How to Track New Client Inquiries with ShootQ by Leeann Marie

how-to-track-new-client-inquiries-with-shootq

Managing leads in a studio can be difficult: multiple clients to track, responses to send, and information flying everywhere! Winning a wedding or portrait client’s business is a big deal – so what’s the best way to get them to sign on the (electronic) dotted-line? First you have to get their attention, and keep it!

I’ve heard multiple times from brides that a quick response is greatly appreciated, and the smartest sales tool out there is the art of the follow-up! How can you get both?

ShootQ Lead Workflows help you easily manage your leads, respond quickly with the click of a button, and maintain communication with your promising inquiries.

ShootQ has the capability of managing your leads in a simple lead “bucket” system. I always encourage my ShootQ clients to use the categories that have been set up for them as much as possible. It can be easy to forget who is …

Read more →

5 Rules for Better Website Design by Leeann Marie

Your website is your storefront, and in today’s marketplace it’s increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd in a virtual world. Consumers are bombarded with web-content on a daily basis, so keeping your audience’s attention is challenging.

As a professional photographer, you may be working harder and harder to drive traffic to your website. Perhaps Facebook, Pinterest, and SEO are guiding prospective clients to your work, but once they are on your website are you able to keep them there?

Making your website simple, easy to navigate, and user-friendly will increase your chances of converting visitors to fans, or (even better) paying clients.

Consider 5 areas of website navigation and design:

Tell them who you are: Post your logo and location in a highly-visible area. There’s nothing worse than coming to a website and not knowing if you’re in the right place, who owns the content, or even where they are located in …

Read more →

Best Business Practices: Part 2 by Leeann Marie

Since Spring is here, we’re sharing a series of Best Business Practice posts featuring the team of ACEs. Get to know them and learn how their tips and tricks will streamline your studio this season! As any ACE will tell you, the reality is you can’t do it all. Successful photographers understand this, which is why they begin with a clear vision for their business.

Start by asking “Why?”

The most valuable question you’ll ask throughout the lifetime of your business is “Why?” When you’ve established a clear purpose and goals for your business, frequently asking yourself why you do what you do will hold you accountable to your overall vision and keep your business on track for success!

So, why do you do what you do? First identify what your business “stands for.” List the top five things you want your business to stand for and edit your list until you have one statement that accurately represents the purpose of your business.

Here are a few questions to guide you:

What do you want to accomplish with your photography business? What are the main differentiating points that you’re using to get business? What unique strengths and attributes do you want to build your business around?

What do you want to accomplish? The goals you identify act as a roadmap as you move forward and develop business systems. Keep these tips in mind as you establish goals for your business.

1) Be Real: The best brands are authentic. These brands aren’t pretending to be something; they are genuinely what they claim to be. When you’re thinking about the goals you have for your business, keep it real. Make sure the goals you choose are actually in line with who you are and the purpose of your business.

2) Think Long Term: If you’re trying to build a sustainable business, your goals must be relevant for the long term. Set goals not only for the next few years, but also for the long term course of your career.

3) Dream Big: Don’t be afraid to have ambitious goals! Make sure these goals actually matter to you though, because the more ambitious your goals are, the more motivation you’ll need to achieve them!

4) Make Goals Measurable: Make sure you have a clear way to measure the progress you make in reaching your goals so that you ensure you stay on the path to success!

Here are a few questions to guide you in specifying your goals:

What specifically do you want to accomplish in the next year? What specifically do you want to accomplish in the next 5, 10 and 15 years? What goals do you have financially for your business? What goals do you have for your technical abilities? What is your ideal number of clients and events per year?

In the next post in this series we’ll dive into “how-to” build business systems! Get a head start with ACE Leann Marie, who shares her systematic business tips below.

Q. What’s your primary area of photography and when did you start shooting full-time?

Leann: Wedding photographer based out of Pittsburgh, PA. I started my business in 2009.

Q. What was your biggest challenge when starting your own business?

Leann: Weeding out the noise. It seemed like there were lots of options for every issue I ran into, and I really needed to sit down and figure out what was going to be the right solution for my business then, and in the future.

Q. What are your favorite five tips for keeping track of client communication? 

Leann: My favorite five tips are…

1) Email Templates – ShootQ is great for this as well as Text Expander and YesWare. 2) Labeling System in your Inbox – if you’re able to quickly label an email (if you need it for archives) and file it away, it keeps your inbox clean and your files quickly accessible. 3) Scheduling – relying on the abilities of applications such as ShootQ to schedule emails and send them when needed is key. I can communicate important information to my clients without having to actually be at the computer. 4) Answer ASAP – Decide if you can answer right away, need to add the task to your “To-Do” list, or whether the conversation is complete. Work toward providing and answer for your client as soon as you can. 5) Remember to BCC ShootQ! ShootQ has a handy BCC email address, and you can use it to send all client email from your inbox to their ShootQ client folder. Just BCC ShootQ when you reply and the email chain will be saved in their ShootQ Correspondence.

