Starting out in the business world can be daunting. It's just you and a plethora of options of programs to try and stream line your workflow. Then there is the cost of these programs! It can all add up so quickly, and when you're just starting out, it may not be financially viable in the short term. This is how I do things. It works for my brain. It might be clunky and I KNOW there are other and more stream lined ways to run a business. The best workflow is what works for you and your business.
I am going to break down my essentials list, free and low cost options, then the big dog options for when you're flush with cash and have a solid income stream.
So without further ado...
Adobe Lightroom - If you're after the classic version, this will cost you A$14.29/mo incl. GST. The Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan includes Lightroom Classic (I use this one predominantly), Photoshop, Lightroom (cloud based), and Photoshop express. You can use them across devices and sync galleries. Super handy when you're on the run or like flexibility of how you edit.
Google Calendar - The holy grail of apps that run my life! I have colour coded calendars for everything and I can see my month at a glance. I can share my calendars with my partner, and they sync across all my devices. I have TRIED to use several paper diaries... but they just don't stick.
Pixieset - Online gallery sharing! I have tried a few of them (pixieset, shootproof, and pictime) but I just really loved the aesthetic of Pixieset and it was easy to use. IT works for what I use it for. All of these come with a free option, but you get a small amount of storage and limited features. Great if you're just starting out or want to have a play and see how you like them. I have a referral link... https://gallery.pixieset.com/ref/LZeZWx9gKY. You will get a bonus 250 MB added to their 3 GB of free storage for signing up through my referral link (and I get a little something too).
Instagram - Do I need to say anymore about this? haha Perfect place for showcasing your work, networking, and building a community in your little corner of the internet.
Canva - graphic design at your fingertips. The free version has some great templates for you to use, and the paid version is jam packed with goodies. I create all my stories in here, as well as a lot of reels, my logo, and online content that I am working on. If you're looking to purchase, there are a few Youtubers that have codes. I used Julia Trotti's code and I got 3 free months, from memory!
Wave - Free invoicing & accounting software that honestly is so good I can't believe it's free! Invoices are customisable and you can add products to sell, so it's just a few clicks of the button and your invoice is ready to go! I LOVE this one, and have used it since the start of time.
Google Sheets - In here I have created an expense tracker, cost of boing business calculator, money in and out, savings tracker etc. Keep an eye out, as I am preparing to release these for you all to purchase and enjoy.
Google Docs - I keep my email templates in here. Just a simple copy and paste into your email program and you're good to go. I also use it for brain dumps and any other note taking.
Canva (Free Version)
Pixieset (free version)
Paid/Higher end subscriptions
Studio Ninja - I used this one in the peak of my wedding career (Ha! It didn't last long as I was having babies). But with weddings and my regular maternity, newborn, and family shoots it was a god send as it ended up fully automating the backend of my business. The way to do this is ask in any photographer groups you're in for a referral link. This will give you a discounted rate, as well as the person referring you. And maybe one day, you will be able to refer enough people on that your subscription will be free! If you go down this route, PLEASE take the time to learn how to use it, set up your contract, and workflow with email templates. It will take time, but the time you gain at the end is worth it.
Xero - You and your accountant will thank you for it! Link it with your bank account and reconcile your transactions. You can also invoice through Xero, so it kinda becomes a well oiled machine on the money front. They usually offer the first month free, and frequently offer discounts for the first X amount of months, so keep an eye out.
Squarespace - Such an easy to use platform to build a website. Depending on what you plan to do with your website, it can be affordable to $$$. There are a bunch of Youtubers that have discount codes for your first website. Again, Julia Trotti probably has one! haha I built my first one with Squarespace, and have my backup website saved with them too. It's a one stop shop!
Pixieset Galleries, Suite, Website, Print Store - Pixieset has become a one stop shop for photographers too! I moved my website to them as I loved the aesthetic. I don't need a hugely functional website, as it is all pretty basic. The one thing I love the most is you can add photos straight from client galleries, rather than having to trawl through hard drives of photos for your best and fave ones. The more $ a gallery bundle costs, the more storage you get, and clients have Original Resolution downloads, which is fab for wedding galleries etc. If you're wanting to offer prints or additional file purchases, the print store is easy to set up. In Australia, the affiliated printer is Atkins. Their work is EXCEPTIONAL and you won't be disappointed. My only piece of advice is to set it so that you double check the crop etc before it is sent to the printer. The suite is a newer feature on the Australian end of Pixieset. You can have contracts and invoice through this. It has different packages too. So do your research on cost vs. use and if you want to keep everything in one spot or branch out to Studio Ninja.
Shout outs to these guys:
Unscripted Posing App - both free and paid, a great place for posing inspiration, location scouting (this is getting better slowly) and now has CRM in the paid versions.
Canon iOS app - Search in your app store/play store for your camera specific app. Camera allowing, this will enable you to connect your camera and phone and makes taking self portraits SO MUCH EASIER! Seriously, get on it.
SCRL: This app creates those beautiful carousels that we all love.
Unfold: Creates animated stories for IG, and helps curate your aesthetic, if that's what you're going for. Both free and paid versions.
And that's it! That's the lot. So if you are starting out, have a look through these options and weigh up the pros and cons of each. Remember, there is no right or wrong way of running your business.
Thanks for taking the time to read.