3 Tools Essential To My Photography Business
These 3 tools help me to stay confident about how much I charge, focused on how I structure my time, and crystal clear on my financials.
Smart tools for professional photographers
Working in photography – no matter if you're a hobbyist or a pro – means juggling a whole lot of things.
If you aren’t doing this full time, then you’re juggling your full-time life and your passion work.
If you are doing this full time, then you’re probably juggling half a dozen projects (some paying, some not) plus the business side of things.
And all of us have to balance all of this with a functional personal life.
It gets messy.
But there are great tools out there that help to keep things organized, reduce how much time you spend on tasks, and save sanity.
I’m outlining three of these that are essential to my business and that I’m confident will go a long way in helping you as well.
- The essential software program that saves me time and frustration around figuring out what to charge for licensing images
- The essential digital + paper combo that provides the one-two punch for keeping all my projects and tasked organized PLUS keeps me sane on a daily basis
- The essential online tool that keeps me crystal clear about my financial numbers
- My full list of recommended tools
- Fotoquote: Pricing for image licensing and assignments. Save 10% on all your purchases when you use my coupon code “JHP-0420”
- Freedcamp: Project and task management program
- Quickbooks Online: Bookkeeping and financial management program
- NOLO: Books for navigating legal territory, from business structure to contracts
Some of the NOLO resources in my library:
- The Essential Business Desk Reference: Sign any contract with confidence, armed with the plain-English information & explanations, specifically written with non-lawyers in mind.
- Form a nonprofit in your state: Start and run a nonprofit in your state with this complete guide. Get step-by-step instructions.
- Get Your Contract in Writing: Whether you're an independent contractor or a business hiring one, it's important to put your agreement in writing.
- The Small Business Start-Up Kit: Your one-stop guide to starting a small business. Get your start-up off the ground with the financial & legal tools & advice needed to set up & run a small business.
Episode 032: 3 Tools Essential To My Photography Business
(Digitally transcribed, please forgive any typos)
A universal truth of every single conservation photographer I've ever met is we have a lot of irons in the fire. You have to all photography work, including conservation photography is usually based around projects. Sometimes short-term, sometimes long-term, all in their own little niche and each in a different stage of development. Now, if you are not doing this full time, then you're juggling your full time life and your passion work in my email list. Whenever someone joins, I send out an email asking what their biggest challenge is. And so often the reply is my biggest struggle is figuring out how to have time for everything I'm wiped out after I get home from work. And it's hard to keep up the fire to get out there and shoot, or to chase down the story. So how do you balance it all? Now, if you're doing this full time, then you're probably juggling half a dozen projects, some pain, some not plus the business side of things.
And all of us have to balance all of this with a functional personal life. It gets messy, but there are great tools out there that help to keep things organized, to reduce how much time you spend on tasks to save sanity. I'm outlining three of these tools that have been essential to me from when I was a hobbyist all the way into right now, doing this work professionally. And I'm confident that these tools will go a long way and helping you out as well. So I'm digging in to three in this episode, plus a little bonus resource for you. All right, let's dig in.
Welcome to impact the conservation photography podcast. I'm your host, Jaymi Heimbuch. And if you are a visual storyteller with a love for all things wild, then you're in the right place from conservation to creativity, from business to marketing and everything in between this podcast is for you. The conservation visual storyteller, who is ready to make an impact. Let's dive in!
Hello, and welcome to this episode of impact. Thank you so much for listening. And now let's dig into this episode.
In this episode, I am outlining three essential tools. And this first tool is all about reducing how much time you spend on and confusion you feel about how much to charge. So this pops up all the time, especially among folks who are just getting started and get that first email about, Oh, we want to license your images and you kind of stare at the screen. You're like, Oh, okay, I really want to do this. I have no idea what to quote. And there's a bunch of variables that go in. You're not sure where to look. There's a few strategies that you can take in order to figure out what to charge, but you end up spending a lot of time poking around and kind of worrying about what's the right amount.
