As you grow from a beginning photographer to a professional, you have to be strategic in the tools you use to be as productive as possible and to create the best business you can.
The right tools can as much as double your income while making your work less stressful and easier to manage.
I’ve used and tested all of the tools on this list and recommend all of them (otherwise they wouldn’t be on the list), but I’ve highlighted the ones that I think offer the best value and are essential to creating the best photography business possible.
Table of Contents
Photographer’s Reading List: Each month, I send one email to a private email list with around 3 to 5 amazing books that I’ve read and think you’ll like as a photographer.
Book Notes: A huge database of notes from more than 200 of some of the best books available on life, business, marketing, photography, and creativity. I use them almost daily to influence my decisions.
Amazon Kindle: One of the best things I ever bought and I take it with me everywhere. With the Kindle e-reader, I can read and take my 200+ books everywhere whether I’m traveling or waiting on the bus.
Visual And Design Tools
Looka: Easily design your own great logo for as little as $20. No design skills necessary.
99designs: A great place to find talented professional graphic designers, for when you want a logo, business cards, flyers or anything else. Just tell them what you need and then choose the best proposal.
Canva: A graphic-design tool website that uses a drag-and-drop format. Ideal for non-designers to create great visuals for social media.
Having a great website to show off your portfolio, build your audience and convince prospective clients is essential as a photographer. I also wrote a total guide about websites for photographers.
While there are many options, a self-hosted WordPress site is easily my top recommendation. It allows you access to an amazing amount of add-ons (called plugins) and themes that will allow you to grow your business. The following are the hosts, themes, and plugins I recommend for a self-hosted WordPress site, and a couple of other website builder options.
SiteGround: Siteground easily offers the best quality hosting for the price. In fact, Siteground is recommended by WordPress and often voted as the number 1 website host in many polls. It’s also where this website is hosted, and the hosting I suggest you use in my photography website guide. Get 60% off with this link.
Kinsta: For when you want the absolute best in WordPress hosting.
WordPress Themes For Photographers
FloThemes: While they are not cheap ($279 per theme), you’ll get the best website themes created specifically for photographers. The price also means there won’t be many other photographers out there with the same design for their website, making you stand out more.
Divi: The most popular WordPress theme in the world (powering more than 1million websites) and with good reason. Divi also comes with a visual drag & drop page builder and many pre-built elements. They also include their Monarch social sharing plugin and Bloom email marketing plugin.
Astra: One of the fastest and most flexible WordPress themes available. It’s feather light (just 50kb or resources) and it allows making changes visually with a real-time preview. A free version is available to get you started.
Themeforest: The largest marketplace for WordPress themes. With more than 1000 themes available there is also a lot of crap, but some real gems can be found. For example Art, Adios Portfolio, Notio, or Peak.
Plugins To Optimize Your Website
ShortPixel: Improves the speed of your website by optimizing and reducing the file sizes of your images. The smaller images make your pages load faster, leading to better rankings with Google and great user experience.
MiloTree: Cool and lightweight widgets that enable you to directly grow your following for most popular platforms, including Facebook and Pinterest.
OptinMonster: Easily add signup forms, popups, banners and more to your website, so people visiting can subscribe to your newsletter. Connects directly to almost all newsletter platforms available like ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, Mailchimp,or MailerLite.
Other Website Tools
Google Analytics: The free industry standard for website analytics. It gives you the tools you need to better understand your visitors that you can then use to improve your website and marketing.
Clicky: One of the most user-friendly web stats packages, and a great alternative or addition to Google Analytics as it has some features that are lacking in Google Analytics.
KeyCDN: If you want your site to load fast around the globe then you need a quality CDN provider. Get $10 in free KeyCDN credits using this link.
Google Webmaster: Another free tool from Google to help you watch out for broken links and give you insight into how people are ending up on your site via search results.
WordPress: A free and open-source powerful website builder and a robust content management system (CMS). WordPress powers 32.3% of all websites on the internet.
Pixpa: Use the code PDOM10 to get a 10% discount on all plans for a full year.
