A Photographer's Workflow
As I wrote about at the end of last year, I sat down to figure out what worked and what didn't for my business in 2012. It was incredibly challenging BUT also so rewarding. As I started 2013 I was determined to fix some things that just didn't work in 2012. One of those things being my workflow.
I know that EVERY photographer struggles with finding a workflow that works for them! So often we get overwhelmed with where to start that we look to see what other people are doing. I mean if it's working for them it should work for me right? WRONG. But nevertheless that's how we learn and so I started my workflow process following what another photographer told me. It worked out great at first, but as the business grew my workflow system did not and I found myself completely overwhelmed at the end of last year. Something needed to change.
For almost two years now I have been using an online program called ShootQ. This program has simply revolutionized my business and WORKS for me. While the program has a myriad of options to help photographers, I use it as a way to send contracts, invoices and important questionnaires to couples. And up until 2013 I had been using it as my primary workflow system too.
I had seen other photographers talk about a Production Wall or a Workflow Whiteboard, like my friend Katelyn, but I thought if I had ShootQ and my entire workflow was wrapped up in that, why in the world would I need to make a PHYSICAL workflow?? That just seemed redundant, PLUS it would make my office look more "officey" and well I didn't want that.
But I had to face reality and realize that using ShootQ as my primary way to keep track of my workflow just wasn't working. For those of you who are familiar with ShootQ, when you open the program it will tell you if any of your workflows are behind, if anyone owes you anything, if client's had signed questionnaires and contracts etc. And because the system wasn't working for me I didn't keep up with the workflow and would be bombarded by notices every time I opened the program. Which in turn made me NOT want to open the program. You see where I'm going with this?
So I began to look again at what I could do to improve the organization of my workflow. And I knew that it had to become something physical, something I would see EVERY day as a reminder to stay on top of all my tasks. Perhaps there was something to this Production Wall...
The first step was to take my ShootQ workflow and right it down. I wrote down EVERY step of my wedding workflow, portrait workflow and album workflow from start to finish. From booking to my last thank you note. I then created a grid in Photoshop that physically laid out that workflow. I could finally SEE everything and how it was all organized!
The next step was to update my ShootQ workflow as I wasn't going to completely eliminate that. I use it in conjunction with my physical workflow board as some steps in my workflow REQUIRE me to use ShootQ. Also ShootQ helps me to keep track of WHEN I need to do something specific, like receive a final payment and will alert me when that's due.
So here it's, my new office corner/production wall!! I have started to fill out the workflows with clients and album orders. It's SO wonderful to be able to walk upstairs each day and see exactly where I am at with each client and physically check off tasks that have been completed!! My OCD self is totally geeking out right now!!
But look, the point isn't that you should go out and make a production wall or that this is the best way to keep organized. Truly you just need to find what works for you!! My ultimate goal in any of my business organizational projects is to help create a better and more streamlined experience for my clients. Because at the end of the day the more organized and on top of things I AM, the less stress and confusion I create for my clients.
Has there been anything that has worked for you in YOUR workflow system? How do you stay organized to keep up with your client tasks? I'd love to hear!! And let me know if you have any questions about how I moved from an online workflow to a physical one! Happy organizing!!*Edited to add
This project was SO simple to create. I simply bought a few frames at Target (and one frame I already had!), created the files in Photoshop and had them printed for CHEAP at Staples! The prints sit behind the glass of the frame and as the year changes or I need to fix a client's workflow I simply use a white board eraser to update!