Last Updated on February 15, 2021 by Jose Barrios
Real estate photographers have very different needs from other photographers, especially when it comes to booking a photo shoot.
Unlike wedding or event photographers, real estate photographers tend to services with fixed prices. Pricing is usually determined by home size and addons like drone aerial photos or twilight photos.
You can read more about how to price your services here.
What you need in a scheduling software
For us real estate photographers, having scheduling software is a must. Clients being able to set up their own appointments and pay online is essential for business.
In real estate photography, we never sell prints or have online galleries for individual image purchases, so features like image galleries and individual photo purchases are not necessary.
We do use online services for creating property flyers, virtual tours, and video, but that is beyond the scope of this article.
Key features to look out for:
- WordPress or website embedding
- Online calendar syncing
- Multiple calendar management
- Online meeting integration
- Integration for invoicing and accounting software
- Bulk email integration
- Online payment integration
- Allow tips
- Offer coupons
- Offer add-on products
- Intake questionnaire or form
- Scheduling software options
WordPress or website embedding
Word Press is the most used CMS system in the world and chances are that you are using it on your website. A good online booking system should allow for embedding of the scheduling app on your website with ease.
The embedded scheduler should also be dynamically updated from the booking platform. This allows you to update things such as pricing and packages without having to resort to modifying your website or paying a website developer to do it for you.
This feature alone can save you hundreds of dollars in saved time and labor.
Online calendar syncing
A must-have key feature is an integration with your calendar system, be it Gmail’s or iCloud’s calendar.
This allows for a hands-off experience, by having the app keep you updated about your appointments with your clients, eliminating the need to jump into the appointment app each time you want to check your schedule.
If you are like me automatic calendar integration is a must!
Multiple calendar management
Just as important for your photography business is the ability to handle multiple appointment calendars, especially if you have more than one photographer or location.
This feature allows you to not be overbooked, or worse yet, underbooked for a day. It also makes sure that your team members are automatically updated about their future photoshoots.
Online meeting integration
Having an app that can integrate with online meeting platforms like GoToMeeting, Zoom, or Join.me is a must in today’s world. Long gone are the days of in-face meetings as more and more people work from home.
Integration for invoicing and accounting software
Time is money, and time spent managing your business is time not spent getting new photography customers or taking photos.
Being able to export all your transactions to software such as QuickBooks is a real time-saver, and your accountant will love you for it. Transcribing your billing to accounting software is not fun or efficient.
Accounting software can also give you a better picture of how your business is performing. By keeping track of customers and what they bought you will be able to identify and concentrate on trends or geographic areas and not waste your time on products that don’t sell.
Bulk email integration
The best way to lose customers is to not contact them anymore, out of sight is out of mind.
Your biggest asset is your existing customers, and you must stay engaged with them. They are not only your source of future business, but they also are your best referral partners.
Emailing platforms allow you to keep your mail list current by automatically updating it with new customers. They also keep you compliant with email sending policies by giving email recipients the ability to unsubscribe from your list.
The unsubscribe link in an email helps you avoid the dreaded spam box by allowing customers to unsubscribe and not having them report you as spam.
Bulk email senders like Mailchimp also keep track of bounced emails. Bounced emails are usually the product of invalid email addresses and can harm your sending reputation with major email providers like Gmail.
A few important tips when sending bulk emails:
- Use a different email address than your regular address. You want your customers to know it is a promotional email and not get it confused with a regular business email.
- Make sure to put in place sender security with your email. This means implementing DKIM, DMARC, and SPF records. These security measures ensure that your email is not spoofed and assures your customers that the email you send is in fact sent by you.
- Purge your email list frequently. Make sure that emails are updated if they changed, bounced emails are removed, and stop sending emails to people that never open them.
- Only send emails when you have something to say. Don’t make your customers consider your emails spam.
Online payment integration
No online photography booking software is complete without the ability to accept online payments.
When choosing an online payment system make sure it has the features you need. My personal favorite is automatic payment reminders. It helps me avoid having to chase down customers to get paid by having the system do it for me.
