“Time is the most precious thing we have. It is the only thing that we never get back.” These were among the very first words Natalie Franke shared with us when we sat down with her to learn about Honeybook and Rising Tide Society, laying the groundwork for all the passion and inspiration that would come from our interview with her. HoneyBook is a client management software with the mission to empower small business owners to be successful and live a life built on passion and purpose. The Rising Tide Society is a community of creatives empowering the creative economy to rise together. Natalie Franke is the co-founder of one (Rising Tide Society) and the Head of Community at the other (HoneyBook).
In our latest interview in our Vendor Spotlight Series, we sat down with her to discuss how these two endeavours are connected, how they serve photographers and the creative community by empowering individuals to own their independence, and most importantly how they – and Natalie – empower small business owners to save time. Read on to find out more!
Natalie Franke – on behalf of HoneyBook, the Rising Tide Society, and also herself – is a female entrepreneur inspired by ‘community over competition’, a fighter, and a leader, who is 100% all-in on what she does. Natalie immediately wowed us with her passion and purpose for both HoneyBook and the Rising Tide Society. She is a true believer in serving the creative community and empowering clients to own their independence. With a vision that’s not different from the one we have cultivated here at ShootDotEdit, in this conversation, Natalie gave us a glimpse into the world of HoneyBook and Rising Tide Society and how they have partnered to ensure that small business owners rise together.
HoneyBook was founded in 2013 by Oz Alon, Naama Alon, and Dror Shimoni. The company’s core values include, but are not limited to: Going the extra mile, people come first, love what we do, we are family, and we are fearless. Each of these core values is reflected in the organization’s journey and subsequent developments.
While talking to Natalie, we didn’t just see the passion she has for her community, we also realized that with HoneyBook, a photographer’s life could genuinely become easier! HoneyBook offers a host of services that help photographers get fast and efficient at managing their business – from project tracking, invoicing, contracts, and payment management, to keeping track of tasks, to-dos, meetings, and schedules. There are also branded templates for email communication and a powerful Android and iPhone app, that help photographers save time. Basically, HoneyBook provides photographers the tools to more easily manage their photography business so they have more time to spend shooting and spend less time attached to a desk.
Reasons Why Photographers Need HoneyBook
- HoneyBook allows you to seamlessly manage end-to-end client relationships.
- HoneyBook helps you organize and simplify all the tasks necessary to run a photography business.
- HoneyBook has an app made especially for mobile devices, Android and iOs, which enables you to manage your business from anywhere.
- If you want someone else to handle it for you, HoneyBook pros will set up the program and implement it for you.
Read on to find out more about how HoneyBook, Natalie, Rising Tide Society, and passion and purpose are all connected.
HoneyBook Origin Story
ShootDotEdit: Let’s start with the basics. Can you sketch out HoneyBook’s origin story for us?
Natalie: Absolutely! HoneyBook has the most incredible founding team from Israel. And our founders were small business owners too, who went from running their small businesses into building HoneyBook. Naama was a designer, Oz ran a bar and hosted events. And that’s kind of the ripple effect of everyone who’s gotten involved with HoneyBook because they all came from different places. I was a wedding photographer myself. Basically, we all have our roots in entrepreneurship.
Essentially Oz, Naama and Dror, our co-founders, realized that there was this huge gap in the market. This huge pain that independent, small business owners were experiencing where they actually needed help running the backend of their businesses because they were spending so much time, energy, and effort working on these operational tasks that frankly, technology should have been doing for them so that they could get back to doing what they love and what they are passionate about. So, our client management software helps to seamlessly manage end-to-end client relationships. And that’s the heart of the product. It’s a product by and for business owners.
Rising Tide Society
ShootDotEdit: So, that’s that about HoneyBook. Tell us more about Rising Tide Society and how you are associated with it.
Natalie: I was a full-time wedding photographer and I ran a business here in Annapolis, Maryland for years. That’s when I started and co-founded Rising Tide Society. Being a business owner myself, I felt this pain of loneliness and isolation, and that’s what prompted me to do this. Although we were connected online, I didn’t really have a community or a group of other independent business owners who knew what I was going through and were experiencing what I was experiencing. So I didn’t really have anyone else to sit down and just talk to, or learn from and grow with. So Rising Tide was really born to bring all of us together under one roof to connect and support each other.
