Photography Business on Autopilot: 14 Immediate Steps to Embrace Automation


In episode 483 of the Business of Photography Podcast, you’ll learn how to automate certain aspects of your photography business to alleviate the constant struggle between creativity and business. By embracing automation, you can reclaim time and mental energy, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in your artistic pursuits and rediscover the passion that initially drove you to become a photographer.

You’ll learn:

  • The Momentum Method
  • The 4 benefits of automating your photography business
  • 14 things you can automate in your photography business TODAY!

Links and resources:

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Photography Business on Autopilot: 14 Immediate Steps to Embrace Automation

Named best of iTunes, The Business of Photography is a weekly podcast where we interview industry experts and business specialists who share high-value, no-fluff, concrete business ideas for professional photographers.

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Welcome to the Business of Photography podcast powered by Sprout Studio, a studio management suite built for photographers by photographers. Here’s your host, Bryan Caper. Hi, and welcome to The Business of Photography podcast where we deep dive into the business side of being a professional photographer. My name is Bryan Cap and this is episode 483.

Have you ever felt like your business is almost in a way holding you back instead of propelling you forward and helping you achieve your goals and help you design the life that you hope to be able to have with your business. Do you struggle with overwhelming tasks or missed opportunities and a constant feeling of being just buried underneath the day to day chaos of being a photographer? It’s ok because in today’s episode, you’re going to be learning a framework that will hopefully transform the way that you approach your photography business. Today. You will learn the eight ways that your business may be dragging you down. The 10 essential types of work that you do as a photographer and introduce you to the powerful momentum method framework.

We’re also going to explore the four benefits of automation. And we’ve built a list of 14 things that you can immediately start implementing and automating in your business. Today. Today’s episode is highly actionable. It’s straight to the point. And if you listen and implement, I promise it will be a game changer.

Get ready to reclaim your time, enhance your client experience and propel your business towards success dive right in the eight ways that your business is dragging you down. If you’ve been feeling like you’re stuck in a rut or like your business isn’t growing as fast as it should be. And I think it’s something you probably will be able to identify with. Um pretty quickly because we all have these ideas of where we want to be in our business and what success looks like. We’ve all kind of defined um what success looks like in our own ways. There’s even some photographers and I’ve had this conversation many times before about confidence and about setting milestones around this idea of like, defining what does professional look like? Like, what does a professional photographer look like? Because a lot of photographers don’t even get themselves to that point and, and maybe you can identify with that, maybe you can’t. But a lot of the times they’ll get themselves to this place where they’re like, yeah, you know, when I’m a professional or I’m not quite there yet to be a professional. Um So maybe you identify with that side of things, but either way what we’re talking about here when it comes to the eight ways that your business could be dragging you down.

We’re talking about similar challenges, whether you’ve been a photographer for 10 or 15 years or whether you’ve been a photographer for 10 or 15 days, many photographers, they face similar challenges that hinder their progress and hold them back from actually being able to reach the potential that their business can give them. And so we’re gonna dive into those eight things right now. So the eight ways that your business could be dragging you down. Number one inefficient client communication, I guess I should caveat. Maybe. Let me step back for a minute here.

We’re talking about the business of photography here. I, I’m hoping that’s sort of assumed because this is the business of photography podcast. We’re not going to talk about the photography skills that you have or your lighting or your posing or your gear choice or your lens selection, um or anything like that. We’re talking about the business side, all the back end stuff that you do. Um Arguably even front ended to an extent. But the 80% of the work that you do as a professional photographer because we know that success in photography is 80% business and 20% photography and the best photographers in the world.

Those that are making a great living doing this thing that they love to do. They understand this nuance this, this marriage between business and creativity. And so today, when we’re talking about these eight things in your business that could be dragging you down just to be clear, we’re talking about the business side, not the photography side. Ok, let’s revisit that number one inefficient client communications.

