I'm a sucker for tech hacks. I just love making business as easy as possible for myself and my clients. (You can learn how in previous blog posts like 5 reasons all freelancers should use a project management tool.)
Because of my love for automation and organization, I couldn't wait to share this guest post with you! This one is written by tech expert Kristen Smith. In it, she'll show you how to use autoresponders, time trackers and more to increase your productivity as a web or graphic designer.
Like it or not, an element of creative genius will always be an essential part of your business. If social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat have taught us anything it’s the reality that no matter how stunning and meaningful the brand, creativity is unavoidable.
For those of us in the Web & Graphic Design field this need provides us a great opportunity to build our brand reputation and skills. Fact is, digital entrepreneurship and marketing is here to stay. Staying abreast of new trends and learning how to manage the workload will be imperative.
The ability to think outside the box is just one of the things that I love about us creatives. We possess a unique insight that allows us to connect to website and graphic design elements in a way that expertly executes the vision of our clients.
That being said, we often let creativity run the show and neglect the very important business of systems management and tools that allow us to be productive and manage multiple clients with varied workloads. Lack of structure not only puts your client roster in jeopardy but it causes you unnecessary overwhelm. My goal today is to help you avoid that.
Many creatives can miss the mark because they are trying to fulfill their clients needs.
I understand that it’s all about the client when it comes to your business but in order to be successful in your business, your productivity has to change. I’ve had former clients in the creative space so I’ve seen it firsthand. They’ve been so focused on running the business that the productivity in the business has suffered.
No one wants to do business with someone who can just deliver. People want to do business with a company that can not only deliver but be accurate and efficient in their approach.
Productivity could be sliding away from your business at this very moment but I’m here to help you correct things and put you on a better path. Running a business is one thing. Being productive in that business for yourself and your clients is another. Here are five tech hacks that will increase your productivity as a web or graphic designer:
01. Autoresponder For Your Email
The email inbox struggle is real. Within hours of clearing out the clutter, it’s filled again. While a full inbox could be an indicator that business is booming, it can also mean that important messages are being overlooked or responded to late. A missed email could mean missing out on a substantial amount of money and beneficial collaborations.
This is why you need an autoresponder.
Having an autoresponder shows that you are in receipt of the inquiry from your contact form or website. This allows the person interested in your services to know that you’ve received their message and allows them to become familiar with your communication timeline and process.
It can sometimes seem annoying but it definitely provides you with a time stamped record of when initial contact is made with a potential client.
Would you rather get into a situation where a potential client stated that you never received their email? OR would you rather have the autoresponder sent alerting them that someone from your team or you will follow-up with them based on the follow-up measures put in place.
Autoresponders cut down on lost email because it responds automatically when someone clicks the send button. This is excellent from a customer service perspective.
02. Automate Your To-Do List
There is always a project to be attended to but you always feel like you have too much going on. Automating your to-do list can help you be more productive in your business life.
If you have things that should be recurring like checking your email at a certain time every morning or following up with a client via your project management system, automation can help you achieve this.
Automation is definitely everything in my world and it should be the same for yours.
I would definitely invest in the business plan by Zapier. Yes, it’s $50 per month but with the ability to do multi-steps and recurring tasks, it will truly be worth the investment. By clicking start and setting up recurring zaps, your business will pretty much be ready to run, grow, and automate all thanks to this fantastic tool called Zapier.
03. Time Tracker For Projects
Web or Graphic design work can be tedious but keeping track of your time is a must.
Time tracking is important not only for your revenue but also for your productivity.
Many web or graphic designers are not charging the appropriate rates for their services. Not because of talent or skill but because they are not managing their time properly for projects.
Time tracking tools allow you to see the real time invested into each client project. Many projects spend more time than you think on them but because the time is not being tracked properly, you have no way of understanding your benchmarks for your business.
From the initial consult, to signing the contract, to even beginning the work time is still of the essence and should be valued.
Check out apps or systems such as Tyme (one of my favorites), Timely, Hours Time Tracking, and much much more.
It’s time get the revenue you deserve and that comes from tracking your hours.
I’ve been using Tyme for the past six months and I’ve seen significant increases in my productivity. Time Tracking allows me to focus on the immediate task at hand instead of attempting to multi-task.
04. Manage All Client Projects In One Place
The word “project management” simply means what it stands for: the ability to help you manage projects. In a web or graphic design world it has another meaning: automated projects solution.
Having project conversations via email or phone might not always be best when it comes to our productivity. Using a project management tool like Basecamp, Asana, or Trello can allow you to organize all of your clients, their projects, team notes, policies, procedures, and more in one place.
(Pssst! Nesha here. I have a free course that will help you set up and learn how to use Asana with your clients. Sign up here!)
Many people use project management tools just for personal projects but why not use it for your entire business? These systems were created for the work you do in your business and It will help you keep everything organized into one place.
Create teams to have separate accesses to certain boards or Basecamps. Automate notifications to check in with people in regards to their task for the day, week, or duration during the project.
These tech hacks can not only make your team feel inspired but also keep them accountable for their assignment based on any project. It will keep people more sharp than you know.
05. Automate Your Potential Client Onboarding
People have seen your work and are excited to finally work with you. Now, you need to onboard them properly. Too many web or graphic designers make this process way too complicated or completely neglect it.
It’s time to focus on simplicity and close the deal sooner than later.
Provide them with an onboarding workflow where they feel comfortable, begin to understand your price, policy, & procedures, and can sense your client process, will make things extremely easy for them.
A lot of these tasks can be automated by Zapier or IFTTT. It’s about taking the time to research the best systems for you and your business to accomplish the goals that you have written down.
Most of your potential new clients want to sign the deal and start the work on their project. They don’t want to be bombarded with all these tasks or multiple steps just for them to realize that they are not going to move forward working with you.
Don’t delay this process just because your onboarding process isn’t in order.
Create an onboarding process that will make your potential clients be proud to be working with you.
The key to increasing your productivity is your workflow process.
In my Onboarding System Workflows Mini-Course, I teach you how to lay the foundation, learn about the systems, and creative the workflow to simplify and automation your potential on boarding process. If you’re tired of doing things manually, losing out on potential clients, and wasting your time, enroll in my Onboarding System Workflow Mini-Course and begin to see results immediately.
All of the tech hacks I’ve provided for you today in this blog are real hacks that I currently use in my business model. I’m all for practicing what you preach and these hacks have helped me tremendously. These 5 hacks all play a significant part in your business especially when it comes to your productivity.
We don’t realize how much time we’re wasting until we are forced to see it with our own eyes.
It’s time to be productive so we can continue to run and grow your business with ease and productivity.
Kristen is the Founder/Chief BizTech Strategist of The Smith Group, LLC, which is a Business & Technology consulting and strategy firm providing entrepreneurs and small-mid size businesses services that help them leverage the power of technology (via automation, systems, website buildouts, website audits, and more) to increase their productivity, revenue, and automate their business online (and beyond). She was born and raised from Baltimore, MD but currently residing in Atlanta, GA.
Kristen received her B.A. in Psychology from Hampton University and her MBA in Management of Technology from Georgia Institute of Technology. She also received a Certificate of Global Leadership: Conducting Business in China from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. Her superhero power is she is a Former Apple Genius.