Black Friday Event: 15% off the Frame Shop and the Paper Shop!

Posted on November 26, 2014

Black Friday store tramplings? We’re not into that either. Which is why we suggest you save from the comfort of your cozy home with our 72-hour Black Friday sales event, offering 15% off the entire Paper Shop and Frame Shop (offer not valid in the main Design Aglow Shop). From November 26 (12:01am PST) through November 28 (11:59pm PST), stock up on bags, boxes, and frames.

No exclusions! No limits!

So put on your best sweatpants (what? we all know that turkey didn’t eat itself) and grab that extra slice of pumpkin pie (we’re not here to judge): it’s time to stock up on your packaging and frame needs for the new year before 2015 pricing kicks in.

Now’s your chance to think big,
because this opportunity won’t come around for another year.

Visit the Paper Shop and Frame Shop now and take advantage of this one time opportunity by entering this code and hitting "APPLY" during checkout: THANKFUL
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10 Productivity Tips for Photographers

Posted on November 24, 2014

How do you manage difficult clients? What should you spend less time doing? Did you know hiring this type of person to do a particular task can drastically improve your business? With dozens of tips for workflow, productivity and life, we compiled our best productivity hacks--both monumental and miniscule--that add up to lots of reclaimed time and energy.

We know that good habits, best practices and smart shortcuts free up brain space in and out of the studio, so you can concentrate on the rewarding things in life, from selling the poses to smelling the roses.

Squeeze the day: Extract every moment of enjoyment and productivity possible out of your day with our top 10 tips from our Productivity Studio Success Guide...

1. Write down all the tasks you need to accomplish on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly level.
No matter how small the task or goal, if you don’t write it down it’s clogging up your thought processes because your brain is working to remember it . Everything from “Call John Smith at 3 pm today” to big picture items like “Take a vacation this summer” should be written down in an organized calendar. We’re obviously partial to The Big Picture for keeping your tasks close at hand.

2. Block off set times when you are the most productive or creative.
Shut down everything else during this time, including e-mail, social media, or any other distractions that keep you from performing at your best. Use this time as a set appointment and treat it as you would if you were meeting with a client. For instance, you have a “productivity” meeting from 10am-12pm every day and during this time work on nothing else but what you MUST get done. Schedule this time on your calendar and commit to it!

3. Use email signatures to respond quickly (and automatically) to frequently asked questions.
Cut and paste your responses into a signature template, then append the template to your reply so you don’t have to type out the same paragraph 5 times a day.

4. Outsource beyond photo editing.
Don’t like to do laundry? Hate cleaning your house? Hire someone else to do it. Say your business is netting you $50 an hour. Is it worth spending your time at mundane, terrible tasks if you can hire someone at your rate to do it for you (and they enjoy doing it)? Take that hour you’d spend on laundry and work on something else for your business, such as having coffee with a local networking contact or making a trip to one of your favorite local boutiques to drop off business cards and marketing materials.

5. Clean house with your friendships (and not just on Facebook!).
Rid yourself of any toxic people who only add negativity to your life. Surround yourself with people who encourage you and are supportive of your life and your business. Take Jim Rohn’s quote “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” to heart, and choose your relationships accordingly.

6. Keep a tidy office.
Time spent searching for supplies, paperwork, packaging, etc. is time--and money--wasted. If you need to clean your office, put one drawer (or one corner) at a time on your to-do list until your entire space is clean. We find it helpful to have an empty desktop, and only pull out the file/documents/project you are currently working on (and put it away as soon as you move onto your next task).

7. Establish a rock-solid set of studio policies and make sure you discuss them with each client.
Almost all client and business miscommunications can easily be avoided with the simple preliminary measure of instituting strong policies. With a little foresight, you can ensure business success before you even interact with a client.

8. As soon as you download image files to your computer, organize them!
Don’t put them on your desktop (see tip #2). File them immediately in the appropriate folder, and rename them. For renaming, we like to use the name of the client_month/year, like “smith_0114_001 .” Lightroom or Bridge makes this process easy.

9. Don't leave your email or social media open in the background while you're working on the computer.
Check your e-mail 2-3 times a day at specific times (unless you’re waiting for something super important). STAY OFF Facebook. Unless you’re specifically interacting with clients, check Facebook 2-3 times a day so that you don’t get sucked into watching 20 videos of goats eating Doritos. To turn it all off, disable your internet access with Freedom, a browser blocking app that locks you out for up to 8 hours at a time. Be gone, piano playing cats!

10. Learn to say no.
Lots of people preach it, but very few actually practice it. Instead of immediately saying “Sure! I’d love to” when someone asks you to commit your time to a project or cause, make your automatic reaction a kind but firm “Can I think about it and get back to you? I’m pretty scheduled right now.” Then give yourself permission to say “thanks for thinking of me, but I can’t commit to something else at the moment.” Which is a really nice way of saying no.