Tools To Build And Market Your Brand
MailerLite: If you want a simple and easy to use newsletter software then try MailerLite.
ConvertKit: The newest player in the email marketing world and quickly becoming a top choice by professionals. Started out of frustration over the lack of features on Mailchimp, but this service is set to become the new standard
Active Campaign: Most powerful email and marketing automation tool on this list, but also the hardest to use. If you know what you’re doing, this is the one as it favors features over looks.
MailChimp: Popular newsletter tool but limited functionality. For a long time, they were considered the standard of email marketing. However, they haven’t been great at adding helpful tools in the past few years without charging extra for them.
Planoly: The number 1 marketing platform for Instagram that lets you visually plan & schedule Instagram posts. It’s what I use to schedule all my Instagram updates. Also has an iPhone and Android app available.
SocialBee: A great way to (re)schedule social media posts for all the usual channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,…). It lets you queue posts to be published and republished at regular intervals.
Accuranker: Accuranker is the best keyword rank tracker I have ever used. It’s simple, cheap, and fast and what I personally use to keep track of all of my keyword rankings. It’s one of the only trackers to pull in your rankings instantly so you know exactly where you stand.
Moo: Beautiful business cards.
Tools To Run Your Photography Business
Pixieset: Stop using WeTransfer but create beautiful client photo galleries to deliver, proof and sell your images like a professional. (See my Pixieset Review)
Wave: This free online software is a great option for accounting and expense tracking as a freelancer or small business owner.
Bonsai: Successful photographers have to juggle a million things: proposals, contracts, invoices, payments, finances, and more, not to mention actually creating images. Bonsai streamlines these day-to-day administrative things save time and grow your business.
Dropbox: I’ve been using Dropbox for years. I have the pro plan and keep my whole HD synced to the cloud. This lets me access it from everywhere and doubles as a backup. Also handy to share images or documents with clients.
Smash: WeTransfer alternative
Acuity: This calendar tool makes meeting scheduling with prospective leads much easier.
1Password: My absolute favorite tool to keep track of all my passwords across my devices. A browser extension is available to make your life easy. Dashlane is a great alternative.
Notion: I use Notion to organize everything and love it. The ability to nest pages, easily create templates, jump around between different levels of nesting, and find the information I need is far superior to what you can do with Google Docs or Evernote. The other very cool thing about Notion is how easy it is to switch around between different workspaces, primarily between my personal one and my photography business one. I haven’t found another app that makes moving between your personal and work productivity systems so fluid.
Workflowy: The best tool I know to organize my brain and create to-do lists. Most other tools have too much bells and whistles but this is just perfect. They also have mobile apps, because great ideas and todos always pop up when I’m on the go.
Zapier: The secret weapon of my business that makes everything else more efficient. It allows me to create automated interactions between different tools and apps to save me time having to do repetitive, manual tasks.
Post Haste: Post Haste is a free project management tool that allows you to set up file and folder templates for your projects.
Loupedeck (Faster editing with this hardware console)
Peak Design (The best camera straps and bags)
ThinkTank (The standard for camera bags)
Elinchrom (Beautiful light modifiers)
Manfrotto (Tripods and more)
Cactus (Flashes and wireless triggers)
Blurb (Create your own photobook)
Adobe CC (Lightroom & Photoshop) The monthly subscription is an amazing deal and ensures you’re always up-to-date with the latest software.
GoPro (Great cameras for behind the scenes footage)
Grammarly: A great tool for double-checking any grammatical errors. Sending emails or anything else to your clients full of writing errors just isn’t professional. Seamlessly integrates with your browser.
Headspace (Mediation made simple)
Fiverr (Find a freelancer for design, websites,…)
How To Become A Photographer And Start A Business
Portrait Photography Tips, Ideas and Techniques
Naming Your Photography Business (HOW TO GUIDE + IDEAS)
Best Photographers On Instagram
Quotes For Photographers
Best Photography Books
Hashtags For Photographers
What Time Is Golden Hour (And How To Photograph It)
Working For Free: Should You, And How To Make The Most Out Of It
Websites For Photographers