Tools for Efficiency: Passion Gets You Started, Systems Keep You Going

Written by Josh Hoffman on May 2, 2017

Todd Brison, author of The Creative’s Curse, often talks about the life cycle of an idea. He says it starts with a ton of motivation, like the feeling of your first day at school. But motivation inevitably subsides, and executing the idea begins to feel like work, because — well, it is work.

In other words, you sink into boring routine. Many people tend to give up during this lull, because they lack the proper systems and tools for efficiency, but the people who push through it ultimately get to a place where the proverbial magic happens. Finding tools and developing systems can save us when motivation takes a turn for the worst, ultimately stabilizing the roller-coaster ride of starting and growing a freelance business.

Here are the top systems and tools I use to proactively market myself and grow my personal brand; attract clients willing to pay the prices I want to charge; ensure a smooth start to relationships with new clients; and manage my finances.

1. Email and LinkedIn Marketing

Proactively marketing yourself — or creating value and staying relevant in the minds of potential clients until they’re willing, able and ready to hire you — is the name of the freelancing game.

Whenever I meet someone new, whether online or offline, I connect with them on LinkedIn and, with their consent, add their email address to my list in MailChimp. You want to make sure anyone you add to your mailing lists has agreed to receive them, as email marketing websites consider anything less to be spam.

Then, I use an automation series in MailChimp to send out one email each week to create and emphasize the value and relevance, respectively, around my services and expertise. I also repurpose the email content on LinkedIn via LinkedIn Publishing and share these posts in relevant groups.

2. Onboarding New Clients

Onboarding — or the process of acclimating and becoming acclimated to new clients — can feel tedious, so a simple system plays an important part in this process, as well.

After a new client signs our service agreement (for which I use HelloSign), I send the client an email with the immediate next steps: a link to the initial invoice (for which I use Square) and my automatic scheduler, so we can set up our first post-agreement call (for which I use Acuity Scheduling).

3. Finances

As an independent contractor, finance management isn’t exactly my favorite part of the job, which is why I love Mint. In addition to other popular finance management tools, like 17hats and FreshBooks, this on-the-cloud mobile and desktop app can track and pay bills, create budgets and simply categorize expenses, among other features.

When every aspect of your business is on your own shoulders, you need to have your ducks in a row. A series of systems and tools for efficiency that work for you serve as your support staff, making your life easier and your processes more reliable.

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