And is this too much and is this reasonable? And I'm not really sure I remember this so well, luckily there is a software program out there that does all the heavy lifting for you. All you have to do is plug in the parameters of how your image is going to be licensed. And it spits out a quote for you, an industry standard rate for that type of use. And you can confidently hand that number back to your potential client. Now it's called Fotoquote, F O T O quote, and it's by a company called Cradoc. They actually have several software programs that are pretty cool. I only use Fotoquote. So it's what I'm recommending here. And Fotoquote is essentially a large database and it allows you to hop into that database and look for all kinds of ways that an image might be used.
It has in there CD covers or album covers. It has billboards or magazines or books or marketing materials or online materials, pretty much any way that an image could be used. It's in that database, you go in and you plug in how that image will get used. And then you can add in other parameters like print run size, if it's national or international, how difficult the shot was to get, which means it has an inherent higher value. You can basically customize that and Fotoquote, updates, the quote, and provides you a range that you can charge. So you can figure out if you want to charge on the lower end, because maybe it's a nonprofit asking about this and you want to be a little generous there or on the higher end, and you can figure out what works for you. Now, what's really awesome about the software as well is beyond the database photo quote also has the ability to create and track invoices and quotes.
So what you can do is create a quote and send that out to your client, and then let's say they accept it. And it's for a two year license, well, Fotoquote can help you track that. And in two years you can follow up with the client to renew that license really, really awesome software. So instead of asking around and wondering, and doing internet searches about what to charge for your work, whenever someone asks me, Hey, I don't know what to charge. What should I charge? I pop open photo quote. I plug in the parameters and in a minute or two, I'm sending back a quote that is a really solid industry standard rate. And what's really awesome about using a software program. Like this is not only does it save time, but you know, that that number is pretty solid and you can confidently send over a licensed quote.
And this is where I think a lot of people get hung up. Is that wondering like, is this too much? Are they going to get mad? Is this reasonable? Am I standing up for myself and my charging too little, like what is right? Well, when you know that that number is falling inside of a range that is perfectly reasonable for that type of use, you can say, yep, this is my number. I stand by it. I'm willing to negotiate just a little bit here or there and away you go. Now I love Fotoquote so much that I'm actually an affiliate and I have a 10% discount for you if you choose to buy this software. So if you want to grab Fotoquote, if you fall in love with it, please use my coupon code to get an extra 10% off. That coupon code is available in the show notes at JaymiH.com/32, the number 32 for this episode. Now I love the software. I would never recommend something that I don't use pretty much on the daily. So if you're interested in Fotoquote, I definitely want to make sure that you save a little money. If you choose to go forward with it.
Now that's tool number one, a software program that helps you to save time and confusion around how much to charge. Now, the second tool is all about keeping clear and focused. So this tool is a project management application. You just can't keep everything in your head and expect to stay sane, not with multiple projects, which each have their own tasks and deadlines, and which each shift, depending on a whole host of variables, a project management application actually gets everything out of your head so that you have room to think on the importance of using an app cannot be understated.
Not only does it clear out your brain, so you can sleep at night, but it keeps all your tasks organized. So you can navigate and prioritize and reorganize as projects change, and you can accomplish all those tasks in as low stress of a manner as possible. So embracing a project management app is a life changing thing for you and your business. Now my personal choice is freedcamp, but there are many options, including Trello, Basecamp, Asana, and a ton more. I just learned about Dubsado. Um, so I personally like freedcamp because it's very affordable. My business plan that I'm on is a dollar 99 a month. And as the name implies, there's also a free version and freed camp has all the tools that I need. So everything from invoicing and CRM on the business side of things to really simple calendar management and project management, where I can just list tasks and sub tasks and reorganize things.
So no matter how fancy you want to get, it also stays really user friendly and they have excellent customer service. I've been using freed camp now for six years, I think, and it just continues to become a better and better tools. So I have no doubt that if you were to use Freedcamp now you'd continue to watch it evolve as a really amazing tool. Now, in addition to an online project management application, I also love to use a paper planner now in this super official survey that I took of my Instagram followers, 85% of us prefer paper over digital for tracking daily tasks. And I mean, of course we're creatives. We like that tactile interaction of paper. Now I will paper doesn't work well for a project because projects are just too big and they morphed too much for paper to make practical sense. It does work for weekly and daily tasks.
