A freelance photographer experience with a CRM

A freelance photographer experience with a CRM
By Rupert Marlow – a very happy user!

Since I have been a freelance photographer, specializing in Weddings for the most part  (my website: www.rupertmarlow.com), I have been looking for a tool to use as a CRM.  Working predominantly in such an emotionally driven market, I like to try and ensure that my clients know that I genuinely care and being able to have all the info in one place, notes, actions and payment dates etc really helps.
Schermata 2015-10-13 alle 12.54.42I have tried (and spent a lot of money on) a vast number of others with varied success but none stood the test of time.  Many are good but all were missing something.  They were either too complex, poorly designed or simply too expensive either to buy or subscribe to. The thing about a CRM app, for me, is that I wanted the simple client and job-based to-do lists and note taking with some basic syncing with some apps (like Evernote and Dropbox).  I also wanted to have a financial element too as, being a creative, keeping track of things like a pipeline and cashflow, I find extremely difficult. I am far more interested in producing work and meeting clients than the more boring elements of running the business – that’s not to say I don’t do it but anything that makes these tasks more enjoyable gets a thumbs up from me!

So, I saw Sellf in the App Store by sheer chance, it was free to download and so I jumped in and set about filling it in with my information.  There is a web app too with matching functionality.  I think it was within about an hour that I realised that this was the app for me that ticked all the boxes.  I paid for the full functionality and am currently approaching my 1st complete year. In that year, I have used the app extensively, occasionally failing to keep it up to date but it is so simple and straightforward, catching up is never much of a chore. Little and often – as with a lot of things – is the key.

Using the CRM app:

  • The UX is fantastic.  The design is simple yet informative and with the introduction of customisable pipeline stages, it is possible to group jobs by stage or timeline.  Tags are now available and I am not sure how to integrate them into my workflow but they are there nonetheless.
  • You set your goals (monthly, quarterly or annually) which makes up your full ring and the app sets you a grey ring which signifies the potential business and this fills up with green with each job you categorise as ‘won’ and as such, illustrating very quickly how the month, quarter or year is shaping up (depending on which time frame you chose to have displayed)
  • My pipeline stages are as follows: Lead, Quoted, Booked, Invoiced, Won, Lost, Abandoned. I like to keep “Won” reserved for when a bill is paid as this means cashflow forecasting is simpler and more realistic as it’s clear from the grey/green in the display as to what is still outstanding or incoming.
  • Having never been much of a list maker (I tend to use my emails as an actions list), being able to assign to-do’s to clients and individual jobs is excellent.
  • There is also a timeline shown beneath every opportunity that lists the achieved actions, notes and correctly linked calendar entries.  This has been useful for me to see where we are when speaking to clients and knowing when things were done.

So thats about it. It is a well designed, simple, affordable (£30 a year) and well executed app.

If I was to request a couple of improvements, I would suggest synching with iCloud contacts (which is coming I am told), and  a desktop app as the web app is just a little slow as it relies on a constant connection to the internet… Oh, and a watch app one day !!

There is one other place that Sellf App excels that I haven’t mentioned yet… the Team! Building an excellent app that works is only half the battle but the way the team work is excellent, reliving the compete package.  Tweets are answered quickly, emails are replied to helpfully and quickly with tips and advice.  There is a support site where you can submit suggestions for changes and vote on already listed options. I have now spoken to a number of the team, Rita, Alessia by email and twitter, and Diego on twitter, all of whom are helpful and seem to really care about their users – which is why I was only too happy to write this guest post for them.

Having spent a lot of time in Sellf as a user, and tweeted, retweeted, Periscoped (see the video below!) and recommended it to many friends, I was very kindly sent a Sellf t-shirt (which I wore for the ’Scope). It was a real surprise and just goes to show the effort the team make with their customers and while I have not done a huge amount – just a little bit of speaking about them online.

I genuinely hope that I have encouraged a few people to sign up and I am sure the app will keep getting better and better as it has already over time.

Keep it up everyone.

Rupert Marlow

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