Anyone who knows me, knows I am absolutely obsessed with all things on the back-end when it comes to my business. I love talking about all of my favorite business apps and programs that help me run my business, and at this point, I honestly have no idea how I even ran my business without these 10 programs! They have all really helped me streamline my processes, skyrocket my client experience, and overall just help me keep my head on straight. So let’s dig in!
Starting off with my absolute favorite program, Notion.
This is quite literally the heart and brain of NTCo. Notion has singlehandedly replaced at least half a dozen, if not a dozen, programs that I was using in my personal and business life. This app helps me organize all things business from finances and expenses to blog plans with outlines, content planner and even a spreadsheet of all my clients. I use Notion to connect my team because it lets me create private team spaces for all the people on my team so they can keep themselves on track and I can see the progress as well as communicate with them. We also use Notion to keeps us on track with larger projects as well as our client experience. Once someone is officially booked with us Zapier, which we use to help us connect different programs, connects to Notion and creates a card for us in a specific database that tells up the couples names and what needs to be done on the back-end to make sure their experience is on track and nothing is missed on our end. That leads me to the endless integrations with other programs.. I mean seriously.. it’s amazing what this program can do! Notion also replaced my notes app on my phone and I am always brainstorming new business ideas + ways to improve, so this helps me organize those thoughts all in once place. I could honestly talk about Notion all day but to wrap it up, there is literally nothing Notion can’t do, and I have absolutely no idea how I would function without it. For full disclosure, I’m a Notion Partner, so when you sign up with my link, you also help support me and my content: https://affiliate.notion.so/w57iffob0ofk.
If you don’t already have a CRM (customer relationship management)program, you need to get Dubsado.. like now. This is how I take so much stress off my shoulders when it comes to running my business + my client’s experience. Dubsado is a powerhouse! This is the program I use to house my contracts, sub-contracts, questionnaires, contact forms that link to workflows, client information, workflows, canned emails, clients portals and so much more. With Dubsado’s powerful workflows I can automate so much in my business and have several different workflows for different stages of my client experience so I always know what part of the experience they are in. This program also lets me create beautiful client portals completely branded and if you know me you know how much I value staying on brand. Within the portals my clients can see all our email communication, questionnaires they need to complete, their contract, and their invoice. It was super important to me when getting a CRM that I found one that would allow my clients to just login to their portal make a payment towards their balance without having to ask me to allow that and with Dubsado that is possible. They also just rolled out their auto-pay feature which allows my clients to sign up for autopay! I also love their scheduler feature which makes scheduling consultation calls with me so easy for my clients! I personally have Dubsado attached to Stripe for easy payments, its so seamless and I love it!
Narrative Select is what I use to cull all my photos quickly. This is my absolute favorite culling program that I have tried and I have tried out a few. Select allows you to have a window to on your screen that is zoomed in on the subjects face(s) and it detects how in focus they are and tells you if anyone in the photo has their eyes closed. It is literally amazing! I can use stars within Select the translate into Lightroom Classic seamlessly. Not to mention once the photos are all culled in Select I can ship them directly to Lightroom Classic! This saves so much room within Lightroom Classic so that it doesn’t get slow with thousands of images. I am not being dramatic when I say that culling my photos in Select has cut my time in half that I used to spend going through my images in Lightroom. Select also has keyboard shortcuts make the process all the faster. Narrative also has another amazing program called Publish! This is what I use to put images together beautifully for blog posts. Using Publish cuts our time waaaay down when it comes to building full blogs. Publish also has amazing SEO capabilities and you can input all your SEO information straight into Publish! When it comes to crafting the blog post there is so much versatility within the layouts which allows us to get creative and keeps our blogs interesting. Publish also makes it incredibly easy to embed into my website which is always a plus! Both programs from Narrative are incredible and have saved me and my team so much time! I do have an affiliate code for Narrative Select and Publish which helps support me and my content: https://narrative.so/?referral=narrative91293
Being a travel wedding photographer, tracking mileage is essential for my business. Mile IQ is the best + easiest way that I have found to track my miles, organize them + keep everything in one place. The best part is that it runs in the background on your phone and tracks your miles automatically! It is so easy to get into the app and classify a drive as personal or as business with just a swipe. When classifying a drive as a business drive it allows you to track what the drive was for as well. The absolute best part is after your first 40 drives its only $5.99/month! 10/10 recommend Mile IQ to track your miles!