And I love my paper planner. So what I do is I take my freedcamp kind of calendar that I've got going on with all of the many tasks that I need to do for the week. And I go in with my daily planner and I write out on each day of that week, what I need to accomplish. I do this every usually Sunday night or Monday morning, and I write out what I need to do into my paper planner. And that is much more calming for me. I don't have to keep checking back in on a digital surface for what I'm accomplishing. I just do that on paper. And then I'll go back at the end of the week and figure out what did I get done? What didn't I, and update that online planner. Now, this is how I can plan my days schedule and stay more focused on my tasks by looking at just that day's tasks I don't get caught up in the should be doing and could be doing whirlwind.
That can happen. When I look at my project management application, as far as paper planners go, there's a lot of options out there. There's everything from bullet journaling, which is actually an entire technique about using a paper planner to something like the full focused planner, which is very much goal oriented. It has a really specific structure to how you plan out your days in order to have the best efficiency, but most paper planners. Aren't perfect. Generally you need one that works the way you work, which means customization. If you don't want to customize something, you can download my daily planner. I actually have a PDF document that is structured so that I can figure out my tasks and my schedule. I print this out every week and use it during the week. So I welcome you to download that and you can give it a try and it even comes with instructions for putting it to use.
So that workflow that I kind of vaguely outlined, I actually have detailed instructions for how to put it to use so that you get the most out of it. Now you're welcome to use it as is, or you can use it as a jumping off point for customizing your own day planner. You can find that day planner available for download at JaymiH.com/32.
Now that was all about keeping your activity organized. And this third tool is about keeping your numbers organized. We're going to talk accounting software. Okay? So I want to preface this no matter if this is a hobby or a side hustle, or if this is a full time job, if you are a conservation photographer, I really want you to perk up your ears right now and pay attention to using accounting software. Why? Because tracking your numbers makes it so much easier to figure out things like how much to budget when you want to write a grant application, or how much to budget for a fundraiser.
If you want to fundraise with an organization or trying to figure out how much to fundraise in order to cover the costs of you creating imagery, even if you're not tracking numbers for tax purposes, because say, you know, this is a hobby and you're not worried about expensing, anything for taxes or getting deductions. It's still really smart to be tracking how much you're spending inside of your hobby, because it comes into handy in all sorts of ways. So I strongly recommend accounting software, and if you're going to go for something, I recommend QuickBooks online, specifically the online part, not the self-employed part. So QuickBooks is a phenomenal tool. You've probably already heard of it. And as you look at their pricing structure, you'll notice that there's a version called self-employed and a version called QuickBooks online. The self-employed is like the super super light version.
And it allows you to track like business expenses or personal expenses and to kind of categorize all of that allows you to track your miles and everything. But it actually isn't super well set up for being able to customize things. Um, it doesn't necessarily track things appropriately. If you're trying to actually track for tax purposes. I had such a headache happen when I used to use self-employed because I was like, wow, that's good enough for what I need. I don't need anything complicated. It's cheaper. I'm going to go with that. And as my business advanced, and I really needed something more advanced to go alongside of it, I wanted to switch to QuickBooks online. That information in QuickBooks self employed does not transfer to QuickBooks online. I had to spend days inputting information and getting all of my old bank statement information and credit card statement information into the new program.
So if you can't afford it, I totally recommend going with the QuickBooks online, just go ahead and grow into it. And at least you're starting out in the right place. Now, no matter if you just go with a simple spreadsheet on Google sheets or something, or if you end up going with an accounting software program, again, I cannot emphasize enough how strongly I recommend that you treat this like a proper business. So even if you're working as a conservation photographer, as a hobby, as a, as passion work, or if you're doing this as a side hustle and, and you don't feel quite like legit yet, or if you are a full time pro, no matter what, Oh my goodness, please use accounting software. It will save you so much time later on and the ability to go a program and figure out what you've been spending money on and where, and if you're bringing in enough to cover your hobby expenses or your business expenses, it's just super essential.
