How to Business When You're Not Business Minded - Part 2 | Emily McGonigle Photography

Two weeks ago I posted part one, "Customer Service", of my three part mini blog series "How to Business When You're Not Business Minded." I covered topics like setting proper expectations, over promising / under delivering, and giving options instead of saying "no".

In this blog post I want to cover how to concentrate your business practices, so that you're feeling less flustered and more focused.

Organization

Being organized is one of the things that instantly makes your business life a lot smoother. Organization comes easily to some people, and to others it’s a lot of work. But wherever you fall on that spectrum, it’s well worth it to try and stay as organized as humanly possible. You’ll have less headaches and an easier time dealing with clients.


Studio Management Software

The first thing that I would suggest is to find a good CRM (customer relationship management) software. There are a TON out there, and each has a different set of features and benefits, which means that some will be more appealing to you than others. I hesitate to say that one in particular is THE BEST, because it really depends on the type of business you’re running and what you need your CRM to do for you.

The one I currently use is called Sprout Studio (www.getsproutstudio.com). It allows me to keep track of leads, contact information, shoot workflow, contracts, invoices, and host proofing galleries and album proofs. It also tracks revenue and expenses, but I admittedly don’t use it for that at all.

If you’re at a point in your business where you’re starting to gain multiple clients at once, or you’re just overwhelmed with not every really being sure where in the process you are with a client, a program like Sprout will help you immensely. I log on every day and see my to-do lists for the day, as well as what’s coming up for the week, and if there’s anything past due. It helps me be able to decide what to tackle first so that I get back to all my clients in an orderly fashion, and everyone stays happy.

A few other CRM options to check out are: 

Tave (www.tave.com)
17 Hats (www.17hats.com)
Honeybook (www.honeybook.com)
Pixifi (www.contactmystudio.com)
Studio Ninja (www.studioninja.co)
ShootQ (www.shootq.com)
StudioCloud (www.studiocloud.com)

There are even more than that, those are just all of the ones I have tried out myself before landing on one that I felt was most beneficial to the way I run my business.

And what's even better is that most (if not all of them) have a free trial you can explore to really figure out which one fits you best!

 
 


Response Templates

When a client emails you an inquiry, don’t start your response to them from scratch every single time. You’re not only wasting time, but energy by doing this. Have a template response ready to go.

I have templates for initial inquiries, meeting reminders, session reminders, order reminders, etc. I always make sure to address my clients by name, and to answer any additional questions that they may have had that aren’t already answered by my templated response. But having the skeleton of the email already pre-built, saves me A LOT of time, stress, and mental power.

In addition to having pre-made email responses, make sure you have pre-made price sheets (or starting price sheets… or whatever information you like to give your clients prior to booking), and save them somewhere easily accessible. This way you’re able to present your brand in a professional way, and are also not having to write things out over and over.


Make A LOT of notes

I mean a lot. Think you've made enough notes? You didn’t. Make more. lol

Seriously though, once you’re juggling a few clients, especially if a few of them take a little more time to get back to you in between interactions, it’s SUPER helpful to have notes to reference along the way. You’ll be able to see when the last time you spoke to someone was, whether it’s time to follow up, and specifically what you chatted about. You don’t have to go digging through your email to remind yourself, because all of your client notes will be in one spot. In your CRM of choice that you totally went out and subscribed to after reading the Studio Management section above. ;)

Make notes after sending an email about what you said in the email. Make notes about your client’s response to your email. Make notes about the phone call with your client. Make notes about anything you need to research or accomplish before your sessions with the client.

MAKE. A LOT. OF NOTES. <3


Have a Morning Routine

Not a morning person? Me neither, dude. Me neither.

 
 

I get up, I make a cup of coffee, I play a few rounds of Overwatch, and by the time I’m done with that cup of coffee, I’m awake and ready to tackle the first part of my work day.