Um, and I’m gonna kind of quickly go through this. We also have an article that I’ve written all about this entire topic. It’s thorough, it’s in depth. It lists all these things that with more explanations and examples and all of that. So if you want to go and read this content, um then we definitely encourage you to hop on over to our show notes for this episode to find that article. So you can read this. But let’s run through these number one inefficient client communication. So that’s where um you’re just dropping the ball um with your clients, you’re struggling with delays with timing, with back and forth with just organization. Um And you are not giving the kind of experience to your clients and the kind of service to your clients that you’d like to be able to be giving them. So that is the first thing on the eight ways that your business could be dragging you down inefficient client communication.

Number two time consuming admin tasks. If you’re spending too much time in those nuanced to needs the back and forth the scheduling appointments invoicing like all of those kinds of things, it’s just taking time away from you doing the work that actually moves the needle and from you doing the work that you actually enjoy to do as a photographer. Because I would bet that you got into photography because you love photography. If you don’t, you, you might be in the wrong industry, but you got into photography because you love the creative side of being a photographer and all of that time consuming admin work, all of that time consuming sort of monotonous business work um can be draining for us as creatives. And so it could be hurting your business.

Number three, a disorganized workflow. So if you’re a workflow, um now this could be a workflow like, you know, capital “W” with like a big picture workflow or it could be workflow small “w” where you have multiple of them and you’ve got little work flows that you do for different things in your business. If your workflow is disjointed or disorganized and if it’s overwhelming and chaotic and different all the time and inconsistent um with missed deadlines and, and if you’re just always feeling like you’re being buried behind the day to day work, then your, your work flow could be disorganized and so it could be really draining you and stopping you from being a productive person. Number four, inconsistent client experiences, this is um a big part of what really drains.

A lot of experienced photographers, experienced photographers might have great intentions, they have great ideas they have great ideals, but they’re inconsistent with giving their clients the same experience over and over again. So if you have variations in how you communicate with clients or your timelines or your deliverables, and so then therefore, it results in this inconsistent experience that you give client A to client B to client C to client D, then you’re going to be potentially falling short of the expectations and the standards that you’re setting for yourself as a photographer, as a business person, as a creative, as someone that really cares about the experience that you give to your clients. If you’re being inconsistent with that, you’re not only letting your clients down, but you’re letting yourself down. So that could be dragging your business down. Then therefore, number five delayed deliverables. This is probably one that I would bet you can relate to a lot of photographers get to a point where they get so overwhelmed that they’re just not delivering on the work that they say that they’re going to be delivering on. Now. That could be from a pure quality standpoint.

It’s just not there from a quality standpoint or more often than not. It’s about timing. It’s about you, you’ve promised two weeks and you have to wait and your client emails and says, hey, what’s, what’s going on with that thing at three weeks? And you’re like, oh right then you know, you kind of rush and get it done then. So delayed deliverables can be a huge pivot, it can be a huge lever in your business for what is actually dragging your business down because that has such a rippling effect on your business, on your client experience, on referrals, on repeat business, on your own mental clarity, insanity and mental health. So there’s a lot of impacts there but delayed deliverables um are are a huge way that your business can be dragging you down.

Number six missed opportunities. So if you do not have a consistent way to follow up with clients, to follow up with leads to call prospects to, you know, networking, whatever if you’re, if you don’t have a great system for staying organized and being able to follow up on these things in a way that’s almost like robotic. Um Then you’re missing a lot of opportunities. Like every potential referral, every lead, every prospect, every networking opportunity has great value for you, potential value for you. If you’re not optimizing on that, then you’re literally losing money. And so it could be really hurting your business. Uh Number seven, in terms of the eight ways that your business could be dragging you down overwhelm and burn out.

Let me pause for a minute on this one because this one, this one hits hard. We all feel it. We all know it. But one of the things that you might be able to um align with or, you know, raise your hand to is that you probably wear too many hats in your business and you probably feel like you’re constantly juggling and, and, you know, keeping up in the air, what feels like 100 spinning plates and I just, I mixed a couple of analogies, but you are just doing too much work. You’re burning yourself out, you’re burning the candle at both ends. And so when you get to that place, it’s not good for you.

It’s not good for your clients. It’s not good for your family. It’s not good for anything. And so this burnout culture, this hustle culture, this feeling of being overwhelmed is significantly hurting your business, even though it feels counterintuitive because you might think, well, I don’t have time to slow down. Otherwise my business will get hurt. I promise you you’re doing more damage by burning yourself out than you are by hustling and grinding and gritting through those feelings.

