When I started out to be a ‘professional photographer’ 20 years ago, let’s just say “studio management” was not one of my strong suits. I went to a world class business school and I got degrees in theater and writing. Yeah, my parents still don’t let me live that one down.
All of my business was on paper…literally. I had printed contracts and invoices (I emailed PDFs to clients but they had to send back the printed copy). Receipts were put in envelopes and I would go through them at the end of the year to calculate my expenses. At one point, I finally created an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of them throughout the year.
I wasted so much of my time.
I mean hundreds of hours. I would have to shuffle through papers to figure out what clients had in their packages, or if they had made a payment. It was ridiculous.
The Rise of Studio Management Software
About 10 years ago, the answer to my problems seemed to have arrived. There were a few companies that were offering ‘studio management software’. I thought to myself, “What is this? Should I get it? Do I need it?”
Since, at the time, there were only a few companies offering this service, my choices were limited…and so were the features of the software…AND they were pricey. The couple of options that seemed to have more features started at around $60 a month for a subscription. Sixty buck a month?? Why would I pay that much money? So, I went for the cheap option.
And I regretted it. This particular companies interface was very clunky AND I had to create all of the various fields for my database (First Name, Last Name, Address, etc.) – you would think that for software that was geared towards photographers they would have that stuff already set up. Also, it was pretty much just a database to keep track of contact information for clients.
You could put notes in a client’s file like ‘signed contract’ or ‘made payment’, but there wasn’t a lot of integration. BUT they had an app that I could access from my phone, which made contacting my clients while I was away from my computer a lot easier.
I was growing disenchanted with the service. I contacted a developer to discuss creating software that would actually do what I needed. Then, something magical happened…
I Found Pixifi
When I came across Pixifi for the first time, I thought it was too good to be true. The number of features available on their basic subscription was everything I needed at the time (we’ll get into features in a minute) and it was only $10 more a month than the pretty craptastic service I was already using.
So, I signed up for the 30 day free trial.
Two days later I cancelled my subscription to the other service.
Why? Well, now we are going to get into the features…
What Pixifi Has to Offer You
Keep Track of Your Leads
I can’t tell you how much easier life has been since I got this software. Pixifi allows you to keep track of all your potential clients and all of their information. Sort your leads, schedule follow ups, make sure you don’t double book a date, and a whole lot more.
Manage Your Workflow
You can see all of your events and tasks in a calendar or list view. If you want, you can sync events with your online calendar. Assign workflow tasks to clients automatically when they book or create a custom workflow for each client. Pixifi will remind you if you haven’t completed a task in your workflow.
Manage Your Expenses
Where’s all your money going? Keep track of your expenses and see where you are spending money. Categorize your costs of doing business and make filing your taxes a lot easier. Oh, and you can track your mileage if you drive a lot for work.
Ever have someone ask you where you get most of your business from? Well, now you can SEE where your clients are coming from. You can easily keep track of where you are getting the most business from each year, and make sure you are getting the proper ROI for advertising.
Digital Documents and Automation
Leads and clients can fill out proposals and contracts online. You can also send them questionnaires to get more information from them AND have the form automatically update their information in your database.
You can choose to send out automated emails, questionnaires, invoices, etc. so that you don’t have to wonder if you remembered to reach out. Basically, you can streamline your process and save yourself a lot of time and money.
Branded Client Portal
Send your clients to a branded online client portal! Use your logo, assign your color scheme, and if you know CSS you can really customize it a lot. There they can access their contracts, invoices, make payments, and update their information so YOU don’t have to! Making things easier for both you and your clients, and presenting a client experience that is totally branded to your company.
You can integrate your account with external services like Square, PayPal, DropBox, Google, MailChimp and more. It’s insane! Putting all of these cloud/web based services to work in basically one place can make your life so much easier.
I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to easily access client and lead information on the go. Pixifi’s mobile app makes it easy to keep up with business while being away from the computer. There are some integrations (expenses, mileage, etc.) that I wish were in the mobile version but there’s a new app that’s currently in beta testing so I have my fingers crossed. I will do a review once it’s finished and available.
I’m not going to lie to you. Setting up your Pixifi account can seem like a very daunting task. You’ll want to set aside a day or two to properly get everything in order, otherwise it can cascade out of control when you don’t realize what you’ve finished setting up.
But Pixifi knows that you might be unsure of what you need to do. That’s why they set up the Pixifi Academy, which contains a comprehensive series of video tutorials that will help you get the most out of the software. Watch the videos, and learn how to use the software and set up your account.
There’s a lot more that I’m not even getting to…
Pixifi has so many features, it’s hard to put them all into one article without it getting super long and boring, but I’m going to touch on some of the other features just to give you a sense of what else is available:
- Staff management – assign staff members to events, projects, or workflow items
- Keep track of your relationships with other vendors
- Booking pages and calendars – there are other services out there that ONLY do booking pages which charge nearly as much as Pixifi
- Pricing pages – potential client asks about prices – send them to your branded pricing page
Advanced features (for premium subscriptions)
- Manage multiple brands – have a portrait and event studio that you keep separate? No problem!
- Offer gift cards! Set up branded gift card pages so family and friends of your clients can purchase gift cards which are automatically applied to the client’s account.
- Workshops – do you offer workshops/seminars/training for other photographers/vendors – easily manage them through Pixifi
If you have an issue, the support team is very quick to respond and there is also a very active Facebook community that loves to help out. When I’ve had questions, I often hear back from Tim (the owner) directly.
There are a lot of studio management software systems in the market now. I’ve ‘test driven’ several of them, and, in my opinion, Pixifi still has them all beat on features and pricing.
I signed up for a lifetime subscription to Pixifi about a year ago. It has saved me so much time and money that it is beyond worth the price.
I recommend Pixifi not only to other photographers, but to anyone who runs a ‘studio’ type business – wedding and event planners, florists, bakers – you name it, they can probably use this service to their advantage.
Having management software to help you handle the business side of things will save you time that you can spend taking pictures, getting new clients, or just living your life!