In my lifetime, I’ve heard more stereotypes about artists than I’ve heard about any other group of people.
And I’ve heard them all: messy, abstract, easily distracted, disorganized, and the worst – crazy. There are also some really nice things people say, but I want to focus on these negative statements for just a moment.
But before we go any further, let me ask if any of this sounds like familiar self-talk:
“I can’t plan ahead because I can’t concentrate that long.”
“I won’t be able to grow my business because I can’t understand how to manage all the moving parts.”
“None of this makes sense to me. I put my stuff out there, but no one buys it. When they do, I have no way of knowing what worked and what didn’t.”
“Vacation? I can’t take a break, who will manage the day-to-day in my blog or business?”
“I’m the only one that can do what I do.”
If you feel exhausted trying to do it all yourself, if you want to get to the next level in your business or reach more people with your blog, keep reading, because you are not powerless.
Today I am going to introduce you to the beauty of establishing systems in your creative business or blog and five reasons why they are absolutely essential.
The Beauty of Systems
Imagine being able to step away for an afternoon and not worry that you missed an important sale.
Think of how much freedom you’d feel if you were able to attract the right people to your blog without having to stay logged into Facebook all day or refresh Instagram on the hour.
Can you think of how much more content or art you could create if you weren’t haphazardly putting together blog posts or sending out product newsletters at the last minute?
Systems and automation can be used to manage all of this.
Let’s take sales inquiries, for example. Do you get messages on your Facebook page asking for quotes or from potential clients asking general questions? What if you leave your phone at home and miss it? You want to be able to answer that customer right away.
Facebook now has instant replies, so you can set up an auto-responder that lets the customer know that while you aren’t able to answer them right now, here’s a link to your _______ (waitlist queue, most popular items, FAQ, general information page, etc). Or you can use it as a way to let them know when you’ll be back and able to reply.
Then, set up a reminder to check all messages at xx:xx time of day.
If you’re not sure how spending more time documenting and setting up these systems would be beneficial for you, especially if you’re a one-person show, read on, my friend.
5 Reasons You Need to Establish Systems
1. In case you get hit by a bus
How’s that for a morbid start? But seriously, what would happen if you suddenly fell sick with the flu or had a family emergency that required you to step away from your day-to-day creative work for a few weeks? Do you feel confident someone could step in and help you ship your orders or answer your emails from customers/readers in a knowledgable way?
The idea of documenting our day-to-day tasks and duties may seem obvious to us (because we do it every day), but if you think about it from the perspective of someone brand new or only vaguely familiar with your blog or business, how comfortable would you feel handing over the reigns in an emergency?
I’m currently in the process of doing this for my freelance business, so if you’re looking at your computer screen with a deer-in-the-headlights look on your face, please don’t feel like you’re alone. I’m due with a new baby next month, and it’s made me realize how much I need to document even though I don’t have a shop or a physical product to ship.
If you’re not sure where to begin, don’t you worry your sweet self, at the end of this post, I have some tips on how you can get started with documenting your systems today.
2. So you can rest
When I have too many things going on and they’re not written down, I forget to do them. What’s more frustrating is that I remember them at the worst times – like when I’m trying to fall asleep or when I’m playing with my kids.
I don’t want my family time to be interrupted by unfinished tasks, and I certainly don’t want to miss completing an important follow up or check-in.
It’s necessary and vital for our bodies and minds to decompress. Even Ariana Huffington, founder of HuffPo, just released a book based on the powerful transformation of sleep and why it isn’t just a luxury. It’s a need.
3. For when you need to bring on a new team member
I mentioned that I am due with a baby very soon. This pregnancy is what got me thinking seriously about having systems in place even though I’m a one-woman shop. Sure, I’ve read about why it’s important to have systems in place even as a one-person show, but I never took it seriously.
All those years working in a corporate environment, I got really good at documenting and finding ways to streamline, why wasn’t I doing that in my own business from the beginning?
I started using Asana for client projects last year. It took me a few tries, but I finally got familiar with the software, and now use it exclusively for both client projects and internal systems. I recently added my husband to my team in Asana so he can help me with a few of the admin and organizational tasks after I have the baby. The goal is that whatever can’t be automated, he can jump in and take care of with minimal work from me, at least for 6 weeks.
You don’t have to introduce a fancy or elaborate set up (especially if learning a new software seems overwhelming right now), but you should be prepared to have things documented in a notebook or binder if you’re interested in growing your blog or your business. Eventually you will need help and you’ll be glad you can communicate what you need help with clearly.
4. To make the best use of your time and see where you’re creating double-work
There is nothing I enjoy more than finding ways to simplify. Working in the commercial print industry, I didn’t always have the authority to implement the shortcuts I would have liked, but in my own business, I can experiment and make those decisions immediately.
For example, mapping out my blogging schedule, I realized I was writing down ideas for posts in three different places (Evernote, “Notes” App on my phone, and in my WordPress drafts). This was silly, and quickly I installed the Evernote app on my phone and on both my desktop and laptop so no matter where I was when an idea struck me, all of my notes and ideas were synced.
You’ll also see where you’re draining valuable energy. I will occasionally use a time-tracker when working on client projects to see which projects take me more time than I anticipated so I can either adjust my prices accordingly or look for common trends and see where I may be able to consolidate tasks and communication points.
5. To have more time to create and dream up new ideas
This is probably the most critical part for Creatives like us. If you make your living by using your talent and time, it’s a constant balancing act to manage your marketing, operations, while still making art, jewelry, cards, DIY projects, etc. to actually sell. Whether you are blogging only or have a full-blown boutique, it’s important as Creatives that we carve out time to create.
We simply cannot balance our time if we are imbalanced or struggling behind-the-scenes. While you may hear some stereotypes or labels and think, “That’s probably true”, with just a little bit of organization, you can eliminate that stigma and launch yourself into the next level of your passion.
Steps to take today
If you’re anxious to make a change and start documenting some of your processes and day-to-day duties, start with what you have. If you have a notebook nearby, start writing down some of the things that frustrate you about your current workday or workweek.
Write down what is included in each process you do and try to identify how you can either consolidate those tasks or automate those tasks.An example would be something like a task list in Asana, a recurring event in a Google calendar or something even simpler, like a checklist you type out and make copies of for each day.
Remember, you can do this and just because it may not come natural to you, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Now what will you create with all that free time you’ve gained?