I have contemplated pulling together a variety of journal posts for other creatives looking to gain insight into the tools and resources creatives use to run their business and keep up with #allthethings. When I started YSDE just about 3 wedding seasons ago, I had years of previous project management experience – which for a wedding planner was extremely helpful – but running a business was a completely new ballgame. What I would learn over the next few seasons would truly be eye opening – and truthfully something I am continuously looking to refine and educate myself more on. I think it’s one of the most beautiful aspects of owning your own business. Some things may be evergreen but others are always changing – requiring you to learn, adapt, and pivot.
Today I thought I would share a little behind the scenes into the resources and tools that I have found helped to streamline my business. Some of these items are free tools while others I have made the conscience decision to invest in but together they have proven to serve my business well. I share these with you and a glimpse into how I use them in hopes that if you are a creative looking to kick start your business (especially as the new year inches closer), you might consider these tools as means to empower you to reach that big business goal – or even better use this last quarter to finish the year strong! I have also broken these tools in to categories based on how I use them and how they help me work most efficiently in my business. Honestly, I do not think there is a right or a wrong way to utilize these tools – the discovery of how to make your business work for you is part of the journey. Read on for all the details.
1. Asana – Over the past year, I’ve tested a few project management tools and I’ve landed on this one (for now – again here always a work in a progress). In a few short months, I will adding a virtual assistant to the team and will be testing out sharing my systems and workflows with another person for the first time. For now, it has been extremely helpful to utilize Asana as a tool to keep track of all the daily tasks – these include those for clients, those for backend business items, those for content development, those for social media strategy, etc. I look forward to seeing how what we’ve put in place functions with the addition of team members and how the system translates for our lead planners – as these lovely ladies will be utilized the tried and true YSDE workflows to deliver the same YSDE experience for their clients.
2. Aisle Planner – In the very beginning of my business, I knew I needed a tool to help my clients manage, organize, and communicate seamlessly with myself, and their planning partners throughout the entirety of the planning process. It needed to be a tool that would serve my clients well – regardless of where they were in the planning process and one that would promote/encourage an easy of transferring all that vital information you need to share in the client/planner relationship (think contracts, payment deadlines, design decisions, vendor team selections, final guests counts). This tool is one of the most comprehensive out there for wedding planning specifically. I send contracts directly with clients through this application, generate timelines, keep track of payments, am able to quickly identify the members of a clients vendor team – and that only scratches the surface. Very simply Aisle planner is like an electronic version of the best wedding planning binder out there. The tools allows for the perfect balance of client independence and wedding planner assistance – a balance that is very important to how I run and manage my business.
Also, if you are a wedding planner and are interested in trying out Aisle Planner – you can for the first 30 days for free! If you end up loving it, you could also get 25% using my affiliate link here
3. Gmail – The next few are probably some of the more obvious tools but for the sake of providing a comprehensive list I thought I would mention these. Gmail is my email tool of choice. The recent changes to gmail have also opened up a whole host helpful features – like the ability to pause your inbox and reminders that bring messages you may have overlooked or haven’t received a response from back up to the top of your inbox thereby signally your attention. About a year ago I made the decision to upgrade my account through Gsuite in order to switch to an @yoursweetestdayevents option and while this is something I’ve invested in – it is not necessary for the success of your business. I simply wanted to remove the gmail based branding from my email correspondence with clients.
4. Google Calendar – I’ve started to use google calendar this past year for client meeting scheduling, and even my editorial calendar/planning. Previously I would use google calendar sparingly and tended to lean more towards paper planners. But as it became more and more apparent that an electronic system would be more efficient – especially with the need to bring on team members – I came to realize that using two system just wasn’t going to be sustainable. So this year I made a conscience effort to only use google calendar – its still a work in progress but what I love most about it is its accessibility from virtually anywhere thanks to my phone. Being able to check my calendar allows me to stay on top of what is coming next and gives me the ability how to manage multiple schedules including family and business responsibilities on the go. We’ve also recently started using a shared calendar to manage our events as a team – particularly with the announcement of the availability of lead planners as an option for clients. I’ve also tried – briefly – calendly to assist with streamlining scheduling but haven’t been consistent enough with it to give an honest review.
5. Google Docs – the use of google doc’s has been a recent addition to my toolset – and mostly out of necessity. In early spring my Microsoft Office subscription ran out – and as a girl that has grown very accustomed to word, excel, and powerpoint I had no idea what I was going to do. So I subscribed to the 365 platform and spent way too much time trying to figure out how to associate my license with the computer software. Finally, I gave in and starting using google docs and game changed! I cancelled that office subscription and have been slowly transition my workflows to this insanely simply and easy to access cloud based tool. I foresee lots of use for this with clients in the upcoming seasons as well – working on this workflow currently (see always always making little shifts, pivots, updates, tweaks – there’s beauty in the mess, I promise!)
