Early in your entrepreneurial career, it is not uncommon to be the business development lead, social media strategist and manager, administrator, copywriter, and bookkeeper. We wear many hats to get the job done, and pride ourselves on the nimble approach we take within our business operations and with our clients.
Although impressive, the “I can do anything, and everything, all at once and for everyone” approach leaves us at a bottleneck for client deliverables, with little work-life balance, and potential resentment toward the thing we once loved — building our business. At this point, we’re no longer able to embrace the freedom that freelancing should provide, and we’re continually working with our laptops as an extension of our bodies.
This isn’t a healthy way of doing business. It’s also not a healthy way of living our lives. If we desire to grow, we must begin to automate, delegate, and systematize our processes. It can seem scary to let go of control, but the other side is full of joy.
Below is a list of tools I’ve used to help improve the efficiency of my business flow with my team and clients, which allows me to focus on the growth of the business.
10 Tools that will boost your productivity and streamline your business and marketing efforts
Dubsado is a business management solution designed to cut out the busywork, build relationships, schedule appointments, and create workflows to streamline your projects from start to finish. This web-based platform helps you manage all client communication after the onboarding process. You can create a client portal that allows you and the client to keep all deliverables in one place, schedule meetings, review agreements, and more.
The best part about this process is automation. Once you create a workflow, you’re free to focus on building your craft and your business.
Strict Workflow is a browser extension that encourages 25-minute uninterrupted work time, and 5-minute breaks afterward. It seems that the moment you’re in your zone, distractions are coming ahead. It’s almost inevitable.
However, with this extension, your browser blocks certain websites with a friendly reminder to get back to work. It’s like having an automated accountability partner.
If you’re not on the Canva bandwagon, this may persuade you. Whether you’re an entrepreneur with basic graphic design needs or a professional graphic artist who is an expert with Adobe InDesign, Canva is a simple yet powerful online design platform that can turn any idea into beautiful visuals easily and quickly.
As we all know, video is a powerhouse for engagement with social media. Instead of hiring a team to create quick video snippets, consider the video options in Canva. The platform recently announced its focus on video, and premium account users can create video content for their platforms directly from their Canva Dashboard.
They also have a mobile app that allows users to design on the go.
ClickUp is a web and mobile application designed to help organize, track, and manage one’s workflow. This tool is phenomenal at keeping you on track for the progress of your projects and deliverables. If you’re familiar with platforms like Asana, Trello, and Slack, this is like having all of those in one user experience. As you’re building your team, this tool will help you with integrating everyone’s workflow and permits unlimited users on your team within the free version.
As a user, you receive daily reports highlighting your tasks and upcoming deliverables, along with immediate notifications when assigned to a project if something changes.
Bonus Tip: For your social strategy, you can also track your content calendar workflow from ideation to scheduling content. With a bit of creativity, this tool will enhance the overall flow for your day and increase productivity.
5. Wave Apps
As a direct competitor to QuickBooks, its platform is designed with entrepreneurs in mind. Users can send branded invoicing, upload and organize receipts, and print reports.
Here’s the best part: All platform features mentioned are free. Within the premium plan, you can manage independent contractors and employees directly through the system to accurately track all of your business expenses. It’s a one-stop-shop for your business finances and a reliable alternative with fantastic reviews.
In addition to the standard scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer, Facebook recently released its own scheduling platform through Facebook Creator Studio. The platform schedules content for Facebook, Instagram Feed, and IGTV. The best part about this tool is its native posting to Instagram. There are no more photo notifications that require a real-time post, which frees you up to be in the moment.
Freelancer Tip: If you’re feeling guilty about scheduling your content, don’t. Planning your content is a smart approach to handling your social pages and allows you to become more proactive in your content strategy.
If you’re anything like me, I have client-facing work hours, and then there are my actual work hours. To minimize the possibility of looking like a crazy person or creating a false expectation that a response is required when I send my early morning emails, I use Boomerang for Gmail. I batch-schedule emails, and they release at a more desirable time.
If you want to set boundaries and client expectations on your availability, it starts with you, and this can be a great fantastic point.
Mailchimp is a marketing automation tool that helps you build thoughtful, strategic email marketing campaigns. Through the platform, you receive analytics on your campaigns, which enables you to adjust your strategy to optimize your results. In addition to the email marketing capabilities, you can also integrate your campaigns with your social media pages to create consistency across all of your marketing channels.
If you’re creating and establishing an email list, Mailchimp will help you engage with your clients and customers proactively. The platform also has industry compliance. What does this mean? It means that users are GDPR friendly, and your brand will adhere to laws that keep consumers safe from spammers.
G-Suite, by Google Cloud, is by far one of the best tools within a busy freelancer’s toolbox. G Suite is a suite connected to your Gmail account that provides easy access to your files, enhances productivity, and creates seamless collaboration for clients and your team.
Bonus Tip: Did you know that your Google Drive goes on the go with you? Since most phones have Google incorporated into its standard apps, you also have a default folder the takes you directly to your Google drives. If you have multiple Gmail accounts, you can link them for easy access to all of them, regardless of your location. There is also an app called Google Keep, which allows you to jot down notes on your phone, and they automatically store into your Google Drive.
Looking for ways to maximize your time? Consider time blocking with your Google Calendar. Throughout your day, you will receive notification reminders, which will help you become more proactive in time management.
As a freelance writer, it’s natural to say “yes” to writing gigs proposed by clients. It’s a great portfolio builder, and with the client’s permission, you can integrate the work with client testimonials. However, if you have a client that needs long-form content at scale, it’s best to free your time and recommend ClearVoice. With thousands of vetted freelance professionals within the ClearVoice community, your client’s content marketing will thrive, and they give major kudos for the valuable recommendation.
There are hundreds of tools that can help with establishing your business structure. Regardless of your tool of choice, creating systems is essential for growth and sanity. If you’re considering ways to streamline your client workflow, find the tools that fit best for you and start now.
Automating systems within your business will help you thrive and enjoy the freedom that comes along with being a freelancer.