When to Say ‘No’ to a Potential Client

You’ve worked hard to build your business. You’ve promoted yourself and networked. You’ve shown you can handle the demands and pressure of jobs big and small. You’ve done everything you can to grow your client list.

It may sound weird to hear us say this, but sometimes you’re going to have to turn down some of that business.

What? How could that possibly make sense? Well, the truth is, being a good business owner isn’t just about expanding and making the most money. It’s actually about making the best choices for yourself, your mental health and your financial well-being. Occasionally, this will mean saying “no” to a potential client.

When should you do this? Perhaps more concerning, how should you do this to avoid doing permanent damage to your brand? Here’s what you need to know about turning business down and listening to your gut to keep your sanity intact.

Let’s Start With Why Say ‘Yes’

Before we tell you why, when and how to say “no,” you should first understand why to say “yes” to a client. This will apply to the vast majority of your business pursuits. You should accept business when:

  • It’s a good fit for your talents.
  • It’s a task you are capable of doing.
  • It’s a person or business you know you can trust.
  • It’s a person or business with a good reputation.
  • It’s an opportunity to make new contacts to further your business.

Will these outcomes be clear every time you make a decision on a job? No. So you have to navigate on instinct. Early on in your business career, you may feel you have to take any work available. Sometimes, the experience will be worth accepting work that doesn’t fall within those parameters. However, as your resume plumps out and your appointment book fills up, you can afford to become choosier.

Why Say ‘No’ to a Potential Client

You may still be wondering, as you look at the pile of bills in front of you, what would possibly make you say “no” to a client’s business.

It might help to think of it as a matter of preserving your own reputation. A little short-term contemplation can save you a long-term impact on your reputation. Here are three cases where you should turn down a job:

  1. You aren’t capable of doing the task. You may want to believe you can do something slightly outside your wheelhouse, but the truth is this can lead to problems. What if you don’t do a good job? What if the client is unhappy with the results and tells other people? Your reputation could suffer and you may lose out on other possible work.
  2. You have too much work on your plate. If you can’t possibly meet a tight deadline, you should always turn a project down. You never want to miss a deadline — this is the fastest way to damage your reputation. Refer the client to someone you trust and hope they will return the favor one day to you when you’re going through a slower season.
  3. You can’t get along with the potential client. Sometimes you just don’t click with someone. This isn’t always a reason not to work with them. You don’t have to be their best friend. But if you can tell on instinct that nothing you do will be good enough for this person, then it’s not worth pursuing the collaboration. You only have so much mental energy and you need to save a lot of it to do everyday business tasks.

When to Say ‘No’ to a Potential Client

The general rule for timing is: the sooner, the better. As soon as you know things are not going to work out, you should inform your client. You don’t want them thinking they will receive something they’re not going to get. You also want to give them a chance to replace your services as fast as possible.

Just because you’re turning down work doesn’t mean you shouldn’t act professionally. This will help protect your reputation and, more than anything, it’s the right thing to do. Always treat people well — even when you turn down their business. That’s something that will never come back against you.

How to Say ‘No’ to a Potential Client

Do it gently but firmly. You don’t need to make up excuses, but you do need to be clear about your intentions. Don’t leave any room for misinterpretation. You don’t want to have to turn someone down twice because you were not direct enough when you said “no” the first time.

Often, offering an alternative can go a long way toward smoothing over the situation. Mention a friend who can provide similar services or offer advice on a way to change the project to suit someone else. Be helpful, but remember you should not feel bad. Don’t let guilt enter the equation.

How to Keep Moving After Turning Down a Potential Client

Sooner or later in every business owner’s run, they have to turn down a client. Consider it a rite of passage. Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and then don’t look back. Having confidence in your decisions is something you need to do as a businessperson.

Trust us — this won’t impact the lead or client management for your photography, videography, florist or other business. It will only help you grow more confident in your business skills. And if you want to get a little more organized so you know what business you can and can’t accept, try a free 30-day trial of our software. Getting a better idea of your time capabilities is also always a good thing.

Wedding Photographers & Second Shooters: Great Work Means A Great Relationship

A great relationship is the hallmark of great second shooters & lead photographers.

 

Being a wedding photographer, you’re almost guaranteed to have some incredibly unique experiences.

It’s one of those jobs where there’s always a certain amount of unpredictability, as you never know what exactly will happen on the day of the wedding. The weddings might be quirky, the happy couples might be extremely picky about their photographs or some of the tipsy relatives could have a few too many ideas about your photos.

With so many wild cards to deal with on the day of the wedding, you want to have at least a few things you can count on to be predictable and dependable.

Ideally, at least one of those dependable elements will be your second shooter.

Your second shooter can make or break the entire day. If they’re steady, competent and reliable, the whole day is almost guaranteed to run a bit more smoothly. But if they’re late, have no idea what they’re doing and are never around when you need them, it’s just one more unpredictable element added to your already crazy day.

Because we know how important the partnership between the lead photographer and the second shooter is to any wedding shoot, we’ve put together some tips for how you can build a great working relationship with your second shooter. Whether you have an extended partnership across multiple weddings or you’ve only worked together once, these tips can help you form a mutually beneficial cooperative relationship that enables both of you to do your best work.

What Is a Second Shooter?

A second shooter is like an assistant photographer — they work under the instruction and direction of the lead photographer. The tasks they complete will likely vary depending on the directions and instructions of the lead photographer.

Second shooters help take some of the burden off of wedding photographers.

Photographing a wedding is a huge job that’s often too large for one person to adequately complete. Everyone needs help, especially wedding photographers.

At first, the idea of having two photographers at a wedding might seem strange. After all, why are two photographers needed when one might do? However, it’s extremely helpful to have a second pair of hands and a second set of eyes. While you, as the lead photographer, are shooting the couple from one angle, the second shooter can be getting the picture from another angle. While you spend your time and energy getting the shot set up perfectly, the second shooter can be the one snapping it.

