As photographers, we know that we need a system in place to process our client work. But, the catch is, there is no one telling us exactly what that system should look like, leaving us to sort it out on our own. That is why I have dedicated my second business to helping photographers (and other creatives) navigate the endless list of deliverables and organize them into an easy to use system.
I’ve worked with too many photographers and creatives who are making the same mistakes when developing and implementing a workflow for their business. Understanding the big picture view of your business AND breaking it down into the most minuscule to do’s can be a daunting task. I’ve been there. In the coming weeks, I am going to be writing to you about creating workflows, it’s challenges, reasons why I LOVE using them, and so much more. But today, I want to share the 8 most common mistakes people make when creating workflows for their creative business.
# 1 – It’s not consistent
When it comes to developing a system that works, every time, consistency is KEY. This is the cornerstone of any workflow, regardless of what industry you are in. If your workflow is not consistent, everything from your time to your client experience will be off. This is one of your first priorities when creating a workflow, making sure you are doing the same set of steps for every client, regardless of your workload.
#2 – It’s not written down
This is the FIRST thing I do with my workflow clients – I have them write down EVERYTHING they do from start to finish. It is too often that I see clients who either “know each step in their head” or only write down a few of their steps in the workflow. This is detrimental to your sanity and time management. You will inevitably waste time skipping back and forth from steps or trying to remember what comes next. Save yourself the stress, post-it notes, and brain farts, write it down once and have it forever.
#3 – It’s not automated
Okay, okay…so you have it written down. Maybe in a Google Doc or in a task management software or on 300 post-its. Whatever system it may be, you are SO close! The next step (and this is a big one!) is to automate that bad boy! Automating my workflows changed everything for me! It takes the guesswork out of things, reminds me what I need to do next, gives me deadlines (more on this below), AND gives me the oh-so-needed satisfaction of crossing off daily tasks and throwing my fist in the air when everything is done for the day!
#4 – It’s too broad (aka. your tasks are too big)
The more detail the better! It’s one thing to write, pack for session or blog wedding BUT it’s another to include every little step along the way. Here’s a small little example of what I am talking about:
- The main task – Pack for Session
- Print + Save to Phone Wedding Timeline and Shot List
- Pack Gallery Cards
- Format Memory Cards
- Charge Flash + Camera Batteries
- Pack Camera Bag
- Charge Laptop and Phone
- Go be your amazing self and shoot a gorgeous wedding!
See what I am saying – details, people, details! Think about your BIG tasks and then write down everything you do to complete that task as if you were going to teach someone else how to do it. Leave nothing out – you will be grateful you didn’t when it’s busy season and everything blurs together.
#5 – There are no deadlines (it’s open-ended)
This is where I find a lot of photographers get themselves into trouble and end up delivering galleries 5, 10, even 15 weeks after the wedding. Having a deadline to work towards is not only important for your client relationships, it’s important for your mental focus. I am much more likely to complete a task on time or slightly after the proposed deadline when I know I have a ticking clock. Without a deadline, we fail to use time management skills appropriately. For every task in your workflow, even the smallest ones, assign a deadline and do your absolute best to stick to it!
#6 – You are not using email templates
Email templates are a LIFESAVER and a huge time saver. When I first introduced email templates into my workflow, I was amazed at how much time it actually saved me from my inbox. There is no bigger time suck than the dreaded email inbox. Trust me, it’s one of my least favorite places to hang out. But, communication with our clients is essential. And communicating the same message with the same voice every time takes your business and professionalism to the next level. Not only that, you aren’t sitting there for 2 hours every morning typing out the same email to five different clients. Save yourself, create templates, click, review, and send!
#7 – You are not communicating with your clients, enough
A proactive photographer is a great photographer. Clients want to hear from you, a lot. They want to know that you have their back, that you are on top of every detail related to their wedding, that you care about their relationship and story, and that you are prepared to give them the best possible wedding photography experience possible. And this goes with any creative industry. Email your clients, tell them what to expect, reassure them that you have it all (and more) under control. Your clients will thank you for it (and tell their friends about it!) Did someone say that wanted increased referrals?
#8 – There’s no client education
Put yourself in your clients shoes. Think about what they might want to know about the service you are providing. Think about the questions you get asked over and over by brides or other clients. Save yourself even more time by addressing these questions BEFORE they are asked. It will blow your clients away. And! They will show up to the session prepared, in the right color clothing, with the right kind of shoes, and the right expectations! You are the expert – if you are going to share your knowledge with anyone, make sure it is with your clients!