How to Automate Time-Consuming Tasks

“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.”

Wise words from composer Leonard Bernstein. And when you’re running a photography business, they’ll resonate even more. Juggling long-term planning with the day-to-day demands of clients, shoots and admin eats time.

But there are ways to lower your business’ appetite for this precious resource.

Read on to discover how the power of automation can free up helpful hours to shift away from repetitive tasks and move towards maximum efficiency.

1. Identify Time-Hungry Tasks

First off, have a think about what munches the minutes when running your photography business. What regular tasks do you add to your to-do list with a mild sense of dread or boredom?

Maybe it’s the Groundhog Day of drafting client emails. You could type out ‘Thanks very much for your enquiry about wedding photography. I’d be delighted to…’ in your sleep.

Or perhaps it’s the constant switching between different apps – each, ironically, designed to save you time – to get simple jobs done.

Whatever your admin nemesis, there’s a solution.

2. Automate with a CRM

If you’re completely new to digital automation tools, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. The market is a smorgasbord of options.

As a photographer, you’ll likely have the following basics on your wish list:

  • Workflow management for lead capture and project tracking
  • Sending invoices and accepting payments
  • Calendar scheduling and syncing
  • Email and contract templates
  • Questionnaires

And what can tick all these off, and more, is a dedicated customer relationship platform.

A CRM system – also known as studio management software for photographers and creatives – brings it all together. Log in and you’ll have easy access to everything you need to streamline and simplify as many aspects of your business as you choose.

3. Streamline Client Communication

One of the most useful perks of automating admin via a CRM is how it can supercharge client communication.

When you promise exceptional customer experience, doing all you can to deliver it is a must. And no matter how good your intentions and organisational skills, simply noting in a diary when to send key emails increases the chances of human error.

With specialist software in place, you can set up workflows for each client, automate when essential emails and texts are sent and lose any worry about missing an important communication milestone.

Pre-drafted, personalised questionnaires can be sent out to gather key info and templates set up to ensure your brand tone of voice is consistent at every step.

You’ll have the peace of mind they’re getting the right info at the right time, and they’ll appreciate your organisation and responsiveness. And all while your time is freed up to focus on the human touches they’ll welcome.

4. Simplify Invoicing

Manual invoicing has done the job for businesses large and small for centuries. But there’s no denying the old way is ripe for errors and frustration. And is another time devourer.

Automating your invoices delivers multiple benefits:

  • Speeds up your invoice prep: creating and sending an invoice – and any reminders – is much quicker than putting something together in a Word document
  • Streamlines all information: once you’ve sent an invoice or logged an expense, this info is automatically stored within your software, so there’s no need to manually update a separate spreadsheet
  • Clarifies reporting: accounting software allows you to quickly access a financial overview. Who owes you what, what types of work are most profitable, who your most loyal repeat clients are etc
  • Integrates with payment providers: invoices paid via services like Stripe, PayPal and Square will be automatically recorded
  • Boosts professionalism: slick documents will look more professional to clients than a Word document, be delivered more efficiently and leave them with a positive impression of your business

5. Link Tools with Zapier for Seamless Automation

Let’s say you’ve chosen Light Blue as your photography CRM, QuickBooks as your accounting software and Mailchimp as your email marketing platform

All will do their job expertly to speed up specific processes and make running your business easier. But if you want them to work super-seamlessly together, using a tool like Zapier will connect and integrate them all.

This additional automation will shave even more time off day-to-day tasks and free up brain power to focus on the creativity you and your business thrive on.

Zapier acts as a go-between for apps and services by setting up ‘triggers’ which spark ‘actions’ to create a ‘Zap’ or workflow.

For example, a trigger could be ‘new shoot added to Light Blue’ which creates the action ‘add new contact to Mailchimp’. Or the trigger might be ‘record new payment in Light Blue’ leading to the action ‘add transaction to QuickBooks’.

Creating your own set of personalised Zaps means you can select exactly which apps serve your business needs best and ensure they all work smoothly together.

So if you love using Light Blue as your central piece of software but have a Calendly function on your website which works perfectly well, you can link the two together: the trigger is ‘appointment made on Calendly’, the action is ‘add to Light Blue diary’ which will then connect to contracts, workflows and forms.

Discover more time-saving tips about how to use Zapier with Light Blue here.

6. Maximize Efficiency and Productivity

With the right digital tools in place, you can look forward to more time, less stress and the peace of mind that comes from running your business smartly.

Take the time to regularly review your automated processes to ensure they’re working to maximum efficiency and you’re not investing in those which don’t add value.

Automation lets you delegate tasks to technology. Your to-do list will shrink, your productivity will grow and your clients’ satisfaction levels will soar.

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