So strongly recommended that. Now at the beginning of this episode, I also said that I was going to provide a bonus resource for you. This is one of my favorite book publishers for anything about how to, or DIY legal stuff. So for the last two decades, NOLO, N O L O, has been my resource for learning the legal ins and outs of everything from business structure to taxes, to contracts. It's an incredible library of updated information and Nolo offers, print and digital books and forms. So I'm constantly recommending this as a resource for photographers, especially if you're trying to figure out how to set up your first business entity or how to set up your first contract with the client or how to actually set up a contracts as an independent contractor. So I imagine that I will probably continue to recommend Nolo for as long as this company exists.
Some of the resources that I have in my library right now is the tax guide for gig workers, make your business an LLC, the essential business desk reference. I have a book called form a nonprofit in your state. I have one book that I absolutely love the small business startup kit. And I also have one about working with independent contractors and the types of contracts to be able to create. I mean, there is just so much great material written by professionals and again, constantly updated. So it's never going to be outdated legal information, and I am an affiliate of Nolo. So you can head over to JaymiH.com/NOLO, N O L O again, it's JaymiH.com/NOLO. And you can browse through that library. Now this is an affiliate link because I believe so much in this publishing house. So if you use that link and you purchase something, I earn a small commission and I thank you in advance for helping me out a little bit.
Um, and meanwhile, I hope that Nolo helps you out a lot. It's amazing. Now what you likely already know about me is I love organization. I love planning tools. It's totally nerd heaven for me, but I can also be a total mess. I mean, as I record this, I'm actually working with a mentor for an hour every week just for keeping my business organized because there's so many moving parts and what should I work on now? And how do I organize this project? And how should I get all of these tasks worked out. I even called up to ask how to create a spreadsheet, because I had so many ways that I wanted to track information and I was trying to design a spreadsheet that could contain it and make it so that I could actually sort the information. So I'm calling someone up to be like, how do I make the spreadsheet?
I'm not really sure what to do. My systems can get sloppy beyond recognition, restoring it to highly productive beauty. It can be a huge task. I mean, I even took on a couple of enormous unexpected projects. And in that hustle, I just kind of threw tasks into my task list rather than really using these systems and that results in becoming a stress case. So when I talk about organization and planning, trust me, it's not coming from a perfect person. Everybody gets sloppy. Everyone lets their perfectly planned systems and processes break down. So please don't sweat it. Just recognize it, take a breath and look around to see if there's a tool that can help you get through your business, your sanity it's worth all that time and energy to put into organizing yourself. And again, this is true, even if photography is a passion or it's a hobby for you, balancing that with a full time life.
That struggle is real. So I absolutely recommend treating it as if it were a business and implementing those tools to help you through. Now, these three tools are certainly not the only ones that I recommend. In fact, I made a list of dozens of essential tools from geared a software that I use consistently in my business and have used for years, that entire list can be found on my website. So just head to the show notes, JaymiH.com/32, And you'll be able to hop on to that page that recommends all kinds of different tools that I find essential for various purposes. I hope that all of this has been helpful.
And before I sign off, I want to send out a thank you. Now I read every review of this podcast and they're incredibly encouraging and energizing and inspiring like this one from Ohrascalred. Ohrascalred says, "Impact is a must listen for all wildlife photographers. Jaymi is a goldmine of information, a great speaker. And how lucky are we that she's generous enough to share her wealth of knowledge? I learned something from every episode and feel listeners, including myself, can fast track their progress by diving in looking forward to many more episodes."
This makes my heart so happy because a lot of these episodes are built specifically to help you fast track your progress. So to know that that's happening, it's huge. So if you're enjoying this podcast, it would mean so much to me. If you could leave a rating or a view right now, wherever you're listening and tell me how it's helped you in your photography craft. And I promise this is not all about ego, even though I love reading these reviews. It's also that the more positive reviews that are on this podcast, the more it's pushed out in front of more listeners, which means helping more people with a passion for conservation photography and visual storytelling, ultimately that helps all of us along. And that's the ultimate goal. So if you could take two or three minutes to hop over and leave a review wherever you're listening to this podcast right now, that would be amazing. Thank you so much. And I will talk to you next week
Before we wrap up, I would love to ask you to do one quick thing, subscribe to this podcast . As a subscriber, you'll not only know when each week's episode goes live, but you'll also get insider goodies like bonus episodes. You might miss them unless you're subscribed. And I don't want you to miss out on a thing. So please tap that subscribe button and I will talk to you next week.
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