My name is Matthew Hamilton and I am the owner of MHamiltonVisuals, a portrait photography company that specializes in headshots for business professionals and actors.
As professional photographers we spend a tremendous amount of time working the business end of our business as opposed to actually taking photos. In my quest to lower the amount of time I spend on mundane tasks throughout the day, I started to think about automating the scheduling portion of my business.
There are plenty of companies that offer this type of service but the gist of what I needed was a calendar that I could have on my website that allowed people to pay for their session time directly through it. After doing hours of research and talking with photographer friends, I found that Acuity Scheduling offers the most features and works the best for what my business needs.
The power of Acuity:
Acuity is a fully customizable scheduling system that is used to make it as easy as possible for someone to schedule a shoot with you! You have control over everything from your brand colors that show up on the calendar, to what days it shows you are available. Let’s not forget the main reason I wanted to implement a scheduling system for my business, was to automate certain tasks I hated doing myself.
With Acuity, you can put the calendar onto your website and send potential clients to that specific page to schedule with you (more on this later). There is no back and forth about times you are available. There is no talking about how much the shoot will cost, and most importantly there is no figuring out how to take a deposit for the session. One of my favorite Acuity features is automatically blocking off times for shoots once a new event is added to my synced personal calendar.
I usually shoot on the weekends so my Acuity calendar will show that I am available those dates. Let’s say I have someplace I need to be Saturday afternoon. Once my “outside of work” event is put onto my private calendar, it will sync up with my Acuity business one and show that I am not available during that time. It is a huge burden lifted off of my shoulders to know that everything is automated and working how it should. This is an incredibly powerful tool that saves me a lot of headaches.
Implementing the scheduler:
So you now have an Acuity subscription, how do you start using it? First you will need to link a payment method to your acuity account, otherwise, how are people supposed to pay for the services you offer? Both of the big credit card processors, Stripe and Square, are supported.
I personally use Stripe but either will work great for what we need them to do. Once you link your credit card processor to your Acuity account you can decide whether you want to just take a deposit up front or if you want to take the whole payment at the time of booking.
I would strongly suggest you at least take something up front to hold the date and time. This is a great way to reduce the amount of no shows or reschedules you have to deal with.
Anyway! Back to Acuity!
As I alluded to earlier, you can place the Acuity calendar onto your site directly. All you need to do is copy a list of code, Acuity supplies you with, and paste it into a code block on your website. Most website builders will allow you to create a section on your website with the use of code (Squarespace, WordPress, Divi all allow for this). Boom! You are ready to begin to have clients schedule a shoot with you straight through your website.
The day to day of using it:
The absolute best feeling in the photography business world is waking up to a new booking. This happens better and easier than ever, with Acuity. People land on my website at all sorts of strange hours during the day. I can be out to dinner with my family and check my phone and see someone scheduled a session with me. I never talked to this person, they never asked how much the shoot cost, and they never asked me where my studio was located, but I have money in my Stripe account coming my way because of it! Now a lot of this information is on my website in other places outside of Acuity but the scheduler is at the heart of the whole system. People can land on my website, like what they see, hit the book now button, book and pay for their session, all online through my site without ever having to email me or pick up their phone. It is much easier for leads to fulfill the main task we want them to, book a session with us!
As you can see Acuity makes your business run smoother than ever. It has helped me keep my head on straight while running my business and I am certain it can do the same for you. I also monitor online activity of my employees, so I can make sure that they’re productive and efficient while working for my business. Its simplicity helps potential clients see your availability and book a shoot easily. It is a must have for my business these days and in my opinion any photography related business. If you have any questions about how I use Acuity for my business or how it could be beneficial for yours, reach out to me! I would love to chat about it!