The Connection Between Rising Tide Society and HoneyBook
ShootDotEdit: And that brings me to my next question. How did you, Natalie Franke, the co-founder of Rising Tide Society, end up joining forces with HoneyBook? How do these pieces fit together?
Natalie: We started Rising Tide Society back in the Spring/Summer 2015, and got introduced to HoneyBook that fall and went and launched our San Francisco meetup from their headquarters in California. And we just had this moment while talking to Oz and Naama, where we realized that we were trying to accomplish the same thing, and we shared the same mission. We had the same goal of really wanting every human being to own their independence and build a life on passion and purpose and create a business that fueled them. A life where they woke up every morning and they were so excited to do what they wanted to do. And all of that friction that makes running a business difficult was gone.
In my mind that was building a community and cultivating relationships and networks and how nobody is ever going to be doing this alone. In Oz and Naama’s minds, they are thinking, “How do we leverage technology to give them their life back? And we talk about time being something that’s so important to us. So, we start thinking, “How do we take technology and give them the tools so they can optimize their time doing what they love, so they can spend it with their families, so that they are not getting ghosted by clients because they built a workflow that answers client’s questions as they’re being asked, how do we make sure that their businesses run and they’re not getting run by their businesses.
We were working towards the same goal, just from different perspectives and ultimately decided to join forces. So HoneyBook acquired Rising Tide Society. I have been on the team now for 5 1/2 years, building community, running Rising Tide Society, supporting HoneyBook and its initiatives and growing together as a family. Where we are today is because we are a united team and we are trying to make life easier for independent businesses through this management system.
Client Satisfaction is at the Heart of Your Success
ShootDotEdit: Wow! You are clearly very passionate about what you are working on and what you are doing for photographers. But besides what you have already shared, is there something else you want to add to what you love about what you guys are collectively working towards?
Natalie: There’s two sides to it: The concept side and the company side. On the concept side, I think it boils down to the fact that when you’re in this line of work, when you’re building your own business, relationships are everything. And your reputation and track record as a photographer are really critical to succeeding in this business.
I always say that client satisfaction is a measurement of success in this line of work. And so the work that we do, whether it’s with editing, whether it’s at HoneyBook, we want your client to go through that experience and to be wowed at every step, as if you anticipated every one of their needs.
One of the things that we’ve learned and therefore are working really hard on is to help photographers and all independent businesses own those extraordinary experiences and intentional relationships and to help them realize that they are really at the heart of success. A lot of times we’re told to chase things like success on social media or getting tons of followers or growing our email list. And those are great, valuable things in business. But, more than that, when I see successful businesses, oftentimes they have a phenomenal reputation. Their clients are referring them, people love to work with them because they’ve prioritized that experience and those relationships. And that looks like building your business to serve, building your business to care for those clients from start to finish.
ShootDotEdit: OK so what I think you’re saying is that HoneyBook wants to help photographers understand – and nurture – the connection between client satisfaction and success?
Natalie: YES! Because HoneyBook is not just making life easier through a client management software for photographers, but also equipping photographers with the tools they need. In addition to that, we want photographers to be able to give their clients an extraordinary experience that doesn’t lead to burnout. We want to help photographers deliver this client experience without having to feel like they need to be on 24-7, or that they’re always missing the mark or worrying about payments going through, or did they respond to that inquiry fast enough… These are all pain points for professional photographers. And if we start to analyze those pain points we can build better-outsourced systems – like HoneyBook – that give photographers the opportunity to serve their clients better, thereby propelling the success of their business organically.
As wedding photographers, you are the business. And there’s a lot of pressure and responsibility that comes with that. At HoneyBook, we are so passionate about removing the pain and amplifying what you love and giving you more space and more time to go after that through our platforms.
Suggested Read: Nail The Client Experience: Featuring Orlando Oliveira
People Come First at HoneyBook
ShootDotEdit: That all makes so much sense! So, tell us, other than what you’ve already shared, what do you absolutely love about HoneyBook?