Receiving tips from customers is not that uncommon in real estate photography, especially if you went above and beyond with a customer, like helping them move furniture in a house, so having the ability to get tipped is great.
Having people tip me is not common, but it does happen enough times to make this a must-have feature in your booking software.
Coupons are a great way to get new customers or reward existing ones, so having the ability to give out discount codes and track their usage is a must.
You should be able to create discounts that have an end date. Unique one-time use codes are also important, like being able to offer 30% off your first order.
Offer add-on products
In real estate, photography add-ons are the one thing that can make an OK photoshoot a profitable one. By offering extra services in your booking app you can increase your profit margin.
Common add-ons you can offer:
An add-on package can take a regular photoshoot profit from OK to great. My favorite add-on is drone photos, I retail it at 5 photos for $35 if you book a photoshoot for a house. It only takes me 15min to fly the drone and capture the images, which comes out to $140 an hour!
Another advantage of offering add-ons is that they help you get more business. By offering these extra services not only are you increasing your bottom line, but you are also differentiating yourself from others, giving potential customers a good reason to hire you over the competition.
Intake questionnaire or form
An often overlooked feature is the ability to create intake forms. Intake forms are essential for your real estate photo business.
Being able to ask essential details about the property to be photographed like is there a lockbox or is the property occupied is important and will make your life much easier.
Key questions to ask on a photoshoot intake form:
- What is the property address?
- Is the property occupied?
- Is there a lockbox?
- If there is a lockbox, what is the code?
- Any special instructions? (i.e. alarms, pets, etc.)
Reports are the key to success in the real estate photography business. They help you identify good customers and bad ones. Once you start picking up steam and growing your business you will learn that not all photoshoots are the same when it comes to profit.
Being able to track your best-selling services and your best customers allows you to create a strategy to identify and get more customers that are profitable for your business model.
Scheduling software options
This is the one I use, it is cheap ($15 a month for the starter package) and does exactly what I want from it. I love the ease with which I was able to integrate it into my WordPress site and the calendar integration with Gmail. The system will start a few hours before my appointment to remind me of my appointment. I also love the fact that the customer can put in the property address and this integrates into my Google Maps for easy navigation to the property.
Another great option. It has route optimization and the ability to track and dispatch teams. If your team of photographers is big and you are doing multiple photoshoots a day, their route optimization feature alone might be worth the price for you.
HoneyBook stands out from the crowd because it is an all in one solution with features designed for photographers, with a robust CRM, contract templates, and many more features that are too many to mention here. To read more about the photographer’s specific features check out their Toolkit for Photographers.
- Up to 100 bookings a month
- Up to 3 custom features
- Embed scheduler into your website
- Booking website
- Offer coupons and gift cards
- Sales (POS)
Acuity Schedulingby Acuity Scheduling
- 1 calendar (just you at one location)
- Embed scheduler into your website
- Syncing with Outlook.com, Exchange, and Office 365
- Syncing with iCloud and Google Calendar
- GoToMeeting, Join.me, and Zoom integrations for online meetings
- QuickBooks, Freshbooks, and Xero integrations for invoicing and accounting
- MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, ConvertKit, and MadMimi integration for bulk e-mailing
- Accept payments and deposits through PayPal, Square, or Stripe
- Optionally let clients tip you
- Offer coupons and vouchers for discounts
- Easy upsell clients with check-out add-ons
- Advanced reporting about appointments, no shows, & performance
- All in one solution
- Embed contact form on your website
- Online scheduler
- Contract templates
- Payment processing: 3%
- Powerful mobile app
- All HoneyBook features included
Having a scheduling app is a must in today’s photography business. Allowing your customers to schedule an appointment on their terms and time can give you a competitive advantage over your competition.
I hope this article helps you be a more successful photographer.
“What can I say? I love taking photos of houses.”
Based in Orlando Florida, Jose is a real estate photographer specializing in vacation homes, working for realtors and property managers to make their properties look great.