Many people have been asking about how I set up the back-end of my business. Like how I track my clients, payments, invoices, contracts, etc. I personally spent way too much time on it. I made it as efficient as possible, but with the amount of clients that I have now, it just wasn’t working for me.
I am all about automating tasks to save time. I spent the money on Honeybook to allow me to automate things like responding immediately after an inquiry, add the clients wedding date to my calendar, have a proposal that I could send in 30 seconds to clients, create timelines with them, send invoices, etc. Including tracking cash in and out.
Here is an overview of how my old system worked:
- One google doc with links to all of the apps, documents, and sheets I needed to use for each client.
- A google sheet to track income in and expenses.
- An app to track my mileage.
- Marking brides emails and saving them in a folder in my inbox.
- Contracts through docusign.
- Invoicing through PayPal.
- Google doc’s to send a questionnaire.
- Google calendar to mark the wedding date.
- A Google document with my pre-wedding checklist for gear
- A workflow checklist on paper to make sure I did each of these things for each couple.
This was not efficient. It works, but it takes a lot of time. I tried to keep the amount of clicking to a minimum so I saved my most often used documents to the top of my screen on Chrome.
If you hit COMMAND + D, you can make a bookmark to any document at the top of your menu bar.
My income tracking sheet is still called Pine and Honey (that was my old business name) and then the STRATEGY document is my main document that has my client workflow:
My old client workflow on the document looks like this:
My new workflow on Honeybook looks like this:
My workflow is a result of all the things I do from inquiry to the anniversary email. There are subtasks in each one of those categories, but it keeps me in check and makes sure that I don’t skip anything important. It also lets me know what I should do next.
My new workflow is:
- Inquiry email
- Follow up with package information or other inquired info
- Set up a meeting in person or via phone
- Send proposal with: invoice, contract, and anything else they request
- Proposal signed by me
- Retainer is paid by client
- Thank you email with next steps
- Questionnaire sent to clients to help build timeline and get addresses, etc.
- Build timeline with client or wedding planner
- Reach out to vendors that are a part of the wedding to coordinate
- Planning means I start to compile information and details necessary to do my job. This includes any detailed information that the couple wants me to do or shoot
- Day after email with sneak peeks and thank you
- Blog post of the clients wedding sent to them and the vendors
- Send full gallery to clients
- Completed = album printed and mailed to clients
- Feedback questionnaire and request for review
- One year anniversary email set up
This process ensures that every client is taken care of, I don’t forget anything, and I maximize my time.
So lets go through a typical scenario using my old method:
I get an inquiry from a bride and we communicate and discuss pricing, next steps, etc. and then she decides to book me. My next steps were to:
- Create a new contract to send to her in Docusign.
- Create a new invoice for the retainer in PayPal.
- Create a copy of my questionnaire in google docs and email it to her.
- Determine a date for the engagement photos and to meet in person to possibly walk the venue (not always necessary).
- When I receive the retainer, I have to document that on my excel/sheet for the retainer paid. Then I mark it as booked.
- I input their wedding date and location on the excel sheet.
- Then I help them fill out their timeline using the questionnaire and asking clarifying questions about if they’re doing first look, etc.
- 7. The day before the wedding, I usually get paid the remainder of the amount after sending the last invoice. I then tell paypal to transfer that into my bank account. I also track this final payment on my excel sheet.
- Then I print out the questionnaire, make a timeline to save to my phones screen saver. I also go through my pre-wedding checklist and get my gear ready, charge batteries, clear SD cards, get extra batteries for my flash, and get my snacks ready.
- I check in with the couple and get them some coffee the morning I see them.
- After the wedding, I edit some photos for a sneak peek and will send their way on an online gallery. Again, another email.
- When I finally deliver the gallery, I wipe my SD cards and get their photos ready to put into a printed album.
- I deliver or mail the album to the couple.
This process is tedious, but it will allow you to take care of what you need if you can’t swing paying for Honeybook. But let me tell you, the $20 a month is worth it. You don’t have to pay for docusign, spend all the extra time getting invoices ready, sending questionnaires from google forms, etc.
You’ll thank me later 😉
Honeybook has saved me hours of work
This process could be much more efficient. Steps 1-3 and 5-8 are automatically done with Honeybook. I also don’t have to tell it to deposit money into my account, it just does it.
Tracking income and expenses doesn’t seem like a big deal, but come tax season, you will wish you put in the time to do this:
Rather than manually tracking my expenses and income, I decided to have someone else do it. I opened a checking account just for my business so it is easier to track everything.
I use Quickbooks Self-Employed and it costs $5.00 a month. I love it. I can just send my CPA the documents at the end of the year and Quickbooks will send your quarterly taxes to the IRS for you once you set that up.
Honeybook will automatically send your money to your account and you can set up invoices there rather than going to PayPal and making one, then transferring it from PayPal to your checking.
Can you say annoying? Thank goodness for Honeybook.
Want to know what I did before this? A PAINFUL PROCESS. I would manually type everything into an excel sheet after every single purchase or payment to me.
Below is how I used to track all the cash in (income) and cash out (expenses):
Moving to Honeybook and Quickbooks has saved me hours and hours of work per client and also eliminates the possibility of double booking, missing payments, expenses and making for a bad experience for my couple. I mean how annoying would it be to get four different emails from your photographer? (Well that was me and no one has complained, but still!) I am all about making the best user experience possible.
I certainly hope that helped you out and if you are interested in Honeybook, you can use my code and get half off your first year. Check it out here: http://share.honeybook.com/casi697
I am super interested to know what you think about this system or what system you might have. What other things do you want to know about or do you have questions about this? I would love to update this post!