Let me start this blog post by saying that I find it a little humorous that I am writing to you about organization tips! I do not think I am particularly great at it but I have come across things that make it a lot easier for me! We are coming to the end of another wedding season and this is when a lot of use this time to reflect on what we did great this past year, what we need to improve on and the things that we learned. I know that I do this every year and I find things that I want to do better and I also pat myself on the back on the things that I did really well. I hope you take the time to do this for yourself as well. As business owners, we do a lot of this on our own and we put a ton of pressure on ourselves. I hate to think that some of us do not take the time to celebrate our accomplishments, our wins and our lightbulb moments! If you do nothing else at the end of this wedding season promise me that you will celebrate the things that you did well!
In college, I was even less organized than I am today, but I quickly realized that could not last if I wanted to keep my sanity! This is where my best friend, Nicole, comes in. We lived together for four years, the first year in a tiny dorm room, and the three other years in a house with a few other girls. To this day, she is the most organized person that I have ever met! I learned some of my studying habits just by watching what she would do to study.
I took what I learned in college and implemented it into my business, but as I learned about running my own business I learned that I needed to implement more ways to keep every aspect organized. Things that I knew I had to keep organized were my schedule, booked dates, the file images of photographs, and the way I delivered those photographs to the couples. Should I even mention when I use to deliver them on CDs??? (Use to are the keywords for that question!) If you have been running a business for awhile now, you know that my last sentence barely scratched the surface of what we all actually do! There was plenty for me to learn, and in hopes that you can have a less amount of time figuring things out like me, I am going to share a few tips that I have learned along the way.
I am a little weird with time! My closest friends will agree with me on that! I arrive early to everything, and I mean everything! If we have a coffee date or dinner planned, I am early! If I am meeting a friend at their house, they know that whatever time they give me that I will be their fifteen minutes earlier from that time. I am not to sure how my friends feel about this but this is a great quality to have as a wedding photographer! I plan to arrive at least thirty minutes prior on a wedding day! Sometimes I arrive even earlier.
I arrive early for multiple reasons. One of the most important is for the bride and groom! If they have booked me for eight hours, I want to give them their full eight hours. I don’t want to show up at 1pm, when I am scheduled to be there and still have to unpack my car, carry my lights to the reception location, say hi to the wedding planner and then go find the bride. I want to do all of this before my time starts, so that I am saying hello to the bride about ten minutes before my photography time is scheduled to start.
One Saturday I had my second photographer and I arrive an hour before we were scheduled. This was because the wedding was in Williamsburg, so I wanted to give sometime in case of traffic and luckily we did not run into much. We also had a first look schedule for the bride and groom and all portraits, including family formals, scheduled for before the ceremony. I knew that we had until 4:50pm to get all portraits done using natural light so I wanted to walk around the property and plan a few spots that I knew I wanted to take them too. We were able to pick a First Look location, a place where the bridal party would meet us, and the spot for the family formals. This allowed us to make triangle route on the property and the result was an organized plan and not making the bride and groom walk back and forth for two hours.
If I am going to a new location for a wedding or engagement portraits I arrive early to walk around without the couple first. This allows me to see what the light is doing and also to predict where the light will be within an hour from when we start. I then create a rough draft of a route in my head to take the couple on. Again, this ensures that I am not dragging them around, going back and forth. This is important especially if the Bride is in heels and I avoid looking scattered brained. You can see that I could write an entire blog post just on being early! Overall your take away from this tip should be, the bride and groom will appreciate this, you will be more organized with a rough plan and will feel more confident for the wedding day and/or portrait session.
When I purchased Pixifi last year, I felt like I had my entire life together! My financial lawyer was very happy with me and taxes became manageable. If you haven’t heard of Pixifi it is an online database for scheduling, accounting, making payments, contacting clients, sending reminders, contracts, and I am sure I am leaving out a lot of other things that it can do! The biggest thing for me was putting my couples into a database that linked to a calendar. I could list what wedding photography package they selected, their deposit, what they still owed and when that was due, and their important dates.
The other part that completely improved my organization was the accounting part. I log in every expense, every payment and other forms of income at the end of each month. It breaks it down for me automatically with revenue, gross income, expenses, and payments. It also further breaks all of those things down in to categories so I can see them in a glorious pie chart, which is probably the most beautiful thing I have ever seen! 😉
Be Focused App
I can’t take credit for finding this app, I read about it awhile ago on Justin & Mary’s blog! This app allows you to put tasks in and time yourself on completing the task! Don’t worry you get breaks after each interval. This psychologically makes me want to see how much I can get done within that time frame. It also is a reminder that you are being timed and that you have work to complete every time that you go to pick up your phone to do a mindless scroll through instagram or snapchat. It stops me from doing that most of the time. The best part is that it is free!
Have a physical planner
Even with all of the technology, apps and databases that I talked about I still love to write things down. I still use a calendar year planner. This is mainly to take with me to potential client meetings or follow up meetings with brides and grooms. If we plan to book their engagement session during that meeting I do not want to pick up my phone in front of them to access my calendar. They probably would not bat an eye if I did, but for aesthetic reasons I do not like to do that. Also if I happen to be on the phone with someone and we are talking about dates I can pull out the planner instead of saying hold on and clicking through my phone while trying to not accidentally hang up on them!
Have a Coffee Machine
This may be a personal preference, but I am all day coffee drinker. Not only does having a coffee machine at home make it convenient when I am editing all day long in my home office but it saves a ton of money versus the keurig machine or going to a coffee shop! I can make it as strong as I want and I will admit that I drink my coffee black now, so sipping on it all day long doesn’t make me feel bad about the calorie or sugar intake. It also prevents me from snacking and keeps me more focused through out the day because I have something enjoyable to sip on while editing.
At the end of this wedding season I hope that you take the time to list out things that you did great, things where you need to focus and improve on and have the grace to know that we all have places where we need to evolve and learn still. Comment below something that you did amazing this year and one thing you want help on to help me with future blog posts!