If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from becoming a virtual assistant, it’s that creative entrepreneurs are not an organized bunch!
Now, there’s absolutely no shame in that. As right-brainers, we’re naturally built to be better at some things than others. But becoming a business owner means that you need to recognize what you are really good at, and what you might need help with.
For example, I’m absolutely terrible at math, so hiring a bookkeeper or a virtual assistant to do that work is probably a really good idea for me. If you aren’t ready to hire on help, there are great resources out there for organizing things yourself, such as my email course: 7 Time-Saving Biz Systems!
To show you what I mean, here are 4 ways that you can get organized as a creative entrepreneur.
4 Ways to Get Organized as a Creative Entrepreneur
Ideas & Content
One important way that you should get organized as a creative entrepreneur is with your content and your ideas. I can’t imagine trying to keep up with all of my different ideas if I didn’t write them down. That’s why I use Evernote as a way to organize all of those different thoughts, and then I can come back and make sense of them later.
My favorite way to make use of Evernote is to keep a running list of blog post ideas. I also have one for guest post and newsletter topics!
Another free organizational tool I’ve heard great things about is Trello. Trello is a group of “boards” that can each contain many lists, filled with separate cards. Not sure exactly how to use it for your business? For one awesome idea, check out this post from Olivia Derby on How to Manage a Killer Sales Funnel with Trello.
I’m also a huge fan of keeping an editorial calendar for your blog and newsletter, as it’s a great way to plan out themes and stay on top of what you’re going to write about next. I also love using mine as a really effective way to track guest blog posts. (Download my free template!)
This is a biggie! C’mon, hands up if “inbox zero” sounds like an absolute impossibility for you.
My first suggestion is get on Gmail! When I first started my business, I was using Mac’s native Mail program, but after a couple months, I made the switch to Gmail and never looked back. Some of my favorite features include labels, folders, plus it has awesome integrations with other Google programs like Sheets, Docs, and Hangouts!
Personally, I don’t love the different “tabs” they introduced a few years ago, so I made sure to switch to one main inbox. Especially since I get so many newsletters, social media notifications, and emails from brands that I actually want to read! I knew that those other tabs would be like “out of sight, out of mind,” and I’d miss out on everything.
I also make a lot of use of Gmail’s “canned responses” feature (here’s a tutorial on how to activate and use them). The types of form letters you will find most helpful depends a lot on what type of business you have, and what types of inquiries you get. The two I use most are a welcome email for new clients, and an email I send to my team’s social media manager whenever a new blog post comes out.
Taking the time to set up organizational systems for your social media will be such a lifesaver as your business grows and expands. Honestly, I spend a total of about 5 minutes on Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and my Facebook business page each week. Everything is automated, and it is a HUGE help.
For Pinterest, I make use of both BoardBooster and Tailwind (as they each have some unique features). I also go in and manually pin a few things every couple of days, just so that Pinterest can see that I’m active “live” as well.
I actually don’t use a tool for this, because I’ve found that the reach is higher if you post from within Facebook (vs. Buffer or Hootsuite). But I do schedule out a week’s worth of posts all at once, using the scheduler that comes with your biz page.
I’m a huge fan of Tweetdeck for when I do actually spend time on Twitter, as it organizes my feeds really nicely, and allows me to easily participate in Twitter chats as well. Hootsuite is similar, but I find Tweetdeck to be much more user-friendly.
To schedule out my tweets, I use Buffer, and I highly recommend their Awesome Plan as a social media scheduler. It’s what I’ve always used, and it’s my favorite, especially for Twitter.
As I mentioned in my post about Twitter promotion, I also use a spreadsheet to keep track of how often and when I should tweet about posts from my own blog.
I actually don’t use Instagram too much personally, but I do love using the Grum scheduler for my clients, and I love the idea behind Planoly as well — it allows you to see what your feed will look like after your scheduled posts go live, so you can really organize the aesthetic feel.
Another scheduler I used to use is Later, which I really enjoyed, but it doesn’t have the automatic posting feature like Grum does.
The fourth way that you can get organized as a creative entrepreneur is financially! Personally, I swear by the free software Wave for both invoicing and income/expense tracking. If you upgrade to the paid plan, it even has payroll features!
If you’re just getting started, or deal with a lot of international clients, Paypal is probably the right choice for you. The transaction fees are slightly higher and the invoices aren’t as professional-looking, but it’s definitely an industry standard.
Another way I keep myself organized financially is getting my contracts signed through HelloSign! I used to just send people PDFs, but clients would never actually sign them because of the “effort” it took. In order to make it as easy as possible for everyone, I started using HelloSign (they have a free plan!) and I’ve never had to remind a single person to sign their contract! I love how easy it is to use.