The first thing I do is go through my email. I check to see if I have any new inquiries or communications from existing clients that need to be addressed. After that, I switch over to Sprout where I check my “Past Due” list, my “Due Today” list, and I take a peek ahead at the rest of the week to see if there’s anything I can move up on the schedule. Once I'm through with that I may blog, or I may go straight to editing. This part of my schedule varies day by day, but I actually go a step further and loosely schedule out what I want to work on each day, week by week.

Your morning routine might be completely different. It doesn’t matter in what order you do it, or how you approach it, as long as you have a fairly solid, frequent, morning routine. It’ll give you a sense of mental organization and help you to keep calm as you chip away at your tasks for the day.

 

Next Time On the Blog…

Those are a few organizational tips that I use frequently that work well for me. One of the other things that I do, that I didn't really touch on, is carry a notebook with me everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. It helps me with random one-off thoughts while I'm out doing something else. It helps me to see part of my to-do list written somewhere tangible that I can make additional notes on or cross off (who doesn't love crossing off to-do lists with a pen?). You may love white boards, cork boards, or a particular app on your phone or computer. Everyone's organizational methods will be different, because everyone's brains function differently. But what is important is that you find what works best for YOU. 

If you have any questions about anything I wrote above, or you have tips that you think might be helpful to your fellow photographers, I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below, or feel free to shoot me an email!

The next blog post in this series will deal with maintaining good mental health while running your business, and will also go over some general good business practices. Stay tuned until next time!

Thanks for reading!

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Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin Senior Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.

How to Business When You're Not Business-Minded - Part 1 | Emily McGonigle Photography

Now I'm going to start this off with saying that I've never been to school for business or marketing, I don't have a degree or any special business accolades... But what I *do* have are happy clients, a sustaining business, and a *general* sense of organization.

Owning a business can be stressful, and if you’re like me and you already deal with issues like anxiety, it can seem downright daunting on some days. But being a business owner is one of the most full-time of full time jobs, so you have to find a way to deal on those days.

I’ve written a 3 part mini blog series on how to deal with four major topics:

Customer Service
Organization
Mental Health
General Good Business Practices

In the paragraphs of all 3 parts you will find advice on how to deal with clients, how to make your business life feel a little more organized, productive, and healthy, suggestions for tools to make things easier, and pricing.

In today’s blog post we’re going to address the overall topic of how to deal with Clients.


Customer Service

Having good customer service is arguably the most important thing you could do for your business. This seems like common sense, but after being in photography forums and Facebook groups for years, I’ve seen a surprising amount of bad customer service stories, or stories where the photographer simply didn’t think to do something simple that would have made their client’s experience exponentially better.


Set Proper Expectations

Most of the issues that I read about can be boiled down to one simple concept: Set proper expectations.

This goes for *everything* you do with your clients. Make sure they know your full price list and what they’re getting into, before they book. This doesn’t mean you have to have it displayed on your website, or that you have to send it fully in an email or run over it via a phone call. Whatever your pre-booking method is, just make sure that before that retainer is paid, and that contract is signed, your clients fully know what to expect from your service, product offerings, and pricing.

There’s nothing in the world worse than sticker shock or that email from a client telling you they’ve changed their mind about their purchase, because they felt pressured to buy more than they could afford, due to not being aware of pricing.

Make sure your clients know what your contract says. Don’t leave it up to them to read on their own, they won’t. When was the last time you read the terms and conditions portion of any service, software, or product you’ve purchased? We’re all guilty of it. I don’t read them either, so why are we expecting our clients to read our long contracts before signing? I always go over the contract with my clients before asking them to sign. I verbally condense it into laymen’s terms, but if they have a question about something, we’ll go over the actual text and I make sure they understand and are comfortable with everything.

Always be upfront about your creative process, your shoot workflow, and your turn around times. This might sound insane, but before your client books, make sure they like YOUR work. In this digital age everyone and their mother has a digital camera and some app or piece of software that can add pretty filters to their photos. Because of this a lot of inexperienced clients will assume that since you’re a photographer, you can do (or want to do) anything and everything they ask, and will shoot and edit according to their specifications. 

