Welcome to Keeping it Candid – Wedding Photography Unfiltered for photographers who want to keep it real. I’m your host, Sandra Henderson, international wedding and family photographer and educator with a Marie Kondo-style approach to running a business – you know, keeping things simple and getting rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy!. More importantly, I’m a strong enneagram 3w2 who is obsessed with tacos, and my love for travelling is one of many things that drives my passion for all things systems, workflows, and beating burnout as a business owner. Join me twice a month for a candid, behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like working as a wedding photographer – where I’ll give you actionable steps to take your business to the next level. Absolutely no fluff here, friends! So grab your favourite notebook and pen, and let’s dive into this week’s episode.
Hello hello hello and Welcome back to Keeping It Candid!!
Like it said in the intro, I’m your host, Sandra Henderson, and on today’s short and sweet episode I’m diving into a crazy unsexy topic – but it’s one I’m super passionate about – using auto-responders! If you’re feeling tired of being tied to your inbox, this episode is for YOU! And I’ve got some news about what to expect in upcoming episodes of the podcast coming at the end so make sure you stick around until then.
Ok, so let’s talk auto-responders! Specifically for email. You can set up auto-responders for your social media business accounts like on Facebook and Instagram, but for today’s examples and takeaways I’m only going to be talking about email.
Using auto-responders as a regular part of my workflow in my photography business is something I wish I had done years earlier than I did.
I know what you’re thinking. Auto-responders can be SO impersonal, right?! At least, that’s how they used to be. But when you’re building a personal brand, it gets easier and comes naturally to incorporate that into every aspect – even your auto-responders. You can also use them to start compiling information about your clients without ever being at your computer.
So let’s talk more about what that looks like for me over at Life is Beautiful Photography:
First, my general auto-responder. This is the easiest place to get started if you’re wanting to start implementing these into your email workflow, too!
My general auto-responder is built into my Google email platform, and it gives anyone emailing me the information they need to set their expectations from the very beginning. I say hello, let them know when I’m typically in my inbox, and most importantly – when they can expect to hear back from me.
If you head over to my website – simplysandrayvonne.ca/templates you can get your hands on a free email template. This is the exact email auto-responder I’ve been using for the last three years! All you need to do is copy and paste it into places like with your email provider and inside your CRM system, and adjust it to include your business practices.
I let people know to expect 1-2 business days for a response from me. This timeframe suits my needs because navigating a chronic illness as a business owner means I need a built-in emergency plans wherever I can. I don’t always know when to expect a bad day so having 1-2 business days to respond lets me step away from my inbox guilt-free, and makes it easier to pop back in quickly to take care of anything that might be time-sensitive.
By getting specific about replies going out on business days, I’m also letting people know not to expect a reply over the weekend. I’m either out behind my camera or taking time off, and in either scenario I’m not popping into my inbox.
Now, I do want to mention that this doesn’t mean I NEVER reply faster than 1-2 business days. If something is urgent or if I have time to be in my inbox, I will definitely reply sooner. But the important thing is that the boudary has been set, client expectations have been set, and anything that happens to exceed those expectations only improves the experience my clients have during their time with me.
Now before we get into the other way I’m using auto-responders, I think it needs to be said:
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to reply to an email right away.
If someone can’t wait 1-2 business days for a reply for a non-urgent question, we aren’t the right fit. Plain and simple. I can’t be in my inbox all day, every day, readily available to every single client I have at a moment’s notice. It’s just not possible.
I once had a colleague ask me if I was worried about losing out on new business because someone else replied faster than me, and the simple answer is, no. I’m not worried. At all. It’s happened before and I’m sure it’s going to happen again.
The reality is, that person ultimately wasn’t invested in hiring ME. They were looking to hire any photographer that was available. I would much rather work with couples who are as invested in working with me as I am with them.
What’s more important than replying right away is setting boundaries that work for you. You’ll find the people who work the same way, too! You’re going to be able to show up and deliver a much better experience every time if you work within your limitations and not anyone else’s.
That goes double for my chronic illness friends! You need to build flexibility into your schedule to help you prepare as best you can for those unexpected flare ups and off-days.
Ok – so the other way I’m using auto-responders is for wedding photography inquiries from potential clients. I have a different auto-responder that goes out, and this one built right into a Honeybook automation.
So anyone inquiring for photos through my contact form on my website not only receives a more detailed email where I’ve included the same information about when to expect a response, and my mission statement so they know what we’re all about, they also receive a link to a questionnaire so I can start collecting important information from them right away.
I ask some get-to-know you type questions, where they’re getting married and what their wedding date is.
I also ask if they have a budget for their wedding photos.
Questions like this are so important to make sure my team is available, and to make sure we aren’t wasting anyone’s time – ours or the couples’ – if their budget is significantly lower than what our collections are starting at.
It helps me personalize my actual response to them, too, and I can start getting ideas for what collections and options will suit them best, which will help with my sales process down the road.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get started with automations and workflows in your business, implementing auto-responders is the perfect place to start. It takes 5 minutes to put together a general auto-responder withing your email provider! And according to GetResponse and Hubspot, single-reply auto-responder emails have a 98% open rate. Which is huge! In email marketing you are not going to get numbers that high, so you can see the benefit of this.
It’s the easiest tweak you can make to the way you do things to start gaining more peace in your life and still continue to serve your clients in the best way possible along the way.
Don’t forget to head to simplysandrayvonne.ca/templates to get your copy of my auto-responder template!
And before we wrap things up, I mentioned at the beginning of the episode that I had some news about what’s coming up on Keeping It Candid!
We’re celebrating our 10th episode in September and I’m so excited to be changing things up a little bit… I have some amazing guests lined up and I can’t wait to share their interviews with you! That’s all starting on the next episode, so make sure you check back in two weeks!
Thanks so much for listening to Keeping It Candid: Wedding Photography Unfiltered with Sandra Henderson! You can find full show notes from today’s episode at simplysandrayvonne.ca/keepingitcandid. In the meantime – let’s connect! You can find me on Instagram @simplysandrayvonne, and on Facebook in the Wedding Photography Unfiltered community! If you’re loving this podcast, I’d be so honoured if you’d go ahead and hit that subscribe button and leave me a review!
Until next time!