Hold onto your pantalones, my friends, because you’re in for a resource RIDE.
Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about my Second Act challenge. I thought I’d give you a breather to sit with your answers because next week we’re going to talk about how we build something new, step-by-step, from your foundation. I’m not talking Vesuvius, friends. This isn’t scorching the earth to start anew. This is about taking what you have and making it into something real and tangible.
This week, I’m talking about resources. Resources I use in my business and day-to-day. Believe me when I say that I’ve tried EVERYTHING. I’ve signed up for every email list imaginable, and have downloaded dozens of tutorials and tried all the software platforms. However, I’ll save you the heartache of the hunt. Today, I’m sharing what works for me and why.
Whether you’re a freelancer or rocking a 9–5, I know you’ll find something useful here because I believe that knowledge should be shared and abundance far outweighs competition and scarcity.
Buckle up. Let’s get this resource party started. For efficiency, I’ve divided up the goods by section for ease of scrolling.
1. Client Management/CRM
Dubsado: When it comes to client management, I believe in the path of least resistance. I don’t want complexity; I crave simplicity and Dubsado is the ONLY client CRM system that I’ve stuck with. I’ve tried Honeybook and Freshbooks and I always return to Dubsado. Here’s why:
They have a super simple contract management and invoice system: If I want to send out contracts or invoices, Dubsado makes the process super simple with sample templates you can customize and a means to track document opens and responses. No more wondering — did they get??? YOU KNOW.
Their lead management tool is the tops: Using simple code, you can embed a contact form into website that will drive and sort leads into Dubsado. This is great because I get to track leads, update status, and convert them to jobs when I’ve closed on deals.
Cool workflows: I can’t tell you how much time I’ve saved by creating workflows. For example, when a prospect emails me, I have auto-responders set up based on query type/desired services. I also have workflows established for new clients. As soon as a contract is signed, they get an automatic email outlining our engagement and next steps.
Unfuckwithable Words: I am on board with whatever Ash Ambirge is selling. I started out with her free email challenge, 25 Days to $100K. I loved the depth and specificity of her recommendations — tangible tactics on how to make more $, price yourself, etc. Then I made the leap and purchased her Unfuckwithable Words, 300 scripts to navigate all areas of client, vendor, and employee management. If you have an issue, she has a script. I can’t tell you how much I’ve used this and it’s saved me the anxiety of drafting emails for those DIFFICULT conversations. She also has a stellar legal kit that has a crapload of contract templates for every imaginable freelancer scenario. I ONLY recommend things on which I’ve spent my hard-earned money and her tools are worth the investment.
2. Cash Money Management: I’ve hired bookkeepers and half the time I don’t even understand the reports they send and I wished that everything could be digital and mobile-first. Enter Bench. They manage your books, expenses, and all that jazz for $115/month. Tell me what bookkeeper competes with those prices! Learn more about their features. More importantly, I use them as a conduit for my tax filings. They organize my life such that when I hand over my docs to my accountant, filing my taxes is a breeze. And there’s nothing that gives me more stress than the IRS. Real life.
I use Countless.io for accounting and I can’t tell you how smart and methodical Brittany is. She’s been my accountant for the past two years and I’ll never go back. I used to work with an old bro who would make judgments about my financials and I got tired of feeling ashamed. Plus, Countless is run by whip-smart millennials who get digital and the freelance game. They’re also up on all the latest tax laws and rules, by state. Note, I live in California and they’re in NY filing my taxes virtually.
3. Time Tracking/Meeting Scheduling: I use Timely to track my hours on a project so I can get crystal about over-work and profitability. They have an incredible interface that tracks your time automatically based on applications and browsers used when you’re logged into your desktop/mobile. I use Calendly to schedule meetings, as I got tired of the back-and-forth of when are you available?
4. Email: Words cannot express how much I HEART Mailchimp. You can be an idiot and use it. I like it because it’s easy to use and their tutorials are first-rate. A lot of my blogger friends swear by ConvertKit and many of the big dogs use Infusionsoft since it has advanced targeting and segmenting capabilities (i.e. you can get fancy AF when sending emails).
