Have you heard? There’s a new juggernaut in studio management software claiming to be the next big thing for photographers. Recently, Sprout Studio released an all-in-one business software for photographers, rolling studio management, online galleries, album proofing, and sales galleries all into one, theoretically allowing you to house your business under a single umbrella, saving you time and money. But does it live up to the hype? I decided to jump in and find out for myself. And after being used to using a different management system for the past four years, I was pleasantly surprised at the learning curve. Read on to find out more about my experience.
Upon initial login, it’s apparent the developers at Sprout want to streamline the setup process for photographers. With many of the other options on the market, set up can be a disaster. I’ve seen photographer after photographer sign up for various studio management softwares only to throw in the towel a few days later because the initial setup was so daunting. But unlike those, the first time you log in to Sprout, you’re automatically taken through a slick-looking guided startup wizard to help you build your foundation.
Basic details such as name, address, and phone number come pre-filled with the details you supplied during sign-up while other details like company name, website URL, email signatures, and logos are all simple to input as the wizard guides you.
Once all of your basic info is in, Sprout begins to guide you through the next steps of set up: shoot types, price lists, presentation options, and types of services offered are some of the categories the setup wizard makes painless, allowing you to create the foundation you need to utilize Sprout’s robust software to its fullest.
At the end of the setup wizard, developers created videos that begin to walk you through and familiarize you with the back end of the software. “Lead-to-Shoot Workflow,” booking proposals, sales galleries, and questionnaires are, but a few of the videos Sprout Studios has created for you to learn their software.
All in all, I’d say that Sprout Studio has made it simple to set up their software and get the user ready to start utilizing all of its features. On top of that, the interface is very sleek, modern, and pleasing to the eye, making it simple to navigate. I personally found it much easier to setup than some other software I’ve tried.
The user interface of Sprout Studio is sleek and fairly simple to use. The top toolbar displays icons for notifications, your profile, setup, and tips while the left side of the screen displays the main toolbar that allows you to access all of the different aspects of Sprout that make it so robust. Items like your dashboard, calendar, invoices, leads, shoots, galleries, and much more are all found on this left side toolbar. The large window displays your working area where you will spend most of your time in Sprout. It’s all very easily recognizable and not unlike most of the other options out there.
After completing the setup wizard, when you log in to Sprout Studio, you will land on the Dashboard – a sub-menu of the overview section. Here you will see any tasks you have to complete, notifications for leads, booking proposals, questionnaires, album proofs, invoices, and images your clients may have favorited.
If you wish to dig deeper into any of the above sections, they are all easily accessible and have dedicated areas under the Overview tab in the left side toolbar.
While I find the dashboard to be easily readable, I do wish I were able to customize the layout. I’d find it more beneficial to be able to display a calendar and see a snapshot of my month “at a glance” as opposed to daily tasks. The daily tasks are nice but after setting up automated workflows, I can see it becoming cluttered with tasks that may not require my attention.
On the client management side, Sprout Studio is a beast. From lead tracking to proofing galleries, built-in sales tools, and album proofing, Sprout has done things right. This is the area where it’s easy to see how Sprout has separated themselves from other current options out there.
Sprout makes it simple to input and track leads all the way from the initial inquiry up until booking. They make it easy to create custom contact forms for your website and/or social media platforms so when a potential client fills one of your forms out, their inquiry is automatically catalogued in Sprout.
Once a lead is in Sprout, it’s also simple to track where you are with each particular lead. Color coded labels allow you to label each inquiry for an “at a glance” view.
Further, if you select one of your leads, you’re able to dig down into their profile and see all of their info, shoot dates, email exchanges, notes, or any other details about each specific lead.
Creating booking proposals with Sprout is a breeze, too. Simply select package options or a la carte offerings for the client to choose from, set payment and contract details, and you’re ready to send it off to the client.
One thing that has kept me from using other studio management options in the past is the client portal. With many of the other options, the client portal is clunky, cumbersome, and could be considered a train wreck. If the client logs in to sign their booking proposal or contract and aren’t met with a beautiful interface, it may immediately shake their confidence in your brand. But with Sprout, the booking proposal is equally simple and beautiful on the client end.