Go over your website with your clients. Make them point out what they love about your work. Make sure they’re down with the way you shoot and edit, because if they’re not, everyone is about to find themselves having a bad time.

 
 


Overpromise, Underdeliver

Listen, I know you can edit a session in two weeks if you have to, but here’s the thing: Telling your clients that you’ll have their stuff back in exactly two weeks can result in problems for you.

When you start to get really busy and you have two sessions in one week, now you’re not having to edit one session in two weeks. Now you have to edit *two* sessions in two weeks. You’ve just effectively doubled your workload (and thusly your stress-level), by not overpromising and underdelivering. 

Tell your clients that your turn around time is four weeks instead of two weeks. This way, you can edit your first session right away, and when it takes you two weeks instead of four, your first client will be thrilled they got their photos back early. Then your second client will, at the very least, get their photos back within the quoted four week time. Or lets say it only takes you one and a half weeks to edit the second client’s photos, they’ll *still* be happy that they got their photos back a little earlier than expected. 

Don’t do yourself the disservice of quoting EXACTLY the amount of time you think it’ll take you (unless we’re talking about a rush/priority job… that’s different), and make sure that you’re allowing for time off, multiple clients, and unforeseen circumstances like computers crashing, software issues, etc.


Don’t just say no, give options

I had a conversation with a friend who was describing a situation where a client wanted him to edit their photos in a style that wasn’t consistent with my friend’s brand. He asked me for advice on how to handle this type of situation and I told him that rather than telling his client, “No I won’t do that”, he should should tell his client what he *could* do for him. 

I actually put this into practice when clients ask for certain services or products that I don’t offer. I’ve been asked serval times if I do mini shoots from clients who are looking for just a few portraits to walk away with. I don’t do mini shoots, but my response to this question isn’t, “No, sorry.” I always answer with, “I don’t have a mini shoot option, but all of my products and images are sold a-la-carte, so you can essentially create your own package to fit your needs and budget”. Then I also let them know that if I’m not a good fit for them at this time, I’d be happy to refer them to some of my colleagues. I give them options.

The same thing occurs often when a client wants to shoot at a specific location that charges for photoshoots. I let them know what the fee will be to shoot there, and then also let them know that there are some similar options that may fit their budget better. Instead of a “No, they charge too much”, I give them their options and let them pick what they’d prefer.


Next Time On the Blog…

Those are just some customer service tips that I use frequently that work well for me, and have worked well for my colleagues. If you have any questions or other tips that you think might be helpful to your fellow photographers, I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below, or feel free to shoot me an email!

The next blog post in this series will deal with the overall topic of Organization. Stay tuned until next time, to see tips on making your business feel a little more fluid. 

Thanks for reading!

--

Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin Senior Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.

Senior Model Portrait - Anna Leigh Campbell | Emily McGonigle Photography

Hey everyone! I hope your Memorial Day weekend activities have gotten off to a stellar start! Before you settle into your outdoor gatherings and summer activities, I wanted to share a recent session I did with my most recent Senior Model, Anna Leigh Campbell!

Anna Leigh is the younger sister of a previous client, Kathryn Campbell. I was so excited to hear back from Kathryn's mother about hiring me to photograph Anna Leigh this year! It was such a pleasure working with Juanita and Kathryn, that I knew getting to work with Anna Leigh was going to be a blast!

Anna Leigh is about to go into her senior year at Franklin High School. She's a cheerleader, a sweetheart, and has a heart for mission work. It was wonderful getting to know her a little bit more while she got her makeover done with Katrina Brooks. I was also really glad to be able to catch up with Juanita too!

Check out the BTS images, as well as the finished images from Anna Leigh's model session below!

 
 
 
 
 

WHEW, girl. I can't wait until our next session together!!

Special thanks to Katrina Brooks for doing such a wonderful job with Anna Leigh's hair and makeup, and to Matthew Simmons for his help on set!

If you are a rising senior and you haven't booked your senior portrait photographer yet, give me a shout! I have some openings for summer and fall sessions, so let's get that booked for you now, before they fill up!

