As I began Box Cube Photography, I was someone who was not familiar with what studio management was. I had no idea how to keep my business organized and on schedule. I was unable to track where my money was being spent or where I was making money from. I need to stay organized to grow my business further.

I also mention other software in the title: Animoto, Flothemes, Todoist. These are software that I use on a daily basis within my business to improve my brand image, stay on top of my tasks and create a visually appealing website. I have written a short review of these software at the end of this article as well.

As I started investigating options for organizing my studio, I came across a number of software and applications. All of them promised the moon but had no idea what was best for me. So I started subscribing to the trial periods for each of these applications to see if it was a good fit.

  • I needed to ensure that I was able to keep an active track of my clients including their session dates, contracts, expenses, monies owed etc
  • Tracking where the leads are coming from also plays a major part in my advertisement strategy. Spending money in the right avenue of advertisement can make the difference between a bad year and a good year
  • In order to track money, I had to track where it was coming from, where it was leaving to and what I was left with at the end of the billing cycle. I also needed to track GST (general sales tax). I was able to manage my finances better once I knew exactly where the money needed to be spent and where I could cut costs.
  • Have you looked at a photographers schedule? 9 AM meeting followed by a 3 PM photo shoot in the nearby city. It can be insane! I required a robust schedule manager that could ensure that I was on time at the right place. The scheduling had to be impeccable to avoid double booking. The application also had to be compatible with google calendar as I use that to manage my day to day tasks.
  • You get what you pay for. As you will realize later in this article, paid options for studio management are much greater in their ability as compared to unpaid options. That does not mean that the software has to cost you an arm and a leg though!
  • I like pretty things. And most other people too! I needed an application that was visually appealing, uncluttered and easy to navigate.

 

17 Hats

This was the software that I started with after some investigation. Let me tell you right off the bat, it is by far the easiest software for studio management on this list to use. It is also has a very nice and uncluttered user interface.

Here is what I found throughout my year of using this software:

  1. Easy to setup – It took me two days to set the entire software up! Only two days.
  2. Visually Appealing – It was pretty to look at and use
  3. Great Support – The team behind 17 hats was extremely nice and helpful when I had questions and trouble.
  4. No customization – I could not customize how my client emails looked.
  5. Accounting – The accounting system inside 17 hats was not as robust and detailed as I needed it be. Automated expenses and recurring payments etc was something I absolutely needed.

This led to me looking for other options on the market.

Shoot Q

This was the second option I tried. Initially, I found it better than 17 hats but then I started running into some glaring shortcomings that really forced me to seek another solution. The shortcomings are as follows: Mobile Access – Their mobile app is really buggy and crashed all the times. Can’t access anything on the go.

  1. Mobile Access – Their mobile app was really buggy and crashed all the time. I couldn’t access anything on the go.
  2. Contracting – It took me almost 20 to 30 mins to send a customized contract to a client compared to the 5 mins it took me in Tave or 17 hats.
  3. Scheduling System – The scheduling system often failed to sync with google calendar which led to some massive scheduling conflicts. This was the straw that broke the camels back.

This is when I went on the hunt for the perfect studio management software again!

 

Tave 

This is the godsend software that I currently use and absolutely love! For good reason too! I hear about Tave through a podcast and another photographer who was using at that time. That photographer in question had just switched to Tave from ShootQ. He kept singing its praises so I decided to give it a try.

It fit all the requirements. But it did take a while to set it up and I am still improving things as I explore the depths of this software further. Here are some of the most important highlights that sold me on this software:

  1. Great Tutorials – The team behind Tave has set up some amazing tutorial that leads you through every step of setting up the software from your branding to integrating your calendars.
  2. Amazing Support – Did I tell you that the team behind Tave is absolutely amazing? They set up Skype meetings with me when I had detailed questions and had answers for me within 24 hours. They also set up a Facebook group where you can ask questions to other community members in case you had to discuss something.
  3. Money Tracking – Tave tracks money really well. You can set up payments via stripe, PayPal, e-transfer etc. And while the clients are making the payment through your customized client links, they are impressed by your branding.
  4. Client Tracking – Oh my, this is what really sold this. Tave is excellent at tracking clients. You can setup automation (algorithms) that trigger on things like certain dates, etc. This allows you to set up the system once and let it just do its thing without much interference. For example, I have programmed my Tave to send follow-up emails two days, 7 days and 14 days after a client contacts me. This ensures a higher lead conversion rate. I have also set up other automation like monthly subscriptions being added to my expense ledge automatically.
  5. Cost – It was not the cheapest option but it definitely is worth it given that I have been able to make money many times over due to my amazing scheduling and branding that all my clients love!

If you are willing to Try Tave, the Tave team is so confident in their product that they will offer you a 60 day trial period as compared to a 30 day trial period (which is true for other products on this list). They will often extend it even further when you ask them nicely enough! 

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