Natalie: What I love about the company is that we have a bunch of core values that are the heart and soul of what we do. HoneyBook believes in putting people first and that applies to everything that we do. It applies to how I was treated when I had to go out on short-term disability for having brain surgery and how my team literally carried everything for me, brought us meals to our home, checked in on us. We were supported in ways that I don’t think companies normally do. It’s not even a company thing. It was like a family thing. And as a wedding photographer I believe in the idea of community over competition. That at the end of the day, even though we might compete in the marketplace, we’re also community. We have to come together. We have to fight for each other.
Another good example of this is back when the pandemic hit we, as a company, made a critical decision to stop all business as usual. And part of this is in line with our company ethics. HoneyBook can’t thrive if our members aren’t thriving. We only succeed when they succeed. It’s the same with ShootDotEdit. If photographers aren’t booking work and they don’t have images to edit, the company fails. So basically our entire mission went from providing a great service to our members to how do we save their businesses?
During the pandemic, photographers had to pivot in ways they have never had to. They didn’t know what rules they had to follow, how to navigate, how to communicate well with their clients, how to handle the legal and the financial aspects of all of that. So immediately, we transformed the entire company. We stopped all of our goals and objectives that we had walked into 2020 with. The single goal that HoneyBook had was to save our members’ businesses. We set up a COVID command center in the product. Our photographer users could now reschedule contracts with a click of a button. We started gathering lawyers, financial experts, and communications experts. We wrote templates, so photographers could actually just send pre-written emails to their client dealing with all the issues that arose from the pandemic.
Since HoneyBook wasn’t selling anymore, our sales members were calling all of our members and just asking them how they were doing, what they needed and bought that intel into our systems so we could start working on ways to help photographers. And I’m barely scratching the surface. All of 2020, I witnessed this company go from crushing it at our goals to how do we stop everything and focus on the only thing that matters – our photographer members.
Integrity is not just a core value at HoneyBook. When we say people come first, we are going to put the people first even if we’re going to lose a ton of money by making this decision. But this is the only decision that matters. And then watching every member of this company make sacrifices in order to achieve that goal because our members come first, small businesses come first. We take this mission very seriously. I love that the company lives by its core values. Not just when it’s easy, but when it’s hard too.
The WHY Behind HoneyBook
ShootDotEdit: Wow. That’s pretty powerful. That’s fantastic. To come together like that and to rally and to reach out to your customers and say, how can we help? It’s not just rare, it’s pretty difficult too. And even though we can make a pretty good guess, what would you say is or are HoneyBook’s ‘whys’?
Natalie: At HoneyBook, we want every human being to own their independence with passion and purpose. And as a company, we are on a mission to empower independent business owners to rise together, doing what they love. And so our vehicle for doing that is through building our platform. We see how this client management software contributes to that, but our larger whys are so much greater.
We really believe every human being should be able to pursue what they’re passionate about. They should have the freedom to do it. They should be empowered to do it. They should have the tools they need, the community support, the knowledge, the education, all of that should be something they have access to. And so that would be our why in a nutshell. And I do believe as a company, we hit that why from so many angles, both with our platform and our community offerings.
The Stand-Out Products that HoneyBook Offers
ShootDotEdit: That’s a great summary. It’s perfect. Can you tell us what products or services does HoneyBook offer that make a photographer’s business better or that sets you apart from competitors or both?
Natalie: At HoneyBook, we want to reduce the amount of time you spend on the backend of your business because the truth is that success comes from investing your time directly into the things that only you can do, your craft, your creativity, your relationships, your community. Showing up where it matters and trusting that your CRM keeps your business operating seamlessly 24/7.
Overall – I want to encourage wedding photographers to map out their ideal client experience and invest their time building out that experience on our client management software. So many aren’t leveraging HoneyBook to its fullest potential and are missing out on hours of time savings and a deeper peace of mind. For example, not installing the contact form, not creating brochures directly on the platform and still having to juggle PDFs, not building out workflows to move clients through the funnel seamlessly, or not responding to inquiries or not sending our built in questionnaires automatically to reduce the rate of getting ghosted etc.
Now diving into some of those features more specifically.
HoneyBook’s templates allow you to create a framework for how your business operates – whether it’s for your files, emails, or pricing packages that you may use frequently. You have your verbal flow of how you want to communicate with clients. But with templates, you’re able to actually map out when you want clients to receive those templates, when you want them to be triggered so that they’re going out automatically and they’re being personalized automatically without you having to remember to do it. That’s happening while you’re sleeping, while you’re on a shoot, while you’re at a wedding. Your clients are getting cared for on their time on their terms.