6. Planoly – this tool has been a serious game changer for posting to Instagram – particularly when the auto-post function became available. I am still working on finding a groove with creating content (this mostly still happens in real time for me) – there have been a few weeks this year when I have had content prepared and using this tool has allowed for the ability to streamline the posting process. I also love that you can map out images to gain a visual as to what your feed will look like. Using this functionality in conjunction with strategic hashtags and a strategic editorial calendar, I have found this tool to be extremely supportive. The ability to post to stories with it is also something I am dabbling in. More to come here!
7. Tailwind – I’ve only recently started to use this tool – although I’ve known about it for a while. It supports the daily pinning of images to pinterest, an important marketing tool that everyone should be leverage for driving traffic to your site. I have yet to see the impact of this tool/pinterest but with some consistent efforts I hope to have a full report in the months to come. I can tell you it is extremely easy to use – especially with the extension added to your favorite browser – makes scheduling a breeze.
8. Mailchimp – I know there are a variety of newsletter tools out there but I have found mailchimp to be what works best for my business where it stands today. I am sure you have heard the pitch for growing a list – short version if your Instagram/other social media account was hacked you’d lose all your followers but your list belongs to you and is made up of people who have elected to join you. This is something that many of the people in the industry have spoken at length on regarding its importance so I will save you the why but I can tell you this tool is extremely easy to use. The drag and drop, template, and list building features are super user-friendly and adding them to social media platforms, and websites is a no brainer!
9. Business Books – this has honestly been one of my favorite additions of this year – something I had every intention of doing more consistently when the new year started but admittedly I’ve fallen off the wagon slightly. Reading is something I absolutely love to do – and I always have. Getting lost in books is something that brings me immense joy. And ironically business books bring this same joy – although if I am being honest I wasn’t sure I would love them as much as I do. I think its about finding the right books at the right time but the right authors – with relatable, actionable content. These are keys to reading a book that is geared towards being educational and transformative. Regardless – business books are an amazing tool for enhancing and growing your business. I have read a few amazing books this past year and have been surprised by how impactful they have been in shaping different aspects of my business and life.
10. Podcasts – Another wonderful way to digest educational content and get to know the key players in your specific industry. Podcasts have exploded in the past few years – most likely because they are the perfect medium through which to digest content on the go! I’ve listened to them while checking emails, while doing chores, while driving to appointments – honestly the list goes on and on. They have also introduced me to so many different ways of thinking and approaching different aspects of my business. These snippets of free education are worth their weight in gold. Some of my favorites include: The Gold Digger, the Creative Well, Brands that Book, How I built This, Story Brand, Creative Empire
11. Mastermind – this year was the first I felt financially ready to invest in some personal development/education and a local mastermind group was the first investment I made. It has been such a joy to share with other local ladies the dreams I have for this business and their encouragement has been incredible. I think the number one factor that has shaped my business and is directly attributable to this group is the accountability. It’s been the this is what I am going to work on and then getting down to business because I have to report on it next month that has propelled my business forward this year (mixed with a few other personal drivers).
These are tools that I pretty much use on a daily basis – all of which are bookmarked conveniently in the first folder on my chrome toolbar – making quick access to them on a daily basis even more convenient. Over the past few years, these tools have helped me stay organized, have allowed me to create systems that ensured all the details were accounted for, have helped me dream big dreams, and made the day to day operations of YSDE even more efficient.
As I mentioned in these two posts (one, two) last week, I have been working hard behind the scenes on building an experience that seeks to support momprenuers and creatives eagerly seeking to upscale their business in the new year. It promises to be full of educational, actionable, and transformative content. It will challenge you, encourage you, and support you in ways I hope that have yet to be seen. And will only – intentionally – be available to a limited number (we are talking 10-12 people total) in order to provide an experience that goes above and beyond. The program will be launched in November to the public but the YSDE insiders will be the first to gain access towards the middle of next month. Join the list here to learn all the details:
Before signing off today, I would be amiss if I failed to mention, the number one tool that has and will continue to transform YSDE – my team members. As we start to think towards the 2019 season, I am excited to be bringing on team members so that we can continue to serve our beautiful couples in big, bold, beautiful ways. The investment in team members was something that truthfully terrified me but has proven to be one of the best investments I’ve made. They’ve radically transformed my peace of mind on wedding day, my ability to do more, and I know their presence is what is going to allow for my big dreams for 2019 – 2020 to be even remotely possible. But that is another post for another day.
Any questions, let me know in the comments below. I’d love to have a discussion around other tools you’ve found to be helpful!
With excitement and a eagerness to share,
Throughout this post you will find some of my favorite images from last season. I am working on a special project (reveal coming in about a month) and have been going through galleries upon galleries. Stay tuned to read all about these lovely #ysde couples. Photo credits below