Take Control of Your Business: 10 Studio Management Software Programs
by Theano Nikitas
February 27, 2014 —
In an ideal world, a professional photographer would probably spend all of his or her time shooting, but photography is a business after all. Keeping one’s studio organized and running efficiently takes discipline, whether it’s for communicating with clients (ensuring that you don’t double-book or drop the ball on follow-up tasks) or keeping up with bookkeeping. Here, we present ten studio software applications that will help you spend less time managing and more time with a camera in hand.
Daylite can be tailored to fit any business, with features like this multi-purpose calendar.
A general business software tool designed for Mac, iPhone and iPad, Daylite gives you access to your data on location and when you’re traveling. With version 4, the interface has been redesigned, features added and performance enhanced. While Daylite is not photography-specific, its mail assistant, task-oriented calendars and other features can be tailored to your studio business.
What’s kind of cool is how the voice-based virtual assistant, Siri, is connected to Daylite, just as it is with iCal. Siri can pull contact information from your Daylite database if you want to make a call or get an address, add a task to your worklist, create and adjust appointments, and she will tell you what your schedule is for the day. A Daylite license includes Daylite for Mac, iPhone and iPad for one user ($280), Daylite Mail Assistant (DMA) and Daylite Server. And, Daylite plays well with a number of other applications including MailChimp.
Genbook provides convenient online booking for your clients, complete with confirmation, as well as verified customer reviews.
Rather than being a general business management software solution, Genbook is designed as an online booking application. With Genbook, you can set up a complete system for booking appointments on your website that not only displays when you’re free but provides clients with instant confirmation. The appointments are synced with your calendar so you always know what your schedule is via computer, or iOS and Android mobile devices. Genbook also works well with social media, making it easy to market your business.
New to the application is the ability to create and market special promotions. Members of your team can access their individual schedules with a separate login, but you have access to everyone’s data so you can more easily track your business visually or by using customer analytics. If you want to expand into online bookings, Genbook deserves consideration.
Light Blue Software 4.3.2
This highly functional software makes it easy to set up price lists for effortless invoicing or pulling together reports to analyze profits.
Light Blue Software made a major change last year when the software program was re-built from the ground up. Rather than being built around Filemaker, as the previous versions were, version 4.0 is now a native Mac and Windows application. The design is still very basic, so don’t expect any flashy icons or anything more than bits of colors to code certain entries. Despite its no-frills design, Light Blue is a highly functional application that can handle just about any task you need—from recording information about an inquiry or shoot to generating multiple reports including income and/or expenditures to creating a Web gallery of images.
Financial tasks are handled seamlessly from start to finish, and you’ll never lose track of your schedule (you can integrate iCal, too, for example) or clients’ birthdays and anniversaries. You’ll have access to mail merge and the ability to export various data. While the program is computer-based, Light Blue also offers an iOS app for remote access by syncing between computers and mobile devices. This program is surprisingly easy to use given the amount of data it can handle.
Not all photographers want to post prices on their websites but if you do, Pixifi lets you set up details—and package add-ons—that your customers can browse and book online.
This Web-based studio management software was developed by a photographer and offers a wide range of features, from email tracking, to gathering data for year-end taxes and pretty much everything in between. Scheduling, questionnaires, online contracts that clients can sign digitally, invoicing and locations can all be tracked and organized with Pixifi. Payments can be made
There are no contracts, and you can cancel any of the three options at any time. The $24/month Essential version is basically for single users and is limited to a single pricing page, staff member and brand, while the $34 version offers more options in those three categories. Both versions provide unlimited contracts, invoices and questionnaires, to name a few. The most sophisticated of the three, StudioPro, costs $49, has no restrictions on any of the features and also has a special option for organizing workshops. And, if our brief interaction with the company is any indication, customer service is excellent and the company has a very active (and helpful) Facebook group.
ShootQ, a well-respected photography studio management software, offers a number of different sales analytics such as this Sales by Revenue pie chart.
Perhaps one of the best-known studio management software applications for photographers, ShootQ was created by photographers and is now part of Pictage (an online proofing, marketing, e-commerce and print fulfillment provider for professional photographers). Visually, ShootQ is one of the more attractive studio management software applications we’ve seen and offers a range of useful features. Some of these features include quick and easy follow up on leads and the ability to generate quotes, book and sign contracts online and create revenue charts that provide a clear view of your sales by segment. The software is well-integrated with any number of social media and other online products/services including Facebook, Google Analytics, Google Checkout, Wordpress, iPhone and pretty much any calendar.
