The first time I’d heard of studio management software, I was barely in my first year of business. The thought of adding another monthly expense was unbearable to me, and besides, I was doing “just fine” with my current process of receiving contracts and checks in the mail. Who needed to complicate things further by adding yet another program for me to learn?
Fast forward to 2.5 years later during my coaching follow-up with the lovely Katelyn and I finally admitted defeat- I needed help. See, the old system of paper checks and USPS envelopes may have been “enough,” but it wasn’t helping my business at all and was, at times, actually holding me back. Here’s what my old process looked like when it came to booking with clients:
- Fill out a Word doc with their first names, package information, calculate payments, then save as a PDF.
- Send the PDF over email, explain where to sign, and let them know to send it to my address along with their retainer fee.
- Wait anywhere from three days to three weeks, assuming our mail guy decided to actually deliver the correct mail to us on any given day.
- Occasionally, if the contract and check never showed up after my client sending it due to our silly postman, lather, rinse, repeat.
- Once received, I’d file the contract in my file cabinet and make a scan on the check for my records.
- Drive to the bank, deposit the check. Which may or may not take me an additional two weeks.
I know that doesn’t seem to be too complicated of a process, but when you’re doing it for 20-25 wedding clients and dozens of anniversary sessions, it becomes really messy and hard to keep track of. I have a workflow board on my wall, but I don’t always keep up with it, so I was sometimes having to rely on memory alone to keep track of who’d send their final retainers, who still owed me contracts, etc. Not very professional, right?
Enter: Pixifi. What is this magical thing, you ask? In short, it’s studio management software that helps manage everything online, from electronic contracts to payments, to client information, to questionnaires, to dozens more features I’ve yet to explore. I’ve only been using it about two months now and my understanding of it is still really basic, but so far, here are a few of my favorite things about Pixifi:
- I can now send contracts from any computer, not just my office computers where I have my contract Word doc saved.
- I’m now able to accept credit card payments, meaning my clients don’t have to fret over their checks being lost in the mail anymore
- Everything is so much FASTER. I can send a contract in the morning and have it signed + received the retainer fee by lunch. My old method always meant at least a week’s delay in processing a booking.
- It’s more professional. As a high-end wedding photographer, my couples expect a streamlined, professional experience with me. Asking them to print out their own contract (8 pages long), put it in an envelope and send it themselves, along with a check, just wasn’t as polished as you’d expect from a luxury wedding photographer. The higher the cost of your services, the better an experience your couples are going to expect, and this was one area that was really lacking for me in the past.
- All of my clients’ information is backed up online, instead of in my filing cabinet. So, for example, I’m in Paris right now: I’ve booked a few new weddings in the past week, meaning I have a couple of new client gifts to send out. Now, instead of going to my file cabinet to look up my brides’ and grooms’ addresses, I can find their client profile in Pixifi!
- No more sending pre-wedding questionnaires in the form of a Word doc, since Pixifi allows you to creates questionnaire templates to send out to clients! Basically, I hate Microsoft Office and never want to use it, if it’s avoidable.
- Everything in centrally located! Instead of client info in my filing cabinet, their payment history in my online banking statement, and their pre-wedding questionnaire in my email inbox, EVERYTHING is on Pixifi.
I will say that the program was frustrating to get started. I’d started a free 30-day trial with Pixifi back in the fall but was utterly bamboozled by the program and never finished initial set-up. But then someone pointed me to this super helpful blog post by Ashley Fisher that walks you through, step-by-step, and even though it was time consuming and tedious, I finally got things where I needed them to be! Ashley’s blog post also walks you through how to enter a new client + send a contract and retainer invoice (but make sure you go through the basic set-up instructions first, otherwise the new client set-up won’t make sense and you’ll just end up angry).
Despite the complicated nature of set-up, Pixifi is totally worth the $25/month. I have so much more peace of mind knowing that I’m not at risk of misplacing paper contracts or checks, and much more sanity now that I’m not splitting the information for each of my clients between three different locations. It allows me to correspond with my clients in a more timely manner regarding their contracts and payments, especially when I’m away from my office.
If you’re interested in check out the program, click HERE and use the promo code PIXI2FREE for TWO free months, instead of the standard 30-day trial! If you have a couple of hours today or tomorrow, sign up for an account, enter the promo code, sit down with Ashley Fisher’s start-up blog post, and get yourself set-up. Your clients deserve the best from you, and Pixifi can help you give them just that!
And just to add some pretty to this post, here’s a preview of a ballerina session I photographed in Paris this morning :).