Tech-Talks | Apps That Keep Me Sane | Running a Small Business+Working Full-Time
Before we begin, this post is going to be filled with a LOT of content! I am going to do my best to keep it as organized as possible, this could probably be a blog series broken up into several mini posts, but I want to instead download this content to you! The content I wish I knew before I got started. I’ve been running Quaint+Whim and working a full-time business now for 3 years. Quaint+Whim started with VERY humble beginnings. Honestly, I never thought my passion hobby of photography could be a true business.
For those of you who do not know, I have a 9-to-5 as a software engineer. I develop interactive apps for companies. Anything from teaching them how to use company software, complicated proprietary chemical and/or assembly processes, to things as simple as HR information and how to dress properly for work. What I have to do is learn months of information in a couple of weeks and try to figure out how to teach it to a new hire interactively without an instructor. I have a VERY high-stress and mentally exhausting 9-to-5. I program, design, wireframe, create illustrations, animations, you name it! At the end of the day I am mentally spent, but it is only the beginning of working on Quaint+Whim.
Honestly, if I did not have the moxie, the grit, the gusto to be a photographer. There is NO way I could do both. There is no coffee strong enough, no app savvy enough, and simply just not that much passion to go around. I feel as though I was called to do this, I feel like something is missing when I am not making photographs. First and foremost, you need to have THAT in you. Because it is exhausting, because most days feel like you are putting in so much and getting nothing in return, simply because there is netflix!
Having said all of that, I am going to tell you some of the apps that make Quaint+Whim possible.
Switching my business e-mail to Gmail, was one of the best business decisions ever...ever...EVER! I used Godaddy e-mail at first and it was awful. I honestly don’t see how I functioned that first year. What was my favorite thing about Gmail is the Boomerang plug-in. Boomerang lets you compose e-mails and schedule when to send them. I can even ping an e-mail to send an automatic response if my client did not reply to the e-mail in 'x' amount of days. It also lets me keep a respected schedule. I’m not going to lie, I am usually checking and responding to my e-mails at 1 o’clock in the morning! I cannot SEND e-mails at one in the morning. What I do is respond to all of my e-mails, 'Boomerang' them to send later during normal business hours.
OTHER REASONS WHY I LOVE GMAIL:
Canned responses has also been a life savor. Template e-mails don’t work well for me, because I am so personable, but when a client asks what to wear for newborn sessions, I can go to my canned response, click the answer to the questions and save SO much time on rewriting and and hoping I didn’t miss anything.
Oh and I LOVE having my google drive! Being able to just log into my e-mail to compose a blog post, or to collaborate on a project with someone is great.
I’m a little bit more dramatic, and actually say I feel like I’m wearing 50 hats, but when I saw 17hats, I knew that this could be a management system for me. 17Hats has already paid for itself in so many ways. I can organize my clients as Hot Leads, Active, and Cold. I usually try to circle back to my cold clients to see if I could find out why they did not book me, or rekindle that relationship again, because life is busy. I can organize through projects and automate. So when a client e-mails me for lifestyle photos I will create a project with a questionnaire. When I get the questionnaire back, a quote is generated for the project, they can then accept the quote, sign the contract, and pay the invoice. I then have a generic to-do list that populates to make sure I stay on track with that particular project. I absolutely LOVE it. It streamlined my unfavorite part of running a business. Invoices, contracts, tasks, bookkeeping, this has been a GODSEND!
Honestly, latergramme has some flaws, but it has been the best I could find so far to schedule instagram posts the way I need to. (And I can schedule/post/compose on my computer which is a huge plus for me!) I am fully aware of Hootsuite, but that just doesn’t work well for me, but Hootsuite is AMAZING if you want to look into that app you should! With Latergramme I can actually think and compose my posts out. I don’t have to spend so much time thinking what should I post on instagram today...what should I say about this picture. I dedicate about an hour to curate a week or two worth of content. Which actually lasts a bit longer because sometimes I have a post that I will interject instead of using something I’ve scheduled. I more so keep it like a mini archive of posts, and have most of them set to unscheduled. Except for holidays posts like, national handwriting day, grandparents day, christmas marketing, because honestly I would forget!
I honestly didn’t think I needed to invest in Blogstomp, I had my lightroom templates, and would export them separately. But this was rather time consuming. With Blogstomp, I can just drag my already exported images into the program and export them web-ready. When preparing a blog post and uploading photos they load so much quicker, and I just know they are going to be the right resolution for web. No more oops, or let me re-export that. Just perfect the first time.
Who likes to track their mileage? I mean not me. When it comes to tracking my milage it ends up being a lot of math, because I always forget to track it. This app you download onto your phone and it stays tracking your trips in the background. When ever I am ready to log my information I just swipe left for personal trips and right for business travel. This app actually makes tracking milage fun when I have some time to kill. Then you get an e-mail with your log for the month, your CPA will thank you come time for taxes.
Okay, so this isn't an app, but I have to post about my planner. As much of a tech-nerd as I am, I have to write to think and retain. I do make note of shoots on my iCal, and set reminders, but really my organization of the day comes best with my Whitney English Day Designer. This is my first year using it, and I am never going back. The way the pages break down the schedule, to do list, top 3 things to get done, and a daily gratitude box (and that is just naming a few things!) has been awesome. I really love and advocate this planner! Before I go to sleep I try to map out my next day as much as possible, making tomorrow a little less hectic.
hope these apps are something you can look into and enjoy! I use a ton more apps, but these are some of my favorites that really helped a bit with my sanity levels.
Do any of you run your own business and have a demanding full-time job? It is really hard! Do you have any apps or tricks that keep your days running a bit smoother? Would love to hear them in the comments!