Successful photography businesses aren’t afraid to get the help they need from outside products and tools. Here’s a handful of the best photography business products that can save you time, improve your output and, ultimately, help you earn more money in 2014. Also, see my Best Digital Products for Photographers list from last year.
Modern Minimalist™ Marketing Suite (affiliate)
Design Aglow’s Modern Minimalist™ Marketing Suite offers fully customizable templates with everything your studio will ever need to create a comprehensive modern branding experience — all at a fraction of the cost of hiring a professional designer. Invest in your brand with a modernized marketing kit that brings beauty in everything from print products to cyberspace.
Notes from Zach: Polished and consistent branding is critical in the photography business. This suite ensures a seamless experience across print marketing, email templates, blog, Facebook and Twitter. Plus, you’re getting Design Aglow’s best-in-class, beautiful designs. In a single day, you’ll go from “just like everyone else” to a standout, premier look.
Flash Drive and Packaging Bundles (affiliate)
PhotoFlashDrive.com hard drive and packing bundles are sure to wow any client. There are many ways to promote a business. The proliferation of advertisements in our daily lives — on TV, radio, the internet, the sides of buildings, cars, buses and everywhere else — makes having creative advertising more important than ever . Most ads provide little value to the receiver, other than serving as background noise or a chance for a bathroom break during a TV show. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Personalized promotional products not only offer customers something useful and tangible, they are unique – which will force people to pay attention. Pexagon Technology is proud to offer custom promotional items at competitive prices that help companies, events and sponsors get noticed.
Notes from Zach: Personalized flash drives are a functional way to replace CD and DVD file delivery since fewer clients have devices with disc drives (think Powerbooks and tablets). When a client pays a premium price for digital negatives, delivery via Dropbox or DVD simply falls flat. A quality-made, unique thumb drive delivers a premium sales experience that clients can show off to friends and family. Combine a wooden drive with a personalized wooden box and you have me hooked! There’s no minimum order, so you can try out a few different options (there are so many cool choices).
This template and the accompanying tutorial videos by Angela Pointon and Zach Prez give photographers the tools they need to quickly create a photography business plan. In the tutorial video, watch a successful professional complete her photography business plan using the same template you’ll receive, and it only takes about an hour.
Notes from Zach: Photographers who skip business planning often lose valuable years struggling to find a successful path. Every photographer — from newbies to veterans — needs a business plan.
Plan to Succeed – A Photographer’s Planner (affiliate)
Colorvale has developed a planner that encompasses your entire business: the day-to-day tasks, marketing, scheduling, client workflow and beyond. Running a business can be a very stressful job if you aren’t prepared and organized for what will happen next. Having a planner you can touch and see will give you the necessary tools to stay on top of daily tasks, plans and priorities.
Notes from Zach: I believe goal setting has a profound impact on achieving success. When you write down what you want to accomplish, you are more likely to achieve it! Soon you will have months’ and years’ worth of ideas, action items and success points you can look back on. This is yet another beautiful and professional product from Colorvale.
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.
Notes from Zach: Think of this as a multifunction sales product. It can act as a proofing and ordering system, but also a mobile referral tool as well as an affordable storage solution. It’s always nice to have everything in one place without multiple log-ins. I also like Shootproof’s branding capabilities that can make the client’s experience similar to what’s on your website.
ShootQ is a virtual studio manager, assisting you from the moment a prospective client contacts you until the final product is delivered. ShootQ keeps your job leads and workflow organized, always reminding you what needs to be done next.
Notes from Zach: Utilizing a customer relationship management system can lead you toward profit. I love how ShootQ integrates pricing and packages with your website or email, then tracks income back to the source. You’ll be able to quickly identify profitable clients, sign contracts online and automate appointments and billing. If you’re looking to save time, this studio management system is like a virtual assistant with a Ph.D in sales and organization.
Known for innovative photography design tools, Fundy Software has launched a new standalone desktop application for its suite of products, including the popular Album Builder. Photographers no longer need Photoshop to use the album design software and top features are speedier, easier to use and intuitively designed. Several albums can be made in minutes with the help of drag-and-drop Instant Auto Designs, the Quick Design Layout Picker and Image Drop Zones. Plus, changes on the fly are very easy to make with an extensive array of hot keys. This next-generation design software is free to download and use, but you will need to own the products to export your files.
Notes from Zach: I honored Album Builder in last year’s best products list and it deserves another recognition with the new Photoshop-free version. This makes self-designed albums available to anyone.
