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Managing your administrative tasks as a photographer

May 25, 2016

Unfortunately for us photographers, running a one-man business means having to do a lot of administration all by yourself. You have to be your own marketing manager, accountant, personal assistant, and a lot of other roles that you probably didn’t expect to be taking one when you got started. But these tasks need to be done – and since we aren’t experts at any of them, they can be difficult to manage.

The most important thing is making sure that you can get everything done on time, to a good level, and with as little interruption to your actual photography as possible. Here’s how to get that done, broken down by task.

Emails and Calls

The first thing you have to do is be your own receptionist or PA, and that means fielding a whole lot of calls and emails. If you are anything like me, then leaving your inbox alone for just a day can result in what feels like an immovable avalanche of emails – so many that you can’t even spot the ones that are really important amongst the ones that aren’t.

Here is how you manage this. First of all, take some time as soon as possible to reassess your inbox. The number one thing is to look at all of the newsletters you are subscribed to. It’s probably a lot, and most of them you probably just delete without even looking at them. If this is the case for you, take some extra time to go through and unsubscribe from those you don’t pay attention to. This is also a good deed, because you are saving that person some money – mass emails aren’t cheap.

Next up, you can also filter your emails by setting up new folders and rules. For example, if an email comes from a social network, you can send it to a “social” folder and only check it when you have time. That leaves all the important stuff right in front of you.

Lastly, clear out your inbox of any old emails you haven’t read or replied to yet. That spring clean gives you a fresh start, and allows you to keep on top of things more easily going forwards.

Just remember to get back to calls and voicemails as soon as you can – the key with these is promptness. If you don’t answer within 24 hours, the caller has probably given up on you and moved on.


Editing can be an administrative task too, and it’s not always a quick one. But you can definitely make it quicker. Try setting up your own actions and presets so that you can batch automate them across a whole series of images. Even if you shoot on location or with a new lighting set-up, you just have to edit the first image and then apply the same changes to the whole set. Going through to correct the images where it didn’t work is a lot quicker than doing them all from scratch in the first place.

Backing Up

You should already know by now that it is imperative to back up your work. What if you don’t have time or you always forget? Well, you can set up an automated service to do this on your computer every set time period. The process differs depending on whether you are a Mac or Windows user, so we won’t go too deeply into it, but just consider setting up a service like this. The same goes for websites – for example, there is a WordPress plugin which will back everything up weekly and send you an email to let you know that it has been done – or that it has failed.

Bills and Invoices

Have all of your recent invoices been paid? Are you sure about that? And when do your next bills go out? You should already have direct debits for your bills to ensure that all goes out on time, but handling invoices is a little more difficult.

There are two ways to do this, depending on whether you are a techy or hands-on kind of person. You can set up a spreadsheet so that every time you send an invoice, you enter the details there – and you can see exactly who has or hasn’t paid you. Or you can print the invoices out and check them off when they have been paid, then file them away. Find out what works best for you and stick to it.

Incidentally, this also works very well when it comes time to file for your taxes. All of your invoices are ready and laid out for you. All you need to do after that is to keep all of your receipts and expenses on file, including anything you bought online, and you can file so much more easily next time around.

If you feel that you are struggling with filing your taxes, then absolutely hire an accountant. They can do the job more efficiently, might find a way to save you some money, and – best of all – they are tax deductible. Really, seriously consider giving this a try.

Social Media

This is one of the biggest platforms for marketing, especially for photographers who can use visual updates to grab attention. If you are struggling to find the time, then automation is your friend. Services like Buffer or Hootsuite will set everything up for you to a pre-determined schedule, so you can bang out ten or twenty updates at a time and then let them all filter out when you want. This is really useful for keeping up a regular posting schedule even when you are busy or away on a location shoot.

The only networks you can’t really automate are Snapchat and Instagram, but that’s okay. Post an Instagram update first thing in the morning when you wake up to make sure you get it done – this is actually a really good time to do it anyway, as lots of people check the network in the morning. Snapchat is all about being in the moment, so just do it when you have time and don’t worry about it otherwise.

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