Designer, maker, administrator, accountant, marketer, sales person.... if you're running your own creative business you'll be familiar with these positions because you do them all! Having to manage all of these things can be difficult, but there are ways to stay organised, I have some tips for you!
I've been running my jewellery business alongside my job as a copywriter and marketer for many years now, and to juggle the two I have had to become an organised person. Doing this means I always dispatch my orders on time, answer customer queries promptly and am able to manage my stress levels. Here's how I organise my days to ensure I never let a customer down:
Have just one to do list. I've been guilty in the past for having lists scattered around - on my phone, on various notebooks and pieces of paper or on my hand! I use software now, Google Keep, as I'm not always at home and I'm liable to forget paper planners and books. I can access it on any computer or on my phone, so my lists are always available, whether I need to remind myself of the supplies I need to order or which social network needs updating. Find what works for you and stick to one method.
Give emails first priority. If someone's gone to the trouble of writing you an email or filling in your contact form then they are pretty much ready to buy something, so give them first priority. I've seen lots of tips and tricks about email management, but the way I do it is just to be prompt. I try to include as much information about sizing, shipping and materials on my website as I can, to reduce the number of queries I get. If I do receive an email from a customer I'll always respond immediately. If I'm just about to go out I'll set a reminder on my phone to reply when I know I'll be back at my desk, or able to reply on my phone.
Using templates is also really helpful, especially at Christmas time. If you find yourself answering the same question over and over, create a template to save your time (or add it to your website FAQs).
Recurring reminders. I wouldn't remember anything without reminders, and recurring reminders are especially helpful to instil good business habits. I use monthly reminders to tell me when my website subscription fee is about to be debited or to pay my Etsy bill. I use weekly recurring reminders to remind me to check my supplies, check my make list for a weekend studio day or to update my social media. Recurring reminders save me a lot of headspace, and sometimes money too!
Make use of software. We're so lucky to have lots of free or affordable software available to us, and this makes running a business much easier. Here's what I use software for:
- Social media. No one has time to tweet, Instagram and post on Facebook daily, so use a social media scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to save your time. I tend to schedule two weeks in advance, which frees up my time and gives me enough time to space out tweets and cover everything I want to talk about. Buffer's been especially helpful as it pushes a notification to my phone when it's time to post to Instagram, if you'd like to go a step further you can use Schedugram to schedule to Instagram.
- Accountancy. I'm so bad at maths. I hate doing taxes. That's normal. To make my life easier I use accountancy software to record income and expenses. Having control of your finances makes tax time less stressful and also helps with financial planning, I use Xero and the reports are really helpful. The app is also super useful as I can just spend a few minutes a day updating transactions.
- To do lists and product development. As mentioned before I use Google Keep to organise my to-do lists, and I also use it for product development. Having a place to keep notes and thoughts on products and marketing is so helpful, I can go back to it when I'm ready to design a piece or launch a campaign.
- Cloud storage. I use Dropbox to store my edited jewellery photos, product descriptions and design assets like logos and business cards. As it is all stored in the cloud I can access it on my laptop, tablet or phone, so I can update my site or upload a photo to my social media accounts whenever I need to. It's also more secure than relying on a laptop that can break at any moment! Store your most used files in the cloud and then make sure you back them up at least twice elsewhere too.
Stock take regularly. I try to stock take my supplies and finished jewellery at least once a month, so I can plan what I need to buy in the coming month. As I'm often away from the studio having my stock take notes in Google Keep is really helpful. If I suddenly get a flurry of orders for gold dotted stacking rings, I'll know whether I need to put in a supply order before the cut off time for dispatch.
Tidy! I like to tidy my studio pretty regularly, normally before I start making. A clear desk means a clear head to me, and I work more efficiently and happily. It's also safer if you're soldering! Having good storage and dedicated places for your tools, materials and stationery supplies makes tidying up much quicker too.
Do you have any tips for staying organised when running a creative business? I'm always looking for more ideas!