Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Doing Business Like a Rockstar...AKA Cheap, Fast and Easy!

Since I'm finally managing to time-manage better, I'm finally able to do some non-photo blogs! I know, I know...you came for the wedding eye-candy, but stay for other tidbits of useful/less information!

Today's post is all about the apps, websites and other tools that James and I cannot live without. When we decided we were done working for "The Man", we had absolutely NO idea what we were doing. It's been two years and I can say that now. Sorry, early-on couples...we may have looked confident but we were as green as grass! However, I think we learn fast and adapt well and while we are still sort of stumbling through this CEO business, I think we've hit a decent stride and these tools have been invaluable to us, both for business and inspiration/motivation.

  • GMAIL. (Free!) You know it, you love it, you use it...unless you're one of those weirdos that still uses AOL or Hotmail. (Before you write me, it's a joke! Mostly!) The labeling is amazing (tax related? WHOOSH! into 2011 Tax label) and Gmail's searchability has saved me so much time! James and I have our business email through gmail rather than our host company. Why? Well, because we know we'll change hosts over the years and because we are absolutely reliant on ...
  • GOOGLE CALENDAR. (Free!) How I ever lived before the Google Calendar, I do not know. I have one tied to Altared Visions' gmail and one to my own personal email and shared them with each other for easy viewing of work and personal commitments. I've even shared the calendars with my ex husband and we use them to schedule all our kid-related activities. I am an idiot...and before you tisk-tisk me, I really am. I'm book smart but I am the kind of airhead who walks into glass doors, so Google Calendar (which syncs to my Android when said Android works) keeps me from forgetting all my appointments, bills and client meetings as well as shoots. You can even find cool calendars online and add them to your calendar. For example, our print store host Pictage (see below) has a calendar you can add with all their webinars and toggle it visible or not at your leisure. Which brings us to...
  • GOOGLE READER. All our favorite sagely photogs, fashion sources and the less fun business stuff are all nestled into one readable place that devours untold hours of our lives...
  • PICTAGE. (Prices Vary) I.love.Pictage. The difference it has made in our clients and our lives is priceless. Marketers will tell you to never use online print sales because you can't pressure the client in-person to buy! buy! buy! Pshaw. I will do what I want! Pictage has freed me from the tedious and harrowing task of entering in hundreds of file numbers for each wedding to fulfill a pre-paid and predetermined print package. Our clients get a full gallery (removing the extra wait to receive their discs!) that is taggable for Facebook, a slideshow and easy ordering for everything from 4x6 prints to leatherbound (professionally designed for FREE) albums. Pictage has amazing administrative features including the ability to simply print out everything we need to do our taxes! Awesome! We love them for giving us hours of our lives back and providing our clients with a great product.
  • POE Hosting. (Plans start at $5.00/mo) I know I've mentioned them many times before, but I love POE. I've hosted my Lucid Light blog (my personal photography blog) with them years and every annoying support email I bludgeon poor Patrick with comes back within the hour, cheerfully explained, answered or fixed already. We've since moved our main website to Portfoliositez (LL remains with POE for lyfe, yo), because we outgrew our Wordpress blog but should we need hosting for AV again, that's where I'm going!
  • DROPBOX. (Free!) If you haven't checked out Dropbox yet, click here and get started. Dropbox has been an absolute dream for James and I since we signed up a few months ago. It works by placing a folder on your computer where you can click and drag anything you want to be able to access anywhere or share with someone. I often need photos from James when we're working at our respective pods and all he has to do now is drag them into my dropbox and bam! They're on my computer! I also keep business forms and info in mine so I can access them anywhere. I love technology!
  • FLICKR PRO. ($25.00/year) Chances are you're familiar with Flickr but it must be on The List! We use Flickr to share our images in sets and host them for our blogs. I've been purchasing Flickr Pro for about 3 or 4 years now and I've never regretted it. Endless space, a beautiful layout, great organization, geotagging and social media one-click share integration? YES PLEASE! You can see our Flickr here.
  • PINTEREST. (Free!) Pinterest is one of those websites I recommend avoiding entirely if you can because it is so addicting and wonderful that you will hate me later for telling you about it. Pinterest is a social bookmarking site that allows you to "pin" photos and ideas to a virtual inspiration board. As you might have guessed, this is GREAT for wedding planning and thusly, great for people in the wedding industry to see what brides (and grooms!) are pinning for their inspiration. Endless DIY ideas, beautiful and quirky gowns and the most amazing shoes you'll ever see...yep, welcome to Pinterest. If you'd like an invitation, simply ask in the comments! Make sure to include your email so I can send you one!
  • LAST.FM. (Free!) Streaming radio for the masses! Last.fm "scrobbles" my itunes and ipod plays, adds in the bands I search for, favorite and add and creates the ultimate mix radio that I cannot live without for long hours in the digital darkroom. Trust me brides, without this you'd never see your photos. (Again, mostly kidding!)
  • COMPLETE SUN & MOON DATA. This is imperative for scheduling photoshoots! We like to shoot in the hour or so before sunset and this website lets you plug in your city or town and a date to get the sunrise/set and civil twilight times. Simple thing, majorly appreciated! 
  • COFFEE. Because this list could never be complete without that which animates us. :)
What are you addicted to?