The eighth way that your business could be dragged down is if you have suboptimal insight into your business. So if you’re manually tracking everything, I mean, that’s even better than not tracking anything, but most photographers are probably not tracking things in their business. So if you’re looking at the metrics or trying to make decisions in your business or trying to understand what’s working, what’s not working or looking back and doing a monthly retrospective or doing an annual or a quarterly retrospective and trying to figure out how’s my business doing what’s going on, what’s happening. If you don’t have great insight into your business, that is a massive lever that you could be utilizing, if you had that insight to grow your business and to know what’s working, what’s not where you should focus on where you shouldn’t. But if you have some optimal insight into that side of your business, then you’re missing a huge opportunity and that’s very likely dragging you down. So those are the eight ways that your business could be dragging you down. So let’s kind of now get into this idea of as a photographer.

You know, we talked about wearing hats. You’re kind of jumping around into different ways of existing, of different thought processes of different creative work flows um of different uh hats, I guess that you have to swap on and off. But there are 10 different kinds of work that you will be doing in a typical day or in a typical week or in a typical month in your business, you’re doing these 10 different buckets of work and very likely you switch between them seamlessly without even knowing you’re probably doing it 100 times daily. And, and again, it’s OK.

It’s, it’s all right because that’s, that’s part of what we do as photographers. It’s part of the gig um and, and embracing that and being able to be a diverse, creative and a diverse business person and a diverse productive person in your business is a really good thing. It’s what makes us tick, it’s what makes us different as entrepreneurs, as creatives, as, as freelancers, as photographers. But it’s important to be able to label those buckets of work. It’s important to be able to name them, to point to them and say, oh, I’m in this mode or I’m in this mode or I’m doing this kind of work now and it’s good for a couple of reasons. And I actually talk about this in the article that I wrote that accompanies this podcast. So I do encourage you to go and read that to better understand why it makes such a difference to be able to understand the kind of work, the buckets of work, the umbrellas of work that you’re doing in your business. But let’s kind of run through and label them just to kind of give you a bit of an idea. And again, I do encourage you to go back and read the article, we have it linked in the show notes for this episode to better understand why these things are important and also maybe just understand what is comprised in this work. But let’s kind of run through these 10 things.

Number one that so again, 10 kinds of work that you do in your business. These are the buckets of workers, mostly the only work that you’re doing in your business. These that can fall into one of these 10 things. Number one you’re creating. So that is making photography. It is like when you’re doing the work, number two, creative planning, that’s planning for the work that you do while you’re creating.

Number three, collaborating, that’s meeting with clients, guiding them, collaborating with them so on and so forth. Number four, postproduction, obvious number five admin that’s back end management tasks, finances, contracts and so on and so forth. Number six community that’s replying to emails and D MS and chats and calls and so on and so forth. Number seven, business development, that’s when you are actually building and implementing uh your business growth strategies, marketing strategies, sort of CEO work. Number eight professional development, continuous learning and growth, workshops, conventions, so on and so forth. Number nine workflow management, that’s when you’re getting in and you’re doing your digital asset management, you’re optimizing your workflow, that’s kind of some CEO work as well in there. And then number 10, networking, that’s when you’re out there, you’re in front of other people.

You could be networking with building relationships both in the industry and out of the industry. So those are the 10 different buckets of work that you could be doing in your business and to understand more of the nuance there. And also why it’s so important for you to know these things come on over and check out the article and read the article that I wrote that is associated with this podcast episode. We have it linked in the show notes for this episode.

Now, let’s let’s go into this, this idea, this framework that we’ve built called the Momentum Method. Now, the Momentum method is um a tool and a framework that allows you to get in. And um certainly there’s a couple of benefits. Um Actually, I’m gonna gonna list them out. Number one, this momentum method framework allows you to reclaim time and mental energy that you might be expending.

