If we are not already friends, let me tell you right away that I am a firm believer in the idea of community over competition. It is true that I am not the only professional photographer in the area and I love connecting with other photographers so we can share and learn together. When I look back on my professional development, I know that I did not get here alone and if I can shine a light on the path for someone else coming along, I jump at the chance.
We have now stepped into a new year and I know a lot of photography business owners are reorganizing things during these slow, winter months. I decided this would be a great time to share the two most valuable investments I made in my business recently: Invest in Dubsado and Invest in a Dubsado Professional.
The single most important thing I’ve ever invested in for my photography business (besides the obvious camera gear) is Dubsado. Dubsado is a “business management solution designed to cut out the busywork. Build relationships, schedule appointments, and create workflows to streamline your projects from start to finish.” In other words, Dubsado is a gorgeous system that simplifies your professional life by putting everything you need for management of your business in one place. This saves you more time than you ever thought possible.
If you are reading this, you are probably looking for business advice as a photographer. If you are trying to build a photography business, I am going to assume you have a passion for photography. Duh! One thing photographers discover when they begin to run a business out of their love for photography is that you can end up spending more time sending emails and filling in forms and calendars than you actually end up behind the camera. I used to have my email in gmail. My questionnaires and contracts were in machforms. My invoicing went through paypal. My timelines were in google docs. My custom forms in a pdf. My calendar on paper. My reporting, what reporting? I was literally killing valuable time. In fact, my babies would literally cut my computer off while I was in the middle of working.
Dubsado consolidates the mess of online communication and business operation. EVERYTHING is in ONE PLACE! This is huge. My emails, custom forms, questionnaires, invoices, contracts, workflows, calendar integration, scheduling, and reporting are all in one place.
My process was all over the place. I was emailing different yet similar emails to every single person who contacted me. I had to move from email to my calendar to check dates, then back to email to coordinate the dates with the client. Once I date was finally confirmed, we still had the back and forth of submitting the forms and paying the invoice and these were all in different places and every single step required me to be sitting in front of my computer doing it all! This was taking the joy out of being a business owner. I was living my dream that I had worked so hard for and I felt like a slave to my computer instead of a passionate artist behind the camera!
As you can see, getting from the initial contact with a potential client to actually taking photos for that client took a tremendous amount of time. With Dubsado, my calendar is online. The client gets to view my available dates at their convenience and pay the deposit without waiting for me to send them a list of dates and then confirm it’s still available and then send them a paypal link. This workflow can now happen automatically taking away my stress and giving my clients an even better experience than before.
Before Dubsado I had my workflow but each step required me to do something. This workflow is what I do with every single one of my clients from first inquiry all the way to completion. It’s ALL the 30 plus steps I do along the way to ensure a beautiful experience. It’s the tips/tricks emails, the reminder of upcoming session emails, vendor recommendation emails, etc. Each genre I photograph has it’s very own workflow. IT’S ALL THE THINGS I USED TO HAVE TO TYPE UP OR COPY/PASTE EACH TIME now in one automated Dubsado workflow. While I have things automated, I actually have more time to personalize the emails sent to my clients. That has ALWAYS been important to me.
What would take me HOURS of work per client, now takes just a FRACTION of time. I could cry. I really could, but now, they are happy tears. My time and your time is precious. There is a value to time and the investment in Dubsado is worth every penny. If you think about the hourly rate you want to earn and calculate how many hours it takes you to get through every step of your workflow, Dubsado is a huge value!
I may have convinced you of the beauty of a streamlined workflow in Dubsado but the idea of learning how to use an entirely new system and moving all your processes and branding over is just freaking you out. Trust me when I say I have been there as well. Enter in, the second most important investment, hiring a professional to integrate my business into Dubsado. I am so thankful to have found Caitlyn of Systems and Strategy.
Who is Caitlyn? Other than AMAZING, Caitlyn “is a professional photographer turned business strategist. As a solopreneur that tried to manage client info, forms, tasks, and communication manually — she understands the importance of being organized and automating.” She doesn’t just understand Dubsado, she is a certified Dubsado professional!
I reached out to Caitlyn and spilled my heart out via email at the beginning of 2020. At that point, I did not have Dubsado officially but I KNEW I needed a change, needed help and needed to hire someone to pull this off. I am NOT computer savvy AT ALL. I know my limits and know my lack of time (have I mentioned I have 5 kids?). Remember how they would unplug my computer? Knowing when to call in a professional is a skill in itself and I knew I was in over my head and asked for help!
Caitlyn instantly put me to work and put me on a timeline. This was exactly what I needed. To do things I don’t want to do but know I need to do, I needed a fire lit. Enter Caitlyn. I started compiling lists (I LOVE lists) of what the normal flow is with each set of clients (now I refer to this as a workflow). I sent her over EVERYTHING I used to make my business work (all the forms, all the pdfs, all the links, all the google docs). Bless her bones. She said I was one of her most thorough clients. I believe it. I don’t skimp on details! She needed to know what I normally email over and over and over again. My fingers knew this by heart. This process still took a few weeks on my end.
What did Caitlyn do with my HOT MESS? She lovingly pulled it ALL together for me. Within Dubsado, she built automated workflows, imported all my contracts, designed custom forms, imported some current clients and many other amazing and important aspects associated with Dubsado. But most important to me, she HELD MY HAND. I know that may sound silly but it was super important to me because I was 150% overwhelmed. Change is not my favorite (even if it’s change for the better).
Caitlyn won’t just set up Dubsado for you. With me, she did so much more. She OVER DELIVERED. Where there were hiccups, she fixed. Where there was confusion, she clarified. Where there was uncertainty, she gave me several different options. When I had a question via email, she followed up with either an email with screenshots OR a custom video message walking me through my issue. To this day, one year later, she still has my back.
To get in contact with Caitlyn, click here , and be sure to tell her Katie sent you!
After subscribing to Dubsado and working with Caitlyn to move all my business workflows into the system, I cannot imagine my life any other way. Gone are the days of endless and frustrating hours fighting with a process that needed drastic improvement. The end result is beautiful on both my end and for my sweet clients. It makes the process of inquiry, booking, communication, invoice delivery, online calendar booking, continued communication and completion of the project absolutely streamlined, efficient and the same across the board.
If you find yourself relating to my testimony and feel the urge to make a change, take my words to heart and make a change for the better. I tell you friend, it will change your business life for the better.
Images of Caitlyn: used with her permission.
Images of Dubsado: used with their permission.