Running a business means you are wearing 10-15 hats on any given day: social media planner, content writer, financier, client management system expert, Pinterest guru. The list truly goes on and on!
Along the way, I have learned the most important lesson a business owner can learn. You can’t do it all. There are things I am just not that good at (I’m looking at you, taxes!) and those are the things I will gladly pay someone or something to do for me. And since I get asked how I keep this business running smoothly by fellow creatives all the time, I thought I should share some of the tools and resources that I use daily to help run my business.
If you have questions about any of these, please feel free to email me! I am not getting paid by any of these companies to advocate for their products. I love them and want to share the love. Everything here I have personally used myself and can vouch for!
*Some of the below links are affiliate links!*
The Ultimate Client Management Software
Flashback to six years ago. Photography is still a small side business for me. While I am booking a few sessions, I’m not making real money off of this passion yet. But I was already tired of being paid via check (awkward!) and having to mail and photocopy and mail back contracts. It was tedious and felt out of date. I knew there had to be a better way, and then I caught wind of new software called Honeybook. I did not have the money to purchase it. I wasn’t booking enough sessions to justify the expense of a client management software. I deliberated for a few days and finally bit the bullet. Best. Decision. Ever.
By some stroke of luck (and a lot of faith in myself) I had a client management system in place before I had a massive influx of clients. We’re talking 1-2 clients a month. But I took that time to set up my Honeybook account. I input contracts, brochures, packages, invoice templates, and absolutely everything I could! A few months later, my husband and I decided to move our lives to Hawaii. Within six months, I was now booking 5-6 clients a month. Six months after that? 15 clients a month. And today? Today I don’t know where I’d be without this system. On any given month, I am efficiently handling communication, booking, and delivery for 60+ clients. Honeybook saved my solopreneur butt more times than I can count! A real, real must for any small business owner.
By the way, that amount I could not afford? $450. I’m so glad I took that leap.
For 50% off your first year, join Honeybook through my link!
2. Catch + Track
Taxes and Savings Software
I won’t pretend managing finances is easy. It is necessary, however. I don’t know everything about accounting, but I know my business books inside and out. I check my numbers weekly and monthly to make sure we’re on track. I know where every penny goes, and I can confidently say that I am putting aside money from every paycheck for taxes, retirement, healthcare, vacation, and big purchase goals. How? Not manually!
The first tool we use is called Track. You input necessary withholding information (married or single) and state you file taxes in, and they do the rest! They even make quarterly tax payments for you automatically! We never have to worry that we are putting aside enough money for taxes because Track, well, keeps us on track.
Sign up for Track – https://www.track.tax/
The second tool is called Catch.Co. The concept is the same, but Catch has a few more features we love. You can customize the exact percentage you want to set aside from each paycheck for retirement goals, healthcare, and vacation. It is a bit more flexible than Track. We like using both of these tools, and this past year of filing our taxes was a breeze. Well, as easy as filing taxes can be.
Sign up for Catch.Co – https://app.catch.co/?r=MAT061
3. Mile IQ
Once my business started to pick up, I wanted an easy way to track my mileage for drives for business needs like sessions and client meetings. The idea of manually tallying up my miles seemed like a nightmare, and I am not the kind of person who will remember to write down my mileage before and after every trip. Automatic was key. Enter MileIQ. It is an app on your phone, and it catches all of your drives for you. All you have to do is categorize each trip as either business or personal. At the end of the year, they send us a document with all of our drives and the dollar amount for our business miles spelled out for you. Our tax guy loved us for this! Because it uses the GPS on your phone, we know it is accurate, and it is one less major thing we have to do.
In 2018, MileIQ caught over $4,000 worth of business trip write-offs for us. If you are driving for your business, this is a no brainer!
Sign up for MileIQ – https://www.mileiq.com/invite/NBGMA
Online Gallery Delivery System
There are a lot of gallery systems out there for photographers to use! I don’t want to start a debate about which one is best. What I know for sure is that Pixieset is the best one for me. The features allow me to deliver, stunning galleries to each of my clients. I can personalize galleries to fit the mood of the images and the family. The flexibility is amazing!
On the business side of things, I use Pixieset to create custom coupon codes and price sheets that allow me to sell digital images and gallery upgrades – a change I brought to my business in 2017. Pixieset walks my clients through how to purchase their pictures, and I rarely have an issue with clients being confused. It is sturdy, affordable, and does absolutely everything I need it to and more!
BONUS: They are releasing new features every month! The mobile app gallery delivery has been a much-loved gift I give to my clients. They love being able to share their beautiful Hawaii images with friends and family on their phones, and I don’t mind the extra bit of marketing help it brings, too!
Sign up for Pixieset – https://pixieset.com/ref/Rxe9bb05KM
5. Later + Tailwind
Social Media Management Tools
There are not enough hours in the day for one person to post on social media the number of times all of the “influencers” and “creative marketing gurus” tell us we need to to stay relevant. Posting to Instagram 3x per day and Pinterest 5x per day?! What the heck! I thought I was a photographer not a social media manager. And yet, for the past year, I have been able to consistently show up on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest with the help of these two tools.
I use Later for Instagram and Facebook post scheduling. It is a visual scheduler, which means it allows me to see my grid as I am scheduling. But the real reason I love Later is that I can plan from my desktop. I did not want to be chained to my phone every hour of the day, so being able to schedule from my computer means I can work more quickly and it prevents me from being constantly distracted by social media. I use it to schedule my posts out up to one month at a time, and I’m still able to add in new social media posts for sneak peeks or life updates whenever I want. It is also easy to use, which was a must for me!
Sign up for Later – https://later.com/r/179db5
Tailwind is the online tool that I use for Pinterest scheduling. I can schedule out a months work of Pinterest content in under an hour. And we’re talking 4-5 posts a day! I can grab content from my blog on my website, write Pinterest captions, and organize my boards all from their online dashboard. It is great! I’ll be honest; there is a bit of a learning curve with Tailwind. But thankfully they have a ton of video guides to walk you through every step. Once you get the hang of it, it is a breeze. It is also wildly influential. It is delivering metrics every week to help you understand what content is getting seen and working vs. content that isn’t performing as well.
Sign up for Tailwind – https://www.tailwindapp.com/i/aislinnvictoria
For a comprehensive list of all the business resources I use, along with gear information – head to https://www.wildesparrow.com/resources .