One of my current coaching clients has been feeling overwhelmed by her workload, and yet financially knows that she needs to be able to take on more clients – but that’s tough to do when the current number of weddings she has is already overwhelming.  I completely understand!  So, before we even began to work on messaging or marketing or establishing new relationships to bring in more weddings, we have been spending a whole bunch of time on her filing system and her workflow/process.

So let’s talk about your filing system.  What does it look like?  Is it all paper?  All electronic?  A mixture of both?  I expect that for most of us, it’s a mixture of both.  I know that mine is.

Let’s talk about your electronic files for now.  Are they all in one place, on your primary computer (and backed up, which we’ll also talk more about later)?  Or are they spread out via your computer, an external hard drive, and even some in the Cloud (such as in Dropbox).  If it’s not all in one place, is there a logical reason for it and a way to get to that stuff?  I definitely understand when photographers have much of their past work archived elsewhere, as primary computer hard drives can only take so much.  But that is logical, and can be gotten to again if need be.

But what about the normal day-to-day stuff?  Your normal workflow needs, including contract templates, and anything you need to create a customer quote.  Or your files for upcoming weddings and event.  Are they in one place and easily accessible?  That can make a huge difference in your productivity and feeling of being in control.

For instance, florists might regularly go back to old images to show samples of what that type of bouquet or centerpiece might look like, when giving pricing.  Can those images of past work be easily found?  Or are they spread out throughout your files only within those weddings?    Personally, I have both.  I have all of the pictures for a specific wedding together in that couple’s folder.  But I also copy a few of those pictures into a separate folder for future usage, be it for marketing or as examples.  That way if I need to grab a picture of a specific ceremony component to show a couple, for instance, or grab some pictures to illustrate a blog post, I only have to go to a single folder on my computer to find them all, and don’t need to try to remember in which wedding that was, digging through dozens of past wedding folders.  When I get the images back from the photographer, I choose any particular ones I might need or want in the future, copying those right then and there, and not worrying about it again.  And, in this particular case, normal day-to-day stuff, and past sample images, were spread out throughout her computer, an external hard drive, and Dropbox – taking so much extra time to try to find things whenever she needed it.

Even your folder structure and hierarchy – it is not only important, but can be a huge time saver.  For instance, having both a 2016 Upcoming Weddings and a 2017 Upcoming Weddings, in a Future Weddings folder, and then subfolders for each wedding in each, makes it easy to pop into whichever one you are working on at the time.  And naming your folders so that they sort in date order, means that you always know where to find them (instead of putting your couples’ names at the start of the folder name, causing it to sort that way).  For instance “01-01-16 – Mary and Joe” naturally is above “07-15-16 – Jennifer and Michelle” which is above “10-09-16 – John and David” and all of which makes it easy to go to and focus on the next one (or whichever one you are working on right then).  And have a 2016 Past Weddings folder under a larger Past Weddings folder allows you to move each folder out of the current focus and visibility, and yet have easy access to it still.

We’ll talk more about folder structure and hierarchy later, but hopefully this gets you thinking about what yours looks like for now…