Otherwise, number two, it allows you to more fully immerse yourself in the creative pursuit that you love, which is photography. And then number three, it allows you to rediscover the passion that drove you to become a photographer because a lot of the times photographers that turn their passion into a profit end up falling out of love with this stuff. So by following, following the momentum method, by following the momentum method frame, we try saying that five times fast, you will be able to do those things. And also at the same time, you’re gonna be able to give your clients what they deserve, what they deserve. So I’m gonna walk you through the momentum method right now. And there’s three questions that you’re gonna ask yourself through and this is sort of the whole thing in a nutshell. Um For every single task or workflow or project or engagement or dialogue, everything that you’re gonna do in your business from this point on, you’re gonna ask yourself these 3 questions which are at the core of the momentum method framework. So question number 1, can this be done without my direct involvement? And if so automate it if not continue on? Number 2, can I do this next time faster with less work?

If so accelerate it, if not continue to the next question. And then number 3, can this be simplified and standardized to reduce friction? And if so align it, those are the 3 questions. And again, we have all of this in the article that we wrote that accompanies this podcast, you can find it on the show notes page, but I’m gonna read through those three questions again. Can this be done without my direct involvement? If so automate it, can this be done next time faster with less work? If so accelerate it, can this be done or can this be simplified and standardized to reduce friction if so align it? So the three actions there are automated, accelerate it, align it, you do them in that order.

If you can automate it, do it move on, if you can accelerate it, do it move on. If you can align it, do it, move on. So they kind of filter through each other. Now, we’ve kind of got examples of all these things. We have more details. And nuance again in the article that accompanies this, I’m not gonna go into all of that here, but that framework alone, I promise you that framework alone will save you 20 hours a week, the first week that you implement this thing, it is such an impactful framework to follow such an impactful way to look at the work that you do in your business to be more intentional and deliberate and uh intelligent about the way that you spend your time that if you can implement this automate accelerate, align the momentum method framework, it is going to completely shift everything that you do in your business by following those three things. So I do encourage you to take action on those specific parts because that part will have such an exponential benefit to you and your business. And again, go check out the article that accompanies this podcast because I go in de in detail on all of those things there.

Now, let’s take the first one which is automation and let’s break that apart. Let’s kind of like dive into that a little bit and understand maybe some of the nuance of that because that’s one of the ones that is the easiest. It’s like the lowest hanging fruit, 80% of the work that you’re doing right now, mainly probably could be automated. And so we want to use that as the biggest opportunity to scale and to grow and to exponentially pour back time into your own calendar and take away from the work that you’re otherwise doing manually. So you can spend more of that time doing the creative, fulfilling fruitful kind of work. So let’s just kind of like run through what I believe are the four benefits of automation.

Now, this is something that I think is really important to specifically discuss because a lot of photographers have a hard time with automation. They feel like it’s being impersonal, they feel like it’s being robotic, they feel like it’s being an autopilot and they just feel like they lose a bit of themselves through the process of automation. And that’s not the case at all. And I want to talk about the four benefits of why that’s not the case. So the four benefits of automation, number one, it’s going to build more time for creativity because when you put automation in place, whatever that looks like and, and we actually have a tonn of examples that we’ve talked about in the article that accompanies this. But when you put automation in place, you’re gonna have more time and more space creatively to turn on that artistic process, to turn on that creative switch, you’re gonna be able to explore new ideas.

Like, remember those things that we talked about earlier of the 10 different ways, you can spend your time if you’re spending too much time on the admin work. If you’re spending too much time doing things manually, you don’t have much time for that creative work, you don’t have much time for the planning of the creative work. So the more time that you can put into the automation bucket, the less time you have to manually do those things. And so you can have more time for creativity benefit. Number one benefit. Number two, an enhanced client experience.

See, I believe that automation can actually make your client experience better. Whereas a lot of photographers would be like, well, it’s gonna become more, less impersonal or less personal, more impersonal. Um it’s going to be more robotic, it’s going to feel less like it’s me. Not the case if you streamline it, if you do it the right way, if you use the right tools, if you do it with the right intention, you can actually give a more seamless and efficient client experience.

