Are you new to IFTTT? Then check out this article first!

For many of us in photography, keeping up with the business side is probably not at the top of our list of fun things to do. Realistically, most of us would rather be crafting that perfect photo than itemizing our receipts. Using an automation tool like can ease the burden of the business side. Think of it as your internet friend who doesn’t mind doing the stuff you don’t want to do!

How to use IFTTT

Here are some ways I use IFTTT (IF This, Then That) to stay on top of my business, and free up time to do what I love, photography! If you are new to IFTTT, check out my IFTTT introductory article IFTTT for Photographers – Save Time and Get Organized, to learn all about this tool and how it can help you.

Add incoming receipts in your Gmail to a Google spreadsheet (w/ first attachment)  This applet identifies any emails containing receipts or invoices sent to your Gmail address, and adds them to a spreadsheet in Google Drive. For paper receipts I scan them in using the camera on my phone and store them all in the same folder on Google Drive. If you use other services including Evernote, or Expensify, there are applets for those as well. Makes it a lot easier come tax time to claim those expenses!

Track your work hours in Google Calendar and/or Press a button to track work hours in Google Drive Working on assignment where you need to track hours? The first applet lets you set your workplace, tracks via GPS how long you are at the site, and saves it to your Google Calendar. The second lets you create a button on your phone’s home screen, pressing it starts and stops your time tracking. Great for tracking hours on shoots, editing, or even how much time you spend at your favorite park.

If New Stripe Payment, Add Row to Google Sheets Stripe is our preferred e-commerce payment service, but other payment services are supported as well. This tracks payments customers make on our website to a spreadsheet I can open from anywhere. It’s handy for quick snapshots of your sales to date, and for keeping a backup of all your sales data.

Track your car trips in a Google Spreadsheet – If you are using your vehicle for your photography business, you have to keep track of your mileage. Trying to play catch up or make sense of old logs is a nightmare. This IFTTT applet is free but this one does need a little more set up and you may have to buy a little gadget and a paid app to get the most out of it. But it’s still a pretty affordable solution, the reader and app below will cost you about 25 bucks or less. It also shows you just how complex of a connection you can make, which ultimately will save you a lot of time.

  • First, install the Dash app (Android or iOs) on your phone. Dash is an app that connects your car’s computer to your smart phone. If Dash is able to connect to your car’s computer, great skip ahead! But if you have an older truck like mine, you will have to get a gadget, below, to let your car’s computer and smartphone talk to each other.
  • Get an OBD2 Scanner (Android or IOs version) and plug it in! The OBD2 Scanner plugs into the diagnostic port on your car, it is a consumer version of an auto mechanic’s diagnostic scanner for seeing what data and error messages your car’s computer is reporting. It connects via bluetooth to your smart phone, and makes your car’s computer accessible by apps like Dash. The scanners are platform dependent, make sure you get one specific to Android/Windows or iOs depending on the phone you use. Installation is simple, just look up where your OBD2 port is, and plug it in!
  • Connect your OBD2 Scanner to Dash. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and tutorials in Dash to do so.
  • Connect the Dash service on IFTTT.
  • Pick an applet to start saving your Dash data. I use one for Google Spreadsheets, Track your car trips in a Google Spreadsheet, but there are a variety available in the Dash channel.

Saving Time

Here’s what happens if you set it all up correctly. You fire up your car, the OBD2 scanner connects to your phone and starts the Dash app. IFTTT recognizes Dash is running, and begins logging trip data to a Google Spreadsheet, in my case one named “Mileage Log”, in a folder named “Vehicle Expenses”. Now you have a detailed log of everything that happens when you turn your car’s engine on! You can track things like trip mileage, gas consumption, where you went, and when. No more handwritten logs, no more forgotten entries, and you can easily add a formula to add up all your miles for each trip/month/year.

If you hadn’t guessed by now, I have become a big fan of IFTTT. It’s a free but powerful organizer and time saver, and has become a key part of my photography workflow and business. Most importantly it helps keep my business time and family life in balance, so I spend less time doing the business stuff, and more time with them!


More “IFTTT for Photographers” Articles

Can’t get enough IFTTT?  Check out the whole series of articles I have put together!