As the owner of a freelance videography company called Foster Creative, I’m a videographer, graphic designer, motion graphic animator and entrepreneur all in one. Having recently moved from the plains of Nebraska to the mountains of Colorado to expand my business’ creative services where I grew up, I also realized how much I needed to button up my entrepreneurial venture to secure more clients while keeping organized.
Though sometimes it can be hard to stay on top of my clients and cash flow, I’ve implemented some pretty easy ways to help streamline my business and even automate my workflow.
Here are some of my tips to simplify your workflow and save time:
- Centralize crucial steps
It’s important to first figure out the many factors that go into keeping your freelance business afloat. I used to use three different services to help me stay organized: an app for contract creation, another for invoicing and yet another one for notifying me of when clients view contracts and invoices. The result? Anxiety and scattered workflow.
I soon realized how important (read: imperative) it was to find an app that centralized all of these crucial steps in my sales pipeline to save time and worry, and ultimately simplify my workflow. Using apps like AND CO and Trello solved this problem for me. It’s all about finding what works. AND CO streamlines all the important aspects of managing my business, including invoicing, chasing clients on late payments and keeping track of my expenses and time. Trello has been indispensable in creating a sales and project pipeline. Once I wrote out the most important part of my business, I knew I needed to figure out a solid workflow to support it.
- Manage your finances more efficiently
Keeping track of your expenses is key and offers valuable insights in the long run. Though intuitive for some people, I found that keeping a close eye on my expenses helped me ultimately cut out the unnecessary ones, replacing them with less expensive alternatives. It might take a bit to keep track of your expenses, then change usual patterns, but it’s well worth it in the long run.
An easy way to do this is to simply write down every penny that you spend. To streamline this, find an app that’ll do that for you so you’re not relying on the pen and paper method. These apps help illustrate your spending habits in graphs and such, and as a visual person this has been invaluable for me.
I use MileIQ to help keep track of the miles I’m driving while I freelance. It’s truly a game changing app, because it takes all of the guess work out of figuring miles to write off on my taxes.
Many entrepreneurs that don’t keep proper records will lose out on deductions they’re entitled to. Staying on top of this will keep you buttoned up and save much needed money come tax season.
- Focus on your client and scope
The start of any work relationship must always begin with a contract in place so that you and your client are on the same page in terms of payment and scope. It also helps you communicate more clearly and effectively from the get-go, so you don’t waste time during the process with a lot of back and forth.
Pro tip: I always include payment dates and amounts, and as a videographer, I list out the specific parts of weddings that I guarantee to have on film. It’s rare, but I have run into issues with clients who weren’t on the same page with me, so whenever that happens, I usually will change or add to my language in hopes that I never run into that problem again.
Using an app, I can create a contract in less than five minutes. With that contract, I have also created invoices, saving myself even more time. Best of all, I can create a contract on the go on my phone or at my PC. With a secure contract in place, there’s not as much guesswork, and you can outline exactly when the project will finish and when you expect to be paid.
It’s a good idea to include customizable terms in your contract to better serve you and your business needs. This can range from putting a fee on late client payments and how many revisions you’re willing to do. Again, by setting this up early on, you’ll know exactly what’s expected of you and what you expect from your client. Win win.
Your business becomes a lot less complicated once you start to break down your goals and centralize your needs. With freelance comes a lot of work to not only manage your clients and projects, but your own business, as well. Wearing a lot of different hats requires a streamlined workflow so you can succeed and stay on top.