by Jenna Kalinsky.
If you are a business owner who writes blogs or is working on a book to support your business, you know how precious every minute is. Simplifying your operations is not a luxury but a necessity so you can focus on the long-term goal of writing in order to meet your audience’s needs now and in the future.
For me, as I worked as a writer, editor, writing instructor, and small business owner in the throes of growing my writers’ center, One Lit Place, I tried so hard to keep costs down, I ended up suffering from a forest for the trees issue over and over.
The key was failing to recognize that time and my particular skill are extremely valuable currency, and choosing which systems to pay for in order to be able to allocate my currency where it truly mattered would ultimately bring about greater growth.
I and my coaching and editing team work very hard to provide a high level of support, guidance, and hands-on manuscript assistance to the business, academic, and creative writers who come to us. Yet my greatest lack of foresight was to DIY the process of bringing them on as clients by sewing together several free systems.
To make the initial contact, send them a contract, and invoice them, I used three separate free apps and each one had to be delivered separately by email. Even now, to write out what I had to go through, hurts a little:
- A client would use the free Google form I embedded on my website that had Google’s name and logo on it.
- I would get the info out of my Google account, email the client with info based on their contact form and offer that they email me back if they wanted to work together or learn more and gave my phone number.
- If they wrote back or called and wanted to proceed, I would then personalize my client agreement in Word, save it to my computer in a new folder with the potential client’s name as a PDF and email it to them as an attachment. The client would have to print it out, sign it, scan it, and email it back to me. Later discovered a wonderful free app called PDFEscape, which allows you to create fillable fields- yet another step in the process- but which made it so at the very least, the client could fill in the PDF without having to print and scan.
- Once they sent back the signed contract, I would re-save the contract, then go to a free invoicing app, create a new account for that client, generate an invoice, and send it to them.
Don’t get me wrong; the free apps I was using were great, and they served me well. But trying to cobble them together to create a unified client experience perpetuated scarcity behavior on my part, was a disconnected experience for the client, cost me an enormous amount of time, and undoubtedly lost us potential work.
Dubsado to the Rescue
When I learned about a client management system called Dubsado and saw how it did everything I needed so easily, I knew I was ready to get some clarity around what investing in a system and process could mean for me overall and start thinking bigger.
Dubsado’s whole purpose is the opposite of what I’d been doing, which is to provide a seamless, user-friendly, and beautiful client experience.
Everything the client needs to sign on with me, they get in one email, not three, it looks clean and professional, and everything is done in a few clicks.
- I first embedded an attractive contact form on my website. After a person submits the form, they’re immediately taken to booking a free phone consultation with me to talk about their writing. They select from the dates and times I’ve chosen to make available using the scheduler, provide their number, and are popped into the Dubsado calendar as an appointment, which syncs with my Google calendar. They are thanked for booking with an automated confirmation email containing a link to put the meeting time in their calendar. Not long before our call, they receive another automated email as a reminder. What’s nice is this entire process is customizable.
- After the client and I chat, from within their “Project” in Dubsado that was auto created when they first submitted their form, I send them all the documents they need in one email: a proposal for the scope of work they want to do containing packages they can select to purchase. Once they select the package, they are brought to the client agreement. They e-sign the agreement, and they’re lastly taken to an invoice that is populated by the packages they chose in the proposal.
- The client can pay the invoice immediately through the Dubsado payment gateway, or you can have them pay you through other means. If they hesitate and don’t pay right away, you can automate an email to send after a certain amount of time reminding them to pay up so you can get to work!I swear, the whole process is so smooth, it’s like petting a dolphin.
Once I did the math, I realized Dusbado wouldn’t take long to pay for itself, especially if it helped bring on more clients, which it has.
I always go on and on about how we present ourselves in writing is the proverbial handshake that lets the world know how competent and professional we are, and I saw the irony in this cobbled-together client experience that most certainly did not put the most professional foot forward.
I also, more ironically, probably spent 5 times as long, which would have easily translated into lost income.
Ready to try it? If you use this link, you will save 20% on your first month or year ((or use code: onelitplace)!
They have features I haven’t even used yet (and they seem to be continually working on adding yet more). It has the opportunity for you to set up whole workflows based on certain client behaviours, allows you to set up canned emails you can use as templates, and much more. Plus their customer service is lovely, and they’re based down the street from my family in Los Angeles (go hometown!)
As soon as I started using Dubsado, I saw the bigger picture. It was just as other entrepreneurs say: when you invest in systems that make your life easier (from a housekeeper or child care to getting help doing social media or your client care), you are freed up to turn your chief currency- your time and skill- into much greater systems to benefit your business more broadly.
As someone who writes and works and works with people who work and write, I well understand how every minute counts. I wish I could tabulate just how many hours I have saved already in the months I’ve been using Dubsado.
They offer their plan for free up to 3 clients, so you can try it; after you start expanding, you move into the paid model. This link will get you 20% off your first month or year (or use code: onelitplace) —plus, if you have any questions about my client experience, I’d be happy to chat (And, of course, if you’d like to talk about your writing and how you might benefit from some support as you write your blogs or book, give my Dubsado form below a whirl!)
Jenna Kalinsky is a writer, writing instructor, editor, and the founder and principal of One Lit Place.