A few years ago, I was getting burned out from my dream job as a wedding photographer. My day-to-day life was filled with computer work (solitude) and client meetings on most nights and weekends. The word hustle really applied to what I was doing daily.
Something needed to change.
At the same time, I had a big birthday and realized that I had been talking about visiting cousins in Africa for over 20 years! It was time to make that dream trip a reality before another 20 years passed in a flash.
I wanted to travel while I was still really healthy and finally take that bucket-list trip.
This journey started me down the path of learning all about travel hacking using rewards points and how to streamline & automate my business tasks so I could travel more without my business suffering.
What was most amazing was how much time I had freed up in my business upon my return thanks to automation of tasks (and how many extra frequent flier miles I accrued).
Thankfully, I now get to work remotely from anywhere with a decent internet connection and many of my business tasks are happening on auto pilot. I’ve even been back to Africa!
**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. All recommendations and opinions are my own and I personally use each product.**
Work Remotely with Automation
1. Social Media Automation
There are two tools that I LOVE LOVE LOVE for automating my social media marketing and both save me so much time marketing online.
It is a one-two punch of MissingLettr and Later, which together cover all of the marketing channels I use to share my blog & YouTube content online.
- MissingLetter pulls content and images from my new blog posts automatically and I can schedule an entire year’s worth of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn posts within just a few minutes. Afterwards, the software sends those assets to me to use again…
- Later allows me to schedule out Instagram and Pinterest content, using images from MissingLettr’s assets or other images. The free version allows up to 30 posts and their calendar feature is easy to use.
-->> Using these two automation tools enables me to be social and engaging when I’m on social media naturally since I don’t need to worry about posting my promotional material.
2. Zoom video conferencing
What software tools do I use for working remotely around the world and staying in touch with my clients?
The answer is ZOOM! This video chat software is so much more powerful than Skype or FaceTime for client calls. I’m using this for my photography business when I need to sell photography on the road as well as my coaching client meetings.
Zoom offers these amazing tools:
- selective screen sharing
- recording the call
- multiple attendees
- chat feature
- document sharing
- and so much more
The main features that I use with Zoom are the screen sharing and recording.
When I need to sell my photography virtually, I can manage the client meeting exactly as I would in-person and show the client their photos and what we will do with them in their home.
-->> They see on screen what I see on screen so that we are always on the same page.
It’s also how I meet prospective photography and coaching clients so we can each get that know/like/trust factor without being in the same room (or city).
Each meeting is recorded and placed on my YouTube channel as an unlisted video for my coaching client’s future reference.
3. Organization: Airtable vs. Evernote
Oh, man. I’ve been blogging for nearly two decades and have tried so many ways to stay organized with all of my blog post links.
Then, I tried a Google spreadsheet and also Trello. Both had me defaulting back to my Evernote document for my website links.
Now, I use and love Airtable for staying organized with content creation. Everything that I need is in one place, organized, and logical. I can sort by field or by name and doing research for blog post topics is a breeze.
-->> Add the fact that I can share the tables with any collaboration opportunities and this makes it a no-brainer.
4. Acuity Scheduling
For nearly two decades, I’ve gone back and forth with clients to find the perfect time to meet in-person or over the phone.
Over the years, I learned the best way to handle this with a new client inquiry was to sign off the initial email with a time and date: “Are you available Tuesday at 2 pm for a meeting?”
This tactic worked great at getting them to respond, however, I still needed to follow up with details such as where/how to meet and a short questionnaire.
Now that I work remotely, I’m using Acuity Scheduling, which allows clients to:
- see my availability
- pick a time (in their time zone)
- automates any onboarding questions
- send them my Zoom link
- adds the meeting to my calendar
- and sends a post-meeting follow-up questionnaire.
The emails back and forth have ended and my time is automatically freed up!
5. Bookkeeping & Billing: Tave
-->> I’ve said it many times before… the key to sales is to make it easy for clients to give you money.