I don’t have to tell you how important a photo’s size, thickness and paper quality is. Shouldn’t your business card have the same impact as your prints? Moo offers deluxe thicknesses, custom sizes and — best of all — a different photo design on each card! Now you can reach your ideal audience with a single set of business cards. Have fun and let your prospective clients choose the business card photo they like best.
Notes from Zach: A few years ago I saw Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak’s metal business card with die-cut holes in it. It was a great example of branding that made a lasting impression on me. Make your business card too good to be set aside or thrown away. Print a range of photos on Moo Business Cards so you can talk prospective clients through your work right there, and leave a card with them as the perfect reminder.
Chic Magazine (affiliate)
Chic is the elite magazine, community, and resource for women who love photography. Get Chic with celebrity photographers who inspire, teach, and critique to help increase your confidence and improve your images.
Notes from Zach: Chic is twice as thick as Professional Photographer and PDN, and is loaded with professional business tips from industry experts. The print issue is stunning but the digital issue comes with included with a Chic Critique forum membership, where I’m an active member.
New Year’s Price Solution (affiliate)
Most of the problems that photographers deal with are not about photography at all — they are about how to price your work. It’s easy to feel unappreciated and stressed out when you are working hard but have little or nothing in your bank account at the end of the month. It’s not enough to toss down some numbers and hope that you are profitable. You have to PLAN to be profitable. Confident pricing comes with truly understanding what exactly goes into creating a cohesive, comprehensive price list. In this class, pricing guru and numbers nerd Joy Vertz shows you how to set the perfect price point for each client, crunch all the numbers and develop a price menu that makes sense and encourages your target sale every time! The class is divided into 4 sections consisting of 17 total lessons that, once completed, will transform your pricing into a profit machine!
Notes from Zach: At what price will you get really excited about your next sale? Working with Joy on your “Happy Place Sale” makes every session a joy. Her proven formulas will make you confident in your prices while earning what you deserve.
Photographer’s Wall Display Guides (affiliate)
Clients need to see a product before they order it, and a series of large canvases is no exception. We need to SHOW them (not TELL them) how amazing their portraits will look on their walls, and show them the story that their images tell when displayed together. The Photographer’s Wall Display Guides by Ariana Falerni are a Photoshop template system that uses clipping masks and images of real-life room interiors to help you create amazing examples of wall displays for your clients!
Notes from Zach: As a client, I don’t know what I want until I see it. If you show me a wall with 4 canvases, then that’s what I’ll buy.
ProPhoto Blogs (affiliate)
ProPhoto is the preeminent photo blogging tool in the industry, whether for a mobile device, a tablet or your desktop. With unrivaled customization options requiring no previous web expertise, and a top-notch support system, it’s easy to see why ProPhoto is the No. 1 choice for both professional and amateur photographers.
Notes from Zach: ProPhoto is the only website solution I recommend. The themes are beautiful, easily rotated/changed, work well in search engines and are used by everyone in the industry. It’s one of the few options where you can pay to have everything set up for you, and ProPhoto’s product support is awesome. I recommend a theme with lots of text on the homepage, like Shepard or Sparrow.
Related: I use and recommend BlueHost (affiliate) for hosting websites. After experiencing downtime with GoDaddy, I am thanking myself for the effortless WordPress install and flawless uptime of BlueHost.
Protect your business with these photography contracts created by a photographer/lawyer. The bundle is specifically tailored to include important legal forms every portrait photographer needs to safeguard his or her business and outline expectations to clients. Photographers who use The Law Tog’s photography contracts display professionalism to their clients and use the forms with confidence.
Notes from Zach: See my testimonial on this page: “Rachel is the perfect lawyer-photographer combination. I trust her advice above all others. Her guides are professional and easy to understand.”
Photography Legal Overview: Forms, Contracts & Rights
The Legal Lens Free Legal Ebook (affiliate)
Search Engine Optimization
Recipes To Rank Higher by Zach Prez contains more than 100 pages of knowledge and advice, helping you achieve business success through the power of search engines. Learn 31 ingredients that Google considers important, 6 tools to power your optimization efforts, and 23 recipes for ranking higher in search engines.
Notes from Zach: I’m a little biased recommending this product because I created it. Even so, after evaluating other Search Engine Optimization products and having created a few in recent years, I believe my ebook is your best chance at ranking well. I hope you take advantage of my how-to videos and support forum that come included.