Whether you work in the cloud or are anchored to the desktop, you can outsource the administrative drudgery of running a studio or photo business to these powerful software apps.
With Studio Ninja, you’ll be karate-chopping your admin duties after a 30-minute setup. The cloud service supports job tracking, invoicing, online payments, automated reminders and more. You can embed its customer contact form on your website to facilitate lead tracking. Every step in the workflow is customizable so you can tailor the Ninja to your exact requirements. To start, you can import existing contacts via a dedicated CSV uploader. You can kick the tires with a 30-day free trial.
PRICE: $22/month or $215 billed annually
This web app gives you a series of workflow-based tools that lets you capture leads, generate reminders, create contacts, manage your calendar and more. The Starter version lets you have five active jobs while the Pro Photographer version bumps you to 80 and the Pro Package pushes it to 150. You’ll save 10 percent on the monthly price if you pay for your subscription annually.
PRICE: $17/month (starter); $24/month (Pro Photographer); $37/month (Pro Package)
This highly customizable solution lets you build your own dashboard by dragging and dropping various widgets containing the information you’d like to see when first logging in. The cloud-based software is integrated with payment services such as Stripe, photo services such as SmugMug and ShootProof and newsletters such as Constant Contact. You can take bookings online, send and receive digital contracts, accept payments, manage your calendar and more. The Essential tier supports a single brand with a single booking page, a single pricing page and one user. Additional tiers add more users, brands and features.
PRICE: $25/month (Essential); $35/month (Boutique); $50/month (Studio Pro)
Think of Iris as the Siri of the studio management world. Starting this year, the software will become more conversational, especially during the on-boarding process, to help photographers home in on the tasks and features best suited to grow their business. Iris will make suggestions based on feedback from power users working in similar photo disciplines so that you can maximize the software’s potential. Iris supports the full range of business functions (client leads, contracts, invoicing, etc.) but also lets you keep tabs on favorite shooting locations and has an add-on gallery function for sharing images with clients.
PRICE: $25/month or $270 billed annually
HoneyBook is stacked with a full suite of business management tools with a nice selection of automated alerts and QuickBooks integration to streamline your accounting. The browser-based tool is also accessible via an app. Besides being a business manager, HoneyBook serves as a source of creative referrals and collaboration. Users can post jobs and workshops, or find jobs and workshops in their area. You can create your own profile with a portfolio of your work.
PRICE: $34/month billed annually; $125/month (Venue)
This comprehensive cloud-based studio manager lets you build websites, gather leads, manage contacts, sign contracts, book jobs and even deliver images. The software supports payment processing, chat functions to allow real-time interaction with visitors to your website and more. These functions are mostly duplicated on the mobile app, so you can handle your business wherever you are. A Starter package includes the ability to build five projects a month and 500GB worth of web storage. The Standard tier offers unlimited projects and 1TB of storage.
PRICE: $25/month (Starter); $55/month (Standard)
Named for the multitude of hats a small-business owner must wear, 17hats houses a score of business functions under its cloud-based roof. It supports financial bookkeeping, contract building, time tracking, online payments, lead capture, templates and more. You can generate invoices and set up automated workflows to speed you through any administrative drudgery. The service supports questionnaires, a detailed contact database and online lead generation. Most of the browser-based capabilities of the 17hats are replicated on mobile apps, so you can get alerts and manage your business on the road.
PRICE: $17/month when billed annually
This cloud-based business manager is built around workflows that help you take a client from a lead to a completed job. It supports online booking, prospect questionnaires and a series of automated tools to do the work of sending invoice reminders, session and meeting reminders. You can program your own custom automations, too. Pricing for a Solo package includes support for two users and one brand, while a Boutique tier supports six users and four brands. A Studio package gets you a minimum of 10 users (and $4.99 per additional one over that) plus unlimited brands.
PRICE: $22/month (Solo); $30/month (Boutique); $44/month (Studio)
Sprout combines studio management tools with online and sales galleries and album design proofing. The studio tools let you track clients, send invoices, receive payments, create forms and questionnaires and more. You can upload images into galleries and sell them, sell prints (without giving Sprout a cut) and other products through any lab you’d like. You can make gallery templates and collect emails from visitors to your client’s gallery. You can add additional 100GB storage allotments for $10/month.
PRICE: $17/month (Lite); $34/month (Basic); $49/month (Pro); $69/month (Studio)
This robust cloud-based studio software has recently been updated to add merchandise tracking and a specialized tool for booking schools and organizations (as distinct from individual clients or engaged couples). Everything on myStratus can be synced to a mobile device and you’ll now have the ability to control how much historical data you want synced with the app. The Express tier offers standard features such as invoicing, scheduling, payment processing and email reminders. Standard and Professional subscriptions deliver additional features such as loyalty programs, online galleries, QuickBooks integration and much more. All the plans come with 5GB of online storage and secure data backups.
PRICE: $30/month (Express); $50/month (Standard); $70/month (Professional)
This budget-friendly manager offers digital contracts, invoicing, expense tracking, calendar syncing and more. It supports online payments through Square, PayPal, Stripe, Braintree Payments and Authorize.net. The cloud-based service is also available through a free iOS app.
StudioCloud checks most of the boxes you’ll need in a comprehensive studio manager, including client management tools, scheduling, invoicing, bookkeeping and project management available on your desktop, in the cloud and on mobile devices. StudioCloud supports global currencies and credit card payments alongside the ability to manage employees by creating (and tracking) security permissions. It can also track time cards. If you want the software to do the work for you, there’s a nice selection of automated functions, including personalized text and email reminders, birthday greetings, marketing promotions and more. StudioCloud is free for a single user login, but you’ll need to buy into the PartnerBoost or EmployeeBoost tier to get extra logins, free tech support, automated text reminders and more.
PRICE: $35/month (PartnerBoost); $65/month (EmployeeBoost)
This workflow-based software collects leads, manages events and conversations and has a series of “tasks” that you can create or have generated for you to keep your lead-to-client pipeline humming along. The software is integrated with Google (Drive and Calendar) as well as Dropbox and a variety of email providers. The Starter plan supports 10 events, one user and five workflows. Professional and Studio tiers offer unlimited events and workflows, plus more users, phone support and digital invoicing.
PRICE: $10/month (Starter); $20/month (Professional); $50/month (Studio)
In addition to the usual slew of business-friendly features you’d expect in a studio manager, ShootQ adds a few extras, such as support for multiple currencies, integration with QuickBooks and a module for setting up photo workshops. All of the features available on the desktop version are also accessible in a mobile app, so you can keep tabs on your business from the road. The service is free for up to 12 jobs a month for one user and one brand. Additional packages support more jobs, users and brands. The software is poised to be updated with a workflow function that will automate tasks such as email reminders to inbound leads. Also coming soon is “Flows”—which will enable you to configure ShootQ in the same manner as other successful photographers.
PRICE: $24/month billed annually (Startup);$40/month billed annually (Studio); $67/month billed annually (Hub)
Light Blue Software
Light Blue is a desktop software that brings a number of useful tools under one roof, including the ability to aggregate client emails and letters so you can keep track of your communications. You can invoice and get paid online, handle sales tax and generate detailed reports of your business activities. A Task Manager keeps you informed of upcoming to-dos. The software also supports an extensive search functionality so you can pore over your records and customer base for information. If you spring for the optional online services package, your desktop data will be synced with the cloud so it’s accessible through a web browser or mobile app.
PRICE: $430 + $12.50 or more/month for online services