I caught Jared Platt on his cell phone, hopping into a rental car at the Miami airport and preparing to drive to Key West for an engagement portrait shoot in the Dry Tortuga islands, 70 miles from Florida’s southernmost town.
How does he handle his two-pronged photography-lecturing business on the road, balancing being the breadwinner for a family of five with constant creativity?
The answer? He’s a really organized guy. Here are his tips for staying organized and staying sane. What he suggests will help you, whether you’re a road warrior or a homebody!
Know your mantra.
“The first and great commandment for my business is ‘Outsource everything,'” Platt says. “I’ve never had enough work to warrant having someone there full-time doing something for me,” so a full-time employee isn’t a good fit. But because he has a wife and three kids at home, he needs to be “as profitable as possible.” That means getting help. His task is to “figure out what it is that I need to do and get rid of the rest.” His accounting is outsourced – as many photographers do. But so is his website, his search-engine optimization, and photo retouching. “I’m paying everybody a little bit more money than I would if it was an employee,” he admits, but he’s saving by not paying them benefits or having to meet other regulatory requirements.
Be Brutally Honest about Your Role
Platt is brutally honest with himself about what he needs to do, as opposed to what costs him money to do. “You have to figure out the opportunity costs involved,” he says. He has six roles: shooting photos, talking to clients, finding new clients, lecturing, teaching, and selling Lightroom presets.
Outsource the right things, at the right time
The trick to outsourcing is using it properly, Platt says. If you’re handling something, move it along to the next phase efficiently. Don’t delay sending work out. And when they turn it around, take the next step, whether that’s sending it to another worker, or to a client, or wherever.
Also don’t forget the cheapest outsource worker of all: your computer. “I work during the day and my computer works at night,” he says. He uses a working catalog in Lightroom (as opposed to multiple project catalogs) so he can set batches to run all night long, rather than having to run multiple jobs in sequence. “I want something working for me every time I’m not working.”
Pursue add-on revenue.
Because it’s so expensive to travel, “you should get something out of it besides just what you’re doing.” When he books a job at a destination, he looks around for other work he could do nearby on the same trip. He’ll let clients know he’s coming to their area and see about scheduling jobs. Win-win!
Keep your head – and everything else – in the cloud.
Not the clouds plural – the online cloud, accessible anywhere, from any device.
A peek into Platt’s Cloud Toolbox:
NeatReceipts to take photos of receipts while on business trips, and it syncs with records for his accountant.
DropBox and YouSendIt let him send files to clients from his phone. ShootQ manages his client correspondence and notes. He uses HootSuite for social media, because it lets him post to multiple services at once.
Pictage’s post-shoot services are also critical: “There’s no way I could travel and then try to provide prints to people,” or have someone sitting in his study waiting for orders to come in, he says. And it costs him money to spend the time building albums or talking to a client’s distant relative about a single 4×6 print.
He keeps track of where he’s supposed to be with iCal, which coordinates (through shared/subscribed calendars) with ShootQ to help his clients schedule appointments. He color-codes events, letting him know at a glance what’s a solid confirmed appointment and what’s just a tentative idea.
About Jared Platt
Jared Platt is an Arizona based wedding and portrait photographer and instructor. He teaches workshops and lectures accross the country. To learn more about his workshops and lectures, go to www.jaredplattworkshops.com.