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Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin Senior Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.

Behind the Scenes Senior Portrait - Madison Carrier | Emily McGonigle Photography

A few weeks ago I had the special privilege of working with the lovely Madison Carrier. Madison is actually from South Carolina, but her mother surprised her with a trip to Nashville and a photoshoot! The other special thing about Madison's session, is that she is Katrina Brooks's cousin, and as you all know... I love me some Katrina Brooks! So it was only natural that I immediately clicked with Madison and her mother, Rebecca!

 
 

We had such a great time hanging out while Katrina worked. Madison and I got to know each other better, and Katrina and her got to catch up some more. There were a lot of random things happening that morning (from Katrina putting in the wrong house address into her GPS, to my... just generally not knowing how to construct coherent sentences due to lack of caffeine), so we laughed a lot.

And of course, I had to snap a photo of the lovely ladies together, once Katrina was done with Madison's makeover!

After Madison's hair and makeup was done, and her outfits were picked out, the team and I headed over to the location for Madison's shoot. Here's a sneak peek of one of my favorite shots from her session!

 
 

Stay tuned for more of the finished images coming to a blog post near you! ;)

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Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin Senior Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.

Modern Portrait - Mom and Dad | Emily McGonigle Photography

In honor of Mother's Day tomorrow, I wanted to share something with you all that I never got a chance to publish until now.

About a year ago my mom and dad came to Nashville to visit for the first time. I was really excited to show them the city that I love and now call home, but even more than that, I was excited to do my first portrait shoot with them. I've been a photographer for 7 years and I had never made a portrait of either of my parents, so I was determined to change that.

I wanted to do something special and fun, so I treated my mother to a makeover, thanks to Katie Vellman, surprised her with a Belle inspired gown, and styled Dad to match. My mom really loves Beauty and the Beast and Belle is her favorite Disney princess, so it only made sense to me. Funny enough, the remake of Beauty and the Beast came out shortly after that, which was a complete, but neat, coincidence.

After the couple's photos, I did some portraits individually with both of my parents. It was awesome to be able to demonstrate to them first hand, what it is I get do every day.

Take a look at the finished images:

 
 
 
 

I'm so glad I got to make these images and spend this time with my parents. Even thought it's been a year, I still think back on this fondly, and hope to do it again next time they are here!

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! (And happy early Father's Day to you, Dad!) I love you both, and I couldn't be more blessed to have such awesome and supportive parents!

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Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin Senior Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.

Senior Model Portrait - Savannah Lingle | Emily McGonigle Photography

A lot of exciting things are happening over here at Emily McGonigle Photography! One of them includes this awesome shoot I did with one of my 2017 Senior Models, Savannah Lingle.

Savannah is part of the class of 2018 at Eagleville High School, and slays in front of the camera.

Savannah had a GORGEOUS prom gown that I couldn't wait to photograph. In addition to that, we also did some fun casual looks in the studio, after Katrina Brooks finished working her magic on Savannah's hair and makeup.

Take a look at the final images!

 
 
Savannah Lingle_Senior Model Shoot_0423171131 1.jpg
 
 
 
 
 
 

Keep an eye out for more from this girl, after we get a chance to do her Senior Portrait session!

Special thanks to Katrina Brooks for doing an amazing job on Savannah's hair and makeup, and to Matthew Simmons for his help on set!

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Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin Senior Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.

Senior Portrait - Brittany Perea | Emily McGonigle Photography

A little while ago, I had the pleasure of working with Brittany Perea for her Senior Portrait session!  As I mentioned in my BTS blog post about Brittany's session, this is the second time I've gotten to work with her lovely family, and it was as much fun as it was the first time around!

Have a look at the final images from Brittany's session!

 
 
 
 
 
 

How adorable is this girl?! I had so much fun on her session!

Not only that, but with her session, I got to introduce some of my newest brand packaging, which I'm SUPER excited about!

Album box, Photo Album, USB key, & Mounted Print

Album box, Photo Album, USB key, & Mounted Print

New delivery packaging material!

