Mastering your workflow
When you’ve only got one or two shoots to worry about, it’s easy to remember all of the important things that you need to do. However, once you’re at the stage where you’re dealing with multiple jobs that are all at different stages, keeping track of what needs to be done next can be a headache!
Whether or not you’ve planned it that way, every successful photography business has a series of steps that you need to go through to make sure that you’re delivering the best possible service to your clients. Light Blue’s powerful workflows can add a list of tasks and automated messages based around the date of the shoot (or another important date), so you are reminded with a task when you need to do something and important emails and text messages are sent automatically.
In this guide we’ll cover:
- What a workflow is,
- The different things that can be included in a workflow,
- Setting default workflows
- Some example workflows to help you to get started
Lists of things based around an important date
A workflow is a list of tasks and messages that are based around an important date. Tasks can become due, and messages scheduled to be sent, a set number of days before, on or after an important date.
You will have several different important dates for a shoot, so you can set up a different workflow to be based around each of them.
For example, you may have:
- An enquiry workflow based on the date that your client first got in touch with you.
- A confirmation workflow based around the date that your client confirmed that the shoot was definitely going ahead.
- A shoot workflow based around the date that you are taking the photos.
- Product or marketing workflows based around any date you like.
Different items that can make up a workflow
Tasks are the most basic part of a workflow. These are items that would appear on your to do list as tasks to be completed.
Name: A short description of the task that you wish to complete. For example “check equipment“, “edit images“ or “ make follow-up phone call“
Offset: The number of days before or after the important date that the workflow is based around when this task will become due.
For example, if the workflow is going to be based around the date of the shoot and you want the task to be due the day before the shoot, the offset would be -1. If the workflow is going to be based around the enquiry date (the date that you received the enquiry) and you wish to have a task due one week later, the offset would be 7 days.
Staff: Tasks can be assigned to specific staff members within your team. If a certain staff member always undertakes a certain task, for example you have a dedicated editor, then the task can be assigned to them. If you’re not sure, leave this blank.
Category: You can group your tasks into categories. This is helpful when you want to concentrate on a particular type of work (for example doing all of your post production at once). You can create as many task categories as you like. Some typical examples would be post production, marketing, admin, or phone calls.
When you include an email in a workflow, the template message will be scheduled and sent automatically. If your email template uses MailMerge tags, then light blue will use the most up-to-date information from the shoot and contact record when sending the message. This means that if you’ve changed some details about the shoot between and in the workflow and the message getting sent, the right details will be included in the message that goes to your client.
Email template: The email template that you want to use. Read more about email templates here.
Offset: The number of days before or after the important date that the workflow is based around, that you want the message to be sent. For example if you want to send a reminder email to your portrait clients a couple of days before the shoot, the offset would be -2. If you want to send a follow-up email a few days after the enquiry, the offset could be 5 (five days after the enquiry). If you wanted to send a confirmation email on the day that your client confirmed the booking, you could set the offset to 0.
Time: if you want the email to be sent at a particular time of day, then you can set a time here. We will use your local time zone to send the message. If you leave this time blank, then we’ll send the message at 9am.
Similar to emails, it’s possible to schedule text messages to be sent as part of a workflow as well. All of the same principles that apply to emails also apply to text messages in workflows.
Setting default workflows
Once you’ve created your workflows, you can make sure that they’re used at the right time by setting them as default workflows.
If all your shoots will use the same workflows, you can do this in the Shoots tab of the General Preferences window.
Here you can see that the “General Shoot Date” workflow is set as the default shoot workflow and will be added relative to the date of the shoot.
The “General Shoot Confirmation” workflow is set as the default confirmation workflow, this workflow will be added relative to the date that the shoot changes from an enquiry to a confirmed shoot.
The “General Enquiry” workflow is set as the default enquiry workflow, and will be the first choice when I click on the add workflow button next to the enquiry date in a should record.
If some shoot types will use a different set of workflows then you can set different defaults for each shoot type, in the shoot types preferences.
In the example above there’s a different set of workflows that are used for portrait shoots, so these have been set separately in the Portraits shoot type. When working with a portrait shoot, Light Blue will use these workflows instead.
Also note that the Enquiry workflow is set to “Default” – that means it’ll use the workflow that’s set on the General Preferences.
To help you to get off to a good start, we’ve prepared some example workflows for you to use. You can download them from here.