How to streamline your processes and impress your clients

How to streamline your processes and impress your clients

You get a thrill each time you land a new client–there’s nothing better! But soon, you might find yourself scrambling to get everything together, struggling to clearly outline your processes, and making clients feel like you have no idea what’s going on.

I know that’s how I was when I started my business. It wasn’t pretty.

There’s a lot to learn, and fast. And when you’re not clear about what clients should expect–because you don’t know what to expect–you look unprofessional, and clients lose confidence. Not to mention you might devolve into a ball of stress that can barely type a coherent email, let alone produce a quality product. That’s no good!

Now, I have a nice client-intake/project process that goes something like this:

  1. Client fills out my request/contact form
  2. I send a rough estimate to the client, ask follow-up questions, and send them to my call scheduler so we can Skype
  3. We have a Skype meeting where I get more info about the project, and turn it into an official quote
  4. Client accepts the quote, makes a down-payment on the project and signs the contract
  5. I send over a welcome packet that outlines my office hours, the project process and timeline, number of revisions, cancellation policy, etc.
  6. Client sends me whatever I need for the project, and I get started
  7. I add everything to a project management system so we’re on the same page at all times
  8. Client requests revisions to the project
  9. Revisions are made, and project is launched
  10. I send a goodbye packet with project info, instructions, and a thank you to the client

This has made working with multiple clients SO much easier! Everything is kept in the project management system (or if the client prefers email, I use Streak to keep projects organized) and everyone knows what to expect at each step of the process. This has cut way down on the amount of emails I need to send and respond to, which frees up a lot of time and mental space, which in turn lets me stress a whole lot less!

And I can’t tell you how much my clients appreciate these streamlined systems too! Gone are the days of multiple phone calls to clarify what I need from them and when. Now everyone knows what’s going on, my business is a lot more professional and organized, and I am able to help clients more efficiently. Win-win.

Getting clear on how I needed my processes to work took some time (about two years)–I just about had everything in place when Leah Kalamakis’ wonderful course, Stress Less & Impress came around. Wish it had been around a few years earlier as it would have saved me a lot of trial-and-error! While I had several of the processes she teaches already in place, I still learned a ton, spruced up my client-intake process, and made my business run smoother overall. I highly recommend this course to both beginner and veteran small business owners and freelancers.

Course Outline:

Stress Less & ImpressIf you’ve been struggling with emails, projects dragging on, or handling multiple clients, take Stress Less & Impress and get your processes streamlined! Trust me, it will make your life so much easier and save your sanity too!

Stress Less a& Impress will be set at an early-bird price of $197 from Wed Oct 29th through Sun Nov 9th. Starting November 10th, the price will go up to $247.

Register now!

Note: I was not paid to write this post, though I will receive an affiliate commission if you register using the links included in this post (thank you!). I loved this course and highly recommend it to those who are struggling to get their business organized and processes streamlined!

Launched – Beach Towel theme

Genesis WordPress child theme

Recently, I teamed up with Ilana of Sugar & Type to create some Genesis child themes. We’re super-excited about them, and I’ll be introducing you to each one eventually. For now, this is our first one, Beach Towel, which has some pretty snazzy widget areas on the home page, a giant  footer-widget area, and is perfect for small businesses!

Beach Towel Theme Features

  • Widgetized home page
  • 6 layout options
  • Add your custom logo
  • Create custom menus
  • Featured images
  • Genesis theme settings
  • Built-in SEO
  • Mobile responsive
  • HTML5
  • Setup instructions

Interested? More details and a link to the demo site here!

How to be more productive

Productivity tips for freelancers

The past few months I’ve felt like I was constantly working in a frenzy, and yet not accomplishing anything. This wasn’t entirely true, I was accomplishing things that popped up unexpectedly and that put my to-do list on hold. But my schedule fell by the wayside and I found myself scrambling to get back on track. I feel like I’ve finally got a handle on things again, so figured I’d share some tips that worked for me in case you’re struggling too!

Make a list (and check it twice)

I am a huge fan of to-do lists. HUGE. Whether you use a program, app, or good old pen and paper, planning out what you need to accomplish for the month, week, and day can help you break down projects into digestible chunks–while not losing site of the big picture. Personally, I use a set of whiteboards to stay on track. This keeps my goals visible at all times, and keeps it easy to adjust and move things around.

Use Streak to “Snooze” emails

I know you’re not supposed to use emails as a to-do list, and I don’t, but just having emails in my inbox waiting for a response or action stresses me out. For example, I had a friend send an invite to use some sort of photo app at her wedding so everyone can share photos. That’s awesome, but her wedding is in June, and it’s October. I don’t want to forget about it, but I also don’t want it sitting in my inbox for the next eight months. That’s where Streak comes in. This handy Gmail extension lets you snooze emails until a future date, which is pretty sweet. (Boomerang also lets you “boomerang” emails out and back into your email.)

That’s not all Streak does, it’s also a handy CRM for your inbox, allowing you to keep track of projects. I like using it for client intake, as well as keeping client project files neatly contained–because let’s be honest, not every client is going to hop on Basecamp or another project management system.

Pause your inbox

I’ve blogged about Inbox Pause before, but seriously, it’s a lifesaver. Before Inbox Pause I’d find myself getting distracted by new emails, and feeling overwhelmed constantly. But now? Nope. When I need to focus I just hit the “pause” button and get to work! It also helps me relax on the weekends and evenings as I’m not aware of emails coming in while I’m trying to get away from my computer.

Dedicate time to social media

Specific times, not just “oooh, I wonder what’s new on Facebook?” I like to use social media breaks when I’m hitting a wall in my workflow. Typically around 10am and 3pm I feel the snoozies coming on, so I grab a cup of coffee and spend 15-20 minutes hopping around on social media. And the rest of the day? I try my best not to go on there, knowing that I’ll have a chance later. This helps prevent getting terribly sidetracked or putting off things I NEED to do for clients or my own business.

Let there be noise

I can’t work without some background noise, and it can actually help you focus. I normally prefer music (something upbeat and energetic), though if listening to a TV show, radio program, or podcast works for you, go for it! Just make sure it’s not TOO distracting. You don’t want to be stopping work to to figure out what you missed. I like listening to music already I know for that reason. I can sing along (you don’t wanna hear it) if I feel so inclined, but don’t need to expend extra brain-power on the lyrics. So yes, if you walked into my office you’d likely find me singing along to lots of 90’s music.

Oh, and if you’re one of those people who can’t work with noise, make sure you shut everything down, close the door, and make a nice little bubble of quiet for yourself!

Don’t forget to take care of you

I think the first thing to go when I feel swamped and crummy is working out, followed very shortly by eating. Yup. I just sit at my computer feeling worse and worse, and with less and less energy–so I get less done. When I make the time to get away from my computer, get some exercise, and feed myself, I get a lot more accomplished!

And proper sleep? You need that too! Running yourself ragged may work in the short-term, but after even a few days productivity goes way down. Make the time to eat, exercise, and sleep! Trust me, you’ll get more done (and have less to redo) if you take care of yourself.

Have any productivity tips? I’d love to hear them!