Think about things like prompt responses and timely deliverables and clear communication and being consistent with what you’re saying, it’s going to impress your clients, it’s going to lead to higher satisfaction. It’s gonna give more referrals, better repeat business. There’s so many benefits from it by just implementing the right tools, the right way to your clients. So enhanced client experience. Number three, this one’s pretty obvious but increased productivity. If you can take what you were doing manually for 20 hours a week and put that on autopilot, what are you gonna do with that? 20 hours now? Like that’s just a huge lift in productivity. So you’re going to be able to therefore get more done in less time and or have better work life balance and or spend more time doing the things that you love to do all while all this stuff is on autopilot. Huge benefit benefit. Number four, business growth, scalability.

This is what we all want to see. You’re gonna be able to make more money, you’re gonna be able to grow your business. You’re gonna be able to grow a sustainable photography business that can actually scale with you. You can bring on more photographers, you can bring on more clients, more higher quality clients. It’s a lot of benefits from it. But by doing these things and implanting the right systems, you’re building a solid foundation that you can now build your business on top of to grow and to scale with you.

Those are the four benefits of automation in your business. Now, um we’re gonna leave this episode with some examples of some things that you can automate in your business and I’m gonna kind of just rapid fire through these because again, we do have them all um in more detail in the article that accompanies this episode. So we’re trying some new things here um behind the scenes on the podcast to have articles that you can read that are more thorough and in depth that accompany the podcast. That way you can sort of listen to the podcast as we’re hanging out here and talking and then as we go in and you want to sort of actually take action on these things, you can go and read the article, you can make notes, you can print it out, so on and so forth. So let’s run through these 14 examples that you can automate in your business today.

Now, these are all low barriers to entry. These are all easy to get into. Um And for all of them in the article, I’ve given examples, specific examples of tools and Softwares that you can use to do every one of these things, not all at once, but like every for every one of them, we’ve, I’ve given you 34 or five examples of like, hey, like use this for scheduling, use this for backup, use this for this. So we’ve got examples for all these things. So if you’re looking for some inspiration, then we have all of that listed um over on the website. So definitely go and check out the article that accompanies. So let’s let’s kind of fire through these 14 things that you can automate in your business today.

Number one, invoice, reminders, number two expense categorization. Number three, scheduling, number four, digital asset management and cloud backups. Number five, post production, number six email templates. Number seven contract signing, number eight social media scheduling number nine client onboarding. Number 10 handwritten cards. Number 11 gift giving, number 12 client surveys and number 13 testimonials.

Oh and and now number 14 lead follow up, holy cow. If you implement two of those 14, it’ll be game changing if you implement four. If you just like run through and you’re like, you know what, I’m going to commit myself to making a difference in my business. And I’m gonna implement all 14 of these. I promise you the business that you have one month from today is going to be a completely unrecognizable business if you implement all of these 14 things. So my encouragement, my challenge to you.

I know, I know that only 1% of you listening and you watching will actually do all 14 of these things. Gosh, I just want to encourage you. That’s like you right now that’s watching and listening that I’m talking to, I’m staring in your eyes. If you’re watching me on youtube where I’m, I’m talking directly into your like brain. If you’re listening to the podcast, I want you to be the one that does all 14 of these.

I want you to be the 1%. I want you to be the 1% so bad because if you do, if you can, you are going to reach all of your goals as a photographer, as a person, as an entrepreneur, as, as a, as a father, as a wife, as a husband, as a, as a mother, as a person, as a leader, as a photographer, as someone in your community, whatever it is that these things can make such a difference that enable you to do this thing that you love to do and make a great living doing it. I want you to be the 1%. That’s what we have for today’s podcast.

I know it was a beefy one. A lot of content in here. I told you it’d be highly actionable. So I hope that you don’t mind that. Um But I do encourage you to come and check out the show notes for this episode and definitely encourage you to go and read the article that accompanies this episode because I go in depth on all of these things there um as well as our seeds to success email that we have where I’ve actually written some sample scripts for you for some of these things. So there’s a lot of like follow up and actionable that you can take from this episode, but I hope that you enjoyed it and I hope that you actually do take action and I hope that you become that one present. Thank you so much for listening and we’ll talk to you in the next episode. Thanks for listening to the Business of Photography podcast powered by Sprout Studio, a studio management suite built for photographers by photographers. You can do it all in one place with Sprout studio. Stay organized, give your clients a seamless experience and get more done faster visit, gets Sprouts studio dot com to learn more about Sprout studio.


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