Time is money, right?
When you are in business by yourself, this motto is even more important.
After nearly 7 years of running a photography business and managing a household with 3 children (and 1 on the way!), I have learned a thing or two about managing my time and money effectively.
Some ways were through trial and error. Others were mistakes I am still paying back.
Whether you are looking to pass the savings onto your clients or increase your profits, these 12 ways will ensure you save money and time.
#1 – Spend less money.
Easier said than done. 🙂
It is a simple and easy way to lower your costs. Step one is to take a look at what you are currently spending and how it relates to how much you are charging and how much business you are doing. My Pricing Workbooks are an excellent and easy tool for this!
The next step is to start tracking your expenses if you are not already doing so. I have a free Expense Tracking spreadsheet available if you do not have your expenses organized.
Finally, once you have those things in check, you need to think carefully about each and every business purchase and how it fits into your business’ budget.
For the first few years in business, I thought small purchases didn’t really matter all that much, since we could write it off at the end of the year. Obviously, this isn’t the case. It really came to a head when I managed my own studio, and my expenses took off. I realized too late how much money I was spending on my business in comparison to how much I was making.
#2 – Share a studio space.
This leads me into my next point, share a studio. If you have a studio space or are looking to move into one, strongly consider sharing. Unless you plan on doing an extremely high workload of sessions, this is the best route to take for small photography business owners.
You can share expenses for the studio and have someone to help with maintaining the space. It’s a fantastic way to have access to your own space without taking on all of the time and work!
#3 – Streamline your workflow.
Establishing a consistent and efficient workflow is essential to maximizing your time. I plan on getting more into detail about workflow (and editing) down the road, however for now, here is a quick overview of how I’m set-up from start to finish for a session or wedding.
- Transfer RAW images to hard drive in client folder.
- Cull images in Photo Mechanic.
- Move culled images over to new folder within client folder.
- Import culled images into Lightroom and rename photos.
- Edit photos in Lightroom.
- Export gallery to Zenfolio.
I keep things straightforward and simple. And, I do the same process for each session or wedding. If I were to do those steps all in one sitting, I would estimate a photo session to take between 1-2 hours and a wedding between 4-5 hours.
#4 – Limit the number of images.
A few years ago, my client’s galleries contained anywhere from 75-100 images. Clients of course loved all of the images, however with too many to choose from, it can get overwhelming. And, it was a waste of time for me to spend on editing all of those images.
Now, in order to keep things reasonable for myself and my clients, the number of images I have in a gallery runs between 20-30.
I do my first initial culling in Photo Mechanic. For instance, if I’m on the fence between two images, I keep them both until I edit in Lightroom. When I do my final edits, I will typically eliminate one of the two images. It’s our job as photographers to do this job for our clients. In reality, unless you are doing a lifestyle or documentary session, the client is only going to print a handful of images.
Don’t shortchange the customer, but don’t overwhelm them either. And, don’t drown yourself in editing.
#5 – Edit in Lightroom.
This ties into the last point about workflow. I do about 95% of my editing in Lightoom and utilize Photoshop only for edits I cannot do in Lightroom.
I do not use any Photoshop actions on any of my photos. I have downloaded and tried a few of them, but I don’t like how much time it takes in comparison to the results I get.
Have my clients ever noticed? No.
I like to explain my point as if you are in an electronics store shopping for a TV. Next to each other, you notice the difference between the lower-end model screen and the higher-end model screen. But, no matter which model you end up going with, the picture is ultimately going to look good in your home by itself.
Yes, you do get crisper photos and edits in Photoshop. However, if you take the photo correctly in camera in the first place, there should not be a need to kick your photos up a notch any more than what you can accomplish with Lightroom.
Now, there is nothing wrong with using Photoshop actions if that’s what you prefer to do or if those actions are part of your brand. Yet, if you are looking to save yourself some time on editing, skipping those actions is a huge time-saver.
#6 – Create Lightroom presets.
Did you know that there are presets you can create in Lightroom for importing, editing, and exporting images? These presets are all huge time-savers!
The importing presets will save customized ways you can rename your images while importing into Lightroom and keep it consistent for all of your images. I have a saved preset for wedding images and one for my portrait sessions.
The editing presets are very important as well. I’m not talking about ones you download or buy, but rather ones you create yourself. It’s almost like creating actions in Lightroom.
For instance, if you know you always adjust the Vibration, Clarity, Sharpness, and Vignetting on all of your Portrait images, create a new preset for those settings. Then, whenever you edit a session, apply that preset to all of the images either when you import or while you are editing.