Other important tasks for second shooters can include:

  • Taking candid shots of the guests mingling, chatting and watching the wedding. This is especially useful when there’s a large number of wedding guests. The lead photographer can’t be everywhere at once, and of course, will be focused on the couple most of the time, anyway. Because of this, it’s handy to have another camera to take candid photos of the guests.
  • Acting as a simple back-up. It might seem redundant to have two people taking pictures of the same thing, but if one of your shots doesn’t come out well, the other will serve as a backup. A second shooter is also a great assistant to have in case you leave something on the other side of the venue or back at the hotel. They can run back to get it while you keep shooting, and the wedding doesn’t go on for a half hour with no one taking pictures.
  • Getting shots from different angles. They can get shots you couldn’t get because you were busy with something else. For example, maybe while you were shooting the bride and groom, there was a great photo op of the parents of the bride. You weren’t even aware it was happening, but your second shooter was able to capture it.
  • Serving as an extra set of eyes. Maybe you were so focused on getting the entire bridal party in the shot that you didn’t notice the groom’s tie was crooked. A good second shooter will have eyes for these kinds of details and can fix them.

Essentially, the second shooter’s job is to make the lead photographer’s job easier. That might look a little different depending on who the lead photographer is and what they want, but it will most likely include at least some of these items.

Starting as a Second Shooter

For those just breaking into the industry, it’s helpful to understand that wedding photography is like most businesses — you have to do a bit of training, a little bit of studying and a little bit of learning from the experts before you can become truly great at it. Finding work as a second shooter is the first step for most people to becoming a lead wedding photographer.

Ultimately, it’s an excellent way to build experience. By paying attention to the lead photographer and watching what they’re doing, second shooters can learn a great deal. Whether that’s admiring the lead photographers work, or thinking, “Hmm, maybe I would have done that a bit differently,” it’s all valuable experience that will help second shooters grow as photographers in their own rights.

Because of this, no one should object to starting out in this secondary role. It’s a great way to gain the necessary level of experience and learn from professionals, while also not being solely responsible for a wedding before you’re ready. It’s also a valuable way to network with professional photographers. If a second shooter does an excellent job, their lead photographer might recommend them to another photographer. In this way, second shooters can build a good reputation for themselves.

To make this relationship between lead photographer and second shooter as profitable as possible, both parties should be aware of this dynamic. The second shooter shouldn’t disrupt the lead photographer when they’re working, but they should ask questions before and after. And the lead photographer should be willing to explain the process and perhaps give tips to the second shooter.

Of course, being the second shooter can sometimes seem a little bit more nebulous and uncertain than being the lead photographer. Are they working for the lead photographer or the couple getting married? Do they get paid? How does the whole situation work out, anyway?

Being a second shooter can be a bit like an internship, albeit a much shorter one. If you’re working as a second shooter, it’s usually to get experience to put in your portfolio and on your resume. It’s an essential starting point for any career. Payment is always something that should be discussed ahead of time. The couple, the lead photographer and the second shooter should all be fully aware of what’s going on before any contracts are signed.

In most cases, the second shooter is hired directly by the lead photographer, although it’s not entirely unheard of for a couple to hire a second shooter. Either way, if you’re the second shooter, the lead photographer is your boss for the day. Your job is to help them out in any way possible and learn everything you can from the experience along the way.

The Best Working Relationship

Since the lead photographer and second shooter are going to be working so closely with one another, they’ll need to come up with strategies to make their partnership effective. It’s crucial to establish beforehand how to not get in each other’s way, make their work complement one another’s and coordinate their efforts to make the wedding go as smoothly as possible.

Communication strategies are an important part of any photography business.

For the second shooter, here are some do’s and don’ts to help you get off on the right foot with your lead photographer:

  1.    Don’t: Be Late. This is an obvious one. Not only is it unprofessional, but it’s rude to your lead photographer and sends the message that the job isn’t important to you. To start off on a good note, give yourself plenty of time to arrive early.
  1.    Don’t: Hand Out Business Cards. The wedding shoot belongs to your lead photographer. They are the ones who are going to be doing most of the work, and they are the ones whose vision the photography is. Don’t try to steal their thunder by promoting yourself and handing out your own business cards.
  1.    Don’t: Play on Your Phone. Again, this is unprofessional. If you absolutely must check your phone, be sure to do it in the restroom, or someplace else where you’re guaranteed to be out of sight.
  1.    Don’t: Post Your Shots to Facebook. Unless you have explicit approval to do so, don’t share your photos on the internet. Someone might see them and think this was your shoot, which could result in your unintentionally taking credit for the lead photographer’s work.
  1.    Do: Take Lots of Photos. Don’t be afraid to snap a picture of anything that catches your eye. You never know what will be useful, or what the lead photographer may end up being able to use.
  1.    Do: Pay Attention to the Details. Your lead photographer is going to be busy with a million different things. They might not always be able to catch the little details. Keep an eye out for things like a dress that needs to be fluffed out, or a hair that might be out of place.
  1.    Do: Take Your Job Seriously. Be just as prepared for this shoot as you would be if you were the lead photographer. Bring a backup camera, extra memory cards and extra batteries. Be prepared for anything.

The Importance of Good Communication

The best relationships — and the ones that are the most fruitful and beneficial to both parties — are the ones where there’s lots of healthy communication going on. Just like relationships between colleagues, friends or family, this applies to the relationship between lead photographers and their second shooters.

Photographer and second shooter relationship is a business relationship that takes work

Some of this communication should be happening before the wedding even begins. You might choose to meet up to talk about the job in person, or you might keep things simple and exchange emails, texts or a phone call. However you decide to talk, a conversation will need to happen.