When it comes to email marketing, I will say that I think Jenna Kutcher’s List Building Lab was pretty formidable. She even has a free webinar if you want to learn more. I’ve purchased two of her classes and was pleased with how much I’ve learned and the ease in which the information is presented. If you want smart emails in your inbox about all things…email, check out Val Geisler’s missives.
5. Social Media: I’ve been in the social media game since 2006/2007 so I know what’s what. I created a free doc on the automation tools I love and use. Also, check out this guide to using social if you’re an entrepreneur, and here are docs I’ve downloaded/compiled that help you navigate Instagram, Facebook (including FB ads), and Pinterest.
6. Website: I am a HUGE fan of Wordpress for blogging and more sophisticated content management system. I used Wordpress.org because there are fewer limitations when it comes to customization and plug-in integrations.
When it comes to my P&K site, I use Squarespace since it’s super simple and the templates are pretty stellar. I will say that I’m NOT a fan of Squarespace’s TOS where they can use your work in advertising. I wouldn’t recommend this platform if you are an artist. However, if you’re creating a simple site for your business, it’s easy to use and customize. If you can’t shell out the cash for a web designer, I recommend using Empress Themes. I used them for my Wordpress blog and found the designs to be clean and elegant and the integration simple. If you can afford a designer, I recommend my friend, Lorissa of Being Wicked.
7. Podcasts: I LOVE podcasts. Here are some of my essentials: Being Boss, GoalDigger, Amy Porterfield’s Online Marketing Made Easy, Seth Godin’s Akimbo, Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income, The Creative Class Podcast. I always get pragmatic, practical information. For the millennials in the house, I think you’ll like The Creative Empire Podcast (though I’ll be honest and say that one of their recent shows gave me a rage blackout because they had a brand strategist who didn’t understand what brand strategy meant and conflated copywriting and brand strategy. However, if you ignore that nonsense, they have some pretty great episodes.
On a side note, I will say that I am ALL ABOUT The Touré Show.
8. Smart People: Whenever Regina sends an email, I open it. Immediately. Her courses and content are free of jargon BS and are actionable. Whether it’s creating group coaching classes or building your email list, her insights are spot-on and her advice is smart, pragmatic, and results-driven. Her free resources are RICHES. If you download anything today, download Regina’s gospel. It’s real. I’m trying to be low-key about this but I’m a total fangirl.
9. Brand Development and Strategy: I’m going to be honest — there are a lot of brand predators posing as house pets out there. People who do not actually know the discipline that is brand development and strategy and they reduce it to copywriting and logos, which is infuriating and couldn’t be further from the truth. I can crank out marketing plans in my sleep, but brand work is HARD, methodical, and intensely data-driven. I found this excellent FREE book on the basics of brand strategy and development. Read this before you ask questions. If a strategist doesn’t start with data (and I’m not talking about scraping blog comments and amazon reviews), RUN.
I ranted about this on Twitter this week because there’s nothing more aggravating than people who don’t know what they’re talking about, peddling their services on the cheap, which it makes it harder for pros like me to convince a client that brand work should START at $8K.
10. SEO: When it comes to SEO, I recommend that you hit up my friend Cariwyl if you need a pro.
11. Free Design Resources/Templates: Half the time, I can’t afford to get fancy so I go to Creative Market for most of my needs. You can find ANYTHING here. I’ve purchased fonts, portfolio and document templates, PPT presentations — you name it. All super affordable.
12. Podcasts: I recommend Pat Flynn’s podcasting course. It’s INCREDIBLE.
13. Everything Else: I’m loath to use the word “hack,” but this Hack Guide is the utter truth. I’ve also written dozens of articles on all things business, career, and writing. Read them. Learn how to quit procrastinating. You have 8,760 hours per year. How to use them. And don’t forget the comprehensive guides, tutorials, and templates I’ve created for you.