This is a guest post by Gina Lambert, the founder of The Business Architect – an online business management agency that is dedicated to making the lives of digital entrepreneurs easier.
One of the most common elements in the freelance, blogging and digital entrepreneur space is overwhelm, over committal and frolicking in the wind syndrome.
When it comes to working as solo-prenuer or blogger, you’re wearing all the hats. You’re customer service, project manager, business manager, marketing manager, graphic designer, web designer, accounting, accounts receivable, HR and visionary all in one.
That can be overwhelming for anyone! There are so many balls in the air at one time you’re bound to drop something and when that happens, it really doesn’t feel very good. This happens to the best of us so don’t beat yourself up over it, own it and use it as a way to get better.
I want to give you some really juicy, actionable tips around things that I do for my clients that come to me overworked and ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater just so they can get a nap and a snack.
Create a Project Process
I cannot stress enough how important this is.
You have deliverables to get to your clients (yes coaching calls/programs count as deliverables) or your blog sponsors ( that blog post with the perfectly curated images isn’t going to write itself!) on TOP of everything else that is moving in your business. Before you know it, that deadline has snuck up on you and you’ve overbooked/overextended yourself yet again. It can feel like you’re drowning or just hanging out in a perpetual house fire.
The best thing you can do for yourself is sit down and actually map out the journey you go on to complete the project. Ask yourself where the milestones in the journey are. Each milestone is a check in point for within the project. It chunks it down a little more where the project itself doesn’t seem quite so daunting.
This gives you lead times that you can WORK with. You can use them to manage expectations for yourself, the client, the sponsor, etc but you can also under-promise and over-deliver here by padding your lead times and times between project start and end dates. Don’t cut it majorly close. If you know turnaround time is realistically 4 days, give yourself 7 days. You never know what can happen and if you deliver early that looks even better! You also now know exactly how long that particular project will take you and how many you can comfortably take at one time.
Create a framework template for yourself using a tool like Asana to map out the process. This is also a great,central place to communicate with anyone you may be collaborating with. Give them a visual of what’s going on but also negate the need for messy email chains by chatting with each other back and forth on the task in the actual platform. Clean, real time updating.
Taking even 15 minutes to build something like this out for yourself will save you a huge headache in the long run. And you may even see there are some steps that can be cut out because they aren’t relevant or are double work. Streamlined. BOOM.
Tie a Management Process to Your Project Process
Remember those milestones that I mentioned?
Use those as project check-in points. If you’re asking for revisions around a sponsored blog post you can include a questionnaire for things you need to know that will help you really move the project forward or improve the working relationship so that you can eventually secure something long term. You can use a tool like Google Forms to do this but I highly recommend a CRM like Dubsado. Then you can automate it within a workflow without even having to think about it.
HOT TIP: This is also a great way to structure out payment! You can also use Dubsado to automatically invoice.
Get 20% off Dubsado using code ADOREDDESIGNS. Sign up here.
What are extra things you may need to know to deliver a high level of service? Ask for feedback. How is the person or company you are partnering with feeling about the process for the project? Did they enjoy their experience with you? Make sure you are asking for feedback from the start so that by the end you can ask for a review (sent automatically in your shiney workflow) from the client and they will be happy to give you one!
Asking the right questions will give you MASSIVE insight into how you are working with others for your projects. It also helps to manage expectations from start to finish. You don’t want them expecting the finished product in 4 days when that’s how long it takes to get a first draft. When you set them up with dates in advance, it also eliminates the “hey just wanted to see where we are with xyz” emails that come after 3 days.
You want everything in your business to be centred around who you are serving because without them we have no business. Over communicate with them! If you can make whoever you are partnering with feel like they are the only one, you’re on the right track!
Plan Your Year a Quarter at a Time
If you don’t take anything else from what I’ve taught you today, take this!
Take the time to plan out your business every 90 days. You need to know what you can comfortably do. Are you on a waitlist? Add that in there! Map out every single moving piece for the next 90 days. I do this in a spreadsheet but you can also do it within Asana or just regular iCal.
It is critical for your business for you to see your upcoming projects, launches, travel, sponsored posts or anything else all laid out in a really easy to understand, high level format. Without doing this, you’ll unintentionally take on too much and become frazzled. No one is at peak performance in frazzle mode.
It’s also a fantastic reality check for you as well. Can you really launch that new coaching package you were just inspired to create and take more clients next month and not end up working 50+hours per week? Can you really take on that new sponsored campaign and commit to it fully without working 7 days a week?
It helps to see all your launches laid out so you can work around them. The month leading up to a launch can be crazy even if you have organised it because tiny last minute details pop up. it’s inevitable. You don’t want to have multiple client project deadlines the same week you’re launching your new thing. That’s just asking for disaster.
Planning in 90 day runs will really help you plan your marketing content. It’s important that you know where you’re showing up and when but that the content you’re putting out is also relevant to whatever program you’re trying to fill, service you’re trying to waitlist or product you’re trying to sell. Use this 90 day calendar to create your 30 day marketing calendars and your content will always be on point to what it is that you are working on in your business. You should be working towards getting to the point that when you go to bed at night, you know exactly what you’re doing the next day. How awesome would that feel?
One of the main reasons we feel stuck or overwhelmed is because we don’t take the time to do the small things that have a big impact. We have a tendency to hold everything in our minds with the thought that we can keep track of it all in there. It’s a nice thought but….LOL
A value that I bring into my business and I tell everyone to bring into theirs is intention.
Make sure everything you are doing in your business has PURPOSE. If it’s not serving any real purpose and you’re just doing it because you think you have to, it needs to go. The leaner the business operations when you’re on your own, the easier your life will be.