contracts, invoicing AND enhance your client experience (as well as your experience while using something like Dubsado). 

I find most of my clients come to me having used Dubsado or Studio Ninja for years, but have pieced things together and aren’t using it to their fullest potential. In fact my Reset Days are perfect for having a fresh pair of eyes on your systems and seeing ways you can create more ease and flow.

By automating repetitive tasks and having one central home for all of your administrative processes, you’ll free up time and mental energy to focus on your true passion—capturing stunning photos for your incredible clients.

Enhancing Your Client Workflow

Now I know that I have encouraged you to have a more minimalist approach to creating systems but this is one area where I love to take a more maximalist approach! 

Or shall we say a super selective, highly intentional maximalist approach.

So often I see how much knowledge and wisdom my clients have to share. They end up sharing this juicy wisdom with their clients in dribs and drabs  (or casually on a call, if they remember) which can sometimes drain their energy when working with clients or lead to an inconsistent experience.

Which is why I always encourage my clients to use all of their wisdom to create resources to share with their clients at key stages of the client journey. 

Not only does this support their clients, but it also allows them to educate and inspire their clients, resulting in better photographs and of course a better experience for both them and their clients!!

Workflows most photographers tend to skip or not focus much energy on, is their build-up workflow (that is the stage of the client journey after you have on-boarded them and  are gearing up for their shoot), as well as the nurture workflow (which is where you can help your clients get the most out of their investment AND look for opportunities to work with them again).

These are the two workflows I love to help my clients build through my Co-Creation Days!

Finding Balance with Outsourcing 

Getting help is normally the first piece of advice when it comes to creating a more energetically sustainable photography business. So often there is an unrealistic expectation that Outsourcing can solve ALL your problems. And the truth is, while outsourcing can be super supportive it can also lead to a lot of stress if you are not ready.

As a business strategist and co-creation partner for my retainer clients I know how hard it can be for my clients to release control and hand over parts of their business to someone else. 

Of course this is scary! And might lead to feeling more stressed. 

Take the time to really check in with yourself, and dig a little deeper to find out if hiring someone is a good move for you and your business.

The first thing I advise potential clients to do is recognise the season that you are in:

– are you in the initial growth stages of your business, in which case, you might need to hire someone on a more temporary basis. This could look like hiring a virtual assistant for the day, to help you create systems that will support you as you grow.

– if your business is well established, you might want to have someone on a more monthly basis, who can grow with you as your business evolves and changes, and who can help you reach your long term goals.

Next, uncover the reason why you want to outsource. Is it to gain more freedom, reach some bigger picture goals, to create more space for your creativity to flourish or to offer your clients a more high touch experience

Think about what an extra 10 or 20 hours of support could mean to you?. 

And then consider how easy it would be to make that money back?

You might find that 10 hours of freetime could lead to booking 2-3 more clients. Or more time spent with your family.

But the most important thing is to see that you click with the people you call in for support and are an energetic match, especially if you are going to be working with them on a retainer basis. 

I love working with clients who allow me to have my own sense of autonomy and are a little more rebellious and open to experimentation. This allows me to do more creative high level tasks that require little input from them (most of the time they will give me very simple instructions or a problem they want me to solve and I will come up with a plan and create a rough draft for them to tweak and change ) , truly allowing them to gain the mental clarity and energetic space they desire. 

I truly believe that you will intuitively know when you are ready to outsource and hire a OBM / business strategist but you certainly don’t need to rush in before you feel ready.

You could always start off very gently, with a couple of hours a month, and see how you feel. You might be surprised how good it feels to release the control and gain the breathing room you are searching for.

Simplicity is one of best ways to create a sustainable photography business

I hope this post has helped you see that a calm and sustainable photography business is within your reach when you simplify and use all the resources and tools available to you!

By adopting a minimalist mindset, streamlining administrative tasks, enhancing your client workflow, and finding balance through outsourcing, you’ll start to build a sustainable business that thrives on simplicity and of course enjoy the mental clarity of having good / supportive systems in place. 

Remember, simplicity is not about sacrificing quality or creativity; it’s about removing distractions and finding harmony between your energy, magic and a stress-free workflow. 

Together we can simplify your systems and processes to create space for your artistry and magic to shine!  Helping you cultivate a sustainable and fulfilling photography business that supports you and your clients.

Want to work together?

If this really resonates with you and you want to find out more – head on over to see how we can work together. Or sign up to my newsletter where I share more tips on how I run a thoughtful & intentional business rooted in slow business values & principles. 

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Does sending oFF a client gallery feel a little *meh*?

Why not craft an intentional goodbye ritual (aka off-boarding workflow) that will help you clients look after their images. A process that will help you get more reviews, sell more albums, and help you and your clients feel soooooooo supported. 

CRAFT AN INTENTIONAL GOODBYE RITUAL

If you’re giving the Gilmore girls a run for their money with your caffeine intake just to keep on top of your ever growing to do list - perhaps it’s time to seek support to build the systems, workflows and strategies to create some breathing room?

With editing, marketing, admin, working with clients and just trying to have a life outside of your photography business it’s no wonder you feel a little frazzled - right?

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