Friday, January 21, 2011

How Do You ShootQ?

Like many photographers, I use an online studio management software to keep my books straight, my clients happy and my life simpler. There are quite a few options out there - Studio Cloud, Tave and ShootQ. I have used all three and eventually settled in for the long haul with ShootQ. One of the main reasons that I ended up with ShootQ is due to the way that how you use the software is highly customizable to your needs and how it makes most sense for you to use intuitively. I always am interested when I see discussions on online forums about how people use their ShootQ - it's neat how everyone has tweaked theirs to be a bit different. I thought perhaps some folks out there would like to hear how I've personally tweaked mine and hopefully some of the other Lovecats will join in with what they do as well. Below are some ways that I've tricked out my ShootQ that may not be the "norm."

I do not use ShootQ's contact form

This is probably the biggest difference between how I use ShootQ and most others use it. When I initially signed up with it, I used the contact form, despite how ugly I think it is (sorry! it just doesn't fit my web presence at all!). However I quickly became frustrated with how much clutter it was and it wasn't easy for me to sort the true leads from the "hey I'm a fan of your work" and the like quips that come in that are not related to booking a job at all. I also had some issues with emails going back and forth and getting lost in translation between ShootQ and emails. Finally, I do a LOT of my work via the iPhone (especially when I am out of the office) and I prefer to be able to see all the inquiry information in the email rather than click I link to load ShooQ to see it (this may have changed since then). Overall, it just didn't work for me.

The next phase of the incoming contacts was that I eliminated ShootQ's direct contact page but would input every "real" lead via their lead from email tool. While it was very helpful and a quick way to input contacts, I found that I was still having issues with the emails to/from clients via the ShootQ app and it was time consuming for a lead that often ended up dead. My time is valuable and I want to focus my time on the good leads and clients that have already invested in me.

Finally after trying the self importing of leads I decided to call the whole thing off. I don't use the leads in ShootQ at ALL. It makes my life much easier and for me, I like it this way. The only thing I miss is seeing where all of my referrals come from that do not result in bookings but to be frank, the referrals that matter the most are the ones that BOOK. When I do get a client that is ready to book, I will then import their lead via the lead from email tool and send their contract and proposal at that time.

I don't use the workflows

While I imagine that this tool is quite helpful to the photographers out there that like lists and organization, I am not one of those types of people. I also found that I would let these lapse for ages and then spend a good hour going through and checking off tasks that had already been done but hadn't been marked as such during the process. Again, for some these are very helpful but for me.... I think I know to format cards before a shoot and charge the batteries.

There was also a step down of this process as well. I initially overhauled the entire section and customized it to the the key elements and took out all of the "duh" boxes to be checked. I left things such as "schedule engagement shoot" in but took out "clean camera sensor" and the like. However, I still found that I NEVER referred to these tasks to stay on top of things and again, was spending time checking off the boxes to clear out my homepage. Wasted time for me.

I now only utilize it for products, which is a handy thing (and I believe you can't remove that from the tasks if products are involved in your package) but do not even select workflows for anything else. The only downfall to this is that I can't set up my questionnaires to go out after a certain step in the process like it is set up by default by ShootQ.

Questionnaires

This is where I rock out ShootQ like nobody's business. Besides being able to e-sign contracts, this is one of the key elements of ShootQ that has kept me with them. I have a set of 5 questionnaires that I send out. Since I have eliminated the workflow, I have a reminder on my calendar to send them out 2 weeks before the wedding (often I will send them out a month out but not any earlier unless they request them since things change). Here are the 5 questionnaires I send and some questions from each:

  1. Questions about the Bride & Groom or Couple: I have two of these questionnaires that are identical, the "couple" one is specifically for same-sex couples. Examples of questions from this section are full names, email and mailing addresses of the couple, if the bride plans on changing her name and if so, what to (this plays a part in the proof book making as I had a client early in my career tell me that she did not change her last name so the Bride & Groom Groomslastname on the cover of the proof book wasn't her true name, whoops!) and mailing addresses for the couple after the wedding.

