Tag Archives for " Productivity "

Would you believe a Post-It note automates my Productivity?

Productivity with a Post-It note

Productivity is a must as every Small Business Owner wear many hats: sales rep, customer service rep, accountant, ect. Fortunately there is a ton of great software to help us do all those jobs, but we still have to create all the digital assets necessary to use these apps, services and websites productively.

The Problem with Productivity

Setting up a digital workflow is only as good as the information you put into it and -especially when things get hectic- it’s easy to miss setting things up correctly.

In my workflow as a product photographer is use
Evernote to organize and store all digital documents – creative briefs, model releases, estimates, permits, notes, ect.

SalesForce is my Customer Service Management service of choice. It keeps tracks of accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities, expenses, ect. and links automatically to Evernote, Expensify and Trello.

I’ve just started using
Trello to give me a clear picture of all current projects and tasks and Expensify builds expense reports easily and quickly, that I then import into QuickBooks.

Solving the Productivity Puzzle

Productivity via Post-It notesHow do I remember to add a Note and Tag in Evernote, that will help you organize a new job? Then there’s the opportunity that I have to setup in SalesForce if I want a bin, that will collect and correlate all information I need to have at my fingertips; a new list needs to be created on Trello and the expense report need to be created in Expensify.

Don’t laugh, but a little Post-It note does all that for me. Automatically.

I use Evernote to get this process rolling:

  • Pink Post-It’s are leads. That’s potential clients who have reached out to me and are inquiring about having product photography and/or video creates.
  • Yellow Notes are opportunities. These are the projects where I’m meeting with clients, pitching ideas and creating estimates.
  • Green Sticky Notes are jobs. Deposits are, production has started and we’re creating amazing visual content.
  • (There’s a blue note as well, but I don’t use that for my business)

The yellow Post-It kicks it off

As soon as I capture a yellow Post-It note, Evernote saves it in my opportunities notebook automatically (Evernote lets you assign notebooks based on the colors of the notes). All I do is save the note named with the job number associated with this opportunity.

Zapier takes over

As soon as that note gets saved, Zapier takes over and creates a SalesForce opportunity with the job number (which it gets from Evernote), builds a new Trello list with the same job number, captures an expense in Expensify tagged with that identifier (I hope that soon it can create a report), creates an Evernote tag – which will be used to be able to search all documents about that job and finally sends me a SMS to my phone. Done. That was not hard.

At the end of the day one photo of this Post-It Note creates all the digital assets I use in my day-to-day workflow.

How do you solve your productivity puzzle?


[Wanna learn more about how I use apps, web services and applications to run a more productive small business?]

Master your productivity with 11 amazing tools

Master your productivity with 11 amazing tools

With every passing year, it seems clients are expecting more and more from their photographers, which means we may need a lesson in productivity. Kat Dalager (@3etheLTAgency) goes even further and foresees the change of the very word photographer in her “Predictions for 2016“:

“The word ‘photographer’ will change. Maybe it will be ‘image maker’ or ‘content maker’ or ‘capturer.’ Whatever it is, it will reflect the expanded capabilities of the role.”

I agree with her and believe that in order to embrace the ever-increasing roles we find ourselves pushed into, we must become exceedingly efficient in our productivity. 2016 will be the year, where I take that productivity to the next level, integrating the technology, cloud based services, apps and automation software I use in my business.

Here are 11 tools that help me, solve my productivity puzzle:

Salesforce & Evernote

The backbone for this virtual productivity is SalesForce – the CRM that’s been running my business for over 7 years now. Every account, contact and job lives in this cloud based service [learn more about SalesForce here: “I got my head in the cloud (along with all my data)“].

This year is the year where this automation will get flushed out. I’m already using the amazing integration between Evernote and SalesForce, which allows me to attach all job related records automatically. Now any creative brief, handwritten note, job estimate, permit, release, receipt, rental agreement, … is tagged with a job number in Evernote and appears in the digital job folder in SalesForce as if by Magic.

Asana, Zapier & IFTTT

Every job, event and task that get entered in SalesForce automatically creates a counterpart in Asana, via Zappier. Asana is my project management software, where I can split up a job in an actionable To Do list. Every contact that’s added on my phone is automatically entered in SalesForce via IFTTT (IfThisThenThat). Zapier and IFTTT are two amazing automation softwares that enable you to use apps and cloud based services to stay productive.

9 great Gadgets for 2016

9 great gadgets for 2016

9 great Gadgets for 2016

There are tools, apps, gadgets that make our life easier, more productive and better organized. Let me share 9 gadgets that are (almost) always on me:

