You’re busy. I’m busy. Our to-do lists are long and the hours in the day are short. So, what’s the solution? A time machine? Unfortunately, not. Stop taking on so many projects? Probably, but there’s no way we’re going to do that. Automation? Now you’re talking.
I know I’m well behind the curve but I’ve just discovered quite how much you can automate, and I am loving having a whole host of little robot (not really robot) helpers to make my workload lighter. Here are my favourite automation hacks:
CONTRACTS & INVOICES
I’ve spoken about Bonsai before, but it’s what got me started on this automation kick for real so I had to mention it. Not only does it mean pulling together professional contracts is pretty much fool proof it also automates your invoices. Can I get a hallelujah? When you set up your contract you can select to have the invoice sent at the end of your contract time period, as well as staggered reminders if the invoice isn’t paid. Because it takes care of the boring financial bit of freelancing it means you can spend more time on creating. It also, for me at least, takes some of the awkwardness out of sending an invoice.
I have not one, but two email automation hacks to share with you, oh yes. The first one I mentioned in my top apps for designers and I’m bringing it up again because it’s great. Gorgias is a bit like predictive text function for Gmail. You set up short keys for your most used phrases, which means that you don’t have to type out the same 7 phrases you always use or write out your terms every single time you need to send an email. The tool itself is clean and unobtrusive, and all of the little time saves it gives you really add up. My second email automation hack involved MailChimp, which I am using more and more these days. I probably don’t use it in the way that you’re meant to, mainly because I don’t have a huge mailing list. But it is a great tool for making template emails and as someone who sends out very similar emails to clien, s it’s such a useful function. I have a few templates set up which I then edit with any specific content and then send out, either to individuals or groups. The only issue is it doesn’t allow people to reply all, because it’s a marketing tool, which is a bit of a pain. If anyone has any better recommendations for this kind of tool please let me know!
I always want to type faster than my fingers/ability to form sentences can handle, which leads to more than the occasional typo. If, like me, you struggle with stringing coherent phrases together, you should check out Grammarly. It’s like have a little proof-reading cherub on your shoulder no matter where you’re typing in the form of a Chrome extension. Grammarly does grammar as well as spelling, as its name may suggest which for me is what really sets it apart. While it doesn’t eradicate the need to actually proof your work properly, it does mean that my tweets are semi-readable and has saved me from some rather embarrassing Freudian slips.
FILE TYPE CONVERSION
Sick of getting sent images which aren’t in the right format for you to use, or need to convert a whole bunch of designs to fit a printer specification? Yeah, me too. That’s why I set up a series of photoshop droplets to automatically convert files into the most common types I need, and let me tell you there is nothing more satisfying than dropping a hundred files into a droplet and watching them all come out the other size CMYK 300dpi while you sip your tea.
I think everyone and their dog (what?! No one knows you’re a dog when you’re on the internet) knows that they should be scheduling their social media. It saves you so much time, means you don’t have to be on Twitter all day (you still can be if you want though) and it makes it easier to optimise your send times. At the minute, I use Hootsuite because it’s easy and free, but I’m open to being swayed – any recommendations guys? I’m also ready for the day when I don’t have to have why phone on me when I want to upload something to Instagram.
When you’re onboarding a new client you often need to send them a summary of how you work of a little bit of homework so that you can produce work they actually need. Taking the time to write these documents up as nice looking pdfs and saving them somewhere handy means you can just send them out with onboarding emails rather than always writing out the same content over and over again. Okay, so this one wasn’t actually an automation hack but it does save a lot of time and effort, you can pretend you’re a robot when you write them if you want.
I will admit I have yet to actually do this yet, but I’m really excited to, so I’m sharing anyhow. As I said I’ve been using MailChimp more and more but I haven’t used automated emails before, and it’s such a useful tool for client retention. It’s so important to keep in contact with past clients but it can be hard, and I for one definitely forget and then leave it too long. But with MailChimp you can set up emails to happen at set times after someone has worked with you which I can see being an absolute life saver.
What are you automating? Help me save time friends!