July 1, 2021
As small business owners, there’s always SOMETHING we need to get done. And don’t get me wrong… I know that all of us will do whatever it takes to grow our business and keep things running smoothly, but sometimes it’s hard!! Sometimes, you can’t keep up with all of those emails. Sometimes, you just have too many things going on to make an instagram post. Some days, you’re going from one thing to another and lose sight of the goals!! What if I told you there are ways to combat those feelings and keep you on track? Well, there are!! Of course sometimes you WILL just feel tired and you should give yourself breaks every now and then, but there ARE ways to make your daily life as an entrepreneur easier, so you can make the most of your time, money, and effort on a regular basis! So let’s get into it; here are my top 3 tips for staying productive as a self-employed photographer!
Are you a morning bird? Do you like to wake up at 6:00 am every day and work until evening? Awesome!! Wake up at 6:00 am! Are you a night person? Do you like to sleep in and get most of your work done in the evening? That’s me! Of course, you WILL have to work around your clients’ schedules for meetings and shoots; but for all of those back-end tasks on your list, why not make the most of your time and check those items off when it’s best for you? I think there’s such a stigma around sleeping in. You always hear about how productive people need to get up at the crack of dawn in order to be successful. I know if I started my day that early, I would NOT be as productive as I am working later in the day. That’s what works for me so I encourage you to do what works for you!!
Fact of the matter is, some people are more productive in the morning, and some find it easier and more appealing to get things done in the afternoon or at night. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Don’t feel ashamed for starting your work a little bit later in the day than the people around you. As long as you hold yourself accountable and accomplish what you plan to, you have the ability to do this! Just make sure to keep the promises you make to yourself and to your clients!
For example, let’s say I have a fun morning planned and I wake up at 9 am and go to brunch with my friends. The morning passes and I get home at 2:30. I start working at 3 pm. Since I used the morning to sleep in and socialize, I’ll make sure I dedicate the rest of the evening to working on the tasks I’d planned to get done that day. I find there are two ways to effectively hold myself accountable. The first is that task-oriented approach. You work until you get these x things done. Of course, this is a good approach to use if you’re dealing with quickly-approaching deadlines. The second way is a time-oriented approach: block out time in your day to work, and once that block of time ends..you’re finished!
Just remember; work smarter, not harder. If it’s easier for you to get work done at a certain time of day or night, don’t let anybody tell you that it would be better for you to wake up earlier or later. You know you best!
2. Automate your systems, batch content, and use business management tools!
Automating your systems, batching your content, and using business management tools are all such wonderful ways to increase the efficiency of your business and save you time. Back-end work can be SO tedious and time consuming; wouldn’t you rather spend that time working on your photography (the part you actually love to do)!? Not to mention, it’s HARD to keep every piece of a small business organized and easy. That’s where systems, batching, and management tools come in!
Email Automation: Let’s talk about automation first. One of the biggest pieces of my business that I’ve automated is my email sequence. Let me tell you, this has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I use Keap for my email sequence automation; check it out here! So basically, whenever a new subscriber is added to my email list (through Facebook ads, webinar sign-ups, website traffic, etc.), they are immediately sent a welcome email and are added to my “Welcome Sequence.” Then, after x amount of days have passed, they receive the next email. After another x amount of days has passed, they receive the third email in the welcome sequence, and so on (days between emails vary based on the progression of the particular sequence). This has saved me SO MUCH time keeping my new subscribers interested and engaged. Plus, email automation services always provide an open-rate (how many people click on the email and actually read it), which gives you some great insight about what and what isn’t working when tweaking or writing new emails. I highly suggest automating some of your systems. It’ll take some of that work off your plate and give you some room to breathe!
*Another great email automation program is Flodesk! 🙂
Social Media Planning: Now, let’s talk about batching content. Batching content really is just another form of automating a system. For example, using Tailwind for Pinterest. Tailwind allows you to queue up repins or original pins way in advance. A good way to use this tool is to determine one day a month to refill your queue, that way you don’t have to pay attention to posting x amount of times a day, or worry about missing a day and messing up the algorithm. You can use Tailwind with Instagram too, actually! It’s available as a desktop application as well as a mobile application, so you can do your planning whenever and wherever. There are also plenty of other programs/applications you could use to do this. Some include Hootsuite, Buffer Publisher, Iconosquare, and Zoho!
Client Relationship Management: Third, let’s get into business management tools! My business management system of choice is Dubsado. Dubsado has helped me to keep inquiries, projects, dates, appointments, invoices, payments, emails, and clients organized and easy to find. There’s a place or a feature for every detail I may need to mark down and every form I need to send to prospective clients. Business management tools are beneficial in the same way that content batching applications are; they save you TIME! Organization is, again, also a huge plus. I don’t know about you, but organization is VERY important to me! Being able to locate and refer to things within seconds has really aided me in time management and efficiency. Plus, I rarely have to deal with the frustration of searching for something longer than I need to!
3. Goals: break them down!
Write down your goals and establish your benchmarks. I find it’s so much easier to stay motivated and content when you know exactly what you’re working for. I know all of us have those big goals. Sometimes, they do seem far away; and that can be a little discouraging. BUT, when you break that big goal down into smaller goals, and those smaller goals down even further (and so on), eventually you find yourself with a to-do list. You find yourself with a list of smaller tasks that ALL contribute towards that big end goal.
It’s important to be aware of and synced up with both aspects of the journey; the small feats and that big end goal. Some days, your list of small feats may be kind of long. But that’s okay! Because I know you’re excited enough for that big goal to get those things done. A really good way to get through that to-do list is to prioritize your tasks. You can do this any way you’d like, of course; number your tasks in order of importance, assign values that denote priority, color-code.. whatever works for you.
Another great rule to follow: if it’ll take you less than 5 minutes, just do it NOW! DO you have to give that client a call back? Need to respond to an email? Have to organize your gear bag? Need to clean your lenses? Do it now! This strategy may help you stay more productive and keep you from pushing things off.
I hope at least one of these three tips resonated with you! Check out my resources page here for some helpful links (and discounts!) to some of the applications and programs I mentioned above. Thanks for reading, and remember… work smarter, not harder!
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