The Tools I'm Using to Run My Design Studio in 2018
Another year, another cull of tech tools
Am I the only one that gets more and more excited about all these automations and tools throughout the year only to actually over-complicate my process using so many things and need a huge overhaul in the new year?
I mean, it's March, so not quite 'the new year', but no better time for a Spring clean! I always find is the most powerful few that survive the cut and out last all others. This year, these are my ride or die tools to keep my design studio running smoothly.
Good lord the number of CMS systems I went through before finding my OTP in Dubsado (pronounced dub-zah-doe) and all of its infinite powers. Gone are the days are manually preparing contracts, invoices, proposals or even welcome packs, as soon as someone enquires through this here website they're automatically entered in to a workflow that does all the work for me. All I need to do is show up to our consult call and do my homework on their business beforehand and it's a done deal.
It saves me literally hours each week and my clients love it too. They get their own unique login to a portal where they're able to view all forms, documents, invoices, contracts and emails meanwhile I can time track their projects and even set tasks for them in the inbuilt task boards.
Originally designed for photographers and wedding planners, it's now one of the fastest growing CMS' in the world with users of all niches and their Facebook group is one of the best I'm a part of. The founders often comment and interact in the group and listen to all of our feedback to ensure updates and new features are rolling out all the damn time.
As one of ConvertKit's early adopters I've seen them grow and change over the years and I'm just as in love with them now as I always have been. Granted I have a list 850+ strong and don't tend to them half as much as I should (newsletters are at the top of my when-I-have-time list along with blogging!) but the capabilities are amazing.
My biggest gripe with Mailchimp whom I used prior to CK was that each lead magnet or webinar needed its own list to have a better idea of who wants what. In Convertkit, you have one universal list and you automate tags or segments to be applied when somebody signs up or downloads something. It means:
- no more duplicated subscribers
- no more over-paying on your list size
- no more having to mass import across lists
Truth be told, I signed up to Calendly at the same as Dubsado to use in the meantime while Dubsado were developing their scheduling booking service. Before Calendly I was using Acuity and whilst I loved it's capabilities, it was way more than I needed or wished to pay for and in all honesty, the designer in me hated how it looked 🙈
Still holding on for the Dubsado booking feature, I'm still in love with Calendly to this day with it's simple and fool proof design, ability to create multiple appointment types with different availabilities (I like to know exactly what days I could be booked out for) and Google Calendar integrations meaning I'm literally never double booked.
personal development + growth
This year has thus far been a pivotal one for me in my business. I made the jump from Creative VA to full-on Design and Creative Strategy Studio on Jan 1st and honestly, that to me was even scarier than quitting my job to go full time two years ago. I was killing it in my niche, the go-to gal for visuals and assistance and I loved it, but my heart was in the design and I found myself doing more and more admin work that just wasn't fulfilling. I was scared that if I rebranded as a studio I'd feel the hit in enquiries and in all honesty, I did. But that was partly my fault. I wasn't visible enough about what I'm doing, the services I offer and how I'm still doing more or less the same, just less of the mundane ;)
With this new turn in my life I felt like I needed guidance from the best. To pull up my big-girl pants and ask for help. This year I've been a part of a few courses I'd love you guys to know about, and met a number of people who have changed my life for the better.
Jaime is the queen of process and ya'll know I get an organisational boner over anything process related. I'm currently under wing in the share-worthy design class to perfect my process as a studio, more so than just as a designer. She's freakin' amazing, and you know a course by a designer is going to be beautiful AF.
me + orla
Remember when I said I wasn't being visible enough? Yeah. There was a point this year where I didn't share anything on Instagram for 3 weeks, and yet I would whinge everyday about losing followers. DUH, LUCE. PUT 2 + 2 TOGETHER! Sara has been one of my client's in the past so I knew she knew her shit. instaretreat has helped sooo many people up level their IG game big time, so that's a path I'm taking with her in this course this year.
What tools are you loving this year? I'd love to know in the comments below!