Y’all may not know that I quit my corporate job in a windowless office almost a decade ago to pursue photography because it meant freedom and pursuing a passion. I loved getting to tell people’s stories, and it made my heart sing to realize I could actually do that for a living. On my own terms.
As my business started to grow, I was elated — I was doing it you guys! Maybe you know the ecstatic, heart-racing feeling, too? But that excitement started to wear off as reality started to set in. As a solo small business owner at the time, I was finding that success brings with it a lot of work. More inquiries start coming in, which means more follow-ups and check-ins, and that’s on top of all the creative stuff like going to shoots, editing, and proofing. Whew.
I realized: I was missing out on my own LIFE
I started working later in the evenings, I brought my laptop everywhere and I had a hard time setting boundaries for my work. Can I be totally honest with you and say it was actually beginning to take over my life? But I also knew if I wanted to continue to provide the same incredible experience for all of my clients, I needed to keep my communication personal and branded.
Therein lies the conundrum… In exchange for writing emails, putting together proposals, and tracking everything in Excel, I was losing out on dinners with my husband, nights out with my friends, and phone calls with my family. I also started to lose that spark of passion the led me to start this business. I’m a creative at heart, but I no longer had time to pursue new creative opportunities. My time was spent just trying to keep my head above water.
After speaking with other creatives, I found that I was not alone. Many were spending the majority of their time on the business side and not on the creative. And I realized… this is a huge reason for burn out! Like perhaps the biggest, at least in the solopreneurial and creative industries. So I decided to do something about it.
I immediately started looking for tools that could help me be more efficient with my time, so I could get back to the creative stuff and get time with family and friends back.
How a simple contact form gave me hours of my life back!
First, I knew that I was spending a lot of time responding to inquiries in different places. Someone would DM me on social, and right as I was chatting with them, answering questions, and getting to know them, I’d get an email from someone else that didn’t have all the information I needed.
It was overwhelming, and I found myself spending hours just trying to get basic details from potential new clients — have you ever spent 30 minutes speaking with someone, just to find out it’s not a good fit? It’s tough!
So I decided this would be a good place to start to pivot. I’ve talked about this before, but it’s because it is so true! The HoneyBook contact form is a lifesaver.
In order to keep myself from spending time asking the same questions over and over, I needed to have the right information easily accessible right from the beginning. I customized my contact form in HoneyBook, making sure it had all the important questions included. I was able to make certain questions required for submission, and I was able to customize the look to make sure it matched my website and brand.
By embedding the HoneyBook contact form on my website, new submissions are automatically added to HoneyBook for me, saving me all the manual work I was doing before to keep track of conversations.
For people who find you on social media, I recommend adding a direct link to your contact form on your profile. This is a great way to catch people sliding into your DMs and ensures they’re giving you all the info you need from the start.
Lastly, for new inquiries coming in via email, I recommend HoneyBook’s Chrome Extension. With just a couple of clicks, I can add a new inquiry to HoneyBook without having to leave my inbox!
How I said “goodnight!” to long working evenings
So I had gotten a couple hours back each week with HoneyBook’s contact form, which was a huge relief! But, I still felt like once I had completed one thing on my list, something else would pop up — and as a small business owner, I didn’t want to let things slip. I had a tendency to just jump right into these new tasks as they came in.
Raise your hand if this is a familiar story: Staying up late responding to emails, sending out checklists and check-ins, and putting together proposals and contracts from bed… Not to mention everything else you’re doing for your business, like editing and putting together albums!
Okay, hands down. Because, thankfully, HoneyBook helps with this too! I still wanted every touchpoint to feel personal and branded, so it was great news to find out that it’s totally achievable using templates and workflows.
Though each client is unique, there are likely common touchpoints you have for all of them. Once you identify those touchpoints, you can use templates in HoneyBook to save yourself hours from copying and pasting and retyping the same details over and over!
Pro tip: HoneyBook’s concierge team will help you set up your pricing, services, questionnaires and contract templates, totally free!
My templates are in my voice, so it doesn’t feel like a cookie-cutter response to my clients. Plus, once I popped in a template, I was able to make changes so I could make my emails and proposals more personal!
Once my templates were set up, I immediately saw a change in my business. What once took hours now took minutes! And it didn’t stop there. I was able to use those templates to create workflows in HoneyBook.
Remember those check-ins I was talking about? Workflows allow me to automatically send my clients an email at the times I like to check in. But just because the email is automated, doesn’t mean it feels like that to my clients. Because I’ve set up my templates in HoneyBook, the check in feels personal to them, and they always feel taken care of because the workflow ensures they receive my email at the right time.
Delivering a consistent experience for your clients is key in growing your business. You want to give every client an excuse to rave about working with you! But it shouldn’t be costing you your personal time.
Time is our most valuable currency
In fact, one of the most important things I’ve learned as a business owner is that I should never undervalue my time. And the same goes for all small business owners!
Your time is important. Don’t spend more nights missing out on what matters to you — whether that’s family, friends or pursuing your passion! Use HoneyBook’s tools to take these repetitive tasks off your plate so you can spend time doing what you love.
This post is in partnership with HoneyBook, my small business obsession, righthand helper for many years, and a tool that I firmly believe can help ALL small business owners.