Here are some questions the second shooter should to ask up front:

  • What am I allowed to do with my images after the wedding?
  • If I’m permitted to use them, how should I credit you?
  • How long should I wait before posting any images?
  • Do I edit my images, or do you?
  • Will you credit me for any images or for my role in general?
  • Will I get paid? If so, how much?
  • How would you like me to deliver my images to you?

Finally, and most importantly, you need to ask: What will my role be at the wedding?

This answer to this last question is critical to establish from the very beginning. This ensures that you feel confident and prepared to do your job well at the wedding. It also helps the lead photographer know that their expectations are going to be met.

Good Communication Is Your Responsibility

For those of you who will be the lead photographer, it’s your responsibility to explain things to your second shooter up front. It’s your job to provide answers to these questions that your second shooter should be asking. It’s your responsibility to explain how you’d like them to give you their shots, what they’re allowed to do with them and how you want to be credited. You should discuss their pay and, most importantly, explain to them what their role will be.

Our wedding photography CRM helps wedding photographers master their business and communicate with their second shooters

In addition to communicating before the day, you’ll have to communicate on the day of the wedding, as well. This may be slightly more complicated than it sounds. If you find yourself standing all the way across the venue from your second shooter and want to tell them to snap a specific shot, you’ll need a way to communicate that.

In situations like this, it’s unprofessional to yell across the venue. Instead, it might be prudent to plan for this with your second shooter ahead of time. Brainstorm possible hand-signals to communicate with each other. Or if that isn’t an option, agree to have your phones on you and exchange numbers — with permission from the couple to use your phones during the wedding, of course.

By following these tips, it doesn’t matter if you’re the lead photographer or the second shooter. You’re well on your way to shooting your most successful wedding yet.

Try Táve

Whether you’re a second shooter or a professional photographer, everyone needs a little help running their business. But not all businesses are the same. You need the help of someone who understands the creative work that goes into photography.

Táve includes customizable second shooter contracts - so everyone can be on the same page.

Táve includes customizable second shooter contracts – so everyone can be on the same page.

We know your passion is your creative endeavors. But no business is sustainable without keeping track of figures, spreadsheets and the like. That’s why we think you’ll love Táve. Our business management software app is designed to help streamline your business by keeping you organized.

If you’re not sure if Táve is the right fit for you, take advantage of our 30-day free trial. You can get our app and begin using it to decide if it’s the right business management solution for you and your wedding photography business.

Táve + Gmail | Email integration with a little magic

Sending email with Táve + Google’s Gmail takes keeping track of your conversations with clients to a whole new level.

We just launched email integration with Google’s Gmail. A whole new way to interact with email in Táve.

  • Replies & Threading – Replies from you clients import back into Táve and are grouped together in threads
  • CC/BCC – You can now CC or BCC anyone on a message.
  • Auto-Import – Emails from known contacts are automatically imported and assigned to the right job.
  • ‘Import to Táve’ Gmail Label – Use this Gmail label to get any message that isn’t auto-imported into Táve.
  • Read/Unread status sync – Read a message in Táve, it gets marked as read in Gmail and vice versa.

Read more about all Táve + Gmail features here.

​Ready to get started? Get set up with Táve + Gmail

Frequently Asked Questions

We really think you’re gonna love this! Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.

Team Táve

 

If You Want To Eat, You Need A Business Plan

Business plans are crucial to creative entrepreneur success.

Somebody get this kid a business plan, stat!

When it comes to profits and losses, creative success and business acumen often collide.

Photographers start their own business to practice their craft, as do other creative entrepreneurs. They want to develop their talents unfettered by a boss who holds creative control. Stylists, videographers and wedding planners have a vision they want to share with the world to make it a better, more beautiful place. They want to tell a story by manipulating sensory elements as only a gifted artist can.

Creative talents are valuable commodities on the open market. Very few people have the skill, the talent, and the desire to execute creative projects, but everyone wants their home or event to make a significant impact. Most people are willing to pay for creativity, and some people will pay quite a lot. Going into business should be a lucrative venture for creative professionals as well as a means to feed their souls.

No problem, if only your soul needs to eat. If you want to put food on your table in a very literal sense, you need more than your abundant talent. High demand for your services does not automatically equate to high profits. A well-thought out and concrete business plan has to be part of your recipe for success.

Doesn’t Planning Detract From Creativity?

Business and creative fields do tend to run opposite one another. Business planning requires all the hard edges, clear definition and statistics that creative professionals want to rebel against. Most people who are talented with music or arts are not as well versed in finance. More importantly, they don’t usually enjoy being bounded by the rules of supply and demand or other rigid mathematical concepts.

Creativity and planning go hand in hand for creative small business owners

Creativity cannot flourish without the proper resources, and in your business profit provides the resources to continue to practice your craft. To truly profit in your business, you need a business plan. In this way, planning does not detract from creativity. It actually facilitates it.

You must actualize, not just visualize, a business plan because:

  • A well-written business plan can secure funding for your venture, for launching a new product or service, or for a special project.
  • A business plan helps you effectively communicate your objectives to employees, partners and customers. It even helps you remember your specific business and financial goals and why and how you expect to achieve them.
  • A carefully researched business plan helps you set pricing for your goods and services. It shows you how much you need to charge to be profitable and which products to offer.
  • A business plan helps you pinpoint your target audience and decide how to attract their attention. It can help you align your offerings with what people in your target market are looking for.

In many creative fields, you begin a project without a clear idea of what the finished product will look like. Business can be similar in that your focus and markets can change, and the business plan can be amended. A business plan is essential, however, because it can show you if the project you are about to embark on has any profitability. A project without profit is a hobby, and that’s okay, too. A business plan just helps clear up your expectations.

