Every year I like to honor the top digital products photographers can use to grow their businesses. Below are 9 go-to items for this year ranging from software to presets to training. See winners from 2014 and 2013.
Best Studio Management Tool
Manage your photography business from an iPad! I love how StudioGenie combines so many different software needs into a single system.
Every photographer needs a customer management tool, but this one will impress your clients at the same time. You’ll look incredibly professional when you open a client’s contact record on your iPad, start collaborating with them on photo ideas, then deliver and invoice them all from the palm of your hand.
The iPad App is designed to be your all-in-one mobile companion for all your customer interactions. The App enables you to capture leads, show & sell your solutions, create orders, track payments/expenses, manage workflow, generate invoices and send contracts on-the-fly. It also allows you to quickly showcase your portfolio, explain ideas & concepts visually and enable your customers to instantly proof images during your face-to-face meetings. All these tasks can be performed on the iPad or iPad mini (even while offline), allowing you to finish your day-to-day tasks on the move.
Rated “10 Mobile Apps Every Photographer Needs” by Photo District News.
P.S. The StudioGenie Lightroom Plug-in connects you to proofing images and folders from right within Lightroom.
Get 10% off StudioGenie (affiliate)
Best Pricing Guide
Photography Pricing Guide Workbook by The Modern Tog
I recently evaluated a photo business that was earning over $100,000 in annual revenue but was actually losing money on its most sold product. Don’t let that happen to you! Simple planning can insure you’re running a profitable business across all of your products and services.
While other pricing guides suggest empty promises like “Charge what you’re worth” this workbook dives into the financial details specific to your business. All you have to do is fill in the blanks. The easy-to-use excel format allows you to play with the numbers (like number of sessions per month) and see how it affects the bottom line.
Did you factor accounting fees, credit card processing fees and marketing gifts into this year’s profits? The Photography Pricing Guide Workbook has it covered by listing dozens of potential hidden expenses to take into account.
P.S. Jamie (the author) has a Mathematics degree and worked as an actuary doing pricing models for 4 years before leaving the corporate world for photography.
View samples of this pricing system (affiliate)
Blogging will be the most important form of marketing you do for your business in 2015 (and likely the next 5 years). In fact, I’ve been telling photographers to throw away their traditional websites because blogging is the only way they will be successful online, in search engines, and in social media. Photographers who blog regularly about their sessions will be able to attract new business and compete with veteran professionals.
It’s perfect for new bloggers who want to learn basic important stuff like building an audience, planning what to blog about, and how to write. I like how this book gets into the features of WordPress, like plug-ins, which can otherwise be confusing for most people. The bonus material about Flickr and YouTube is especially beneficial to photographers (your competition doesn’t know about this)!
ProBlogger is the absolute #1 authority on blogging, and has been for the last dozen years. That goes for the photography industry and beyond. I’ve personally followed ProBlogger’s advice and trust everything they publish.
For experienced bloggers I suggest: 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (affiliate)
Best Proofing System
I recommended Shootproof more than any other product and it was a Best Product in 2014. This is an essential tool for any photographer to store and manage client photos across devices. Use it for proofing, ordering, mobile referral tool, affordable storage, and photo management.
Create public or private galleries that work on any device. Clients can easily view, mark favorites and purchase images; the activity for each visitor is viewable in detail to the photographer. Photographers use ShootProof for standalone galleries because it provides simple tools that can be integrated within a photographer’s website. ShootProof is commission free, so you will always keep 100% of your profits.
Best Logo Design
This year, Microsoft said good-bye to clip art. It’s about time you got rid of your crummy photography logo as well and start 2015 with a professional and compelling brand image.
The old way to get something designed was to ask friends and trusted partners if they knew an awesome designer (and if they did it was usually a tightly held trade secret). Then you’d hire one for a small fortune and get back a couple designs that may or may not impress.
The new and much more awesome way to hire a designer is to set a price you can afford and crowdsource a project. 99Designs has a huge community of designers, so when you post a new logo project, you’ll get back dozens of real logos from various professionals. Simply pick the one you want to purchase and the winning designer gets the money.
Tip: take the top 2 or 3 designs and let your clients vote on which one they like best.
Of course 99Designs can design your merch, apparel, packaging, icons… you name it. Again, you set the price you’re willing to pay. The more you “bid” the more people will be willing to submit ideas for your project.
Get inspired by recently designed logos (affiliate)
Best Lightroom Presets
Totally Rad is a family-owned software company and it shines through its products and customer service. Doug and Chenin focus on wrapping up fancy technology into simple packages that allow artists to work more effectively.
The hottest products are the RadLab plugin for Adobe Photoshop, the popular PicTapGo iOS app, and the standard-setting Replichrome film emulation profiles for Adobe Lightroom. Combining the beauty of film and the flexibility of digital, Replichrome I and Replichrome II allow you to have direct control over tone, color, grain and density. Each set also includes a number of workflow presets, giving you the power of a real darkroom right at your desktop.
Frederick Van Johnson has interviewed more photographers than many other people on the planet. In the past several years he’s interviewed hundreds of successful shooters and recorded almost 400 episodes of the 1 hour long popular podcast This Week in Photo. Join Frederick Van Johnson and friends each week as they discuss camera technique, technology, and news. From taking photos of the family to understanding how cameras work to testing state-of-the-art equipment.
Become a member to access webinars (affiliate)
Best Sales Training
The Guide to In-Person Portrait Sales by Matt & Katie
If there are two kinds of people in this world I am guaranteed to hate, it’s car salesmen and mattress salesmen. On the other hand, girl scouts can sell me anything and I think them profusely for taking my money. Matt & Katie’s guides have the power to positively shift your sales session from a dreadful experience to an ideal one for both you and your customers.
They teach the end-to-end sales process verbatim including how to set up the sales room (a HUGE influence), avoid surprises, prevent low cost orders, pricing prints, plus must-have products. Perhaps the biggest benefit is how to feel confident and complete a sale without feeling like a sales person.
The video package is well worth it (affiliate). Watching the process is much better help and a faster learning experience.
PHOTOGRAPH by Craft & Vision
A Digital Quarterly Magazine for Creative Photographers
I hate flipping through 50 pages of magazine ads to get to the good stuff. Every issue of PHOTOGRAPH includes ad-free breathtaking photography and thoughtful interviews about why and how top photographers do their work. Articles span composition, creativity, studio lighting, camera craft, printing, and post-production.
Find inspiration and education in every issue (affiliate)