Since reading The E-Myth Revisited a few years back, I've been on a mission to systematize every part of my business. Some facets of my business have proved easier to systematize than others. When it comes to our wedding workflow, the last remaining hold-out has long been systematizing our publication submissions. Until now. Today I'm checking goal #7 off my 101 in 1001 list: Develop a better system for submitting to wedding publications.

We put this on our workflow for EVERY wedding because we want to make sure it happens EVERY time. That's the only way to ensure that the things you want to do consistently, actually happen. The goal I've set for my business is to get every wedding I shoot published either in print or on a wedding blog. Getting real weddings published in magazines or on wedding blogs can be great exposure. It can build buzz for your brand, get your work in front of potential clients and industry professionals and can be a low-cost form of marketing. Initially, many of my opportunities for getting my work published dropped in my lap but since discovering how helpful it can be, I've made an effort to learn more about publication submissions and make them a regular part of my workflow. If you're interested in seeing some of the places my work has been published, click here to go to the press section of the website.

I'm sure there is more than one way to systematize publication submissions, but this is what I came up with. And PLEASE know, as you're reading this, that I did not come up with this overnight. This is a goal I've been working on for at least three years. Last year Sara came on full-time and we made this one of our main goals for 2011. So I know it's a lot but it was developed over time. Here is our system:

1 -- Sara has created a massive spreadsheet -- actually 4 -- that help us organize this venture:

Spreadsheet #1 -- A list of all the print magazines we are interested in being featured in along with the following info for each magazine: Whether or not they are on Two Bright Lights, whether or not they are exclusive (requiring that no other publication features the same wedding), the editor's name and contact info, the website, whether they also have a blog, their publication submission deadlines, the format they like to receive submissions in and what type of style/content they desire.

Spreadsheet #2 -- Similar to #1 but delineates all of this information for the wedding blogs we are interested in being featured in. In addition to the above info, we also have a field where we keep track of which blogs accept engagement shoot submissions.

Spreadsheet #3 -- A list of all our weddings that are currently submitted and those that are pending. It lists the wedding date, the publication submitted to, the date of submission and the status of the submission.

Spreadsheet #4 -- Titled "published," this spreadsheet is basically a list of all the weddings (moved from spreadsheet #3) that have been successfully published. This helps us keep track of which weddings were published where.

2 -- We include a number of steps on our wedding workflow checklist for each wedding that move us toward our goal of getting that wedding published.

#1 -- We ask our brides to fill out a vendor contact form (part of our Final Details Questionnaire) one month before the wedding that gives us all the contact info for the vendors we are working with.

#2 -- We have a "publishing plan" section of the workflow checklist (pictured above) where we choose which blog or magazine we will submit to first, second and third (in case the first or second publications don't pick it up). If we are working with a specific planner on the wedding, or with a bride who has an invested interest in where the wedding is published, I will consult with them when making this plan. That way we are all on the same page.

#3 -- After the wedding, I create a folder of 50-100 images from that wedding for publication. I choose these with our target publication in mind -- mostly including lots of details, scene-setting shots and a few portraits.

3 -- Sara follows the publishing plan and uses the folder of images I've created along with the vendor contact list when submitting. We love to use Two Bright Lights whenever possible -- if the publication is one of their editorial partners. Click here to read more about how and why we use this amazing service. If the magazine or blog does not accept submissions through Two Bright Lights, we will either use their online submission tool (if they have one) or submit via our custom publication kit.

4 -- On the 1st of every month, Sara and I have a Pub Sub Review scheduled on the calendar. "Pub Sub" is short for "Publication Submissions" and this is our time to pow-wow on the status of various submissions, review or tweak our publishing plan and pick which weddings should go to which publications. This step was the final key to making sure nothing in the system falls through the cracks, and that we keep this goal of getting published consistently in view.

Phew! Like most systems that are done well, this one took a lot of time and work to set up, but is very manageable to keep in motion now that the system is in place.

Using this system, we were able to get 8 of our 15 weddings from 2011 published and are still in process with three more. We haven't reached our goal of getting 100% of our weddings published, but I'm hopeful for 2012!

What to do next?

1. Write down any concrete goals you want to implement from this post. If you're inspired but overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, start with these simple goals:

-Sign up for Two Bright Lights and submit one wedding for publication.
-If you haven't already done so, type up your wedding workflow checklist. If you have one already, add a step or two that will aid you in getting the wedding published. If interested, you can purchase my wedding workflow checklist here and customize it for your use.

2. Leave a comment below if you have any questions or further thoughts about what has worked for you. I'd love to hear from you!

If you've found this tip helpful, click here to find out what other resources I offer photographers!
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