Business Management for Creative Professionals

You need a business plan to succeed in your creative venture, but it does not need to be complicated. Writing a business plan is really just putting your ideas down on paper and adding a little research to back them up. You should organize your plan into these sections:

  • Executive Summary — This section comes first, but you might write it last. It is a short overview of your business and what you expect to accomplish. No need to go into great detail. The details will come later in the plan.
  • Company Overview — This is where you describe the physical and legal entity of your company. Talk about your location, type of facility and if it is owned or rented. Also, describe the corporate structure. For a small start-up, this could be just you as the owner of the company and maybe a part-time employee. Mention how your company is incorporated (C-Corp, S-Corp, LLC, DBA, etc.) and any immediate plans to grow the corporate structure with management levels, investors or additional employees.
  • Products and Services — Sometimes this is a stumbling block for creative businesses because you are, well, creative. Even before you begin doing business, you need to define your offerings. As a photographer, for example, will you do portraits, events, nature photography or something else? You can do more than one thing, but the parameters should be defined. Will the end product be a framed picture, composite prints or digital files?
  • Target Market — Describe your customer base. Who are they, what are they like, how old and well educated are they? It is important to limit your market so you can target your product and services to them specifically. It sounds counterintuitive to break down the buying public into just one niche that you will sell to, but it will increase your sales to be focused. This part of your business plan may require some research into buying habits.
  • Marketing Plan — How will you find that target market you pinpointed in the previous section? Where do they hang out? What advertising mediums reach them? What do they respond to? You will have to do some research to answer these questions and make a plan for convincing your target audience to buy your products and services.
  • Financial Plan — This might be where you really lose interest in writing your business plan, but it must get done. The financial part of your business plan covers the dollars and cents of what you have, what you need, and what you can expect to have. This section lays out what it costs you to run your business, from overhead costs like rent to the costs of materials or travel expenses. Also, calculate what it will cost to provide our service or product to a customer, then consider what you could charge for that. With that information, you can project how many sales you need to make to cover your overhead and operating expenses.

As long as your business plan thoroughly covers these topics, it is sufficient. There is no need to use business jargon you do not feel comfortable with. Lay out the plan in plain language, so you and anyone else who reads it can understand easily.

You will need to revisit your business plan at least four times a year to keep it up to date. A business plan is a living document that should change as your business changes. When you expand into new markets or add different services, your business plan should reflect those changes.

Making a Plan to Business Plan

Starting, or growing, your business can be an exciting time. There are many tasks you need to complete, and some of them are extremely enjoyable. Choosing a business name or developing a new product line taps into your creative core. Even something as basic as arranging furniture in your office may stimulate your visual senses and energy your creativity.

For all of the other tasks, like arguing with suppliers, making cold-calls to get sales, or applying for a business loan, you need to just trudge through. Writing your business plan falls into this category. To incentivize the process, break it down into smaller steps and schedule each step. Plan to complete one step each day and surround it by much more enjoyable tasks on your schedule.

Here are some tips to making easy work of your business plan:

  • Write the parts you know, first. Describing your business, especially if you are already doing business, should be easy. Get those details down, and you will no longer be staring at a blank screen.
  • Leave blanks and fill in details later. As you are writing your description, if you do not remember the type of incorporation you filed or the square footage of your new studio, leave a blank and move on. You can look this up later and come back and fill in the blanks.
  • Save the Executive Summary for last. This is just a brief introduction to your plan. It will be easier to write when the rest of the plan is finished.
  • Research your competitors. Although your products and services will be uniquely endowed with your flare, there are others in the market with similar offers. Visit them, research them online and get to know how they do business. Buy some of their products and experience them from the customer’s point of view. The insight you gain will be extremely helpful.
  • Be realistic about projected costs and revenue. Whenever possible research the exact cost of materials. Remember to allow for shipping and labor costs, as well. Figure in your time at a reasonable rate. The more accurate your projections are, the better your business plan will be.
  • When describing your products and services, think about them from the customer’s point of view. What problem are you solving or need are you filling for them? This perspective will help you design products and services that sell well.
  • Consider how you will differentiate your business in the marketplace. Ask yourself what would make a customer buy from you rather than my competitor. Highlight those differences in your business plan to keep them fresh in your mind. You should use those factors to design your marketing and attract investors.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. No one expects you to know everything you need to write a good business plan. You may be a creative professional who is distinguished for your work in a certain medium or niche market, but that doesn’t make you a business expert. Talk to the experts about financing, marketing and other business topics.

As a hairdresser, you would not expect your clients to be able to cut their own hair. Only with your guidance and tutelage would they even style it correctly. Get the professional guidance you need to write and execute a solid business plan.

Business Plan Execution

Writing your business plan will teach you more about your business than you could otherwise hope to learn. It gives you a sense of the key elements that are important to a successful business. Reading your business plan will show you how to maximize profits and scale your business.

Most creative businesses rely on the owner or principal’s touch to develop their identity and maintain quality and uniqueness. If you are a DJ, you can hire other DJ’s to work parties when you get extra bookings, but they cannot deliver your personal touch. To stay true to your branding, you have to be involved in music selection, programming and other aspects of the service delivery.

What becomes essential, then, for creative professionals to grow their businesses and increase profits is a way to handle business operations while you are the creative, the personality of the business. Someone still needs to answer the phone, schedule appointments and order supplies while you are interacting with customers and being the face of the business.

If operational functions do not continue, your business will close. Your business needs to do things like send out invoices to survive. But the more time you spend behind the scenes on administrative tasks, the less you can offer to customers and the fewer customers you can serve.

When you spend most of your day on paperwork, your creative energy can get depressed. You could hire people to handle these administrative functions, but for small businesses that can be expensive. Using consultants to do billing, booking, and payroll can save some money, but it means these essential tasks are further removed from your control.

The Answer Is Táve

The best way for creative professionals to execute a solid business plan is using a software application that is designed specifically to handle business functions for a creative business. Táve is one software application that manages multiple functions including automated billing, online booking, client management, online payment, lead tracking, reminder emails and more. Táve offers business management for creative professionals, so you can spend a majority of your time being creative.