Q. What’s the most interesting or funny thing you’ve been doing while ShootQ booked a shoot for you? Leeann: Sleep! This beats interesting and funny stories any day!

About Leeann Marie

Leeann is a Pittsburgh-based wedding, engagement, and boudoir photographer. An avid blogger, she loves connecting with her clients, friends, and other photographers around the world. She holds an engineering background from the University of Pittsburgh, which has led to a love of technology and teaching.

She loves Lady Gaga, champagne, and kettle-cooked chips. She has traveled the world to places such as Russia, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and Panama, and believes in living the life you have dreamed.

Read more →

5 Ways Workflows Saved my @$$…and could save yours too! by Leeann Marie

Since Spring is in the air, we’re kicking off a series of Best Business Practice posts from the tried-and-true team of ACEs. Get to know them on The Photo Life and learn how their tips and tricks can help streamline your studio!

I’ve tried my hardest to keep a mental to-do list. Laying in bed at night, thinking of all of the things that need to get done and promising myself, “Yes, I will definitely be able to remember this in the morning if I just make the list into a rhyme.” And inevitably, so many of my to-do’s were to-forgotten’s!

Business can be overwhelming, especially when working with numerous clients over the course of the year. You are in charge of keeping track of new leads, wooing potential clients, contacting upcoming clients and remembering to place product orders all at the same time. That’s a daunting to-do list to keep in order, but …

Read more →

Pinterest for Wedding Photographers by Leeann Marie

Continuing the social media theme this month, The Photo Life team is sharing another helpful article about how photographers can use Pinterest to market their business and engage with their clients. Many photographers have asked us to keep sharing info about this new social network that’s spreading like wildfire! Special thanks to Wendy Roe and Matt Herron for their contributions to social media mega month!

The social media to-do list gets longer every day. Between Facebook, Twitter, and Blogging it seems like there are a lot of platforms on the modern wedding photographer’s daily list. Well, get ready, because there is one more to add – Pinterest.

Since Pinterest hit the social media scene it has become hugely popular with home decorators, exercise and beauty buffs, and above all, brides. It’s the new “place to go” for wedding inspiration, so wedding photographers in a moving marketplace should get familiar with the platform quickly if they want to stay ahead of the game.

What is Pinterest?

Currently invite only (don’t worry, it’s easy to get on board upon request), Pinterest in the internet’s take on inspiration boards. Tons of content is added to Pinterest on a daily basis, and it’s almost all photographic ideas. Here’s a little visual depicting how it works:

Your clients can use a “Pin It” button while on your website. This will bring up a visual list of all photos on your website (think…your blog), and clients can “pin” an image to send it directly to their own Pinterest account. Once they send it to Pinterest, it will show up on their selected board (i.e. “Wedding Photo Ideas”), and it will be searchable by other Pinterest users. The photos from your site will link back to your site. This is the KEY benefit of Pinterest. The pin will then be viewable in the client’s feed, so their friends who follow their pins will see it too. This may cause them to like, comment, or re-pin the pin.

As you can see, Pinterest is a potentially huge source of website traffic, and allowswedding photographers to share their work easily. This may lead to increased referrals, oh-ing and ahh-ing over your photos, and potential destination weddings!

How Photographers can Creatively Use Pinterest

Encourage your website viewers to Pin: Pinterest offers free code for pinning, and you can easily add it into your blog post footer or website code. Place it on your website and encourage visitors to share your images on their boards! Create your “favorite photos” boards: Pin your own work, and create boards of some of your favorite photos. Share why you love them. Keyword them and hope they spread! Create inspiration boards for your clients: Have you photographed lots of pink weddings? Modern weddings? Rustic-chic? Create boards based on the style of your previous weddings. Hold a contest: Ask your blog readers to search through all of your photos and find their favorite photo of all time, pin it, and comment on why they love it the most!

Caveats

You can view all of the images that have been pinned from your website at: http://www.pinterest.com/source/leeannmariephotography.com (change it out for your URL) Make sure clients and users are pinning and crediting your source! It’s more important than ever to make sure that the images are coming from you directly, or that they are being credited in an updated link source. Watermark your images! If you don’t, and there is an incorrect source link, your image is as good as gone. If you at least watermark your images, they can be shared on Pinterest and a potential client can still find you. Don’t be a jerk – Pinterest states in their user etiquette listing to “avoid self-promotion.” Don’t post every single image you ever shot onto Pinterest. It can be annoying, and look like you don’t care about anything else. Participate. Be creative. Contribute and offer ideas.

Happy Pinning!

About Leeann Marie

Leeann is a Pittsburgh-based wedding, engagement, and boudoir photographer. An avid blogger, she loves connecting with her clients, friends, and other photographers around the world. She holds an engineering background from the University of Pittsburgh, which has led to a love of technology and teaching.

She loves Lady Gaga, champagne, and kettle-cooked chips. She has traveled the world to places such as Russia, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and Panama, and believes in living the life you have dreamed.