Hungry for more advice? Check out our Studio Success Guide: 50 Best Productivity Tips in the shop today.

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10 Things Every Photographer (In Business) Needs

Posted on November 21, 2014

As business professionals in the photography industry, we love it when a plan comes together. We want you to not merely survive; we want you to thrive. “Where to begin?” you ask. Here, with our ten essentials for ultimate studio preparation for success. These items can mean the difference between business success and failure. So, pay attention, friends….we’ve got you.

1. A Business Plan
Where will you be in 6, 12, 18 months? No idea? You need to set goals if you want to experience success. Having a solid business plan in place not only keeps your business on track, it ensures your goals are both relevant and attainable. Your plan must be more than goals, though; it should share the necessary steps for implementation, your mission statement, branding words and timelines for success. Since reading up on business planning is important (and because reading is fundamental), we highly recommend this book. Resources like this makes this potentially daunting task much more fun and creative, but still with a solid outcome: a roadmap to success vis a vis your business plan.

2. Back up equipment
Picture this: you’re shooting a wedding ceremony when, all of a sudden, your camera completely conks out. You don't have time to troubleshoot, and you don't have a spare camera. Can you say panic attack? Worse yet, lawsuit? Avoid gear gaffes by preparing for disasters with back up equipment. We like to keep extras of the last version of camera bodies as back up when we upgrade to the new ones, but If you don’t have the funds to get two of each, buy a lesser (or used) version of your camera, lenses, flash, etc. Pack along an extra camera body, lenses, spare batteries and extra memory cards. It’s also a good idea that your main camera body have two card slots for memory card fails. Trust us…they will.

3. Insurance
Reliable insurance is incredibly important when you own a business. To protect your finances, invest in quality business insurance which covers your livelihood as well as your equipment. A stolen bag filled with $5,000+ in camera gear could mean the end of your business in less than sixty seconds. Don’t know where to begin? Talk to your homeowners insurance agent, ask your local photography guild, or see if any of your industry affiliations offer insurance benefits. Here’s a good resource for understanding the various types of insurance for photographers.

4. A Solid Legal Contract
Help yourself help your clients by providing the most complete legal contract possible. Difficult situations, nightmare clients and communication issues invariably crop up (ask any photographer who’s been in business at least a year). These days, you need to be ready for anything at any time. Save yourself time, money, and hassle by providing clients with a bulletproof legal contract which includes easy-to-understand timelines, prices and "what to expect" policies. For maximum efficiency and safeguarding, Design Aglow offers different contracts for portrait and wedding photographers here and here.

5. The Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is an engaging 30-60 second summary which tells what you do and why you’re the right person for your client’s needs. It sounds simple, but condensing years of experience into a few, high impact sentences can be a challenge for even the most eloquent person. Start by writing down the best way to describe your field, sharing your relevant skills, work experiences and accomplishments with your ideal client. Most importantly, practice ensures your pitch will sound natural and not like an infomercial. “The purpose of the pitch isn’t necessarily to move others to adopt your idea, it’s to offer something so compelling it begins a conversation,” according to New York Times bestselling author, Daniel Pink.

6. Organizational Systems
Because keeping track of every client in your system is critical, a studio workflow system should be the foundation of your daily business. Having a set series of intentional steps for inquiries, session consultations and processing is the smart way to work less, and it ensures you’re productive, streamlined and 100% efficient. See how a smart studio workflow system and studio planner helps the most successful photographers plan and stay on track. (It feels great!)

7. A Point of Differentiation
What happens when you Google: Your Town Name + Photographer? It's no secret the photography industry is over-saturated. Still, it doesn’t pay to worry about the competition, so why not stand out instead? Providing something special means crafting your brand, marketing, and point of differentiation with care and intention. Offer a high-end, custom boutique experience which shows off your studio’s signature, high quality products clients can't find anywhere else. Finally, consider how companies like Neiman Marcus, Mercedes or Ritz Carlton position themselves as tops in their fields. They aren’t competing on price, are they?

8. Sample Products
Offer clients something that brings digital files to life in a physical way. Irresistible albums, wall galleries and museum canvas showpieces are items to enjoy and treasure for years to come, and selling is easy when you offer in-person ordering sessions (and customized recommendations) with samples of your most coveted products. Not sure where to get started? Get support every step of the way with Selling Without A Studio or a Studio Look Book. Remember: Anyone can give away the digital disk; not everyone can create valuable, memorable products.

9. Professional Website
Your website is often the first (or the last) impression potential clients get of you and your work. Ensure success by presenting a professional, easy-to-navigate website which shows off your portfolio, blog, client galleries and highlights why clients want you. We recommend the gorgeous, SEO ready and user-friendly photographer website templates by Prophoto, who set the industry standard in online presentation. Fully customizable and created just for photographers, Prophoto is an affordable solution to a professional, polished presence. See our favorite ProPhoto templates here.