Tave is the perfect cms for creative small business owners

The recipe for success in a creative business, or any business, includes a business plan. A solid business plan will increase your chances of making enough money to put food on your table. Executing your business plan efficiently can further increase the profitability of your creative business. You can use your business plan to apply for funding or grant opportunities and as a communication tool for describing your business to potential investors and employees.

Efficient execution of your business plan involves finding a solution for managing business functions and creative work at the same time, while spending a majority of your own time serving customers. Táve handles all of the business functions for a creative business in one software application.

To learn more about this business management software designed by creative professionals for creatives, sign up for a free 30-day trial today.

Embracing The Fear Of Failure

 

Fear can be a normal, natural part of life.

You may have a fear of snakes, and that’s great, because it keeps you from getting into a confrontation with a poisonous one.

You may have a fear of heights — that’s no problem, because it keeps you safe from dangerous cliffs.

You may have a fear of losing your kids in a crowd. Well, that just means you get to hold onto them extra tightly.

It’s when fear starts to become crippling that it becomes a problem. If fear keeps you from reaching for greater heights, you need to examine what’s holding you back.

Are you scared of failing? It’s a common worry, and one that nearly everyone has dealt with in their lifetime.

However, if a fear of failing in your small-business dream is stopping you from taking action, it’s time to address those fears and turn them into something positive and proactive.

Read on for three tips on how you can start actually embracing the fear of failure and begin taking steps to move beyond it — and help your business thrive.

Each one of us here at Táve has learned these lessons through experience. We encourage you to stop being held hostage by fear, and start taking steps to become open to failure — and see how it can actually help move your business dreams forward

1. Acknowledge Your Past Mistakes

Failure can be painful and embarrassing, but it can also be refining and empowering.

Sometimes, fear arises from the past.

If you’re a small small-business owner, you’ve likely taken risks in chasing down your vision. Some of you (like us!) have quit day jobs, lived from paycheck to paycheck and been turned down by clients. You have to have a thick skin to continue to put yourself out there day after day. We don’t have to tell you that quickly gets exhausting and painful.

One reason people become hesitant to pursue small-business goals — such as charging more money for their services or hiring new employees — is because they’ve faced similar crossroads in the past and got burned by them. Maybe clients stopped using your services when you raised prices, or you ended up having to lay off that new employee to cut costs.

That does suck — but it’s not a reason to stop taking risks.

Block out some time, days if you need to, and really think through what went right and what truly went wrong the last time. What could you have done differently? What should you do the same?

The point is when you look at your mistakes as a lesson, rather than an embarrassment, a scolding or a warning, you’ll start to feel less constrained by fear. You’ll actually start to feel empowered with new data to make more accurate decisions and do something better the next time.

2. Bust Out of Your Comfort Zone

Trying new things actually helps our brains deal with adversity.

If fear has kept you from pushing harder in your business, whether that means playing it safe with advertising or not going after a potentially life-changing assignment, then perhaps you need to take risks in other areas of your life first. Why? To show you that failing might not be such a tragedy after all.

When you try new things, your brain experiences how exhilarating and rewarding risk-taking can be. Try something you have always dreamed of but never thought you could accomplish, such as:

  • Training for a marathon
  • Writing & publishing a short story
  • Visiting another country

Any of these things can change your life, even if the end result isn’t quite what you had hoped for.

If, say, you train for that marathon but hit the wall 20 miles into the race and have to bail out, you may learn a valuable lesson — trying is the result in itself, and failing is worth the risk.

Consider the new healthy habits you’ve brought into your life, the personal discipline you’ve unlocked, the amazing experience of running through the crowds and how empowered you felt to be able to run even that far.

You may not have met your goal, but you’ve achieved something incredible nonetheless. It’s the trying — not the failing — that defines you.

3. Figure Out How Failure Could Help Your Business

Studying our failures can bring new insights into success.

Obviously, no one wants to fail.

An old English proverb, attributed to dozens of great people since the 1830s, goes something like this: “He who never makes mistakes, never makes anything.”

If you want your business to get better, you have to put yourself out there.

Entrepreneurs thrive on big ideas. Putting them into practice can lift your business from struggling to thriving, but you have to muster the confidence needed to implement and follow through on those ideas.

Think about your business objectively:

  • What elements could help it perform better?
  • What are you missing?
  • Where are your strengths?

Then consider what is holding you back from focusing on the things that could help you get to the next level, and address them proactively.

Is it money (or, let’s be honest, the lack thereof?) Look into loans. Is it time? Spend a week and take a time audit, you’ll be amazed at how much time is spent on non-productive activities. Is it raw skills? While there are phenomenal online classes and tutorials, no one ever learned by not doing. Get out there and do!

Better Business Management for Creative Professionals

Here at Táve, we often see creative entrepreneurs who use our customer management software struggle to have the faith and confidence to embrace fear in their businesses.

We’re here to tell you that risk is worth it.

Whether you have a wedding photography business, you’re a DJ or you do makeup, your business can’t take the necessary next step unless you allow yourself the space to fail.

Does that mean you will trip sometimes? Perhaps. Does it mean you will make gains in the end? Yes, almost always.

Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back. Seize control of your professional destiny by embracing a bold new way of doing business and achieving goals you only imagined could be possible.

If you need help getting organized as you strive to reach those exciting new goals, try a free 30-day trial of our software. It can assist you in becoming more organized and efficient, so you can really challenge yourself. Contact us today to learn more.

The Keys to Staying Ahead During the Wedding Photography Busy Season

Image by TNK Photo

Image by TNK Photo

The wedding photography busy season is a thrilling part of the year for you as a photographer. You get to do what you love and work with clients who are perfect for your business. Unfortunately, it can also be a stressful time, especially with piling tasks and increasing demands. And even with an endless to-do list, weddings to shoot, and products to fulfill, you still have a photography business to run. We reached out to ShootDotEdit, no stranger to the struggles you face (especially when it comes to your post production workflow), to gain insights into how to stay ahead this wedding photography busy season.

