I have a very firm rule when it comes to purchasing things for your business…
(And this probably traces back to when I started mine 15+ years ago and bought a phone I never used, a business line I never used, letterhead I never used, and a desk and chair that were so much less conducive to work than my sofa.)
My rule is this: You should only spend money on things for your business that will pay for themselves—and then some.
Some things, like advertising for example, are easy to evaluate as to whether or not they’re paying for themselves. Some things, like a new desk chair, might be harder to evaluate immediately, but you might notice more focus and productivity over time.
But things like office décor? The super-high-end business cards? The swanky software that has you do what you were doing anyway, but makes you log in?
Make no mistake about it: Those aren’t business expenses. Those are personal treats.
And I get it! A great-looking home office and swanky collateral or software can help you feel more like a professional. But you know what is guaranteed to make you feel like a professional? Landing clients—and then landing some more.
So, bonus tip for this post: Don’t spend money on nonessentials (aka treats) until you’ve got plenty of extra money coming in.
The truth is that there is almost NO software that’s necessary for running your copywriting business. (Note the “almost”—I’ll come back to that.)
You’ll use Word for sending your copy docs to your clients. (And, no, I don’t even recommend using Google Docs—here’s why.) You’ll also use it to send your invoices.
You’ll use Excel to track your income and invoices, and you’ll also use it to track your pitches and follow-ups.
And that, my friends, is it.
Now, if you find that you’re spending a lot of time going back and forth with clients and would-be clients about scheduling calls, then you can look into scheduling software like Acuity and Calendly. Both will cost you about $15 a month.
But, beyond that, you don’t need crazy software. You may want it — you may want invoice functionality, and client-logins, and project tracking (Ooo, just saying all of it makes it seem so appealing! Features galore!) and you can look into software like Dubsado and Honeybook.
But unless you NEED them, or unless they enhance your productivity so much that they’re saving you at least a few hours per week (and don’t forget to subtract the time it takes to actually use them!), they’re not worth it.
It’s really easy to find things to spend your money on when you’re starting or ramping up a business. And it’s easier still when they look great and they promise you enhanced productivity. But be careful — often the software that promises enhanced productivity just means you’re still doing the same tasks but in their swanky system. Time savings? Little to none.
Now, back to my “almost no software that’s necessary” point. Obviously, as I mentioned, you’ll need Word and Excel. You’ll also need software to build your professional website like Squarespace, Weebly, Verb, or Wix. (These pay for themselves pretty easily.)
But beyond that, there’s one piece of software you absolutely NEED to have:
You need automated back-up software. You need to know that the files on your computer are being automatically backed up at regular intervals (ideally immediately, if not, once a day).
Why? Because your income is based on your work—and if your computer goes down and your work disappears, you’re in big trouble.
I’ve been lucky enough that my computer has never died while I’m right in the middle of a project for a client…but I know plenty of people who haven’t been that lucky.
And if they didn’t have back-up programs running, they had to start ALL over again—and still hit their client deadline.
You know your computer is going to die at some point. It’s just a fact of (technology) life. So don’t gamble with your copywriting work—or your income. Invest in automated back-up software to ensure that you’re protected.
Your turn! What other software, gadgets, or treats have you been tempted to buy? Did I miss anything that has made a difference for your business? Let me know in the comments below.