As a photography business owner, what comes to your mind when you think about the best tools for photographers? Maybe your photo editing software or your camera lenses. But what if there’s something you’re missing? Namely, the business aspect of your photography practice.
Growing your online photography business can be challenging, from setting up a stunning portfolio to finding clients to offering them a great experience during and after their photography session.
Every stage of establishing and growing your business seems to involve a new challenge. But you don’t have to do everything by hand. There are countless available tools that can make your everyday activities smoother and more manageable. Having too many options can drive you into decision paralysis, so you may dismiss your toolkit as something to think about some another day.
Partially automating your business is priceless. Picking the right tools can save you time and money while keeping you focused on what truly matters: perfecting your craft. In this post, we’ll share the seven best tools for photographers who want to grow their business. We’ll also include some tips on how to pick the best tools for your business.
READ MORE: Make Money with Photography guide
Social Media for Photographers: Scheduling Tools
All businesses can benefit from being on social media. For photographers, having an active Instagram presence means fostering a fanbase, which often includes potential clients. But Instagram isn’t the only platform you should be in.
There isn’t an infallible “social media for photographers” strategy that will work for everyone. Which platforms you should be on and your social media activity should depend upon your business’ particular characteristics.
For instance, while fashion photographers will benefit from being on Instagram, a presence on Behance, a social platform that showcases creative work, will also produce results. On Behance, a fashion photographer can connect with colleagues and other creatives – it’s where you go to find potential creative partners.
But Behance is unlikely to drive much business for a wedding photographer. If you work with individuals to capture their most precious personal moments, investing time in growing a Facebook following will do the trick.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and measure your results along the way so you can recognize what works and replicate it.
Being able to schedule social media content in advance is a lifesaver for small business owners. There are several social media scheduling tools you can choose from, including Buffer and Hootsuite, which are both top-rated options. Some tools allow cross-posting but are designed for a specific platform, for example, Later, an Instagram-focused tool.
An Email Automation Platform
Email is the high-ROI marketing channel of thousands of small businesses around the globe. If you, too, can create and manage email marketing campaigns, picking the best tool for your use case is key.
Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, and Hubspot are some of the most popular options. To engage your subscriber list, you need one to begin with. If your business is not there yet, and you just need a tool to automate a few messages per month, Boomerang for Gmail could be your best choice.
Graphic Design on the Go
Quality graphic design is essential to having a vibrant and compelling presence on social media for both photographers and non-photographers. But when you’re promoting your visual production, poor design can severely sabotage your marketing efforts.
While you may use tools like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom to edit your work, sometimes you’re on the run. When there’s no time between sessions to sit down, grab a coffee, turn on your laptop, and edit some content for your social media presence, a graphic design app can save the day.
Apps like Adobe Spark or Canva are a great helping hand for small business owners. Canva is usually the top choice in this category since it offers a wide variety of trendy templates and plenty of room for customization. To create a photo book with your designed pics, you can try using Mixbook’s online tool.
An SEO Course for Small Business Owners
Small business owners may dismiss SEO. Search Engine Optimization is a complex discipline with a steep learning curve. And it can be incredibly complicated if you have to take care of it while managing a whole business.
While SEO is one of those areas of your business that you’ll eventually grow to delegate, you’ll need to adopt SEO techniques soon to allow potential clients to find your website. Turning your portfolio into a sales and marketing asset is impossible without an SEO strategy.
Google offers numerous free resources for small business owners through Grow with Google and Digital Garage. But if you’re able to invest in this type of training, don’t hesitate to do so. A course that focuses on SEO for photographers will take your business’ specific needs into account and offer relatable advice.
Some courses you may want to explore are:
- The SEO course by Fuel Your Photos, a companion to their equally comprehensive Blogging for Photographers course.
- IPSM’s SEO for Photographers, a solid introduction to the logic behind successful SEO.
- Travelstoked’s complete course on SEO for Photographers, which guides students through building a high-converting website.
A Content Management System
Your portfolio is an essential part of your business. Along with showcasing your best work, it can also host supporting content that shows that your abilities go far beyond just photography. You also provide excellent customer service, and your thoughts on your craft place you far ahead of the curve.
But how can you assemble a portfolio that is also a sales asset? Picking the proper content management system (CMS) is a good first step. Over 27 million websites worldwide use self-hosted WordPress (a WordPress installation that runs on a third-party server) as their CMS. You can pick any WordPress hosting you want, install WordPress, and get going. From that point on, you can turn your site into anything you want, with no constraints.
If you pick WordPress as your content management system, you can use themes such as Portra. Plugins such as WP Portfolio may also be helpful.
Full-Featured Invoicing Software
An accounting tool that helps you create and keep track of invoices can save you lots of time and many headaches.
Freelancers often use tools like Bonsai to manage projects, track billable hours, and manage invoices. Toggl and Hubstaff can be good choices for small businesses, especially if you’ve started to subcontract daily.
When we’re dealing with invoicing software, there are many features we can consider essentials, depending on our specific case.
- The ability to provide specific payment gateways integrated into our invoices.
- Automatic payment reminders.
- The ability to track the billable hours of several employees at a time.
- The ability to automatically add some extra expenses to the invoices.
- Automatic tax calculation.
- Revenue tracking and cash flow management functionalities.
How to Pick the Best Tools for Photographers
You’ll need to have two main dimensions in mind when assembling your toolkit: features and price.
Tools are investments. They should work for you, help you level-up your process and save time. If a tool isn’t making your life easier, there’s no use in having it. Luckily, most of the online tools for photographers we mentioned offer a free version or a free trial, so you can try a couple of alternatives before making a final decision.
If you find a tool that’s just what you need, but you can’t afford it yet, don’t just forget about it. Leave it on the back burner and come back to it when your business scales.
It’s always important to know the difference between essential and non-essential when it comes to features. While essentials are what made you choose that tool over a competitor, non-essentials could either be “nice-to-haves” or potential hindrances. A very crowded UI that’s full of options is not always desirable. Especially if you’re a small business and won’t use that many features, it can make things slower, not smoother, and overwhelm future collaborators.
In this post, we took a look at the seven best tools for photographers who are starting their online business.
- A social media scheduling tool.
- An email automation platform.
- A graphic design app.
- A content management system.
- Full-featured invoicing software.
- A solid understanding of SEO for photographers.
Creative businesses often overlook their business needs. You know you need the best tools for photographers like Photoshop or an excellent tripod to provide your service, but what about running your business? Having practical tools and processes can help you organize your time more efficiently, focus on what matters, and grow your photography business.