After selecting the link to view the proposal, they are taken to a welcome screen where they receive a custom greeting from you. From there, they are able to navigate to the “Offerings” page which shows all of the current offerings you’ve selected for this client as well as a breakdown of the payment schedule you have set for them. Once they select which option they want, the client is then taken to a personal details page where they can enter address, email, phone numbers, etc. before finally being taken to the Contract page for final review before accepting the agreement. It doesn’t get much more simple than that!
Sprout’s proofing galleries are like the rest of the software, modern and clean. They are very similar to other options on the market, allowing you to separate your images into specific folders, allow the client to purchase prints, download files, and share with friends and family. Aside from having the choice of displaying the gallery in masonry or grid style, I don’t see anything too far off from what already exists elsewhere. The main advantage here is that they are housed alongside everything else for your client, keeping the entire client workflow seamless.
One thing I’d love to see improved within the galleries is the ability to copy images to a “highlights” or “photographer’s favorites” folder where the user is able to see the best of the best images before delving deeper into the gallery to view all of the images. As it stands now, the only way I can see to do this is to upload your favorites separately because Sprout currently only allows you to “move” images, not copy to a second location.
One of my favorite things about Sprout Studio is their sales gallery tool. For those looking to sell more products, this feature is huge! Before Sprout, in order to hold in-person sales sessions, I either had to use 3rd party sales tools or create slideshows in Lightroom and go through the painstaking process of favoriting images and trying to get my client to visualize how their images would display on their walls. Sprout has changed all of that by creating a sales tool that allows the client to see exactly how their photos will display without ever having to leave the system. The client has the option to see their photos displayed in sample rooms provided by Sprout or to even take a photo of their own room and upload it to Sprout to see how it looks in their own space. This feature alone is enough to make me consider moving over to Sprout.
The best part of Sprout Studio may very well be the client experience. Each client is able to log in to their own portal and access anything they could ever need from you. Directly on the home page of their portal, your client has access to their contract, invoices, galleries, emails, and questionnaires.
Sprout Studio has changed the game when it comes to photography studio management, no question. Upon their initial release, it’s clear that the developers put a lot of thought into their software and how it would be able to serve the photography community. But with all new pieces of software, there is always room for improvement. The following are some things I’d like to see Sprout improve upon in the future. Bryan Caporicci, CEO and founder at Sprout, has assured me that some of these things are currently in the works.
- Lab-fulfillment – This is a huge time saver for photographers. Being able to partner with labs such as ProDPI, Millers, WHCC, etc. give the photographer peace of mind knowing their client orders will be fulfilled to the photographer’s standards without having to approve or manually fulfill an order.
- Financial Tracking – One thing that would truly take Sprout to the next level is the ability to track all of your finances directly in the system. Other options on the market already allow you to input costs and track profit and loss without ever having to leave the system. The thought of having to re-integrate Quickbooks into my life is not a fun one.
- Ability to add attachments to email templates – The option to attach a file when ready to send the email already exists in Sprout. However, from a time management and workflow standpoint, I’d love to see the ability to attach files to email templates. This will save the photographer a step when sending emails, especially if automatic emails are part of the workflow setup.
- Ability to customize dashboard – Because every photographer is different and operates under a different workflow, the ability to customize your dashboard area would be fantastic.
- Ability to “copy” gallery images to a highlight folder. I’ve been using Pixieset for the past two years, and before that was using PASS. Both of these gallery softwares allow you to easily copy images to other folders within your gallery without having to re-upload them. The sheer time saving benefit of this feature makes it an important one. No one wants to repeat work they’ve already done and slow down their workflow to upload the same images twice.
Try Sprout Studio
If you’re not already using a system to help you manage your business, you’re seriously missing out. Take some of the burden of running a small business off your back and try Sprout Studio for yourself. Upon checkout, enter the code “freshstartmonthly” to receive 20% for the first 3 months or “freshstartannual” to receive 6% off the entire year!
If you’re already using Sprout Studio, we’d love to hear about your experience! Is it living up to your expectation? Is it allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business and create additional revenue? Tell us below!