Starting out and need a super simple, affordable and polished first site? Check out Squarespace and have your sleek and intuitive site up and running in just a few hours.

10. An experienced CPA
Want to squander your entire year's profit? Mess up your taxes. If we had a dollar for every time we’ve heard “I didn’t know I was supposed to budget more for April 15th,” we’d be even further ahead on next year’s tax payments. Sleep easier at night putting the right experts on your team. Garner a relationship with a knowledgeable and experienced Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who can save you money and time. Good CPAs can also show you where to reinvest your profits and where you can budget for the future. Ask the most successful business people you know for their recommendations, ask your local photography guild, or ask if any of your industry affiliations offer CPA services.

Feeling a little overwhelmed by information? First, take a deep breath. The good news is these easy, actionable items can be phased in if you’re already up and running. If you can only employ one action item at a time, and start prioritize according to what makes sense for you and your business model. Need more support? Subscribe to the Design Aglow VIP Newsletter to keep you up to date and motivated each week!

What tips have made all the difference in your business? We love to hear from you, and we might even feature you!

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The BEST studio planner just got even better

Posted on November 18, 2014


2015 is your year to organize and achieve! Turn your ideas and goals into actionable accomplishments with our simple and effective system for getting things done.

Other planners on the market just don’t take into account the specific needs of photographers and their businesses. Our expanded Big Picture’s gorgeous aesthetic and practical approach will change your life.

Let Design Aglow set you up for success in workflow, planning, marketing and your unique “big picture” goals every single day! Use this planner in 2015, and set yourself up for success for many years to come.

With a 100% customizable format, start planning with The Big Picture right away, for a fresh design that allows you to fill in your own dates for any year. What’s more, we’ve even added new features for 2015, including all new covers and daily pages, successful marketing resources, blog and social trackers, and a bucket list for everything from daring travel to tiramisu.

Then, once you’ve personalized The Big Picture with your choice of cover and other customizable components, keep yourself accountable by joining our exclusive 2015 Big Picture Facebook community, included with your purchase!

The Big Picture at a glance:

  • 40+ printable and fully customizable PDF pages (binder not included)
  • 16 page how-to tutorial, Setting Yourself Up for Success, guides you through our proven method of transforming your goals into achievements
  • Dozens of smart tips for living more productively
  • 8 brilliantly designed sections tailored for today’s professional photographer: Daily & Weekly Planner, Monthly Planner, Contacts, Workflow, Marketing, Financial, Resources, Inspiration, and Notes
  • 3 unique, brandable cover options
  • 6 smart worksheets for strategic planning: plot your Big Picture goals, goal actions, annual marketing goals, current and future marketing campaigns, social media tracking, and website & blog analytics
  • And so much more...

New for 2015:

  • All new cover pages with quotes and images
  • Updated Blog & Social trackers
  • 2016 Year At A Glance
  • Expanded 2-Page Week-At-A-Glance
  • My Bucket List Page
  • Extra Daily Page option (with To-Do & Personal sections)

BONUS: Access to the exclusive 2014 Design Aglow Big Picture private Facebook community to keep you on track, motivated and supported 24/7

Click here to get your own Big Picture Planner and get organized today!

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Win a Seat to the Develop Retreat!

Posted on November 14, 2014


A unique three-day photography retreat for women hosted by Kat Theis of Mustard Seed Photography and Katie Lamb Photography, designed for photographers who are looking to transform their business, develop meaningful client experiences, and strengthen their brand - all while creating a strong sense of community among their fellow creatives. 

January’s workshop has a new and unique focus, diving heavily into the business side of our industry. Our retreat will uncover all of the hidden challenges we face when we are not behind the camera. From profit to pricing to taxes and savings, this exclusive retreat is perfect for any photographer looking to transform their business into a profitable profession.  With group activities, breakout sessions, games, brainstorming, lots of informative speakers and so much more – no stone will be left unturned during these exciting three days!

WORKSHOP DATES: January 10th through 12th, 2015

LOCATION: Hardy Bottom Ranch in New Waverly, Texas

Nestled between acres of Texas countryside and a picturesque tree farm, the New Waverly Ranch House offers some of the most breathtaking views of the Texas landscape. With plenty of rolling plains and rustic scenery to make any photographers heart flutter – it is the perfect home for 2015′s Develop Retreat – Business Edition.

GIVEAWAY: One lucky winner will gain free entry to attend this incredible workshop - A $1500 value, including all meals and sleeping accommodations. (Transportation costs to the retreat not included.)

TO ENTER: Contest is now closed.

CONGRATULATIONS to Lynzy Coughlin of Sparkling Footsteps Photography for winning the free seat to the Develop Retreat! Enjoy!

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