ShootQ is pay-as-you-go with three monthly options, starting at $40 a month for three users, one brand, one pricing page and 250MB of file storage. Up that to $60 a month for more users, brands and pricing pages and 1GB of storage. For $80 a month, the aforementioned options—including storage—are unlimited. ShootQ is well-respected among photographers, and with good reason.
Simply Studio’s dashboard displays a range of information including messages as well as the details of a specific job including to-do lists and completed tasks.
The modular, Web-based app Simply Studio is broken down into three parts. The first is a dashboard with a wealth of studio management tools (contracts, invoices, questionnaires, email tracking and more). The second is an accounting module for tracking your money and running reports. This can be tied to your bank account, and recurring expenses will automatically be sorted after the first time you categorize it. And that’s just scratching the surface. To round out the app, the Online Proofing module puts a well-integrated selling tool right into your hands, with orders fulfilled by Simply Color Lab with no credit card fees and no commissions. Simply Studio also offers phone support and free training Webinars. Monthly, one-year and two-year payment options are available.
Various financial reports are readily available within StudioCloud so you can quickly analyze your income, expenses and P&L.
StudioCloud is a solid combination of desktop (Mac and Windows), mobile and cloud-based components. The single user software as well as iOS and Android apps are free and come with 1GB of cloud storage. What’s great about this modular system is that, for a monthly fee, other individual products and services can be added to the core program including CloudProofing, CloudBooking, CloudForms and CloudAlerts. This allows studios to customize the program—and potentially save money—by subscribing to only the products and services they need. For example, if you want or need your clients to book sessions online, you can subscribe to CloudBooking—and even embed that option into your business website.
There are plenty of options within the basic software so you can easily work with the free version and still have access to features such as project and client management, bookkeeping and much more. Sync it to the cloud and you have anywhere, anytime access to your records. In essence, StudioCloud gives you the best of both worlds.
StudioPlus Software offers a range of product options, including the new myStratus cloud-based software pictured here.
StudioPlus offers three options for photographers including the new cloud-based myStratus 2013, as well as its Spectra desktop version and InspiredByYou.com (an e-commerce site). With myStratus, users benefit from many of the same features as the desktop software including scheduling, client management, invoicing, emailing, texting and online image storage. Because the data is stored in the cloud, information is available via Web browser as well as an iOS app (iPad and iPhone). As of press time, Stratus was only available in the Express, single-user edition; the Standard version was available as a Preview release and the Professional edition slated for 2014.
Spectra also has a free Express single-user edition (add more users for a fee), which is good for those who are just starting their studio business and/or on a tight budget. There are also Standard, Professional, Enterprise and OnLocation versions, each of which offers a broader feature set, along with a higher cost. Keep in mind, Spectra is Windows-based only, but the cloud-based Stratus offers more flexibility.
In addition to scheduling and financial options, SuccessWare provides detailed records of clients and follow up reminders.
This cross-platform computer-based tool provides a wide range of studio management functions including scheduling, which takes into account availability of team members and/or assistants. You can also track appointments and leads, easily manage email, track orders, invoice clients and more. Perhaps what’s most interesting is that SuccessWare provides industry standard pricing and allows you to quickly analyze your bid and expenses against those prices to calculate profitability. This calculator will make it easy to adjust your bid and pricing as needed and, essentially, make sure you’re on the right track to achieving your financial goals.
Táve Studio Manager
One of Táve’s many convenient features is the ability to create and send proposals from within the software.
A full-featured management tool, Táve offers pretty much all you need to run and track your studio business. In addition to creating detailed proposals and/or questionnaires for each client, Táve does the follow-up for you by tracking open jobs and important leads. The software also keeps you on track with your tasks and appointments, and the studio calendar can be shared online so team members also have access to studio schedules.
Many options are available, too. For example, you can set up to four signatures on a contract and you can also set custom payment schedules. Online support is available via messaging or you can join the Táve Facebook group. Either way, this software’s features provide a solid workflow for your studio business. RF
TAX SEASON TOOLS
Intacct This cloud-based financial system provides financial management and accounting software solutions, including applications for accounting, contract management, revenue recognition, inventory, purchasing, vendor management, financial consolidation and financial reporting.
TurboTax Business This business tax software provides guidance in reporting business income and expenses, including coverage for filing S Corp, partnership, C Corp or multi-member LLC forms.
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