As a wedding photography color correction company, we see it all when it comes to the busy season. And in addition to helping professional photographers with their photo editing needs, we also provide resources to create a streamlined workflow. To help you stay ahead this busy season, we’ve put together a quick list to get you started.

1. Assess Your Workload

One of the first steps to take is to look at the tasks you have on your plate. From those tasks, create a list of the ones with upcoming deadlines. Those are the tasks which require immediate action to help you stay on track. A large part of catching up is making sure you avoid falling behind on any deadlines that will set you back even further. Once you understand the situation you are in, it is time to devise a plan to get out.

With the list you created, identify the specific task that needs to be completed to check it off the list. Make sure you always prioritize your crucial deadlines and note if others are involved with the process. If you know you have an album that needs to be sent to a client within a certain timeframe, make sure you also list out the steps it takes to create the album. Some parts of the process may take longer than others and may require you to work with an outside source, so you must prioritize those, as well.

2. Set Short and Long-Term Goals

As you create lists for the tasks you need to complete, it may become overwhelming to look at everything that needs to happen over the next few weeks. To avoid stress, make sure to break your tasks down into more manageable portions. Keep your goals measurable and realistic to help you see the progress made and to eliminate feeling overwhelmed.

Your long-term goal will be the end goal. It is what you want to accomplish this year, whether that means you increase your bookings, have happier clients, or grow your business in a manner you may not have before. As you create short-term goals, think about smaller items you can accomplish now to help you reach your end goal.

As a tip, create incentives for yourself once your goals are accomplished. For instance, if you reach one of your goals, treat yourself to a new purchase or a nice weekend away. Incentives help you stay focused and keep your stress low.

3. Stay in Contact with Clients

If you are behind on tasks, especially ones that affect your clients, make sure to keep them up to date. One way to do this is to be realistic. Make sure that any revised timetable you give your clients is accurate so you deliver on your promise. If your turnaround times are later than your clients expected, find ways to give them an extra “thank you” for their patience. Try a gift credit for prints, extra album pages for free, or a favorite print you frame and send to them. Help keep the experience positive, even if the process takes a little longer than usual.

Image by TNK Photo

Image by TNK Photo

4. Outsource Time-Consuming Tasks

In your wedding photography business, there are a few common areas that create bottlenecks (editing, album design, print sales, blogging – just to name a few). These tasks can be easily addressed and fixed for faster turnaround times with the help of a specialist.

Whether you hire someone to help you with album design or team up with a wedding photography editing specialist, avoid pushing aside help when you find yourself behind. It can be tempting to think you can dig yourself out when you are buried in deadlines, and it is easy to put off finding a partner to help because you feel overwhelmed. The sooner you can start working with partners to get back on track, the better. When you get a plan in place for areas of your business that slow you down now, it will keep your business running smoothly as you breathe a sigh of relief at the end of the busy season.

Once you catch up with your workload, go back and improve upon your processes. You might decide to partner with a specialist or use a new app to help you lighten the load. Always be thinking of what the next step can be since it will help you and your business continue to grow. Find out additional ways to speed up your workflow and stay ahead during the busy wedding photography business with our Guide: 27 Simple Hacks to Transform your Wedding Photography Business!

 

ShootDotEdit is the first choice color correction and post-production solution for the pro wedding photographer, and everything they shoot. They provide turnaround time as fast as 48 hours. ShootDotEdit Customers now receive Extra, a complimentary gallery hosting and storage service designed to sell more prints for you with zero commissions.

Tax time is over—here are 3 ways to make it better starting now

Tax time is frustrating and scary for lots of people, especially if you’re self-employed or have a side-hustle—but it doesn’t have to be. We spoke to our friends over at TimberTax.co about how to prepare for tax season throughout the year so it goes smoothly.

Here are the three main scenarios and how to avoid them next year: owing money on tax day, you extended your return, and feeling frustrated.

Problem #1: You owed at tax time
Solution: Pay quarterly estimates

If you owed money, that may be ok. Theoretically, you got a low-interest loan from the government. The problem is if you didn’t set aside the cash to cover the payment when you filed your return or extension.

Here’s how to avoid owing, or at least avoid being surprised: pay your quarterly estimates. These are due in April, June, September and January for each quarter for both federal and state income tax. The amount you pay should be roughly based on last year to avoid late payment penalties or interest. If your income is dramatically higher or lower than the previous year, you may want to engage a tax accountant to help calculate how much to pay or expect to pay. You can tell how much you made based on your quarterly Profit & Loss report in Táve. Compare this to the prior quarter or the same quarter in the prior year. If it’s drastically different, you may want to run it by your CPA.

If your income and situation is the same from the prior year, you can use the vouchers provided in your previous year’s filing. Be sure to pay both the state and federal income tax. You may also be subject to city income tax if you live in NYC, for example.

The other issue with owing money at tax time is penalties. It’s important to remember that the income tax system in the US is a pay-as-you-go system. This means you should pay in as you earn each quarter. Not filing on time can also add penalties. Make sure you file on time or extend by the original due date in order to avoid late filing payments.

Problem #2: You didn’t file on time
Solution: Get organized

Did you extend your return? Generally, that’s no problem. If you have multiple K-1s or have a complicated tax return, it’s nice to get additional time to file the return. That said, if you extended because you waited until the last minute or didn’t have your files organized, then now is the time to start getting things organized for next year.

Are you staying up on your bookkeeping? Do you have a bookkeeping system? Google docs can easily get out of hand and disorganized. Consider software tools like Táve. Keeping track of income and expenses in Táve not only helps you keep on top of bookkeeping, it helps you know the financial health of your business at any time enabling you to make informed financial business decisions.

Deciding whether to hire a bookkeeper as well is another decision. Either way, do what you need to in order to stay on top of your revenues and expenses in case you need to apply for a loan, rent an office (or apartment if it’s your only source of income), or file your taxes.