As small business owners, workflow tools allow you to automate all the tasks that you will essentially build out in each client project life cycle, like automatically sending out emails or certain types of files. So when you automate your workflow, you can control the rate that you want and when you want them to trigger, so you don’t have to be constantly remembering to do it. This is a time-saver, which is great, but it’s also really supportive of your mental health. So you don’t constantly have to think about getting back to your clients or feel bad about not getting back to them.
3. HoneyBook Mobile App
HoneyBook mobile app for both iOS and Android has always been really important to us as a company because we believe that when you’re a wedding photographer, the world is your office. You’re not attached to your desk in front of your desktop all day. So for our platform to truly be a client management software for photographers, we want you to be able to run your business from anywhere. Most of our competitors don’t offer a mobile app for both iOS and Android. And those that do, the app is very limited in functionality. The capability of it, how we have an entire team dedicated to mobile – it is a big differentiator for HoneyBook.
The app is not just a duplicate of our platform and it is built for your mobile. There are even “surprise and delight” moments that are unique to the mobile app. So if you’re a member and you are at a shoot and your phone is in your pocket or in your camera bag and a client pays, you’re going to hear a ‘cha ching’ to notify you that you just got paid! And it is the sweetest sound.
4. Batch Emails
This is a lesser-used feature but one that I think photographers should use more. A photographer can leverage the batch email feature and send an email to a large segment of contacts all at once. It’s a super simple feature. And in my mind, as a former photographer, this is a powerful sales tool. So let’s say you have a group of clients whose weddings you have photographed in the past 2 years and you’re coming up on a slow season. There’s not a lot of cash flow coming in and you have time now to do an album sale. This batch email feature is a phenomenal way to reach out to all your clients at once to run specials or offer product and album sales at a discount. Essentially, communicate with them in mass.
And when they receive the email, it’s not a giant BCC. It is a personalized email that they would come to expect in any other part of the experience. So it allows you to scale the communication, but it keeps it personal on their end.
I have to give a shout out to our Rising Tide community as a differentiator for what HoneyBook does, because it is part of our core values. We have monthly meetups in cities all over the United States, Canada, and in different places around the world that are free. And you don’t even have to be a HoneyBook member to attend. Like they’re free for all independent businesses. We also have downloadable guides, a vibrant blog, education that’s produced weekly and just so much that we’re putting out to the community to help photographers and small business owners, to equip them with the knowledge that they need.
We run an accelerator program called UPWRD that is all about taking your business to the next level. We do product webinars, workshops. There’s a strong focus on community education. And I do think it’s something that can really help you in your business to just get access to that knowledge, get connected with those educators, learn and really grow on your own time and on your own terms.
Migration – HoneyBook Does it For You
ShootDotEdit: Is there one thing that you wish more of your members or potential customers knew about HoneyBook but don’t or don’t take as much advantage of as you wish they would?
Natalie: I wish everyone took advantage of our free migration service. So we will literally help you get started with our client management software by transferring all of your existing contracts, pricing questionnaires into our system for you.
One of the biggest things that we hear from photographers and independent businesses is how daunting the prospect of switching systems can be. Even if they have been wanting to do it for a while or they are not happy with the current system they are using. The idea of getting everything onboarded is really overwhelming. And our team will literally do it for you for free. We do free account migration services. And so you can send us your pricing packages, service lists, contract language, your lead and client questionnaires and our team will do the heavy lifting of getting it into the system.
And then if you want even more help, let’s say you want someone to build your workflows, build out your dream templates, expand upon them, who has experienced doing this really well for really successful people in your field, we have HoneyBook pros for that. So beyond just getting you into the system and fully onboarded, we have pros that you can hire that will straight up build out the most extraordinary client experience for you. So I just wish that people knew that even though the onboarding process can feel so intimidating, it’s not. It only takes a couple of minutes of work on your end and then our team takes over and will have you up and running within a week.
ShootDotEdit: That’s a lot! Clearly, you guys have a lot going on, which is a great segue to our next question. So is there something in the works that is a big deal and that you can talk about? We know sometimes product development is hush-hush but anything that you want to highlight?
