I’m writing this five years after landing my first client. If you’re just starting on your own or thinking about it, I know how overwhelming it can get. At this point, being organised is the best gift you can give yourself.
WHAT TO EXPECT | In this post, I will not go into branding and content creation. This is the backend of the backend and these are tools that will help you stay on top of your game.
✨ DESK SPACE
My first ‘office space’ was not an office at all. I have been working from home way before COVID-19 hit us like a storm. I used to work from the couch, at the dining table, from cafés – you name it. One thing I learned along the way is that it’s better to have a space dedicated to your work. Even if it’s just a small desk (I managed to fit one under the stairs) and a shelving system for files, paperwork, and books. I want work-related stuff to be at arm’s length – literally.
Mind you, I still go to cafés to work. It’s usually more to brainstorm on personal content ideas, find inspiration and write – rather than client work. But I find the change in scenery to be refreshing. Sometimes, much needed.
▶ Planner/Yearly diary – the physical kind to complement your online calendar. It will keep you more accountable and it feels good to tick or cross out tasks.
▶ Highlighting System – colour-coding your work schedule so that you don’t overlook anything.
▶ Sticky Notes (and a memo board) – perfect to pin ideas that pop out of the blues, scribbles, reminders & quick notes.
▶ List Pad – I promise you, you will thank me later.
▶ Filing System – We live in the digital age but you will still have papers to sort out and file. Especially (and I cannot stress this enough) for your VAT, TAX, and Social Security Contribution.
I have separate, transparent folders – labeled by date – for the above-mentioned which I keep in a simple white box I got from IKEA. Why transparent folders? I love knowing what’s in the folder just by looking at it instead of rummaging through it.
▶ Envelopes – Have them at hand. You’ll have VAT receipts and receipts to send eventually.
▶ Stamp/Stickers – with your logo. Having one or the other on your envelope gives off a professional vibe. Tried and tested! You can also have one with your return address.
✨ ONLINE PLANNERS
Now that you have your faithful diary/planner by your side, it’s time to set up an online version. For calls, meetings, and tasks, I use my Outlook calendar. If you want to assign tasks and have ‘stricter’ timelines and deadlines, may I suggest:
- Outlook Live – Everything in one place: emails, calendar, to do list, tasks & notes
- Asana – a great way to manage tasks and add projects – especially if you work with a team. Basic package is free of charge.
- Trello – Again, basic package is free of charge. The workspace is easy to use and manage + it’s also customisable.
There are loads of other web-based softwares to keep your tasks in check. A quick google search will uncover the long list of options!
✨ ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE
Zipbooks has been my personal online accountant since the beginning. It’s easy to add expenses along the way, create and issue invoices. You will be able to keep records and transactions in one place.
- It’s free of charge (for the large part – add ons/other options are at a charge)
Ideally, get in touch with a trusted financial advisor to guide you through the hoops and loops. If, like myself, numbers do not course through your veins, seek professional help. Still, accounting software is super for day-to-day operations.
✨ SOCIAL MEDIA PLANNING TOOLS
You’re running a business, staying on top of accounts, coming up with new product or service ideas, making sure your customers are happy, AND planning posts for social media (SM)? Well, yes and no.
Yes – if you are winding through the roads of self-employment, you will realise (if not already) that you will wear many hats.
No – acknowledge the fact that you do not have to do every single thing yourself and sometimes it helps to have, well, help – from the right people.
If you’re just starting out, outsourcing social media work may seem like a waste of money. I’ll be honest with you – if you know what you’re doing it might as well be. However, when your business picks up (or if it’s not your thing, to begin with), you can then start thinking about having extra hands on board to help with strategy and managing your socials. In the meantime, here are some SM planners that may come in handy:
Buffer – it’s great to start with. The basic package is free of charge and you can add up to 3 social channels (e.g. FB page, IG account & LinkedIn page) including 10 posts per channel.
Meta Business Suite – If you want to avoid the hassle of having an external planner like Buffer, this is your go-to planner & scheduler for Facebook & Instagram. It’s easy to use & you can customise your copy easily for one and the other.
Planoly – for Instagram. This is perfect to visually plan out your grid and schedule posts. Again, the basic is free and then you can have upgrades. With the free package, you can add 2 social profiles (e.g. IG & Pinterest) and have 30 uploads per month, per social.
Mind you, our good old friend excel/sheets, works just fine as well. Edit in a calendar in your sheets and you can map out your timeline there. If you’re working with other team members, simply upload it on a shared drive and you’re good to go!
↠ MORE ON THIS! I’m sharing my self-employed journey on Instagram and will be showing what I find most helpful over there. Feel free to follow for tips & updates!
If you’re starting on your self-employed journey or even if you’re already on board that train, hopefully, you found some of this helpful! If you have any questions or would like me to write about a related topic, don’t be shy – get in touch!
Until next time,