Make sure you save all your bank and credit card statements too. Setting up Filethis or Hubdoc are good options. Otherwise, diligently downloading and saving in Google drive or Dropbox are ideal solutions. Táve helps with that paper trail by allowing you to upload receipts when you record your expenses.

Luke Frye, CPA and Anne Chan, EA

Problem #3: You’re confused and stressed
Solution: Consult a professional

Being self employed, you’re probably the type of person who is quite self-reliant. When does it make sense to hire outside help? It depends on your level of comfort, but generally, you should find a CPA or tax professional when you feel frustrated or overwhelmed.

A good pro will be able to talk you through your situation and empower you to make decisions. It’s not always necessary to engage someone to file your taxes or do your books, but if you’re consistently behind or feel like you’re paying too much, it might be time to find someone you can relate to.

Just like a doctor, finding an accountant with good bedside manner is important. You should feel comfortable discussing your situation to enable you and your tax advisor to make intelligent financial plans and achieve your goals.

To review, if you owed money, filed late, or felt overwhelmed by tax time, you now have 3 ways to combat those issues. Make sure you’re paying your quarterly estimates to the IRS and your state if they have an income tax. Set up and stay on track with a system to keep your books and records organized. Find a trusted advisor, preferably a referral, who can talk you through your situation. It’s best to work with someone who has experience in your industry.

Timber Tax is a web-based tax service for freelancers with expertise working with photographers. Timber knows the ins and outs of sales tax, state tax, and federal income tax so you can stay behind the camera and in business. Book a call today for a free consultation with a CPA. Mention Táve to get 10% off your tax filing for next year.

8 Email Templates Every Wedding Photographer Needs

Why should I use email templates in my business?

As you continue to grow your business and book new clients, you also receive an increase in your workload and tasks that must be completed. One of the tasks that takes much of your time is email communication. We partnered with wedding photo editing company ShootDotEdit to bring you 49 Email Templates to save you time and speed up your workflow. Below, they share the top 8 email templates you need for your wedding photography business.

Often times, much of your communication with clients happens through email. Because so many of the emails you send are the same (or similar) between clients, email templates are a perfect solution to help you speed up the process and make only minimal changes each and every time. Our free email templates are available to make that area of your wedding workflow simple. Here is a list of the 8 most important to implement into your business first.

1. New Inquiry Automated Response

Since a client can reach out to you by email at any time, it can be helpful to have an automated response that lets them know you will be in contact. This template can include your regular business hours and turnaround time for when you will respond to the initial inquiry.

Táve allows you to build an easy automation to automatically send this template out to new leads. Check out Táve’s installable template that you can add to your account to get it up and running.

Image Compliments of Leeann Marie, Wedding Photographers

Image Compliments of Leeann Marie, Wedding Photographers

2. Detailed Inquiry Response

After the automated response to new inquiries, you can use a template that gives your potential clients a bit more information about you. With the detailed inquiry template ready, all you would need to do is include the dates you’d be available.

3. Meeting Confirmation

When sitting down with a client, there is a specific location where you desire the meeting to take place. Client meetings can range from pre-booking to post-booking or anything necessary to help educate your clients. Using an email template which is simple is key at this point of the process, as you want your client to find the location and not be confused by too many directions.

4. Contract Details

Once your client has decided to book you for their wedding day, a contract finalizes your agreement and the process. Since dealing with the money aspect of booking can be a bit awkward, creating an email which informs your clients you are excited to work with them helps you ease into the rest of the details.

5. Post-Booking Package

After your client has booked you and signed the contract, the next priority is to inform them of what you can offer to them in regard to products. The post-booking package email lets your clients know all of the awesome things you can do with their wedding photos. If you offer more than one package, split this into three separate emails. You can use the same template, just update the additional offers you include in each package.

Image Compliments of Leeann Marie, Wedding Photographers

Image Compliments of Leeann Marie, Wedding Photographers

6. Vendor Referral

As a wedding photographer, you likely have vendors you work with on a regular occasion, or ones you love to work with in your area. An email to your clients about vendor referrals can share more about the vendors you work with and how they can help your client with their wedding day. This template will share with clients that you have recommendations for them, so they know you are there to assist them through every step of the way.

7. Wedding Questionnaire

One of the top ways to ensure you prepare for the wedding day, a wedding questionnaire is a simple way to communicate with them. This template can let your clients know that you would love for them to fill it out, and that you would like to schedule a phone call to discuss it. You can also use this email to send a friendly reminder to them about any remaining balances due before the wedding day.

8. Image Release

When the wedding day is over and you have your images back from a wedding photo editing service, they are ready for your clients. Sometimes, it can be nice to just send them a short email, especially since you have been emailing them so often. Include a link to their photos from your image gallery within the email so they can simply click on it and view your beautiful work.

Email templates which are already created to send to clients can help you decrease your workflow time tremendously. Take advantage of the other 41 templates we offer in our Email Templates for Wedding Photographers , made in conjunction with ShootDotEdit!

ShootDotEdit is the first choice color correction and post production solution for the pro wedding photographer, and everything they shoot. They provide turnaround time as fast as 48 hours. ShootDotEdit customers now receive Extra, a complimentary gallery hosting and storage service designed to sell more prints for you with zero commissions.

Behind the Scenes: Infrastructure Upgrade

A little backstory

We have been using Amazon Web Services Platform since we moved from our own servers back in 2011.  It has come a long way since then including adding Virtual Private Cloud, a number of new instance types, Aurora, CodeDeploy, and a plethora of other services (most of which we do not have a use for right now).  Prior to November 2016, the public marketing site (what sits on tave.com root domain) and the application (manager and client access) were all in the same code base sitting on top of ElasticBeanstalk in EC2-classic, along with Memcached on ElastiCache and MySQL on top of RDS.  ElasticBeanstalk handled our provisioning and deployment and overall it served us well.