Speaking of social media feed, Plann is incredible for social media planning! On Plann, I can see my entire Instagram feed and from there I can add photos to the planning grid and see exactly how they would look with my current feed. This helps me keep my feed looking on brand, clean and put together, which I love. It also helps hold me accountable for creating and planning content and has helped me be way more consistent with posting. My absolute favorite feature… auto posting. I don’t know what I would do without this feature, it is the most important to me personally. I want to be able to plan my content, type out the caption, add the location, tag who I need to tag, schedule it and forget about the rest and Plann allows me to do just that. I now can plan a week and sometimes even a months worth of content and posts in just a few hours and not have to think about it until that week or month are up. On Plann you can also connect Facebook, Pinterest, Tiktok, and LinkedIn which is amazing! You can plan all your content in one location! I also love that Plann allows you to upload media into different folders to keep it organized and together this way I don’t need to go searching through my hard drives for photos as long as they are uploaded to Plann I can access them! Plann has helped me gain more time and make content planning more enjoyable and rewarding! I do have an affiliate code for Plann which helps support me and my content and gives you $10 off!: https://www.plannthat.com/register/?fp_ref=cus_NC9DbaNkqm3R33&name=Noelle
Canva is one of my most used tools. Canva is a free to use graphic design tool. You can use it to create social media graphics, stories, guides, carousel Instagram posts, slideshows, flyers, logos and so much more. One of my favorite features is the brand feature which allows me to store brand colors, logos, and fonts to easily brand ANYTHING in seconds. I use Canva to create all of my guides for my couples, and to make Instagram stories and posts. It is so user friendly, has so many elements you can use in your projects and allows you to download in several different formats. It is truly a necessity for any creative entrepreneur.
As a creative entrepreneur it’s important for me to stay on task and know how long certain tasks take me.. Cue Toggl Track! This is such a great – free – tool that I use to track my time! When I started using it I noticed that it helped me stay on track with what I was doing because I wanted to make sure that the time that was tracked was as accurate as possible. So when tracking my time I limit distractions and get in the zone on the work I need to complete and it’s amazing. Toggl helps me to know how long certain tasks take me which is helpful when planning my week. I used to not plan my week and time block because I had no idea how long certain task would take me and it felt like it would be a waste of time to plan my day out. Once I started tracking my time I felt more confident in planning my days which in tern has made my days more efficient which is HUGE! It’s safe to say Toggl has definitely helped improve my productivity.
Everybody knows what Google is and how useful and powerful it is. If you know me at all you know that if it’s not on my Google calendar, I will not remember it. Needless to say, I could not live or function without my Google calendar and I am truly not sure how I survived before I started using it. I use Google calendar for everything from personal appointments and events to business appointments and events. I have my Google calendar connected to my Dubsado so anytime I get an inquiry or a session booked it goes right onto my calendar. If a potential bride schedules a call with me that will also be added to my calendar and I do all my calls on Google Meets so that link is also automatically generated and added for me! Another big way I use Google is for my email! I have Google Workspace so my team can also have @noellethies.co email addresses! I love how easy Google makes their programs, I couldn’t live without them!
Last but not least – other than our honorable mention of course – Todoist! Todoist is my go-to for task management. I use this program to track both personal and business tasks. This program allows me to assign tasks to my team and even assign tasks to myself. I love the ability to add due dates, labels, and priorities to tasks so that I can stay on top of what needs to be done now verses later. With Todoist, I can break down larger projects into smaller tasks and assign due dates to each task. This helps me stay organized and keep track of all stages of a project. I also love that I can color-code projects and add comments to tasks for my team to see. Todoist also integrates with Google Calendar so that I can see tasks and events in one place, how amazing. Using Todoist has been a game-changer for me and my business and I highly recommend it to anyone who needs help staying organized and on top of tasks.
You are probably familiar with Adobe Lightroom Classic + Photoshop by now and that is because they are amazing. These two are my main photo editing programs. Lightroom Classic is amazing for large amounts of photos as well as keeping everything organized so you can edit quickly and efficiently. Lightroom Classic is good for any photographer that shoots in RAW as opposed to jpeg. When I first started using Lightroom Classic I was intimidated because there is a lot to learn but I will say it is not hard to learn. It is definitely something that you can grow with and into which is nice. Within Lightroom you can organize your photos in so many ways, using stars, colors, and even collection folders. I use all three is different ways! I use stars to determine who took the photos, myself or a second photographer. I use colors like green to show which photos are sneak peeks or anchor photos for my editor, blue to show which images are black and white, and yellow to mark the photos that are part of a GIF. Speaking of GIFs this is honestly what I use Photoshop for the most. I make all my GIFs within Photoshop after editing them with my preset in Lightroom Classic. GIFs have been such a fun thing to gift to my couples after our sessions! I know there are so many different editing softwares out there but if your budget allows, Adobe’s Photography Package is perfect because it gives you Lightroom Classic, Photoshop and Lightroom CC (the mobile version) all bundled together. I could not recommend Lightroom Classic enough!
These are my top 10 programs that I use on a daily basis. Each program is unique and so incredibly helpful in different ways. From organizing tasks to making GIFs, these programs have been essential to my success in running my business. I am so thankful to have found them and I hope that by sharing my favorites with you, you are able to find the right tools that help you succeed in running your business.