Finally, when exporting your images, you probably have different settings for images used on your blog, Facebook, online portfolio, galleries, and photo prints. Create an export preset for each one, and all you have to do is simply click the button when exporting images for different purposes.
#7 – Deliver files electronically or via USB drive.
I love this new discovery in the photography industry. Electronic delivery of digital images is the route I choose to go for image delivery, mostly because it’s as simple as dragging and dropping it into a folder, copying the download link, and sending that link to the client.
You can use a monthly subscription service to have access to sending larger files, however I have discovered Copy. It is exactly like Dropbox, but you get 15 GB of free storage right at the start. And, you use my affiliate link, we BOTH get 5 GB of extras storage! So, you can completely eliminate the Costs of Goods sold if you deliver files electronically.
Finally, in many states, electronic delivery of images is exempt from sales tax.
If you would rather your clients have something tangible, a USB drive is the way to go. You simply plug in your client’s USB drive to your computer, transfer their images over, and you are done! And, your clients can continue to bring it back time and time again. As a bonus, it’s a marketing boost for your company if you customize it with your business’ name.
This route doesn’t necessarily save you money vs. a disc delivery, but it sure saves you time. No sitting and waiting for discs to burn. 🙂
#8 – Hire an accountant.
After 7 years, my husband and I decided it was time to hire an accountant. It was one of the best business decisions! Not only are you making sure you are filing your taxes legally, but he found us enough money that we barely had to pay in any additional income taxes. We were both shocked. He more than made up for his fees!
Now, he can assist us in making sure we are making the most of our business and personal funds and maximize our return each and every year. Hiring an account not only saves you time, but also money!
#9 – Stock up during a sale.
No brainer, right? If you know you will need memory cards, packaging, office supplies, etc. I know there are memory cards sales that happen periodically during the year if you keep your eyes open.
Make sure you follow your favorite vendors on the social networking sites and subscribe to their newsletters as well for updates on special deals and sales.
#10 – Keep packaging simple.
While product packaging is important to your business and your brand, overdoing it can be time consuming and a waste of money. Unless you are working with clients who will truly appreciate the intricacies of your packaging, it isn’t worth it.
You can keep it simple and basic, while making your packaging look professional. If you are handy and have the time to spare, making your own product packaging is a route to go. Otherwise, what I do is have custom stickers from StickerYou with my logo, print bags and boxes from Rice Studio Supply, tissue paper, and all of it wrapped up with a simple ribbon. My clients love how it looks. Each package probably costs me under $1. Keep it simple, elegant, and cost efficient!
#11 – Practice efficient blogging.
Keeping your blog updated can be very time consuming. I know the busier you get, the harder it is to blog consistently. I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t put one blog entry in during the month of July!
Blogging regularly is important to having a strong web presence and for SEO, so skipping out on that can be losing you business. Just like having a streamlined and consistent workflow for culling, editing, and presenting your images, you should have a similar workflow for blogging.
First and foremost, you need to check out Blogstomp for getting your images formatted and watermarked for blogging. You can even utilize this tool for posting images on Facebook. You can easily select your images and create collages with a click of the button. And, with the newer version, you have even more creative control over the number of images you want in your collage and how you want them organized.
Secondly, take the time after posting a session to immediately blog the session. Make it part of your workflow and always do it.
Finally, don’t rush through the entry and miss important elements, such as naming your images (vs. IMG_1234) and writing a blurb about your clients and their session. Those are all essential to SEO, which in turn helps people better find your site online.
#12 – Wait on major purchases or changes.
This doesn’t seem very obvious as a reason to save you time and money. Unless the major change/purchase is going to make you money, is necessary to continue to run your business, or is an incredibly good deal, it is wise to wait until the off-season or when you would have more time on your hands.
Here is why this is important. Let’s say you decide to upgrade your camera in the middle of September. There is a learning curve that goes with any new piece of equipment. For us photographers, this is especially true.
There may be hiccups with how the equipment or software functions in comparison to what your old equipment did. Or, you may have compatibility issues. Your sessions may take longer because you are still learning how your equipment works.
I’ll admit this isn’t a major time-saver, however it is one way to effectively manage your time efficiently.
What have you done to save your business time and money?
I’m sure there are other ways out there that I haven’t mentioned. What creative and unique ways have you found to save your business time and/or money? Did you have to learn the hard way before making a change? If you had to choose, would you work more to make up for additional expenses or cut more expenses and work less? Comment below!
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