When it comes to your business, there are certain things that you don’t want to let fall through the cracks or get left behind. While you can try to organize and track everything on your own, odds are it is going to get a little overwhelming. You can only scale your business so far on spreadsheets.
That is where a CRM comes in. Now, you may be thinking, “What is a CRM?”, “Why do I need to use one”, or “What is the best CRM for photographers specifically?” and these are all great questions.
Before we dive into what I think is the best CRM for photographers, let’s take a look at what it is and why you should use one for your business.
CRM stands for customer relationship management. CRMs are tools that businesses can use to help streamline and automate their processes to ensure each and every client is getting the best experience possible while also ensuring everything within the business is organized.
Different CRM platforms offer different features, but the most basic (and one of the most important) aspect of your business that it can help you with is client organization. This can include everything from capturing leads through forms that you embed on your website to sending contracts and invoices and even keeping your calendar organized and up to date so you know when you have availability and when you are booked.
Now that you know what a CRM is, let’s talk about why you should use one. You may look through all the features of a CRM tool and think, I can just capture leads through my email or I can just send contracts as a PDF, or I can send invoices through PayPal… and you’re right.
Each and every thing that a CRM does, you can do on your own through one program or another, with a lot of copy and pasting, sure, but, they are all going to be on separate platforms. And that requires you to be on email nonstop. You probably started a business to have some freedom over how you spend your time, right?
Let me explain. For instance, say you get a lead to your email. Now you have to manually respond to them. If they choose to work with you, you’ll have to set up a contract by hand and make sure all of the dates, payments, services, etc, are correct. Then you may have to add them to your Google Calendar to make sure you don’t double-book yourself, and you know when you have shoots. The invoices have to be set up separately, with due dates and reminders added to your calendar or spreadsheet.
It all starts to add up and leaves room for error which is not what you want with your business.
CRMs will do all of this for you and will help you automate as many processes as possible. From sending out an email right after someone inquires with you to having templates for all your proposals and contracts that information automatically gets pulled into, to payment plans that are set up and invoices sent automatically, CRMs help to ensure that you don’t miss a step.
Sprout Studio is a CRM tool that was built specifically for photographers. They offer almost everything you could ask for as a photographer and help organize and streamline not only the behind-the-scenes side of your business (contact forms, contracts, invoices, etc) but also the client side of your business (email marketing, galleries, album proofing).
Hands down, I think Sprout Studio is the best CRM for photographers. The platform was built by photographers themselves so they know what is important and how to make things as easy as possible.
I think one of the biggest benefits of Sprout Studio is that it includes a gallery feature and album proofing on top of all the normal business features that other CRMs offer. This is super important for two reasons: (1) it cuts down on extra platforms that you need to bounce back and forth on, and (2) it cuts down on costs.
Let’s be honest; there is nothing worse than having to have five different platforms that you have to go between when you’re dealing with a single client. Having the gallery feature and album proofing right on Sprout Studio eliminates that and gives your clients custom pages just for them that are already branded for your business.
Not only does it eliminate the headache of using multiple different platforms, but it also saves you money. You now only need a single subscription to do everything you need to start to finish with your client instead of paying for 3 or 4 different platforms that all only achieve one thing.
Sprout Studio also has a great business reporting section that will let you view and track things like booking rates, trends, your income and expenses, mileage, and more. It can help you get a bird’s eye view of your business and help you stay on track with all of your goals for the year.
If you already have a CRM that you use and you want to switch, they help make that process easy for you. There is a concierge service that they offer where they will migrate your data from whatever platform you are currently using to Sprout Studio. If you’d rather do it yourself, they also have a migration tool built into your account to help make that process as quick and easy as possible for you!
Designing forms, emails, etc, is pretty quick and there is an easy-to-use drag-and-drop feature to help you build out whatever you need for your business. You don’t need to know anything about design to create the perfect emails and forms for your clients!
They also make it easy to learn how to navigate and use the platform with what they call “Sprout School”, a library of tutorial videos showing you how to do everything you need to within your account.
Finally, they are a fast-growing software and are constantly adding new features to the platform. They listen to what their customers want and release new updates based on features and feedback that people send them, making it the best CRM for photographers to use and grow with as their business grows! Check out their free trial and if Sprout Studio seems like a good fit for your business, you can get 20% off your subscription using my code here!
While I love Sprout Studio and think it is the best option for photographers, there are a ton of other options out there, so let’s quickly look at two of the most popular.
HoneyBook is a great platform to use if you have no experience designing or working in a CRM before. Just like Sprout Studio, you can mainly build everything out with their drag-and-drop features, and it is relatively easy to navigate.
They do have the same automations and basic features that Sprout Studio has, but they do not have the gallery hosting and album-proofing capabilities that are beneficial for photographers.
Dubsado is a bit of a more advanced CRM when it comes to setting everything up and getting all of your automation created. You can use some code to create your proposals, contracts, invoices, etc, to make them look professional and branded to your business.
However, it is not as easy to pick up for some people as HoneyBook or Sprout Studio. There are a ton of great features to Dubsado (although they don’t have the amazing photography-specific features that Sprout Studio has) but it does take a bit of time playing around within the platform to really get a hang of it.
When it comes to the best CRM for photographers, I don’t think you can beat Sprout Studio!
Regardless of which option you do choose, one thing is clear, CRMs make your life easier and make your business run smoother. It can be daunting to migrate everything or build your systems into a new CRM. And yes, no matter which platform you choose, there’s an upfront time investment in getting everything set up. But once you do, you’ll gain so much time and brain space back!