  1. Skeletool – Leatherman’s multi-purpose tool has only a few functions, but this analog tool is a thing of beauty. I’ve rarely seen an instrument that is so well thought out and put together as this one is. The Skeletool gadget is always in my pocket (unless I’m flying). It’s masterful design is a beauty to behold, but it’s very simplicity belies the real usefulness: a solid set of multi function pliers, a strong blade, a set of 4 screwdrivers (you gotta see how the one you’re not using is stored – it’s amazing), a bottle opener / carabiner is worth carrying around 5 oz of steel.
  2. iPhone 6s – Apples phones carry an insane amount of customizable apps on them, that I can almost not imagine working without one today. From shooting photos for scouting and live streaming directly from the phone, to integrating the mobile side of my business, the gadget is truly my virtual assistant.
  3. Lifeproof case – has protected my iPhones since I bought the first iteration of this case for my iPhone 4 years ago. These cases are waterproof, they protect your phone from drops (the physical ones and the ones made from any liquid) and help you ensure that your phone survives the rigors of working in some pretty crazy environments. It’s the analog armor, that keeps my digital life protected. A gadget that protects another gadget, who knew.
  4. 9 gadgets 500LIV watch – in this digital world I love an analog time piece, that’s tough and stylish. Being on time is part of producing excellent work and there are so many other things I need to time (from long exposures of night shots to duration of time lapses) that this beauty keeps me punctual. Actually I feel bad calling this a gadget – it’s more a practical piece of Art (and one of my clients).
  5. Evernote – is my digital memory. It holds electronic copies of my contacts, notes, creative briefs, ideas, … and so much more. It lives on my iPhone, when I’m not in front of the computer and is connected to my digital brain SalesForce, that also lives on my mobile device. Yup, gadgets can be digital as well.
  6. Moleskine notebook – I’m a fan of writing, theres something to be said about putting pen(cil) to paper; actually there are studies out there that say you’ll remember something you wrote, better than something you typed. Drawings, sketches, scribbles, outlines, notes and so much more live in this paper notebook. Much of it is digitized and synced with Evernote. That app keeps on surprising me, especially when it actually can read my handwriting – it’s an old school gadget that’s actually quite brilliant.
  7. GoalZero Switch 8 – power is something we never seem to have enough of and often we need to top off another power hungry gadget, that’s where this little USB chargeable battery comes in. It allows me to carry an extra charge for my phone or GoPro in my pocket.
  8. Swiss Army cable – You gotta be able to get that power into your phone/camera/device though and carrying around a handful of charging cables kind of defeats the purpose. Here’s a cool USB charging cable, that bridges the digital generations: from the old 30 pin connection, via USB micro and the modern lighting adapter, this gadget can charge pretty much anything you throw at it.
  9. BeastGrip – Ok. So this one’s not always on me, but it’s always in my bag. The beastgrip is the best gadget for your iPhone as it let’s you shoot stable video, add accessories like a monitor and an external mic, if you want to get serious. It also has a dedicated depth of field adapter, that let’s you film with your DSLR lenses. You wanna up your mobile video game? Look no farther than Beastgrip. It’s spring loaded clamp lets me use my iPhone inside my lifeproof case – a gadget inside a gadget inside a gadget – almost sounds like inception to me …

Analog and digital gadgets

I love both worlds – the break neck pace of digital, with all the productivity it offers and the old school analog world of notebooks and knives. What are the gadgets you can’t live without?

I got my head in the cloud (along with all my data)

Cloud based business

How much more productive would you be, if you could …

…automatically answer every online contact request with a branded, personalized email from your company and get an alert to new inquiries via text, email and SMS from the cloud?

…enter each business card you’re handed into your cloud based address book and automatically pull in data from the card owner’s LinkedIn profile?

… see the last activity you had scheduled with that person, the client account associated with him or her and have the personal contact info from your cloud based client database on your screen when you look up a client on LinkedIn?

… automatically trigger the creation of a digital job folder,  add a customized to-do list (based on how you go from prospect to client) to your calendar and create a blank production book in the cloud when a client sends you a job request?

… store all emails, call notes, marketing efforts, past invoices, payments and briefs pertaining to a client account in the cloud, accessible from anywhere in the world?

… control image delivery to your client from your smart phone?

… create an expense report in the cloud just by photographing a receipt?

Sounds to good to be true? Welcome to your business in the cloud.

Def: Cloud based business, means that your data is stored in with an online service. That can be a photograph you are delivering to your client via Photoshelter, contact information for a prospect stored in SalesForce or your production book from the last job including all releases, insurance info and crew details in Evernote

There are lots of systems you can choose from.  Here’s how I use mine…

Cloud based SalesForce CRMMy day begins with my head in the cloud (literally)

The first tab that opens in my web browser is my SalesForce Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System: the heart of my cloud business. It aggregates all client info – some automatically, some from other applications or web services – into one place.

More than just a calendar and address book app, it links everything together, so my client’s personal cell phone number from last year is at my fingertips and I can easily see the last estimate I sent them while I’m on the phone talking about our upcoming project. The digital documents don’t have to be stored in SalesForce – in my case, I use Evernote. 

SalesForce – the center of my cloud universe

SalesForce leads the cloud based CRM space.Here are three channels I use to capture new leads into my SalesForce client database:

The contact form on my website

When a prospective client fills out the contact form on my website, they are actually entering their data into SalesForce, which then sends them an automated personalized email response and notifies me that I have a new lead. All this info is accessible via the web interface or an app on my phone (Read more about it on this Strictly Business article: Quick Tip – Automate).

The subscription button on my blog

I use a MailChimp plugin on my WordPress blog to send all subscriber information straight to SalesForce. That plugin also sends email updates to my subscribers when I publish a new blog post and maintains my mailing list. All day, every day. Don’t have to think about it.

Business cards

I take a photo of the card, Scannable reads the card, saves it to the address book on my phone (pulling in any information that’s not printed on the card from the person’s LinkedIn profile) and adds my new contact to SalesForce. All in about 30 seconds. (Find a link to watch a real-time business card scan at the end of this post).

This photo lives in my Evernote cloud