What I love about Tave is that there is a contact form that I can customize and embed onto my website and it automatically pulls the client information into the software. From there, I can respond to their email with a template & send a quote.
The client can modify or accept the quote, which triggers the software to send them a contract, questionnaire, and a bill to receive the retainer.
Within 5 minutes of inquiry, I can book a wedding or coaching client!
Once, I was in my pajamas at my parent’s lake house and that’s exactly what happened. I’ve been sold ever since.
It’s also wonderful that the automated software sends out email reminders for upcoming payments due, which takes the awkwardness out of asking clients to send me money.
6. ConvertKit Email Marketing
The key to working remotely with a location independent lifestyle and business is to pretend to be working while you are actually traveling or exploring.
Automating my email newsletter is one of the major ways that I can still show up for my audience and not have to be doing it live each week.
ConvertKit is my email marketing provider of choice because I can see visually how all of my automations, sequences, and marketing funnels are working together.
How I automate my email newsletters is to have a ‘forever newsletter’.
Recently, I realized that as people opted into my email list, they may have missed a really well written newsletter that was recently sent.
So, I decided to turn the automation sequences within ConvertKit into my newsletter instead.
This way, whenever they join me on the journey, they go through a funnel of powerfully written emails each and every week, without missing anything important.
Additionally, this frees up time each week with coming up with my newsletter topics. Now, I just sit down when I’m in the right kind of mood for writing and I power through about a dozen great emails and add them to the end of the forever newsletter funnel.
7. Dropbox Cloud Storage
Do you ever walk around a store or a place without WiFi and wish you had a file or photo to show someone else?? Or maybe you have a desktop and a laptop and a phone and want to be able to work on a file wherever you are and have it automatically be synced in the other places?
That is exactly why I use Dropbox for EVERYTHING. My entire business runs on Dropbox cloud storage and I’d be lost without it, especially as I work remotely.
It has a desktop app/folder and I can choose which folders are on my hard drive and I can set some to be only hosted online at Dropbox.com. The flexibility is phenomenal.
These are the main features that I use:
- Sending a wedding album design to a client for their notes/approval.
- Sharing photos with wedding vendors or clients.
- Accessing photo files to print while on the road as a client places an order.
- Current projects in process, so I can work from the plane/train/etc. without an internet connection. The file changes automatically sync when I’m back online.
- I store all of my social media and business graphics for quick access anytime.
8. Google Drive
Though I prefer Dropbox for 99% of things, I do still use Google Drive for sharing content with others, especially if it is a collaborative writing/blogging project.
What I don’t love about Google Drive is that sharing photos is not a smooth process, so I use Dropbox for file sharing.
Google drive is great though for having a joint venture project online in one folder and it has robust software features.
With Google Drive, you can create spreadsheets, presentation slides, notes of all sorts, PDFs, and so much more.
BONUS Work Remotely TOOL: YouTube
The #1 thing that has freed up my time as a wedding photographer has been my YouTube channel!
Why, oh why, did I not start using video earlier??
When I began recording videos and dabbling with YouTube, I learned the process and video editing skills on my current wedding photography business content.
In turn, that ended up removing most client meetings from my life and I friggin love having my nights and weekends back.
I started with standard meetings that all of my clients had to come to me for… like seeing my wedding albums in-person.
So, I recorded a video on the different wedding albums that I offered and I recorded the video exactly as I would explain it to my client if they were in my home.
Now, I just send that video to them and they can watch it at their leisure.
This has made my need for showing products in-person no longer necessary.
My clients love it and I love it.
-->> If they still want to meet, we just do a Zoom video call! Perfect!
What are your must-have software tools for automating your business?
Thankfully, I was able to go back to Africa a second time for yet another month, and recently I just returned from nearly a month in Newfoundland.
There, I worked on the rainy and cold days from my sister’s in-law’s dining room table. It has been a dream to be able to work and travel at the same time, while staying productive with my marketing efforts and client calls.
What tools are you using to get out from under the hustle of your most boring business tasks?