Natalie: Yes! We are working intensely on a major innovation that we’ll be releasing later this year, and it’s not just a new feature, it’s a way of running your business. And it’s something we’ve been working on for months. I am so personally excited about it because I want to use this! So something really big is coming, but I can’t reveal too much because it’s currently in progress. So I would say “stay tuned”.
Time Saving is at the Heart of What HoneyBook Does
ShootDotEdit: That’s awesome! We look forward to watching that happen! So, tell us about time. Do you consider HoneyBook a time saver for photographers?
Natalie: Yes. Period. The end. Yes, we are. And we’re really passionate about it. We believe that nothing is more precious than your time. And so you should spend that time how you want to spend it. That could mean spending time with your family, practicing your craft or just doing nothing at all. You should have the freedom to make that decision. We really believe that time is your most precious asset, that it is like literally your most valuable currency. It’s the only thing you can never get more of. And so time becomes a really critical component, both to success in business, but also to feel a sense of fulfillment and freedom and joy that you deserve to feel in building that business. We have to guard it and invest in opportunities to get more of it. And that’s why I love what both of our companies do. We can always go out and build more businesses and generate more revenue, but time is truly something we’ll never get back. So guarding it, fighting for it is at the heart of what we do.
Outsourcing and the Success Mindset
ShootDotEdit: Are there any other vendors or services or even a mindset that you think photographers need to have to be successful?
Natalie: So, for me, there are three broad categories to this.
Investing in Education: There were lessons that I learned from other educators that saved me years of making mistakes by learning it in five minutes. And there are educators like Chip Dizard, India Earl, Tomayia Colvin, Michelle Harris, Amy + Jordan Demos, Vanessa Hicks – I could go on for years. I would say, as a photographer, invest in your education.
Outsourcing, Growing Your Team with a CEO Mindset: Outsourcing might look like growing your team. It could look like hiring someone to support you with social media or sales or album design or product support. But I believe at its core, it comes down to moving from the solopreneur mindset to the CEO mindset. To succeed over time you have to start taking steps to think of yourself not as the person who has to bear all of the responsibility for all of the things at all times, but as the person who owns and commands the business, who is the CEO, who makes the decisions. You run the business, the business doesn’t run you. So, it’s all about that CEO mindset.
Prioritizing Mental Health: Running a small business can be isolating. So, prioritizing mental health is so critical and so is protecting, guarding and nurturing it. And you shouldn’t be ashamed to do it either. It could mean investing in therapy every week or just getting out into nature and doing personal work to reinspire yourself. It could also mean building a community or being a part of one where you have folks that are checking in on you that are making sure you’re doing okay.
ShootDotEdit: That’s such a strong note to end on. Closing with this message that even though photographers are running their own businesses, they are never alone. But before we finish, can you tell our readers how they can find you and get to learn more about you and your services?
Whether it’s about empowering photographers to own their independence and dedicate their lives to doing what they are passionate about or investing in innovation that will ease photographer’s lives further, we realized how much of our values at ShootDotEdit match those that the team has cultivated over at HoneyBook and Rising Tide Society.
With a whole host of features that range from email templates that simplify client communication to invoicing, contracts, and payment tools that help streamline your process, HoneyBook as a client management software for small businesses and a ‘people-first’ company certainly goes the extra mile. From the top-notch features that help small business owners focus on their craft and not worry about the backend work to providing a whole team of people dedicated to ensuring that the photographers and their clients have the best user experience, HoneyBook inspires us to see how a successful business can run better with better tools.
Natalie, we want to thank you for being such an inspiration and taking the time to inspire us and all our readers. We saw how passionate you were – as an individual and an organization – about your community, and saying that we were impressed would be an understatement. It gave us so much joy to speak with you and we hope that you continue to pave the way for countless other small business owners with the same compassion. If you guys were inspired by Natalie’s words like we were, and want to get to know her better, she’s also the author of the book Built To Belong, in which she talks about the power of community over competition.
Like HoneyBook and Rising Tide Society, at ShootDotEdit, we aim to make your life as a wedding photographer easier and help you save more time. And we do this by reducing your post-production workload, so that you can dedicate that time to doing things you love most. We edit your photos to match your style and help you deliver excellence to your clients. To learn more about how we can help your wedding photography business, check out our pricing plans.