Savanah Loftus - Back in my college days our instructor told us to never work for free. Any employer not willing to pay does not value the work that you do for them. I was fortunate to get paid and temporary benefits during my Herman Miller internship. Now as a professional wedding and lifestyle photography for 6 years I've hired an intern for the first time this spring/summer I couldn't imagine NOT paying him for the work that he does. All work deserves pay.
Ivy Vena - Thank you so much Melissa. Reading your process and ideas has really given me confidence that I can do this :) Awesome!!
erin walker - melissa, this just confirms what i've already been turning over in my head...i just outsourced my first wedding to be colour corrected, and i was so happy with the results! i now know that this won't take away my "creativity" or "personality" in my photos...sounds stupid, but for a long time that's really what i believed!
elijah jackson - Awesome post! I use¢ for CC
Karen - I'm seriously breathing into a paper bag right now to calm myself. I just talked w/ my tax preparer and he broached the subject of letting them do my books on a monthly basis. I know this NEEDS to happen, but it's scary to have someone else see how I do things. Am I doing it all right? Completely wrong? This is freakishly scary! But we are all holding each other's hands through this right now ... so it's gonna be OK! :)
Karen - I'm not all the way thru the book, but I keep wondering how some of what he is talking about applies to photogs. Glad you're here to break it down for us!!!!
Katie - Thanks for the great post, Melissa!! I was so excited to see my amazing post processing company listed. I've been working with MyPostPro for 2 years now and I send him 100% of my jobs. He has become a key component in my business.
Omari - MJ, Good summary and info shared with this topic. Personally, outsourcing has helped me with certain aspects of how I can efficiently run my business and it's been part of my workflow for the past 2 years as I'm still managing a full time corporate job along with wedding & portrait photography. One of the company's you listed, My Post Pro has been key to helping me with my success & having that achieve that "work-life balance". I use them for about 75% of my jobs and it helps to expedite my workflow. I still focus on color correcting and editing my favorites, but given the volume of photos/business, outsourcing allows me to focus on the things I enjoy at a cost worth my time. I would definitely recommend My Post Pro and I'm a big fan of supporting local businesses.
Melissa Jill - Thanks for your comment Tammy! I certainly don't condone taking advantage of interns. I think that paid or unpaid, the advantage is most certainly theirs when it comes to small photography businesses. The amount of training that goes into them far out-ways the benefits that they can give the business since they are usually very temporary. That's why I don't think they are the best choice for small, fledgling businesses. The time investment is just too large for the business owner and they would be better off hiring an employee that might be a more long-term solution.
Melissa Jill - Thanks for your comment and for sharing Angel! I would recommend hiring someone on a trial basis for the re-touching. If you can train them, great! You should know within the first two weeks. If not, you can try to find someone else. I'm sure you can eventually find someone who will be able to do the work to your standards. And that will be super-valuable. As for email, if you developed standard email templates, you could have an office manager respond to common inquiries. It's hard to ever fully delegate this, but this could help relieve some of it.
Tammy - I wish that you would have said more about internships rather than stating they are just, "free work." Interns are not free workers, and legally they need to follow all of the regulations set by the U.S. Department of Labor, which include the benefit being for the intern and not for you, and that the employer derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the internet, which sounds like what you would be benefitting from. Don't just sit someone down, have them do your work for you, and call them an intern. It's not right, it's not fair, and it's not legal. As photographers we ask to be taken seriously as legal businesses, so why would we take advantage of interns and say it's okay?
jenn - thank you thank you thank you! :D
Ali - I have been held back from shooting by this for so looong now! Color correction and editing! This is the best advice I've got in months probably
Jillian Ryan - Wonderful pointers!
Angel - Love this post! I am constantly trying to make my business more efficient - it's my dream to have a true "machine" in terms of things running smoothly and myself freed up to be the entrepreneur. I have experimented with several types of outsourcing. Currently I have an employee who does all design work (albums, cards, storyboards, etc.) She also does some admin work, packaging and the monthly sales tax and bookkeeping but I have an accountant for actual tax preparation. I also outsource color correction to Lavalu and have been using them a year now. And yes, the first thing I ever outsourced was house cleaning. That's a no brainer when it takes me 2 days and it takes them less than 3 hours! Here's the part I have yet to figure out… My studio specializes in full service and we offer a full line of prints, canvas, albums, etc. to our portrait and wedding clients. Everything that goes to print I retouch fully myself so the basic color corrected image goes through another round (in Photoshop.) My average is 15-20 images per hour and for each client order I am retouching anywhere from 20-80 images (wedding is the higher end.) I am VERY particular about this part as I need consistency and a totally polished image and it is what our clients expect and appreciate. I would love to step away from this technical work but outsourcing this is way too expensive plus when I tried (only once) it was not done well enough even with extensive instruction. I feel like I'd have to train someone local without knowing if they would even work out (as far as the quality of work.) I agree that the key to making outsourcing worth the $$ is to take your hands completely off that task (besides occasional management.) Anyone have any luck with outsourcing or hiring for full retouching work? Oh and I'd love to hand off some of my email inbox but have never been able to figure out a good way to do that…
Melissa Arlena - I am loving this series! Outsourcing is definitely on my to do list for 2013 after having the baby.
Shawna - Thank you for all you share. Your advice (and workshop) has changed my business so much!
myrian - You are a genius...;)
Emilia Jane - This is so helpful MJ! Thank you!!
Tomas - Thanks Mellisa. How about hire employee with your mate photographer and share expenses.