Read more →

Consistency is King by Leeann Marie

The wedding and portrait photography market relies heavily on referrals, and one way to ensure that each referral is just as happy as their family member or friend who sent them to you is to provide an equally consistent experience. If you’re unsure of where to begin, consider the following: Products:

Are you ordering from the same vendors each time? Are you creating consistent products, so that two clients would see no difference if compared? Are you following the same process for designing albums, with policies to refer to if necessary? 

Pricing:

Is your price range on your website the same as it is when you send your client pricing? Does it all end in .00 or .99? Pick one. Are there logical jumps in pricing, and are your packages clear and to the point? Are the products listed out in the same order every time? How often are you changing your pricing?

Emails:

Are you direct, clear, and concise …

Read more →

Thumbtack: The Theory of Goals, Systems, and Making them Stick! by Leeann Marie

Leeann is a ShootQ Accredited Consultant (or ACE). Contact her to schedule a custom ShootQ consultation!

You’ve taken the time to write down your goals, whether that be on your favorite little notepad, in an elegantly worded blog post, or in the back corners of your mind. These goals are where you want to be, and where you envision your business to stand in the next few months or years.

But how do you make them a reality? That’s always the tough part, isn’t it? Moving your big goals into realized dreams is one of the most difficult parts of being a business owner and entrepreneur, but it’s done over and over again by some of the most successful people in the industry. What’s the key? Or better yet, what makes them stick?

Thumbtack is the theory behind turning goals into realities. The tip of the thumbtack is your ultimate goal. It’s that …

Read more →

Stop Wasting Time, Money and Energy in Your Business! by Leeann Marie

The Wormpit Technique for Photographer Efficiency

Leeann is a ShootQ Accredited Consultant or ACE. Contact her to schedule a custom ShootQ consultation!

It’s 2012, and a new year is here! A new year naturally brings changes, goals, and new adventures. Typically, as a business owner, the new year also brings a time to examine your business and asses how you can make changes – it’s a great time for improvement!

One way to approach change in the new year is to look at the way you do things in your business. Everything – from emailing to editing to shooting – is a process in your business, and every process inherently contains waste. There’s no getting around it – whether you are wasting time, money, or energy, there is always room for improvement.

Not sure where to start? Try using the WORMPIT technique to identify wasteful areas in your business.

W: Waiting. How can you reduce the amount of time spent waiting on images to import, batch processing, or uploading?

O: Over-production. How much do you really need to create based on client expectations? Is over-producing providing a significant added value?

R: Rework. Are you creating great work from initial input, so that you don’t have to correct it later?

M: Motion. Can you reduce movement while in the office on things like typing or reaching for items?

P:  Processing. What are your clients’ expectations for how much processing you do?

I: Inventory. Do you take on an excess of client inventory, which may lead to poor quality or unhappiness in your personal life?

T: Transportation. Do you plan your days and driving?

The Next Step: Challenge yourself to use the WORMPIT technique to identify key areas of waste in your business. What can you change, even if it seems small, for 2012?

About Leeann Marie

Leeann is a Pittsburgh-based wedding, engagement, and boudoir photographer. An avid blogger, she loves connecting with her clients, friends, and other photographers around the world. She holds an engineering background from the University of Pittsburgh, which has led to a love of technology and teaching.

She loves Lady Gaga, champagne, and kettle-cooked chips. She has traveled the world to places such as Russia, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and Panama, and believes in living the life you have dreamed.

Read more →

Dazzle Your Clients in 2012 by Leeann Marie

Leeann is a ShootQ Accredited Consultant or ACE. Contact her to schedule a custom ShootQ consultation!

It’s almost the new year, and booking season is right around the corner. New clients are knocking, and it’s our chance to dazzle them with the client experience.

In a world where word of mouth means everything, it’s no longer good enough as a growing business to just do an OK job. We need to “Wow!” our customers by exceeding their expectations.

This process of customer satisfaction can be illustrated in two distinct areas:

The Expected: Clients expect great pictures, prompt email or phone responses, and beautiful products with on-time delivery. They hire a professional to meet all of those expectations. For those who wish to charge peak prices, high prices come with high client demands. The expected area of customer satisfaction can be illustrated as “Duh!” or “Of course, that’s what I paid your for!”

The Excitement: Creating …

Read more →

I’m Not an Editor! A Case for Outsourcing. by Leeann Marie

Outsourcing Your Editing as a Professional Photographer

Let’s be clear: I’m not an editor.

I was never trained to be an editor and I only know what I’ve picked up through various workshops, manuals, and online training.

But, like many photographers, I tried to be for awhile!

My editing style was somewhat consistent, but always based on “what looked good that day.”  I was falling into the never-ending pitfall of purchasing the latest and greatest actions to “play” with my photos. While it sounds like fun (and sometimes was), the images on my blog and my website were starting to look very inconsistent. Plus, I had no idea whether an image was bright because it was a sunny day in my office or because I had done something wrong in post-production.

In order to maintain a sustainable and profitable business, I knew I needed to produce work that was always consistent and beautiful! So, I started considering outsourcing editing. Once I learned …

Read more →