New delivery packaging material!

And now for my traditional thanks:

Thank you to Katrina Brooks for doing such a fab job on Brittany's hair and makeup, and to Matthew Simmons for his help on set!

Now, go outside and enjoy the beautiful spring weather we've been getting!

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Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin Senior Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.

Senior Model Portrait - Kyli Barr | Emily McGonigle Photography

Hey everyone! I hope you've managed to stay dry over the past couple of days. Despite the rainy day temptation to nap until the sun comes back out, I've been working hard to finish images and get them out to the world for you all to enjoy.

And TODAY, I'd like to share with you images from Kyli Barr's Senior Model shoot! Kyli is a student at Ravenwood High School, and THIS girl... THIS girl knows how to work the camera. I was immediately impressed by her comfort in front of the camera. From the first frame to the last, she was killin' it.

But not only was Kyli on point the whole shoot, her adorable little dog, Milo, nearly stole the show. He definitely stole all of our hearts (Matthew's especially), and he was a skilled little model himself. ♥︎

Take a look at her behind the scenes photos:

And of course, the final images from the shoot itself!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Special thanks to Katrina Brooks for doing a stellar job on Kyli's hair and makeup, and to Matthew Simmons for his help on set!

I have a lot more images to post in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Until next time!

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Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin and Nashville Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.

Behind the Scenes Senior Portrait - Allie Hartge | Emily McGonigle Photography

Hey everyone! I hope you've enjoyed the recent warm weather (despite all of the rain we've been getting the past day or so). I just wanted to stop by to share one of my recent senior portrait sessions.

A few weeks ago, I got the chance to work with the lovely Allie Hartge, of Cury-Ingram Academy. She's graduating in a few weeks, and of course, she wanted some photos to commemorate her final year in high school.

What made this session unique is that Allie currently has a cast on her leg. I've never done a session with a student wearing a cast, but Allie didn't let that stop her! She was super pleasant and bubbly through her whole session.

I also got the chance to work with Allie Corzine for the second time, as she worked on Allie H's hair and makeup.

 
 
 
 

Allie C. did a stellar job on Allie H's hair and makeup, both before the shoot and with touch-ups on-location.

It was such a pleasure working with Allie Hartge and her mother. I can't wait to show off the rest of Allie's lovely photos! But for now, here is a sneak peek from her session:

Special thanks once again to Allie Corzine (http://beautybyalliecorzine.com) for doing a fabulous job with Allie H's hair and makeup, and to Matthew Simmons for his help during the shoot. :)

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Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin and Nashville Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.

Modern Portrait - Kelsey Wells | Emily McGonigle Photography

2017 has been a fantastic year so far. I've somehow managed to keep busy, but in keeping busy, I've also managed to fall behind on some blogging, Instagramming, etc. Hey. It happens.

That being said, keep an eye out on my various social medias for a steady stream of updates coming soon!

In the meantime, I want to share with you all an awesome shoot I did with Kelsey Wells a little while back!

Kelsey and I had been talking about shooting for over a year... at least. We FINALLY got the chance to do it, and it ended up being one of my favorite shoots to date! It was also the first time I got the chance to work with hair and makeup artists Allie Corzine and Tessah Emerson.

We did four different looks and Kelsey killed them all.

Take a look!

Kelsey Wells_Test Shoot_ 1127161291.jpg
 
 

Don't forget to leave Kelsey some love below! I'd also love to know which set was your favorite. 

Special thanks to Allie Corzine (@allie_corzine) and Tessah Emerson (@tessahemerson_mua) for doing such a fabulous job with Kelsey's hair and makeup! Also, thanks to Matthew Simmons for being kick ass on set as always, when I needed a hand.

I'd also like to give a huge shout out to Molly Green in Nashville for allowing me to pull clothing once again! If you've never been to Molly Green, you should definitely check it out. They have so many awesome pieces and their selection is always changing. There's always something new and awesome every time I walk in there. :)

Until next time, friends!

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Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin and Nashville Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.