Lately people have been asking me the tools that I use to keep it all organized. I honestly often feel like a chicken with her head cut off, but of course I do have some systems and tools that do work and as sometimes the end of August is a bit slow with clients on holiday, it’s the perfect time for a little Admin work, which means getting organized.
In case you are new here, let me give you a little bio so you know what I am juggling. First, I am the co-owner of Elegant Marketplace, and work on the blog, marketing and finances. In this capacity I need tools for:
- Time Lines
I also have my own solo act, which I consider a service business: designing WordPress websites, coaching on blogging, WordPress and running a web design business. In any client service business lots of other side things wind up on my To Do List: MailChimp Newsletters, designing business cards, SEO, Google Analytics, etc. For this I need:
- Project Management Tools
- Communication Tools
- Place to store passwords, files, images
So you see, you and I are probably doing the exact same dance each day and trying not to let anything (too major) fall through the cracks.
Working With a Global Team (Elegant Marketplace)
- Trello – yes, I agree, it isn’t perfect, but for me, a visual person, the layout of the cards makes a lot of sense. I have default cards with check lists, some cards just are full of information, you can upload files (or images), you can invite users onto specific boards or cards, assign people tasks, it pretty much covers everything. As a Divi girl, I am all about the drag and drop. Pulling items from To Do to In Progress or Done is very rewarding for me.
- Asana – I know, this one isn’t perfect either. BUT I really really really like how you can track the conversation threads in Asana. One of our team members is based in India and although he is beyond generous with staying up late to accommodate my time zone, he needs to go to sleep at some point during my waking hours which means I will often do something, get stuck, and then ask him to bail me out. The bail out usually requires me giving him an explanation of where I got stuck, providing some passwords, images (I make screen shots on my Mac (Shift-Command-4 or I create a little Jing video. I find all of this much easier in Asana than Trello and we all get too many emails to keep this all organized.
- Zoom – Zoom is a video conferencing service. We can have on on one meetings or webinars (with up to 100 people) and I can record the calls. The recording is done with video and audio (maybe you want to put it on YouTube and iTunes) it’s a breeze. The quality is great and there is a free version which is quite robust, I have a premium version which is $15 a month. YES, of course we have Skype, and it’s fine. For some reason I don’t find it to be completely reliable. There are times when the quality isn’t great or I spontaneously get cut off or have trouble logging in (I own that I am speaking with people literally half way round the world and I am on an old Mac, so it’s not all finger pointing outward here, Skype may be fine for your team).
- Quickbooks Online – I have been a personal user of Quickbooks since 1992, so it just made sense for me to migrate to Quickbooks online. I give our accountant access and she can login and do whatever magic she does each year. My partner can jump on and have a look, I can keep tabs when I am traveling, it’s just easy for me. I know Freshbooks is very popular with web designers, so if you don’t like Quickbooks, that is a potential option for you.
- We also use DropBox, If I do a video interview I will pop the files into DropBox and Andrew renders them and does some editing magic.
- Facebook Messenger – we use this all day long for quick notes, questions or updates. We tried What’s App for a while, but since we spend so much time on Facebook we found it easier to just stay on the platform. The calling is also not bad if you are in the car or away from your desk.
- I like to meet clients in their comfort zone. Some love Google products, and if that is the case we can use Google Drive, Google Docs and Google Sheets.
- I have a bunch of stored spreadsheets in Google Sheets, and I duplicate them for new projects / clients.
- I keep passwords stored in LastPass. Within LastPass I will often use their notes feature to remind myself of bits and bobs associated with the account.
- The Proposal – I know you think I have gone off the rails. I customize each client proposal (granted I have done about 5 million at this point, so there is a lot of overlap in the customization department), but I create most of my proposals in Canva and then refer back to make sure I have done everything I have promised. Its also an easy resource when I am creating itemized invoices to remember all that I did 🙂
- For clients I also use Jing, Zoom, Quickbooks, Trello and Asana. I also sometimes use Evernote. I find Evernote great when I am working with Laura Heuer. Laura and I seem to take on big projects together and when we meet with clients we both take notes, compare, revise and then add the client onto the folder. I also find Evernote a good tool to use for clients who use a good deal of social media. I generally advise clients to post 3 things NOT about them for every one promotional post. Evernote is perfect for keeping track of all the articles you find around the web and organizing them by topic (folders).
- I will often use Pinterest with clients. I will make private boards for things like fonts, favorite websites, color schemes, etc.
And now, the one you have been waiting for: what I refuse to use: Slack. Maybe I am just not smart enough, or I just need to draw the line somewhere – no idea, but why not just email? I totally dig the logo though, so props to the designer on that.
Phew, I didn’t mean to make this so long. I do appreciate learning about tools and platforms, so if you have something you think works well (like Base Camp, any Base Camp fans out there?) please let me know in the comments. OR if you are a super user of any platform and would like to give us a tutorial on how to use and be effective PLEASE reach out, I would love to provide that service to our readers.
Happy last bit of summer friends!