November 2016 Updates

One of the reasons we have been holding off on doing any more upgrades to our existing infrastructure was because we really wanted to move it into Amazon’s Virtual Private Cloud to be able to take advantage of its better networking security, the latest instance types which were only available to VPC and Aurora (also only available to VPC setups).  We also wanted to break apart the public website from the application codebase for a while and when we redid the marketing site on top of WordPress, we finally had enough reasoning to go ahead and make the split.  In doing so, some infrastructure changes had to happen.  Since the new WordPress-based site would need its own set of servers that are completely segregated from the application on the tave.com root domain (where the application also sits), we had to introduce a layer 7 proxy to be able to parse the incoming URL and route to the appropriate server pool.  For example anything in /app goes to the application pool whereas anything on / or /blog goes to the public site pool.  AWS has a service that can do this called Application Load Balancer (aka ALB, ELBv2), but there are some huge caveats.  The biggest one is you can’t route anything to outside the VPC that the ALB sits in and since the application pool was still in Ec2-classic, we had to create this proxy server pool.

So back in November, in an effort to take the first step of moving us into a VPC and off of EC2-classic, we created the proxy server pool along with the public site pool and its database all with in VPC on top of CloudFormation. We didn’t need any downtime for this since we just updated the DNS entry to point to the new proxy pool inside the VPC and the proxies routed to the existing application pool when necessary.

April 2017 Upgrades

In doing the updates back in November, we soon became concerned with the size of the CloudFormation template file for what represents such a small portion of our overall infrastructure.  We have a public site pool, application pool, schedule tasks server, and a worker pool (runs tasks behind the scenes like automations, calendar feed fetching and generation, etc.).  In addition to that, we wanted to break out the worker pool into 3 separate pools: 1 for email sending, 1 for the calendar feed generation and fetching and the last pool for everything else.  This template file was already becoming unwieldy and all it had was the core VPC networking, the proxy pool and the public site pool.  We wanted to rethink this before adding the application pools (app servers, workers, and scheduled tasks server).  So we started looking at provisioning tools out there like Ansible, Chef, Puppet, etc to see if they could provide what we were looking for — a structured way of composing templates in a hierarchical manner.  We ended up just sticking with CloudFormation for a couple reasons (which I won’t go into here), but this time we decided to write a quick node script that pre-parses the templates and uploads them to s3 along with replacing the stack references with those uploaded destinations.  So we went from 1 monolithic template file to 7 template files:

  • The VPC core networking which references the stacks below
  • Bastion server layer
  • Proxy layer
  • Public site layer
  • Application Layer (1 for app itself and 1 for the background worker task queue servers)
  • Generic Instance Pool template that the others reference

This took it from 1 stack to 14 stacks which break down like so:

  • Parent stack that has the core VPC networking and references the other stacks.
  • Bastion stack that sets up networking for the bastion server and its child stack for the instance pool.
  • Proxy stack that sets up networking for the proxy servers and its child stack for the load balancer and instance pool.
  • Public site stack that sets up networking for the marketing site and its child stack for the load balancer and instance pool.
  • Application stack which sets up networking for the application web servers along with load balancer, worker servers and the worker queue servers.

Since we created everything (except for Database and Cache servers) in CloudFormation, we didn’t need ElasticBeanstalk anymore. This allowed us to combine our 7 layers (which each had their own way of deploying), into a common and consistent deployment process on CodeDeploy.  Finally, now everything will be in a VPC.

We had been holding off on doing any more reserved purchases until we were ready to move everything inside the VPC.  This is why we were just band-aiding things as they would come up.  We knew our database was becoming overloaded at times, so we figured we would just upgrade everything at once (mostly because we hate taking downtime).

Database Upgrade

The core of our data storage sits on MySQL RDS using their Multi-AZ setup.  We want to take advantage of a number of advantages that Aurora has to offer, so we are migrating to that.  Along with this, we are increasing the instance size by about 8 fold.  This should provide much quicker reads and writes and give a better experience overall.  Aurora’s replication is also MUCH faster than MySQL’s so adding additional read slaves as necessary becomes trivial.

Application Webserver Upgrade

We are taking advantage of the newer c4 instance types that are available now which are slightly faster than what we have in production currently.  On top of that we doubled the size of the app webserver pool.  So not only are there faster servers there, there are about twice as many. We generally don’t use automatic autoscaling since to “get it right” requires lots of tedious testing that we honestly don’t have time for.  So we scale horizontally manually when we see page load times increasing — everything is already in place for this.

Worker Pool Upgrade

Some of the slow downs for some of the background tasks were due to some workers taking over the CPU resources of the instance and therefore reducing the amount of CPU resources for other (and sometimes more critical) workers like sending email.   We decided it would be best to distribute these workers into separate pools so that they won’t affect the more critical background tasks.   Instead of one common pool of workers, we are going to start with 3 separate pools: email,  calendar generators and remote calendar fetchers and the rest of the workers.  With this change, we are also doubling the total number of instances in the worker pool.  More importantly here was that we implemented the ability to break out individual workers into their own pools which allows us to move other more CPU or memory intensive workers to their own pool so they don’t affect other workers.

Standby Site Upgrade

Standby was moved into a VPC as well in the us-west-2 region.  We increased the database instance size there and doubled the capacity of the app server pool.

Public Site Upgrade

Since we like things being similar in our infrastructure, we also went ahead and migrated the WordPress database that the public site uses to Aurora.  Along with this change, we are doubling the capacity of that pool as well.  We also moved over the blog from the support site to the public site infrastructure.  The old support.tave.com is now hosted on Intercom’s Help Center.

Conclusion

With all these changes we are finally fully within a VPC and page loads and general app usage should feel quicker.  Of course, if you have any questions about our infrastructure or why we chose one thing over another, feel free to message us in app and we’ll be happy to share!