Do you feel like you’re drowning under mundane tasks rather than doing what you love as a photographer? Is running your business taking up most of your time when you wish you could focus on creative work? It may be time for you to outsource!
If you have controlled every aspect of your photography and your business up until now, the idea of outsourcing may be intimidating or off-putting. Keep in mind that the goal of outsourcing is to redirect your focus to other areas of your life and business that bring you more joy.
There are no set rules; you can choose to outsource whichever tasks you would like to have off your plate. We do have a few recommendations that may help you decide which tasks to delegate and which to take on.
What you should (and should not) Outsource
You’ve chosen to pursue professional photography; it follows that shooting is your passion. You will obviously wish to maintain control of your photo shoots and the planning that is involved with them. But aside from shooting, what other areas might you need to manage yourself, and which can you assign to someone else?
1. Culling (image selecting)
You were the one present for the photo shoot or wedding, and you are the one who knows what the client requested and expects to receive. Unless you have an assistant who is very in tune with your clients and style, culling should stay on your personal workflow.
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2. Connecting with clients
Whether following up with past clients or meeting potential ones, this is all you! You represent your brand and your business; most interactions with clients shouldn’t be passed off. Working a vendor booth may be exhausting, but potential clients will expect to meet you and not an intern.
While this might seem a good candidate for outsourcing to an employee, blogging–at least featuring recent photo shoots–is best left to the photographer. When culling photos, select a few you would like to include in a blog feature and tag them–these features are quick to prepare as they only require uploading the photos and making a few remarks about the day of the shoot or wedding. These comments should be personal and reference memories from that day; as the one who shot the images and interacted with the clients, you are the best one for the job.
Attending local photographer meetings or conferences is not only beneficial but fun! Often larger studios will attend these events with several employees, but the photographer should certainly be in attendance and ready to learn from others in the industry.
Not everyone wants to turn over creative control of their photos to someone else, but for those willing to give it a shot this can be a huge time saver. As a professional photographer, you are likely creating strong photos in-camera and these photos will need only mild corrections. If you are finding yourself short on time and frustrated with your busy schedule, consider outsourcing this step.
2. Album designing
With all of the templates and services available, designing an album is no longer a particularly difficult task. Choose the images you would like the album to include and pass off the rest of the job!
Your business’s finances will get more complicated as you grow–unless you’re particularly gifted in this area, you may need professional help. You can read a great article about hiring a professional accountant as a photographer by clicking here.
4. Email marketing
As we discussed in our post “How to Use Email Marketing in Your Photography Business” (read it here), sending a regular email newsletter to your client list is well worth the time! However, it doesn’t have to be your time–updating your email list and creating a newsletter can be outsourced if needed.
5. Social media marketing
It is expected in 2015 that businesses will have a presence on social media. Sourcing or creating content to post to multiple platforms can be time-consuming; if this isn’t an area you enjoy, outsource! Have the person to whom you outsource read our Social Media for Photographers Series for tips.
Although the StickyAlbums builder is designed to be intuitive and efficient, creating a large number of custom mobile apps still takes time. During slow seasons, this may not be a problem, but if your schedule is full of client appointments, outsource!
Because the builders are so simple, anyone can be taught to use them. Hiring someone to create these for you will save you time and allow you to offer these products to a larger number of photography clients and small businesses. Some photographers have seen so much success with StickyAlbums and StickyApps that they have hired interns specifically to create them!
To Whom Should You Outsource?
Once you have decided which tasks you would like to outsource, you have several options for who you would like to perform the work. There are companies that have been created to meet the photo editing and album designing needs of photographers; you also have the choice to hire someone to work for you directly.
Outsourcing to an Intern
We use the term “intern” to mean a student who works in exchange for experience and reasonable pay; the guidelines for unpaid internships are strict and unlikely to apply to your position. If you know a high school or college aged student interested in photography, they may be a good candidate for outsourcing!
Pros for outsourcing to an intern:
Inexpensive: Interns work for experience as well as for the pay; they are typically paid quite a bit less than a working professional.
“In-house”: An intern will be local to you, allowing you to closely oversee and direct their work. You can choose to assign any of the tasks on the “DO Outsource” list to them, as opposed to a company which typically only provides a few services.
Cons for outsourcing to an intern:
Short-term: Interns will not be with your business for long before they move on in their education or career. You will have to train a replacement before too long.
Inexperienced: With little professional experience, you will likely have to train an intern in every aspect of the work you would like them to complete.
Outsourcing to an Employee
Perhaps you feel you have more work than can reasonably be completed by an intern and are considering hiring an employee, part-time or full-time. Here are a few factors to consider:
Pros for outsourcing to an employee:
Long-term: While you cannot guarantee that an employee will stay with you for a specific length of time, you can express during interviews that you would like applicants to commit to X years with your business. Because they will be working with you for longer than an intern would, they will get to know you and your business very well.
Experienced: When hiring an employee, you can seek someone with experience in the programs you would like them to use (although we would recommend hiring someone with the right personality over the right training—people can be trained, but they can’t be changed!).
“In-house”: As with an intern, you can hire locally and assign any necessary tasks to them. You can monitor their work as needed.
Cons for outsourcing to an employee:
More expensive: An employee’s pay will be higher than that of an intern’s.
Outsourcing to a Company
For some of the tasks you might be outsourcing, such as post-processing and album design, you have the option to hire an outside company. While there are quite a few companies offering these services, we recommend Evolve Edits and Rebooku.
Pros for outsourcing to a company:
Long-term: You have even more reliability with a company than with an employee.
Experienced: Companies such as Evolve Edits and Rebooku employ high-qualified people to provide their services—you do not have to worry about training them (although a short on-boarding is to be expected).
Cons for outsourcing to a company:
More expensive: Hiring a company will cost more than hiring an intern, and possibly more than paying an employee.
Remote: You will be working remotely with the company you hire, which means less direction and oversight is possible.
Limited outsourcing: While outsourcing your post-processing and album designing will certainly free a lot of time from your schedule, you will not be able to outsource all of the tasks from our “DO Outsource” list of suggestions to a single company.
As we stated previously, outsourcing is all about allowing YOU to do what YOU enjoy in your life and business. Perhaps just taking one item off your list would make that possible for you, or possibly your business is booming and you’re ready to turn over as much as you can! We hope these tips will help you to restructure your workflow and do more of what you love.