Admin for a freelance designer can feel like a foreign mindset. The key to getting admin done is to just get it done. Freelance designers are creatives who are, for the most part, also organized. However, often this organization does not carry over into the paperwork, numbers, & client files side of the freelance business. This casual attitude toward admin can cost a freelancer a lot of money in both the short & long term.
The first priority in admin for a freelance designer is to set up cloud-based client files that are tied to sample files kept on-premises. Secondly, the freelancer must set up an accounting system that tracks all income & expenditures. Thirdly, an invoicing & payment collection system is a must.
Setting up these systems takes some patience & time. It is not a fun task for a creative person. However, in the long run, these systems will save a lot of time & money. Eventually, the freelancer will be able to hire out admin duties to an in-house or virtual assistant. Until that time arrives, the freelancer needs to create a habit of doing admin tasks regularly so that they do not build up & become a problem.
This article was originally published on https://www.aaloftsdesign.com. If this article appears on any other site other than https://www.aaloftsdesign.com without clear referencing it is a violation of the copyright owned by https://www.aaloftsdesign.com.
Start Admin Tasks Early & Be Consistent.
The first step toward finishing admin tasks is to get started. Many creative people look at admin tasks with such horror that they never get started. This does not make the problem go away. It just builds the admin pile up to a level where it feels impossible to even get started, much less to make any headway.
- Get administrative systems set up before starting the business, if possible. Choose software or SaaS that makes sense & start using it with client one. This means that there will be software or SaaS expenditures upfront. Work these expenditures into the first client billing so that these are paid right away.
- Take time on a regular basis to get the admin work done. Some freelancers start the day with an hour of admin, no matter what else is pending. Other freelancers start the week with a full day of admin or finish the week with a full day of admin. Either way, adopt a plan & follow it with zeal.
- Turn off the negative voices & get going. Creative people tend to deal with such inner negativity when it comes to administrative duties, especially records keeping & billing. The freelancer must come to terms with the fact that at least for the time being, nobody else is going to do it, so it is best to get started.
Once the plan is in place, do not deviate from it unless it is clearly untenable. If it is not going to work, then change it as soon as possible. For instance, if the file system that is chosen is clearly not going to work, or a SaaS service is not doing what was advertised, then change when there are fewer clients & records to migrate to a new service.
Client Management Systems.
Freelance Designers can do most things digitally, like the rest of the world. Some things, however, like idea boards & samples will be kept in a physical filing location for each client. This requires a hybrid approach for filing.
The best part about digital solutions is that through the power of AI & SaaS organization systems, the client material is organized for the freelancer. These companies offer client solutions that are incredibly efficient & do most of the work on their own. Many are highly customizable as well, through simple drag & drop or button controls that change functionality to make it ideal for each small business.
- Choose a SaaS client management system such as HubSpot. This is a CRM SaaS that will help track every client relationship through all communication channels & help to generate high customer satisfaction. All of the information about the lead is automatically & intuitively stored in HubSpot.
- Monday.com is a fantastic project management SaaS that can be integrated with other tools that are used in a freelance design business. These include Dropbox, GoogleDocs, MailChimp, Calendly, & every other SaaS add-on that might be needed to manage the business.
- Cloud-based client management systems are preferable to paper systems because they are easily accessed from anywhere. They are also not liable to destruction if some catastrophe befalls the home office.
- Cloud-based client management can be paired with on-premises files that contain samples, idea boards, & other ephemera that accompany a design business such as interior design or fashion design. These files can be linked to their cloud-based counterparts by an alphabetical naming system.
The key to maintaining client files is to be persistent with filing everything while it is in hand & top-of-mind. Often when designers put something on a desk, it sits there & the project that it is connected with gets forgotten in the hustle & bustle of new client acquisition, proposals, & design work. When something needs to be filed, take a few seconds to do it then & there. The SaaS files are organized on their own.
Accounting Systems for Freelance Designers.
This is another area where freelancers cringe at the mere thought of getting started. Everyone loves to make money, but managing the inward & outward flows of money, & keeping track of everything for taxes is daunting to nearly everyone. This is why SaaS accounting software exists, & it is amazing.
These SaaS solutions often offer a free version that does a limited amount of accounting for small business. This is great for those who have not yet scored a first client. The invoicing & account sides can be set up & ready to go.
When the first client gives the green light, the payment process can start. It looks professional from day one, & many SaaS solutions track all income, expenditures, & keep tax records which eliminates much of the bookkeeping headache for freelancers.
- Freshbooks is a perennial favourite for small businesses of all kinds. It is streamlined, intuitive, & all-inclusive. From designing the invoice to receiving payment, it can all be done in this single Cloud-based platform. Best of all, it is built with freelancers & small businesses in mind.
- Wave is another great accounting SaaS that does everything. It keeps the records in the perfect format for an accountant as well. This means that if the freelancer hires a tax professional, which they should, the Wave records are set up for maximum efficiency for tax accounting.
- Most accounting SaaS platforms have expense tracking. They use AI algorithms to analyze snapshots of expense receipts, text receipts, & email receipts to track, categorize, & then keep a running total of expenditures. They can also keep track of what is & is not tax-deductible.
The key to making the most of accounting software is to track each receipt as it comes in. With these accounting apps, that takes just a few seconds. This process is only as accurate as of the input.
These platforms also offer invoice reminders & collections reminders. Do not hesitate to send these reminders. Most clients who do not pay are willing to pay, but they forgot. There is nothing so disheartening & damaging to a freelancer as doing work & then not getting paid. Pursue collection on the first overdue date.
Invoicing & Payment for Freelance Designers.
The previously discussed accounting SaaS platforms have invoices & integrated payments. Most SaaS platforms also work with a variety of payment add-ons such as PayPal, Venmo, Apple pay, Google Pay, & Zelle. However, there will inevitably be clients, especially in the interior design business, that want to pay by check.
However clients want to pay, all money is more than welcome for every freelance designer. There is still a good way to collect checks & cash while keeping good records on the SaaS platform.
- Create & print or email an invoice using the SaaS platform.
- Collect the funds in person or by mail.
- Take a photo of the payment, or enter it manually in the SaaS accounting program. If this is a separate platform from the client tracking platform, then be sure to mark the account as invoiced & paid manually in that platform also.
- Print & mail or email a receipt showing that the funds were paid.
- Send a thank-you note.
Freelancers often forget how far a note of thanks & appreciation goes to finishing the interaction on a positive note. This simple act can skyrocket client satisfaction, good reviews, & lucrative referrals. Gratefulness speaks volumes.
Choosing the right software for a freelance design business can seem time-consuming & tedious. Furthermore, there are many great options on the market, & choosing the best one can be hard. They are all efficient, & they will all increase real-time productivity by taking much of the admin off of the freelancer’s to-do list. This makes more time for the fun & creative parts of the business.
If you’re interested in further reading, please see the links to my trusted resources page & related articles below. To find out more about AALofts Design, please click here. If you found this content helpful, want to collaborate on a project, or would like to request an article topic, please click here to get in touch via the contact form. Feel free to share & connect on social media, if you found this content helpful.