There's always a new gadget or program or trending app & most of them come & go but these are keepers. Some of these have proven themselves in the industry & some are newcomers but all of them will help you be more time efficient & productive. I have to credit Dawn Alderman, seriously one of the most talented & inspiring woman I've ever met for sharing some of these must haves with me & the rest I ended up finding out of necessity. Also I will admit while these are great for any business owner, they are particularly tasty for us photographers. So without further ado...the programs that have me doing a happy dance are:
4Sync: Introduce your computers to one another
You've heard of Dropbox. If you live under a rock, its a super simple to use cloud storage service. If you work between multiple computers at home or want to share files on a home & office computer with each other but are tired of emailing yourself the files then this is your savior. Dropbox is the most advertised provider of this sort of service & it's great minus but has some bigger flaws. One being how secure your files are once you add them to your dropbox. If you're uploading bank statements or other private files, Dropbox is not the most secure. 4Sync isn't a bank vault either but it is notably more secure. The second huge advantage is space. Dropbox only has about 3gb of free storage & after that it's $99 a year or $10 a month for more storage. It only took me about 2 weeks to run out of space using dropbox. 4sync offers 15gb of free space, thats way more than Dropbox....and then after that they are still a little cheaper if you want to upgrade to the 100gb a year. Lastly, and maybe I'm just not smart enough to figure it out but I'd delete a file from Dropbox that I didn't need on there & it would add the file back only seconds later. These are files I didn't want to delete off my computer but I didn't need them in Dropbox. I haven't had this happen so far with 4sync.
There is never enough time in the day for starters & then there's those things we aren't particularly great at that we have to do for our business anyways because its important. Maybe its social media upkeep like writing blog posts or tweeting. Maybe something more intense like writing a report or doing accounting. Welllllll. Meet your new assistant. Here you can outsource & hire anyone for almost any task. You do need to take a second to set up the project you're needing to fill a position for and then screen applicants but after that you are set. Odesk is typically a little more spendy & for more mainstream requests. Fiverr is my favorite though because it has more oddball things people can do for you like write your college report or tell your boyfriend you don't want to be with them to more normal things like I needed some coding fixed on my blog....its was a one time fix nothing I want to hire a web person for & it cost me $5 to be fix it & be done.
Pass: Beauty & say goodbye to the Beast
No more Dvd's. No more flash drives. Stop emailing huge image files or uploading & sharing from ugly & painfully slow sites like Photobucket. This is beautiful & simple. Upload your pictures & see them displayed beautifully in a collage thats easy to view & reminiscent of flicker & pinterest. Add an email address of who you want to have a link to the album (your clients email for example) & it will share the album with them when its done uploading. They can click one button & download all the images easily to their computer or click on individual photos to download them one at a time. Theres also simple to use social media buttons so they can quickly share images to facebook, pinterest & other sites as well as email friends & family the link. Its a great way for wedding guests to see the pictures you took of them at the wedding without bugging the bride groom or for non-photographers its a great way to share company photos.
BackBlaze: You won't have to commit suicide when your files disappear
Some businesses may not have a ton of important files that they can never lose. Maybe a babysitter? A circus clown or a shoe shiner for example. The rest of us should probably not risk it. Its that easy thing to skip because we are all Superman & nothing is ever going to happen to us just like none of need insurance because we have never gotten into a car accident. But, call me OCD, I like having this little extra fuzzy blanket of warm security. I already backup all my files onto an external hard drive but having seen a Dental Office up the street go down in flames at 2 in the morning only a week ago it got me to thinking about how my drives would be a neat pile of ashes in that case too. I've looked into Carbonite, Mozy & the other main backup companies & this kept coming up as the best balance between ease of use, price, amount of space you get to backup & customization of how it backs up your files & what. If you decide to research to see which you prefer the main difference to check after pricing vs space is how you get your files back & what it will cost. Backblaze is not the best in this sense. They are for some and aren't for others. In my case where I have Tb's upon Terabytes of files it would be pretty dang expensive to get those mailed back to me & an ungodly amount of time to get them back for free by downloading them from their site. So do consider that when choosing a provider.
Mad Mimi: Creative & simple email marketing for any level of intelligence
If you need to grow your business & your already doing the whole social media thing & want to try the next best avenue this is it. Super affordable & easy to use you can set up unique campaigns that are times out & sent to new emails you input or create one time campaigns to mass send. This is great for photographers in the sense that I can take a new clients email, input it and it will send them schedules emails like how to prepare for the shoot & a shoot reminder. real estate agents can use it to send campaigns like tips for finding the perfect home a week after meeting & schedule another one for three weeks out that asks how the search is going etc etc. You get it. Its amazing. You can add you logo and give them customized emails that aren't boring & have external links back to your sites & social media.
Blogstomp: Stomp it out & move on with your day.
If you're smart enough to blog (because you realize how great it is to get your business in search results) then you'll appreciate this tool. Especially for Photographers but really anyone that adds images to their posts & want it to look nice & possibly consistent. As a Photographer we often load our images into collage templates in Photoshop which is a total pain in the ass & time waster but we want our stuff to look nice so we do it. Well this will automatically put your images into a collage, a one, two or any number of image collage depending on how many you select. Then you can upload them right from the program into a blog post, write the post then & there & publish it & be done. Awesome. It will also tweet the images or upload them to Facebook. Even Sweeter.
Basecamp: Mi desk es tu desk
If you have to share a calender or documents or collaborate with anyone on anything check this out. Super simple & easy to use. Allows you to share & work on projects with a number of people online.