With every passing year, it seems clients are expecting more and more from their photographers. Kat Dalager even foresees a change of the very word photographer in her recent Strictly Business blog post, Predictions for 2016:
“The word ‘photographer’ will change. Maybe it will be ‘image maker’ or ‘content maker’ or ‘capturer.’ Whatever it is, it will reflect the expanded capabilities of the role.”
I agree. And, I believe that in order to embrace the ever-increasing roles we find ourselves pushed into, we must become exceedingly efficient in our productivity. 2016 will be the year that I take productivity to the next level by integrating the technology, cloud based services, apps and automation software I use in my business.
Here are 11 tools that help me, solve my productivity puzzle:
It all starts with Salesforce
The backbone for my virtual productivity is SalesForce – the CRM that’s been running my business for over 7 years now. Every account, contact and job lives in this cloud based service [read my recent post, I got my head in the cloud (along with all my data) for more on how I use Salesforce]. This year, I’m focused on expanding automation with SalesForce.
The amazing integration between Evernote and SalesForce, allows me to attach all job related records automatically; every creative brief, handwritten note, job estimate, permit, release, receipt, rental agreement, etc. is tagged with a job number in Evernote and appears in the digital job folder in SalesForce as if by magic.
Asana, Zapier & IFTTT
I’ve set up Zapier, an automation system, to automatically create a counterpart of every job, event and task that gets entered in SalesForce in Asana, my project management software. From there, I can easily split up a job into an actionable To Do list. IFTTT (If This Then That) is another automation system that I’ve set up so automatically add every contact I enter on my phone into SalesForce. Between them, Zapier and IFTTT, enable you to integrate apps and cloud based services to stay productive.
Scannable & Ebsta
Integrating all the data and info you have across your apps, software and services is pretty cool, but the real power comes in when you can utilize OPD (other people’s data). Got a business card that only has a name and a phone number on it? Don’t worry, Scannable will read the card, find the person on LinkedIn, fill in the missing data and add it into your phone’s contacts. (Watch Scannable work in real-time – you’ve got to see it to believe it!). Ebsta is another awesome service for those who use LinkedIn to research clients. It automatically looks to see what data you already have in SalesForce on the person you’re looking at on LinkedIn. You can also ‘Ebsta Search’ anyone on the web.
Data entry & Email templates
I’ve created email templates in SalesForce that get sent automatically when a client contacts me for the first time. I also have follow-up email templates, and templates that get send out with each estimate.
Most recently, I’ve set up the ASMP delivery memo (adapted to digital file delivery), to automatically become an electronic record in the digital job folder. All I have to add to the pre-written template is the custom URL in Photoshelter that my client can use to download their image files and a copy of the file names that I’m sending to them. Talk about productivity – delivery memos customized and sent in 2 minutes. Easy peasy.
In 2016 I will refine my “Estimate Request Form” (HT to Dana Hursey), who wrote a blog post about how his productivity increased, since he’s using an online form for estimates. I’ve taken his approach a step further and integrated mine with -you guessed it- SalesForce, so that my clients are providing me with a lot more information about their shoot early and online. Productive collaboration. Gotta love it.
Receipts & Mileage
If you love tedious paperwork, than these next two apps are not for you (but I’ll venture a guess that your productivity could do with a little upgrade). Expensify takes a photo of a receipt, reads the date, amount, merchant, etc. and with a few clicks lets you create an expense report on your phone. Tag it with your job number, save it in Evernote and it’s automatically connected in the digital job folder in SalesForce. No more keeping track of those pesky little receipts – Just print out your expense report, which includes photos of the receipts.
MileIQ figures out when you are driving in your car and automatically records your mileage based on GPS data. No more writing down beginning and ending mileage – all you have to do is to swipe to categorize the trip as business or personal, and yes, you can tag it with notes and run a report to get all the mileage. And, if you customize the location, it will even know where you went.
Productivity on steroids
Well, not quite on steroids, but you’ll see a lot of time free up when you unleash these digital productivity tools. Now you can proudly become an “image capturer,” a “content production engineer,” a “photon-cowboy” or whatever photographers will be called in the future.