What to Automate vs What to Outsource in Your Photography Business

I wish running a successful photography business was as simple as clicking a button and seeing the money enter your bank account. Unfortunately, it’s not. There are a lot of tasks on your shoulder and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

If you’re a new photographer or a seasoned solo photographer then you know how hard it can be to keep up with your to-do list. You may have seen people talk about outsourcing and automation and are curious how that fits into a photography business.

The good news is there are plenty of tasks you can either automate or entrust to others. The bad news is, not everything is a good fit to systemize for your unique business.

Today, I’ll go over what to automate vs what to outsource. Plus, I’m going to touch on what to never, ever outsource.

The truth about systemizing your photography business 

There are two main paths to systemize your photography business – automation or outsourcing. 

Both will help you gain time back in your day, but which method is right for you will depend on you. Some photographers despise their inboxes (hello, that was me!) and need to let go of any email-related tasks. Others don’t mind their inbox but could use help editing the many photos in their galleries.

If you aren’t sure which tasks are bogging you down yet, or it feels like everything is, then let’s go over some ways you can add automation and outsourcing to your photography business.

First, we’ll start with what automation is.

What is automation?

Automation is typically the first system photographers add to their business. Automations are ways to automatically complete tasks. Think of them like shortcuts. 

There are tons of automation you can incorporate into your photography business! You may already be using some, like Lightroom Presets or email auto-replies.

8 things to automate in your photography business

  • Client booking process
  • Contracts & Invoices
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Reminders
  • Email automation
  • Sales appointment scheduling
  • Testimonial requests
  • Social media automation

How to add automation to your photography business

Most of the automation I mentioned can be managed through a CRM, like Honeybook. The only con is that you have to do some manual work to set up your automation. 

I know, I know…you’re already low on time, but hear me out! After you set up your automation once, you’ll never have to do that task again. Most automation can either be told to activate automatically when certain events happen (like someone filling out an inquiry on your website) or with one click of a button.

Imagine never having to track down and personalize the same 10 emails you send to each of your clients. Ever again. I think that’s worth making time for.

However, there are many automation templates you can purchase if you genuinely don’t have the time and it fits within your budget. Photography client workflow email templates are very helpful and allow you to start automating quickly. If you’re smack dab in the middle of the busy season and are recognizing the need for automation to get more time back, these are great!

Even if you’re a new photographer and have a little more time on your hands, I recommend investing in client email templates. For you, purchasing a template will allow you to tap into someone else’s experience managing clients. You’ll essentially be able to copy/paste and personalize a client workflow that’s vetted by a professional photographer without having to go through the trial and error yourself.

What photography tasks to outsource

The decision to outsource is never easy, and it can be even harder for photographers. Photography is an art – it’s very personal. So, I completely understand how hard it is to take yourself out of the equation and allow someone else to take tasks over. 

However, outsourcing can be incredibly helpful when growing your photography business. Handing tasks to others will allow you to take on more clients and take time away from your business for a much-deserved vacation.

Nowadays, you can outsource most tasks within your photography business. From photo editing to email marketing, sales calls to web design. If you do it, there’s someone out there with the skills to help you do it.

8 things to outsource in your photography business

  • Photo editing
  • Accounting
  • Album design
  • Second shooting
  • Email inbox management
  • Wall art installation
  • Blogging

How to start outsourcing as a photographer

The key to outsourcing is to be slow and strategic when deciding what tasks to outsource and to who. 

Unlike automation, which can often be done in a day, outsourcing requires you to take time to establish and record your process of doing things and expectations. You may even need to go through an entire client lifespan – from inquiry to offboarding – to record your entire process. It’s a pain, but having recorded processes ahead of time allows you to ensure your client experience remains consistent when you hand tasks off to someone else.

Ok, now you may be asking yourself “what do I outsource first?” Great question! I recommend you start with one thing to outsource at a time. Start with either 1) what takes you the most time or 2) what you dislike doing the most.

So, if you find yourself being overwhelmed by images to edit, start asking around for photo editors. If accounting makes you want to grab your hair and scream, then start there!

You can utilize groups like The Rising Tide Society to ask fellow photographers who they outsource to. Websites like Upwork and Fiverr are also great places to find assistance.

What not to outsource

Before you dive into hiring someone to outsource tasks to, I do want to briefly go over what to not outsource. Some tasks are too integral to your business success to hand off. Tasks that directly affect the vision, numbers, or experience are tasks that you should always have the final say on as the business owner and lead photographer.

You should never outsource things like:

  • Reviewing the final image edits before sending them to clients
  • Final decisions on packages and pricing
  • Reviewing your profit/loss statements
  • Creating processes and standard operating procedures (SOPs)

These may be tasks you’d love to hand off because, let’s face it, they’re less creative and more corporate. But keeping them in your hands allows you to always ensure you’re in control of your entrepreneurial path.

Start small and grow at your own pace

Whether you decide to add automation or outsourcing to your photography business is completely up to you. It can be tempting to add a lot of new systems and help your business quickly. You may even feel pressure to do some of the things mentioned because it seems like everyone who’s successful is doing it. But true growth takes time and it’s slow. You have to decide what makes sense for the season of business you’re in. 

I can’t wait to see what you choose to try first! Tell me in the comments what you plan to automate vs outsource.

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I’m Kara

I HELP photographers BUILD BUSINESSES THEY LOVE

Through my best-selling courses, thriving 1:1 tailored coaching experience, professional done-for-you business services, and powerful business templates, I inspire and empower photographers to take control of their businesses and realize that “Wow, I can do this!”

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Kara Hubbard, Business Coach for Photographers, Photographer Educator, Owner of Tografy, Ozo Coffee Branding

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Kara Hubbard, Business Coach for Photographers, Photographer Educator, Owner of Tografy, Whole Foods Branding

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I’m Kara Hubbard

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Through my best-selling courses, thriving 1:1 tailored coaching experience, professional done-for-you business services, and powerful business templates, I inspire and empower photographers to take control of their businesses and realize that “Wow, I can do this!”
 
I do this by teaching photographers how to run their businesses and not how I successfully ran my own. I firmly believe that with proper business education and tailored resources anyone can build a life and business they love through the incredible art of photography.

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Kara Hubbard, Business Coach for Photographers, Photographer Educator, Owner of Tografy, Ozo Coffee Branding

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