Updated: Nov 9
It's a blog takeover by the "other" Stephanie!
Hi, my name is Stephanie Inghram - I am Stephanie Fassler's (owner of The Capable Community) right hand gal. I am a Certified Dubsado Specialist, Client Experience Expert, Business Strategist Coach, and a Virtual Assistant (VA). I have filled all of these roles for Stephanie over this past year and she has graciously extended me her blog so that you too can take back control of your time. Spoiler alert: being buried underneath galleries and emails is not it.
I can tell you first hand, outside of Stephanie's drive and ambition to be a remarkable photographer and industry leader - a lot of her growth and success is because of her willingness to automate and outsource a good portion of her business, giving her the time to continue to serve her clients and you all in the best way possible.
In today's blog post, I am answering your burning questions when it comes to automating and outsourcing within your business. You started your business because you wanted the FREEDOM to work on your passion, not to be tied to inefficient systems and hours of administrative work. My mission is to change the way we operate in our business so that we can book more and work LESS!
Why is getting support in your business so important?
We simply were not made to do it all.
Being that I am writing this while my husband and boys are watching football, let’s go with a football analogy. Each football player has ONE job. They excel at that ONE job and get drafted from teams across the country based on that ONE skill.
A quarterback is not also a linebacker, wide receiver, kicker, running back, or a lineman. If a quarterback was also responsible for playing all of these positions, he wouldn’t be able to focus on what his unique skill is - call the plays, scan the field, make the best decision in a split second to either throw the ball, hand it off, or run with it.
I realize comparing football to a photographer is not an equal comparison, however as photographers you have this AMAZING skill that allow you to capture moments that happen in literally a blink of an eye that will then forever hang on the walls of homes and be cherished for generations to come.
Now, if you are also bogged down with emails, scheduling, bookkeeping, social media, etc - the window of time you are given to excel in your craft becomes smaller and smaller.
So why is getting support in your business essential?
If you are doing all the things, wearing all the hats, the less time you get to spend behind the camera. Taking it to another level, keeping all of those tabs open in your brain of the many hats you have to wear as a business owner, you are not being mentally present with your clients. This will deplete your creative energy behind the camera and how you best serve your clients. You are also not giving yourself the opportunity to grow your business or continue the loyalty with your clients because maintaining that level of client experience with no help will catch up to you.
Should you automate or outsource first?
Automation is simply "when this happens, then that happens" and it happens automatically. Outsourcing is the same, just instead of setting up a system that can do it automatically for you, you hire someone to do it for you.
But in order to successfully automate, you need to have crystal clear processes. In order to successfully outsource, you need to have crystal clear processes.
It is near impossible to automate or tell another person what to do in your business when you are unsure of the next step or if those next steps fluctuate based on time or effort needed to complete them. Creating a streamlined process allows you to create this remarkable process ONCE and then every single client gets to experience it - whether that is automatically or with the help of someone like a VA.
Before you even consider automating or outsourcing, I beg you - figure out your processes first. Take the time to work through your client journey for each of your offers from start to finish. This will then allow you to either -
Set up automation
Outsource someone to set up automation for you and/or
Get a VA in your business to help you
A lot of the time, automating will pick up a lot of the slack and give you a ton of time back but there are still numerous tasks that you are able to outsource.
How do you know if you are ready to automate or outsource?
When it comes to the administrative work - if you are copying and pasting contracts, emails, proposals, reminders for every single client and you are finding yourself doing the same thing over and over, this tells me you have a process and you are ready to automate.
If you are procrastinating certain tasks (aka you don’t like doing it), spending too much time on doing a task, or simply just never get around to do it, those are the tasks you are ready to outsource.
What can you automate?
Inquiry, booking, onboarding, emails/forms leading up to a shoot, emails/forms post shoot, gallery delivery, email campaigns, scheduling, invoicing, and literally any reminder possible (reminder to complete forms, schedule an appointment, invoice reminders, etc).
What can you outsource?
Culling/editing, bookkeeping, blogging, social media, email marketing, associate photographers (more sessions, more money, less work for you), email/calendar management, outreach/lead generation, social engagement, website creation, content creation, automation/system setup, graphic design - there is literally a Virtual Assistant for just about every task out there.
But won't I lose the personal connection with my clients if I automate or outsource?
NOOOOOOOOOO! Said so subtly right?! 😂 It’s been a battle forever in the online space and I am here to set the record straight. There is a place for automation in your business and when done right you can automate ~75% of your business without your clients even knowing. (If you like stats and want to see what one of my recent photographers ROI was after automating, check out this post!)
Automation is creating these streamlined processes ONCE and every single one of your clients gets to experience it - on your worst days, on your best days, on no childcare care days, heck - even when your standing in line for Disney. If you follow me on instagram that is my favorite way to showcase the capabilities of automation. I will be at Disney with my kids and a client has picked their package, sign their contract, paid their deposit, scheduled their kickoff, got their onboarding form and a welcome gift is already on the way! And never once do they feel like just another client or not taken care of.
One way to do this is with a CRM (client relationship management platform) - my personal favorite is Dubsado, but there are a ton out there like HoneyBook and Tavé. There are even industry specific ones for photographers like Sprout. In my experience, Dubsado allows for the most customization and has the most capabilities of automation that is out there without compromising other areas that are important to operating your business. And if aesthetics are for you, being that you are a photographer and all, you cannot go wrong with the design capabilities Dubsado has to offer.
I know I need help in my business, but I don't know where to go from here or where to start?
When I am wearing the hat of a business coach (and I did this with Stephanie as well) - I always ask 3 questions.
What do you LOVE doing in your business?
What do you LOATHE in your business?
What don’t you mind but takes too much of your time?
Keep on your plate doing what you love. And then take what you loathe and what takes too much time and ask yourself -
What could you do more of if you didn’t have to do those tasks?
What mental/physical weight could be lifted if those were off your plate
Which of those tasks would you not feel comfortable in the hands of someone else?
Which of those tasks would you feel comfortable or completely ok with if someone was to do it for you?
With these answers in mind, you can now focus on getting the support you need - whether it is automating, outsourcing, a combination of both, or getting additional training on a certain area so that you can be more effective and efficient.
If this feels overwhelming or you are still feeling clueless on putting these pieces into place and how that looks like specifically for you - please know you are NOT alone and that is exactly why there are people like me in this world.
As a business strategist coach, a certified Dubsado specialist, and VA - I am more than happy to help guide you along this process and help you figure out where you need the help most and how to find the perfect fit for you (even if that is not me).
Some extra resources for you
Schedule Business Strategy Session (use code TCCROCKS for 10% off)
Schedule Workflow Mapping Session (use code TCCROCKS for 10% off)
Connect with me!
*This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase after clicking on a link I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.