Previously on mompreneurship:
As a small business owner with nearly all of my client communication happening via email, all the way from the first inquiry to the final instructions on how to finalize and approve the wedding album, it’s vital to my business and also my sanity to keep a hyper-organized email inbox.
Lucky for me, I love to organize. Give me a pantry with cans of food. Give me a dresser drawer with socks and underwear. Give me an inbox with a lot of correspondence. This is my happy place. Sometimes I like to disorganize things just so that I can reorganize them. That’s my level of organizational insanity.
Now I realize that everyone is very different when it comes to organizing their emails so I’ll simply share what works for me. I’ll be talking specifically about client emails so please know that this does not touch on personal email accounts or miscellaneous other emails like lab communication, marketing, purchasing receipts, vendors, etc.
To start with the very basics, each client has their own email folder. This seems a simple, no-brainer when it comes to working with many clients. I title their email folder with their wedding date and their names like so: “6.27.15: Emily Graf & Trevor Sniegowski”. Because the folders file alphabetically, this means they will auto-file by date and I’ll have everyone listed in the order that their wedding will occur.
Okay, that’s easy enough. Now, let’s broaden things.
In my email folders, I have 4 main client folders that I work out of on a regular basis.
- Clients-Upcoming 2015
- Clients-Upcoming 2016
- Clients-Waiting on Album Approval
I strategically named them so they’d fall in that order alphabetically. It would also make sense to name the last one “Clients-Album Pending”, but that would mean it would be first in the list of folders (remember: your email account lists them alphabetically if you have it set to do so) and I wanted it to be last.
This is a working folder that houses all of my open inquiries. When I get a wedding inquiry, I respond, then create a folder for that client within this folder. I use the same naming system as I listed above: the date, bride’s name, groom’s name. (i.e. 6.28.16: Brenna Messer & Kyle Newman)
If the couple ends up booking, I simply move their folder out of Clients-Potential and into Clients-Upcoming 2016. If they do not book, I move their email correspondence into a folder titled Expired Potential Clients and delete their client folder as I do not need it anymore.
(To note: I keep things moving in this folder. Meaning, if a client inquires and I respond but then don’t hear back from them, I wait a month then email them thanking them for contacting me, wishing them all the best, and letting them know that I will be closing out their inquiry. If they are truly interested in working with me, I’ll have heard back from them almost right away after I respond the first time.)
This folder lists all of my upcoming weddings for the year. Each client has their own folder (listed by date and name as previously described) and I can tell by quickly scanning the list who is coming up next. I keep clients in this folder until I have shot, blogged, edited, and designed their wedding album. As soon as I send them the email to proof their wedding album, I move their client folder into the Clients-Waiting on Album Approval folder.
This works the same way as the 2015 folder. My email communication is a lower with those clients this far out, but having it set up this way means that as the year comes, I’m prepped to go with them all filed properly.
Clients-Waiting on Album Approval
As I said before, as soon as I’ve emailed the client instructions on how to proof and finalize their wedding album, I move their client folder into here. It stays in here until their album has been delivered, which signifies that I’m finished with all of their wedding photos.
After their album is delivered, I close out the client by moving them from this folder and into a folder of completed clients broken down by year. By no means does that mean that I’ll never talk with that couple again (quite the contrary), but it just means that I have no upcoming communication that I must pass along to them regarding their wedding photos.
Trying to describe how I have my email folders organized is hard. I hope this was helpful! If you have any questions about how I organize my inbox, let me know in the comments!