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Top 5 Applications I Use to Grow My Business

20

Jan

When I shot my first wedding 8 years ago, I had no idea that I would build the business that I have today. With 5 years full time as a small business owner under my belt, I would not be where I am without the teachings of my mentors and the tools that I’m about to share with you. I’m so excited to share with you the top 5 applications I use to grow my business!

All of these tools I use on a daily basis and I’ve linked discounts for you where I can! I hope you can explore, test, and ultimately find a set of tools that propels you into success within your business.

SPROUT STUDIO

Up first is the backbone of my business, my CRM system Sprout Studio. A CRM system is a “Customer Relationship Management” tool that helps store and organize information regarding your clients, their events, contracts, invoices, galleries and correspondence. These tools are critical when it comes to staying on top of interactions, timelines and workflows. 

Some of the specific features that I love about Sprout Studio are the importing//filing of my inquiries, the automated email workflows I can custom create and the various business financial reports I can run at any time to check on the health of my business.

When someone inquires on my website, that form is automatically entered into Sprout, where I can go and easily see what type of shoot it is, all the clients details, and answer them in a timely fashion with my templated email responses.

The automated emails help me send my couples resources, guides and questionnaires throughout the wedding journey process together. They receive valuable information in a timely manner and I receive details about their event with plenty of buffer time before the event. 

The reporting tools help me see accounts receivable, sales charts, my conversion ratio, sales reports for the most popular services. I can even see who my top referrals are! This information from Sprout Studio helps me keep a watchful eye on my business and make adjustments and improvements in real-time. 

Use this referral link to get 20% off your first month or your ANNUAL subscription! Woot woot!

Not to mention, if you want to compare their features to other CRM systems, you can go right to this page, click your competitor and see which plan is right for you. CRAZY PANTS!

Narrative 

When you meet most photographers, the bane of their existence is the need to blog. Blogging is a great addition to your website because it allows you to showcase new work or dive deep on a topic that is relatable and valuable to your audience or potential clients. However, blogging can be time consuming, especially if you need to resize all your images AGAIN for web based posting. 

Enter Narrative, the savior of blogging for photographers. Narrative is a desktop based application that has an easy drag-drop style to create beautiful blog layouts. The best part is, you have two options for posting. You can export the layout and upload yourself, OR you can have the Narrative servers host your blog and automatically upload for you. The advantage of allowing Narrative to host is that the loading time for your website remains top-speed. Lots of images can weigh a website’s loading time and in the era of speed, we can’t afford to lose an ounce of our viewers attention.

Use this referral link to get 15% off your paid plan! Save them dollars!

CoSchedule

After we’ve had amazing clients, an epic shoot, blogged it, what next? Oftentimes this is where we open up all our social media platforms and manually post about the same piece of content. Pretty archaic, don’t you think?

CoSchedule is an all-in-one marketing platform that connects all your social accounts to a single calendar. You’re about to have a real-time marketing calendar that you can drag-drop your posts, supports social media posting automation, and utilizes “evergreen” content to always keep your schedule full.

My favorite little piece to this tool is scheduling anniversary posts for my couples. I post about their wedding initially about 10 weeks after their wedding, but inside of CoSchedule I can already create a post that will publish on their anniversary and never have to think about it again. HOW COOL!? You end up looking like a very thoughtful photographer (which you are) and your clients get to feel some extra love on their first wedding anniversary. 

CoSchedule even helps analyze your blog post to ensure you have a title that will work for you, track your engagement over time and your shares via other social media platform. They have a plug-in that live directly inside your WordPress blog dashboard.

I’ve started outsourcing parts of my marketing strategy to my VA and she loves this app! She is able to come in and use the calendar to keep my social media presence up to date and take a few things off my plate. 

Pic-Time

There are plenty of options when it comes to hosting your online-galleries for clients. With multiple options (all beautiful) I wanted to share with you why I chose Pic-Time as my gallery system and how it’s contributed to the success of my business. 

Let’s start with cost. As a wedding photographer, I process and deliver THOUSANDS of images per year and it takes up a lot of storage. At the time of this blog, Pic-Time offers unlimited storage for $34/month (when you pay annually). They always have a black Friday deal to score an even better rate but even $34/month for unlimited storage as my business grows is so insanely affordable! It would be silly not to invest!

Photographers are notorious for having deep anxiety about missing files, deleted images, or losing full galleries altogether. Pic-Time has a great service where they back up your files automatically as you upload them. YAS!

Smart Store by Pic-Time

The email marketing and Smart Store are probably the biggest reasons why I hopped on this platform. I never have time to craft specific emails to each of my clients individually, then set up a sale on their gallery and proceed to hope & pray they buy something. The marketing apps that you can batch apply to galleries makes selling simple, easy, and straightforward. It’s like a crockpot, you can set it and forget it. You don’t feel like a gross car-salesmen. You can craft the email templates to sound like YOU and not some robot.

The simplistic and elegant designs of their galleries are the icing on a very robust cake. Their galleries match my own branding and aesthetic, creating that continuity across platforms. 

Use code NKV2WK to get one month FREE on Pic-Time!

FloDesk

I never thought that email marketing tools would be in my Top 5 applications I use in my business. I never thought I would have anything to say or notify people enough in order to justify having an email list. Boy, was I wrong. Clients not only are invested in your business but also your future offerings. 

FloDesk sample image of designing the emails

I specifically have been using my email list to notify my clients of mini session launch dates. These are specific days where I photograph families, couples, individuals in back to back sessions that allow me to optimize my time and give a great price point to my clients. These babies can sell like hotcakes. 

FloDesk screenshot of sample emails

FloDesk is a creator’s dream platform when it comes to beautiful email marketing. No more coding or weird layouts! They provide you with the best formats, the ability to customize, and ease of application to get them started. 

Use this code to get 50% (yes! Half off!) your subscription. You can thank me later 😉

The Wrap Up

I’m so happy that I got to share with you the top 5 applications I use to grow my business. I’ve tried many other tools, platforms, subscriptions and these 5 have been the best! I hope you snag these deals and start to build the business of your dreams. 

Onward and upward!

Xoxo 

Sarah

p.s. If you liked this article, I think you’ll like more that you find over here.

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