How to automate your business and free up your time
As a creative entrepreneur with an online business, things can get somewhat hectic sometimes. Finding the right tools to help me stay organized was a definite game changer. I would go crazy if I didn’t have these things implemented for my business. I want to share with you the secret tools (not really) that I use and how they can help you stay organized in your business.
1. Utilizing a CRM software
I personally use Asana when working with my clients. This CRM software keeps my clients and I on the same page. Asana is where I manage my client projects and it’s extremely easy because I don’t have to shuffle between other tools to keep my projects on course. It’s extremely easy to track and manage all of my projects from day one to deadline. The best part is that it’s free for the first 15 team members that you add! A little hack I do is once I’ve hit the 15 team member mark I delete the oldest client I have on file. Make sure you save any important files before deleting anything! I can’t begin to describe how Asana has saved me with client deadlines and having both parties (myself and my clients) being accountable for deadlines. We are both aware of when things are due, so it makes the design process flow smoothly. What I like to do is once I start working with a new client I will create a new project (named after their company) and use the list option as the layout. Once the project is created I will add different phases depending on whether it is a Squarespace web design project or a brand design project. Creating phases (phase 1, phase 2, phase 3, etc.) is there to guide my clients through my design process and provide a timeline for their project. I’ve noticed how using Asana helps keep my clients aware of the progress of their project. I also use Asana to attach documents that they need for their project and vice versa. It helps keep everything organized in one place without having to use so many different software programs.
2. Utilizing Google Drive
I use Google Drive to keep myself organized with client files, templates, canned emails etc. I have created 6 folders to separate the different types of files. I have an Admin folder, Branding Clients folder, Web Design Clients folder, Past Clients folder, Potential Clients folder, and Workflow Process folder.
Within each folder I include files that I believe are corresponding of the name of the folder. For example, in my Admin folder I have some documents that I have created for my website, like my FAQ’s or canned emails that I tend to use with clients for specific situations. For my Workflow Process folder, I have created documents that I know I will be using with clients frequently. This is where I keep the Client Questionnaire I give to my clients for their Squarespace web design process. I simply copy the document and rename it to my client’s company’s name (File à Make a Copy). Once I create the new document under my client’s company’s name I create a folder for that client under Web Design Clients or Branding Clients folder. I could explain what I do for my other folders but they’re pretty self-explanatory.
Having these folders organized and ready to go keeps me extremely organized and when I’m looking for something specific I know exactly where to go. I would highly recommend creating some sort of workflow in your Google Drive to keep your files and documents organized.
3. Contracts and Invoicing
I like to keep my contracts, proposals and invoices in one place. That’s why I use AND CO which is a free business software tool for freelancers. You’re able to create proposals, contracts, invoicing, expense tracking and so much more on there. AND CO helps me save time with their pre-made contract specially made for freelancers like you and me! I find AND CO to be simple and secure to use for my clients and I haven’t ran into any problems (knock on wood!). Your easily able to sign contracts online with an electronic signature and get paid by either connecting your PayPal account, Stripe or use their certified software WePay to manage payments! Try it out for free now.
4. Email Marketing
I have created a welcome email sequence through MailChimp that gets sent out to new subscribers no matter when they sign up. This welcome email sequence contains 5 emails that are sent out every other day or every two days. This has helped me automate part of my business so when someone subscribes to my newsletter I already have content ready to send them. I have also connected my blog where I use an RSS campaign to email new posts to my subscribed contacts. This helps make sure I’m covered with sharing my most recent blog posts with my subscribers and it also gives me content to send out to them using email marketing. If you’re a MailChimp and Squarespace user you can find more information about it here and here as well.
5. Scheduling out social media posts
I have a feeling some of you might hate this or love this. I personally like it because it helps me save precious time and focus more on the important aspects of my business (not saying that social media is not important). If you’re a business owner you know that you need to have an online presence if you want to build your brand, get clients, etc. It’s a must! But it is so so so time consuming that sometimes I want to just give up on it. I want to explain how I schedule out my social media posts depending on the platform I use.
I’ve eased the tension between Instagram and I by scheduling out my posts a week in advance. This has helped me in so many ways because it provides a cohesive feed for the week and I don’t have to be worrying about what I’m going to post! Like I mentioned some of you might hate the idea of scheduling posts because you feel like it takes away from engaging with your would-be clients. I want to make it clear, I think it’s great to schedule out posts, but I still feel like you should take some time out of your day (at least 30 minutes) to engage with your followers and the users commenting on your posts. It’s also a great tip if you’re looking to grow your Instagram. I personally use the app called Later to schedule out my Instagram posts, it’s great because you can also see how the posts will look on your feed before you even post! I know Later costs money up to a certain amount of scheduled posts, although I’m still managing to use it for free!
Don’t make your life complicated, sharing your posts to your Facebook page has never been easier. Once my Instagram photo has posted I simply click on the photo, click on the 3 dots in the top right corner and click “share” I then tap on my business page and voilà the post has been shared on my Facebook page. I do the same when I post a blog on my Squarespace website. Squarespace allows you to connect your social media accounts so when you’re about to post a blog if you scroll to the “social” tab you will see the accounts that you have connected. There’s a toggle switch on each account and you can choose which platforms you want to share the blog to. This helps me save so much time when posting my blogs on my different social media accounts.
I just got on this train, but I feel like it’s worth mentioning. My friend told me about Tailwind which is a Pinterest scheduler. I am still wrapping my head around Pinterest although I do know it is a very powerful tool to use for your business. With Tailwind you’re able to find content that you want to repin and once you have that batch of content you’re essentially able to choose the times you want that content to be repinned and what day. This saves a whole lot of time because if you’re somewhat familiar with Pinterest you sure as heck know it is so time consuming. You’d be there all day repinning content! Tailwind does cost money but if you’re new to the platform they give you 100 free pins to start with!
We all know that if you have a blog it can be extremely time consuming, not only to write the content but to even think about what you’re going to write about 😂. In order to keep myself accountable in writing content for my blog, Tuesday’s and Thursday’s are the days new content will be posted. That means that I should have my Tuesday’s blog post ready by Monday night to be able to post it by Tuesday 12pm PST. Same goes for my Thursday’s blog post which is scheduled for the same time, so I have to make sure it has been written no later than Wednesday. Creating a schedule for my blog posts keeps me both on schedule and accountable to stay consistent with my blog. I want to eventually move to writing both of my blog posts by Sunday night and scheduling them out for Tuesday’s and Thursday’s. I would suggest this is the best way to automate this part of your business. Try it out and let me know what you think!
There you have it these are the tricks/software programs that I use to automate my online business and free up time. Applying these things has also helped me stay organized in my business without driving me insane (as of now). Try them out and let me know how it goes for you and your business! Good luck!!