The number one way to provide a better experience and stay more organized:
Mainstreaming communication is SO important in your business!
I used to communicate with clients over a variety of different places! Later, I went to Katelyn James Photography’s workshop, and she shared that she does ALL communication right through email! I began doing this! That was about 4 years ago, and ever since then I’ve learned even more about the power of email and how it can help business- no matter age, where you are in your business, or how you how you currently communicate with clients, email can change and help GROW your business!
This took care of a LOT of frustration! Let me tell you a little story… I had just started my business, and was trying to book whatever I could! I’d get messages on my Facebook business page, Facebook messenger, Instagram, emails, and reply to them all. THEN I’d need to go back and find the info I had sent the client! How much did I say I’d charge them? What time were we meeting? What was the address they had wanted photos at? And you can guess it… going back through ALL those different places to try to find that info was exhausting and frustrating! But by using email, all of the session details I had sent were in ONE spot, and the endless digging came to end!
It wasn’t easy at first, but whenever I got an inquiry over a text or Facebook message, I’d reply kindly asking if they could go ahead and send me an email! I let them know I’m much more efficient there and can offer a better experience if I’m able to contact them there! Side note: you can set up an auto-responder on your Facebook Business page (not personal page)! I have mine set to thank them for contacting me, and then I share where they can email me and to contact me over there!
Email is definitely more professional than text or social media correspondence. When trying to offer an incredible, high-end experience, professionalism is SO important! Yes, there’s a personal aspect that can’t be overlooked, but sticking to email for all big things is important! It leaves a trail you can easily go back to and find the timeline you had sent, the package they had agreed on, and any additional details you need to make a note of! It also helps if you’re struggling with how to communicate with friends about business! If a friend texts asking for a shoot, moving the conversation to email makes it easier to send over your details before setting up the shoot. This is way better than having the awkward moment of not knowing if you’re doing it for free since you’ve just had a casual conversation over text!
It’s important to take the responsibility to answer emails if that’s where you’re sending people! My clients deserve an incredible experience, so texting them right away asking them to email me, then not replying for days really isn’t going to give off a high-end client experience! So like I mentioned, I do try to reply daily on weekdays, and if I’m going to be gone on a weekday I’ll turn an auto-responder on that lets them know I’m out of the office but will be sure to reply to all emails on “X” date. I heard this idea from Abby Grace! I do want my brides to know I’m there if something urgent comes up, so I also put in there “Christa Rene brides, if there’s anything urgent please feel free to send me a text!” This way they never feel completely blocked off if their venue suddenly makes a big change 2 days before their wedding, but I’ve never had a bride text me with an emergency on a day I was out of the office. Instead, I’ve gotten emails, and they are totally fine getting a reply to in just a couple days!
I LOVE the canned response feature on email! This allows me to save a response so I can use it again with a click! I found myself typing the same response to inquire over and over. So I started saving the emails I found myself typing a lot, spending extra time on them, and then saving them! I still do some extra work whenever I use a canned response to that it stays personal (like putting the clients’ name in, their wedding date in, and commenting on their story!), but I save HOURS each week using my canned responses!
I’ve had evenings that ended up being slow, and knew the next day had a LOT in store! So I wanted to get ahead with work and get some emails done so I wouldn’t have to worry about them the next day! However, it isn’t professional to email clients at 11pm- especially if you don’t want to be expected to reply to late night emails! So I use an app called Boomerang! I wish I had discovered this app when I was in college since heaven knows what time I was replying to emails. This allows me to type an email out, and schedule when I want it to be sent! I can get my emails done at 11pm, and schedule them to be sent out in the morning! So when I’m driving to a meeting the next morning, I know that a blast of replies will be automatically sent at 9am!
I’m the type of person that will see a text about photography pop up, and even though I know I don’t need to reply right away, but it doesn’t leave my brain! I quickly pick up my phone and reply or I know I won’t be able to get my mind away from it! But keeping things to email has helped me immensely with balance! I don’t like the feeling of needing to work when I’ve set a time to have social time, and don’t want to feel tied to work.
I actually never have email notifications pop up on my phone. I don’t open my email unless I’m ready to sit down and get some replies cranked out. This way, I’m thinking about work and those emails when my inbox is open, and once they’re all replied to, I can close it in peace and not have my phone “ding” at me whenever I get another email! But this comes with the responsibility of being efficient answering emails. I check emails everyday I’m in the office, and not on weekends. I have my work days and office hours in my signature, so my clients don’t expect me to reply within the hour they email me, or at 9pm on a Saturday night.
These steps are some tips on how I’ve used email to grow my business! No matter what stage you are at with your business, using email will allow you to gain a level of professionalism- even if you’re typing them at home while in yoga pants eating jelly beans at 11pm (not that I’ve ever done this before…). But whether you’re hustling on the side while working a full-time job, or working on your business full-time but having trouble staying organized or booking, using email can grow your business and be a step to getting where you want to be!