There are a billion and one new software programs for tracking projects, sending invoices, sharing screens, and all of the other tasks you need to perform on a regular basis. But how many of them are worth it? Let’s break it all down…
Today’s question comes from Julia R., who asks, “I was wondering if you could share resources that you use to step up your ‘professional game’ as a copywriter. I’m wondering about tools that you use to set yourself apart, things such as Calendly or Acuity for scheduling, what you use for payments, what you use for proposals and the proofing process, etc.”
This is a great question, but I want to quickly cover one important point before we start talking about programs. I understand the question, of course, but I want to be sure to say that it’s not the tools you use that will (or can) make you more professional.
Your professionalism comes from how you present yourself – your website, your Facebook page, your prospecting emails, your copywriting work, your adherence to deadlines. Those are what keep you at the peak of your professional game. And, of course, be sure to go back and regularly evaluate those things.
Now, in terms of staying at the top of our professional games: What software programs do I use?
There are a lot of software programs out there; every time I open my computer, I get targeted ads for a new one. But unless those programs pay for themselves and then some, I’m not interested.
Paid software programs add up quickly. It’s also easy to sign up for things with the intention of using it and, before you know it, you’ve paid for a year’s subscription and haven’t logged in once.
I’ve found that the simple, free solutions work better than any paid software. (With one big exception — more on that in a sec.) I send out my invoices in Word docs and via email. I track my invoices in an Excel doc. I generally have clients pay me by check or by PayPal. Yes, technically PayPal does charge a small fee, but I’ve got that built into my rate.
When I make appointments with clients, I just do it over email. I’ve never really had a problem with clients missing calls or meetings, but if you do, you could consider using a program like Calendly that will make the appointment online and send confirmations out to the meeting participants. But…I’d recommend using their free tier.
Unless you can directly track a cost benefit from a program — unless XYX program that costs you $20 per month directly makes you $20+ per month — I’d think very carefully about whether you actually need that program…or whether it’s just something flashy that will make you feel more professional.
Now, there is one piece of software I’m willing to pay for, and that’s because this type of software is crucial. You must, must have a program that automatically backs up the documents on your computer.
Computer failure will happen and, of course, you won’t know when that will be. You also run a decent chance of deleting important documents or previous versions of copy docs that you’ll need later. In both of these cases, automated backup software will save your skin.
Dropbox has an option, I’ve used Moxie before, and Mac’s iCloud does a decent job. No matter what you choose, though, you’ve got to have one. It may not pay for itself right away…but you can bet it will someday.
Your turn! Which business software programs do you pay for? Are you glad you do, or not? Let us know in the comments below!