I’ve tried out a bunch of different websites and apps over the years for my various needs, so I wanted to share my current Top 5 websites and apps that help me to run my business.
I use Blinkbid for all of my estimates, invoices, licenses and bids for jobs. In their words ”BlinkBid understands creative professionals. We’re dedicated to being the business side of your creative life. Our cloud-based software offers several unique features to organize the chaos of bidding, production and invoicing.” Previously I used Wave for estimates and invoices but just didn’t have the control over the documents like I have with Blinkbid. I also discovered this software is very much the industry standard in USA after lurking through the archives of https://aphotoeditor.com/ (I’m going to put together another post soon on some good resources photographers and creatives can check out to learn about the not so often spoken about business side of photography).
Blinkbid isn’t free software, it costs in and around €14 per month depending on the dollar to euro rate, but it’s well worth it in my opinion for the efficiency of creating estimates and converting them to invoices when the job is won, to creating usage licenses all in one place. Below is a mock estimate to show what documents look like, all numbers are obviously made up and do not reflect true costs. Get the free trial and give the software a try, I couldn’t recommend it more.
I have my estimates set up so as that they automatically include estimate terms under the costs breakdown which acts as a contract for each job all in one single PDF.
COST: €14 p/m
Canva is a ridiculously simple online graphic design tool that I use for creating treatments and creative PDFs for jobs and shoots. I’ve previously played around with creating my own treatments with PDFs in Photoshop but always took way longer than needed to create them, and not wanting to pay for another subscription for Adobe InDesign, I opted for the free online software Canva. I created a template that I use for my treatments on there, and can create and send a nicely laid out PDF in minutes.
Majority of the jobs I shoot these days require a treatment that basically explain to the client how I would shoot the job at hand, I’d end up losing hours of a work day trying to do this in Photoshop. Even if the client doesn’t ask for a treatment when I’m bidding on a job, I’ll put one together anyway to try and give myself an edge over other photographers who may also be bidding on the project.
The software can be used to create almost anything, not just treatments, I’ve used it to create Instagram Story templates and Facebook ads in the past.
Below is a sample of super simple treatment I created for a personal project to show the stylist and models exactly what I had in mind for the shoot.
I use Format for all of my website needs. I’ve used Squarespace and 22Slides in the past, but this Summer wanted to try something different with my portfolio and couldn’t find the template I wanted on Squarespace so started fresh and designed a whole new website with Format.
One thing that I’ve loved about Format that I’ve been using is their proofing system. This has taken the headache out of getting selects back from clients. Some clients prefer getting a contact sheet of images from a shoot to make their selects from or a folder of low-resolution images, and either digitally mark which images they want processed or would send back a list of file names. Neither of which are very efficient for either them or myself. The Format proofing system allows your client to favourite their selects and creates a separate folder of their selects so they can compare and edit down until they have their favourites. The system allows gives you a tonne of control with what the person on the other end can or can’t do, for example: I have mine setup to allow them to download low-resolution versions of the images but Format will apply a watermark that says my name and proof only, it also shows me which images have been downloaded and favourited without them having to send it back to me.
COST: Depends on which option you go for, but mine is €15 p/m
I use WeTransfer to send final processed images to clients. It’s free (up to 2GB), and allows you to send structured folders as well as individual files. It allows emails when your files have been delivered and when they are downloaded, these receipts can be valuable in case anybody claims they never received their files or aren’t replying to your emails about invoices and payments but are fairly quick at downloading their images haha.
I use Dropbox to store all of my images and documents online, it makes it super easy to access them on any device and also peace of mind that your images are stored in the cloud should something happen to your physical backups. (Note: I only store JPEGs and TIFFs on Dropbox, not raw files).
One Dropbox feature I’ve just started implementing in my workflow, is using Dropbox Paper to create shotlists and other documents, check out Tony Roslund’s video on it, he does a better a job at explaining how and why to use it than I ever could.
COST: €9.99 p/m
I hope this post helps someone out there, I’m going to putting together some more blog posts and possibly videos about various topics to do with photography and running a commercial photography business. So make sure to follow me on Instagram @alexsheridanphoto to see when they go live. Feel free to hit me up with some recommendations on apps and software that have improved your workflow.