Independent media and marketing professionals, such as video producers, website developers, activists, journalists, graphic designers, editors, copywriters and others who manage small media businesses face specific challenges. Managing a client base, expenses, payments and projects are just a few of the many details that independent media professionals manage daily.
Typically, independent media professionals are right-brain dominant, meaning they excel in creative disciplines; but can be less analytical and organized. Generally, left-brained individuals run businesses while right-brained individuals focus on creative endeavors. When right-brained types are presented with thoughts about time management, the classic response is negative. Organization and time management feels claustrophobic, neat and controlled. Essentially, it’s tedious to them.
However, anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit must focus on the logistics of running a small business because it greatly affects the bottom line. The business details can’t be ignored or failure is inevitable. The good news is I truly believe it is easier to train a right-brained type to better organize time and details than it is to teach a left-brained type to be more imaginative and innovative.
Today’s post focuses on some of the details that independent media and marketing professionals should manage and track. It also includes tips about the apps and applications that can be used for tracking and managing these details.
Track Appointments and Events
Sometimes right-brained types have trouble keeping track of commitments, such as appointments and other events. Essentially, they can have a tendency to get engrossed in project work and forget about an important appointment with a potential client.
When independent media professionals use a smartphone and the right productivity apps, these types of mishaps are less likely to occur. The stock calendar app provided on a smartphone is a great place to start; however, there are more comprehensive apps that can display events from multiple calendars and also provide more bells and whistles. Right-brained types are typically very visual so I would recommend a calendar app that has a variety of calendar views; color coding of events; a daily agenda; reminders and audible and visible notifications.
The daily agenda shown here is a great example of how to easily track appointments, events and other details for the current day, the following day and the next seven days — all at a single glance. It also color-codes the types of items on the calendar and if external calendar items are included, it color-codes events from those calendars, as well.
Manage Tasks and To Do Lists
A to do list can greatly improve time management and the number of things that get done every day. Keeping tasks and to dos in your head is a great way to suffer from brain overload. Media professionals need to free their brain from the tasks and to dos that are floating around so they can focus on creativity and the project at hand.
The best way to manage tasks and to dos is with a digital to do list (rather than a paper list). Below are some of the reasons:
- Re-prioritization – depending on the digital to do list app, re-prioritization is usually as quick and easy as a tap and drag action.
- Sharing and Collaboration – a digital format makes sharing and collaboration easy. It’s nearly impossible to share a paper list with someone who’s not at the same location when you’re delegating or sharing tasks.
- Reuse – Paper lists and sticky notes are for one-time use only. Digital lists can be re-used.
- Search and History – Completed tasks or to dos that are written on paper or whiteboards cannot be searched for history purposes. One they’re erased, they are lost forever.
- Mobility – Your smartphone is compact, always with you – and ready while on the go.
The image here shows an example of a digital to do list that can be easily prioritized, shared, searched and reused.
Manage Projects and Deadlines
When flying solo or with a small team it’s just as important to manage your projects and tasks, as it would be with a larger traditional team. Sometimes a digital to do list is enough for a project, but for more complex projects or if you’re working with multiple clients, a meatier project management solution might be necessary.
It’s important to know what’s required of you from your client and when the tasks are due. You might be a right-brained type, but you can’t always wait for the right time to get things done. Clients demand that projects are delivered on time.
Gathering your client’s goals, determining the scope of the project, understanding the budget, knowing the resources that are available to you and defining your strategy are all necessary when project planning. You must also understand how the client defines success of the project. Once all of these items are defined, break the project down into small, manageable chunks – in the form of a series of tasks.
It’s not necessary to use heavyweight software. Gantt charts and complicated project management systems might be excessive. Generating a series of tasks with deadlines for a project and the ability to associate supporting information might be all you need. The image here shows a task with supporting information.
Track Clients, Record Client Requirements and Build Relationships
Customer Relationship Management is an important part of managing a small media or marketing business, but organizing the information about clients can be difficult and cumbersome – not only for right-brained types – for just about anyone.
When running a small business, generally you get a feel for when it’s the right time to start implementing customer relationship management software. For example, is managing clients starting to feel out of control? How do you keep track of your top clients? How do you manage information about your clients that’s important to you? How do you track follow-ups with your clients? What state of the sales cycle are your contacts currently in? How do you manage client requirements? All of this and more can be managed through CRM software.
In the following image, you can see that the app below tracks the items mentioned. Top clients are tracked through groups; custom information is tracked via custom forms (i.e. Customer Satisfaction); state of the sales cycle is tracked through the status; client information is tracked through notes; and client follow-ups are tracked through the contact log.
Track Income and Expenses
Many independent media professionals count on 1099s, bank deposits, bank statements and credit card statements to track income and expenses. It’s a good idea to track income and expenses using a spreadsheet or other software apps or applications in addition to these other methods to ensure the accuracy. This way, when you do your taxes it will be easier to understand what your income was and how much you spent to run your business. In the app below, expenses are easy to track and they can be divided and organized by category.
Also, in the same app, notice that you can keep track of a list of transactions to get a handle from whom your deposits are originating and your total income. This is a great way to double check that your bank deposits are correct.
An All-in-One App for Independent Media Professionals
Wouldn’t it be great if I told you that all of the images above were collected from one all-in-one app? LifeTopix is an all-in-one app that allows you to manage all of these details in one place – and all of the information is naturally connected. In addition, it doesn’t require monthly subscription fees like other apps and applications. You can find it at the Apple App Store.