  2. Wedding Vendors: Whenever I blog, I also list the vendors I work with so this information is key to me for that aspect of the process. I also like to know in advance if I'm working with particular vendors I love (or to be honest, don't love). I also like to know ahead of time if I'm working with a vendor that has been known to mess up the timeline of a day (make up artist, hairstylist) so I can plan ahead. Make sure to include the easy-to-remember vendors such as florist, baker, venues and entertainment but don't forget key players that can make your day fantastic or miserable like the videographer, transportation and salons. Note: I do NOT use the wedding vendor files that ShootQ has in relationships, I use plain text entry for these.

  3. Ceremony and Reception: These are the key places you have to be the day of the wedding and I dedicate an entire questionnaire to them to get the most information I can so I'm not asking questions later. Examples of questions I ask are name, address, phone numbers and main contact info for both venues, start time for both events, approx length of ceremony, if there are any restrictions for photography at the ceremony (this is key as you need to make the couple aware BEFORE the ceremony that there may be restrictions), if there is a receiving line, what time the couple want to be at the reception by (since this often is different than the start time, some miss cocktail hour, some do not want to) and if I am being fed and if so if I'm seated with guests or in a vendor room (another key question so I know ahead of time where to look for a seat if I have one and to also put a bug in their ear that they need to think about where I'll be during dinner).

  4. Photography Questions: This is an obvious one that gets its own section but one that definitely needs to be addressed! Examples of questions are time, location and address of where I am to arrive, if the couple is seeing each other before hand and if so, where and when, how much time is set aside for photographs, which family formals they want taken and I suggest having a "point person" to round everyone up (this is a HUGE help, since I started including the snippet about having a point person my formals have been MUCH easier as there is always an Aunt Betty that is DYING to help with the wedding somehow), if there are divorces or deaths I need to know about so not to embarrass someone and if there are divorces if they are willing to be in a photograph together or will want to be photographed separately (some divorced parents are cool with being photographed together with their son, some react like a cat being thrown into water), locations chosen for photographs and addresses and if there are any special details I need to make sure to photograph.

  5. Misc Wedding Day Questions: The final questionnaire is one that is somewhat of a hodge podge of items but all things that I like to know ahead of time. Examples of questions I ask are for a timeline of the day, wedding colors, style of dress, if the online gallery needs to be password protected or not (some don't want to bother with guest requests for the code, some want the privacy) and an open question about anything else I need to know.
Whew! I know that is a lot to take in but I hope that maybe I helped you figure out how to make your ShootQ work better for you or figure out a new tweak or two you want to try yourself.

How do YOU ShootQ? Anything I should consider doing? Let me know in the comments! I'd love your feedback!


Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista (runs Clothes for Pros, clothing suggestions for photographers), travel guru, deal hound and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.

5 comments:

  1. If you're mostly using Shootq for questionnaires, why don't you just use JotForm http://www.jotform.com ? It's free, it allows you to make as many forms as you want with unlimited entries. You can also use it for contact forms and everything else. You're saving $500 a year if you're using JotForm

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  2. How interesting - the leads, the contract, and the invoicing - along with questionnaires - are the things that make ShootQ rock my world! I used to lose leads in my email, but I don't anymore thanks to ShootQ!

    If something isn't a lead, I either delete it or mark it as dead and use the status of "Not a lead" if I want to hang on to the info to find later in ShootQ. Rare, but it helps sometimes for me.

    Also, there are WordPress Plugins that you can use to integrate the ShootQ contact form into your blog easily, and you can also add a ShootQ contact form to your Facebook Fan Page as well.

    I love that ShootQ is always developing new things, and happy to listen to comments that will help them improve!

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  3. The contracts are another thing I LOVE but I don't use them weirdly so I didn't think it was worth mentioning. I also LOVE that clients can go in and add in their own credit card payment. HUGE time save for me so I don't have to call and get it from them.

    I thought the Facebook contact info wasn't working anymore? I thought about using that but then when they changed stuff around w/ the fan pages I thought they said it didn't work.

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  4. Nope, it works - I just added it recently to my page at http://facebook.com/hotmamaboudoir - there is a Contact tab at the top people can use.

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  5. Ahhh, I love this! I've been fighting the workflows big time. I will be removing them, genious. One thing that we did was use our own contact form and as the email address used one created by shootQ so our site stays consistent but we still see the leads coming in. I think we deal with leads/fans/nonleads similar to Christine.

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