Welcome to part 2 of 5 of our series Organizing and Taking Control of your Divi Web Design Business. In this series, we’re exploring several tactics, tools and strategies that will help you overcome the daily struggles that we all face as Divi Web Designers. From optimizing your daily routines, to creating systems and processes, to providing the best web design experience for your clients; we’re providing actionable items and steps that you can implement immediately with the purpose of helping you take control of your Divi Web Design business whether you’re a solo freelancer, a small agency or a remote team.
Organization is a major key to success in any business. Once you have control of your time with daily and weekly routines that work for you, it’s time to focus on organizing the technology and tools you use on a daily basis. In this post, we’re going to explore some practical ways that will help you stay organized so you can take better control of your Divi Web Design business.
Organization Tactics and Practices for your Divi Web Design Business
In this post, we’re going to focus on some topics that are often overlooked but are crucial to our day to day operations as web designers. Some of these may seem like no brainers, but I think we can all agree that as experienced web developers it’s nice to be reminded of the simple things. And if you’re just starting out, these things can easily be glanced over. So let’s dive in!
1) Organizing your Bookmarks
If you’re a web designer like me, you probably have hundreds of bookmarks with tutorials, inspirational sites and links, online tools and several categories of bookmarks on your browser. One tactic that is completely up to you is how to organize them! This may seem like an elementary topic but I’ve worked with too many people who open up their browsers and make me shudder after seeing their unorganized, scattered bookmarks. I can’t imagine the wasted time that goes into trying to find bookmarks from months or years ago when there’s no organized system in place.
So, I would highly recommend organizing your bookmarks in a system works for you so that you can get to your links quickly and efficiently. It’ll save a surprising amount of time and energy that you can use elsewhere. I’m also continually reminding myself to delete links I don’t need anymore. Aside from my personalized bookmarks for bills and all that fun stuff, I want to give you an idea of how I set my up my web design related bookmarks so I can find my saved links quickly and easily. Now of course there’s no right or wrong way to do this, but here’s roughly how I organize mine for web design efficiency:
Business Stuff – I have all my business links such as my hosting login, project management tools and links to my most used website links in this folder. I also link many of my client pages such as my Getting Started Page and Moving Forward Page so I don’t have to search for them in my browser to send to a client.
Web Stuff – My “Web Stuff” folder is organized into 3 main parts:
- Web Tools which is comprised of tools that I use on a daily or weekly basic. Things like CSS shape tools, color tools, Facebook plugin ID finder, etc.
- Web Tutorials which is broken into subcategories for tutorials for all the tools I use. I try to keep these updated so I don’t have tutorials hanging around from years ago that I don’t need anymore 🙂
- Divi Stuff which contains Divi-specific tutorials that I often refer back to. Divi plugins and products that I have saved and support login links to Divi products, etc.
Client Stuff – Often my clients will send me example sites or they’ll have their own platforms that I need to log into. I used to lose track of these and have to sift back through emails and questionnaires to find the links but now I just set up a folder for that client under my Client Stuff folder and have all the links saved there for reference. Then once the site’s complete, I delete their folder and move on!
So aside from my personal bookmarks, this is how I’ve organized my “web design” links to effectively find my links as quickly as possible. Again, this is just an example of what I do so be sure to take these ideas and do what works for you!
2) Creating an Organized File Structure
One thing that I was completely unprepared for when I started my business was how to effectively structure the files that were quickly accumulating on my computer. This isn’t too big of an issue when starting out, but when your business grows and you start getting multiple clients all with potentially hundreds of files, it can get out of control very quickly. If you’re anything like me, you shudder at seeing too many files on your desktop so it’s important to have an organized structure where you can easily locate your files. Now of course you’re going to have personal files, pictures and more so it’s important not to get those files intertwined with your business files.
When it comes to business, I have a “master” folder where all my client files are. I separate all my clients in their own folders and have a standardized sub folder system that often looks like this:
Within Client Folder:
- Content & Documentation
- Custom Code & Manual Backups
- Graphics & Working Files
- Images & Live Web Graphics
- Client Logins
- Misc Files
Depending on the complexity of the client and project, these folders may have sub folders within them. For example if a client has several team members and photos for each person, I may have a separate folder for head shots. It all depends on the amount of files, images, etc. But sticking to this formalized file structure has helped me keep track of things and to be able to easily refer back to when needed. I also have separate folders for all my most used WordPress Plugins, Divi Plugins, Divi Scripts and Custom Code, etc.
So again, this may seem like an elementary topic but there is no formal training on how to organize your files in school. And particularly if you’re new to web design, you need to be prepared for this BEFORE you start accumulating hundreds and thousands of files.
3) Organizing your Call Backs, Email and Prospect Reminders
Throughout the day as a web designer, you’ll often get calls and emails looking for a response as soon as you’re available. I discussed the idea of segmenting your daily routine to allow for call backs and “reactionary” work in the previous post but the question remains of how to organize these calls or emails. Here’s the number one rule that I live by when it comes to remembering to email and call backs: Get it out of your head and onto paper or on file. If a client calls you but you’re in the middle of a project and you don’t want to break your rhythm, it’s very easy to think to yourself, I’ll call them back in a couple of hours. But more often than not you’ll get distracted and very easily forget about the call completely. The way I’ve helped avoid this is to jot them down immediately on my daily planner.
I use the ActionDay Planner which sits on my desk and is a super helpful, practical way to jot down the calls and emails that I need to make that day. There are of course numerous online tools and platforms to assist with these type of things but I prefer having something to write on in front of me. You can use post-its but those can clutter up a desk very quickly 🙂
Now what about prospects? I will often use my daily planner to help remind me of proposals to get out and prospect emails to reply to but potential clients often require a few steps of reminders. When a client reaches out to you initially they’ll be expecting to be contacted back quickly and I try to get back within 24 hours. Then once I’ve made contact and gather information, I set a reminder for preparing a proposal. After the proposal has been sent, if I don’t hear anything back within 1 to 2 days I always send a friendly reminder email just checking in to make sure they received the proposal and if they have any questions.
You can set these reminders practically by putting them in your calendar, daily planner or even setting up email filters to keep all your prospects and “reach out” emails in a separate folder. Either way, it’s important to keep track of your prospect communication because that is the lifeblood of your business. So try some of these methods out and do what works for you!
4) Backing Up Your Files
Finally, if you’re not yet serious about backing up your files, it’s time to get serious. Here are a couple questions I’d like to pose to you:
What would happen if your computer got stolen or destroyed in a house or office fire?
What would be the repercussions if you lost all your client files, logins and passwords?
Several years ago, I had all my files backed up, not often enough mind you, on one external hard drive. That hard drive became corrupt after several years use on multiple devices and while it was being looked at by a local computer shop, my main computer also had issues booting up. I was in a very real and dangerous situation of potentially losing all my data. Thankfully I was able to manually transfer the files from my computer to a new external hard drive before it had to be restored but I almost lost virtually every file, image, password and all the work I had built up for myself and my clientele up to that point.
This taught me a very important life lesson that I want to pass on to you:
“Two is One and One is None.”
Meaning I had all my files backed up on 1 external hard drive but that became corrupted and was useless. Even if you have a backup on one device, if something happens to that device, you have nothing. You need at least 2! From that point on, I created a new backup system that has served me well ever since. I now have 2 external hard drives: one for weekly backups and one for monthly backups. If my computer was to go down, I wouldn’t be in trouble because I have everything backed up twice and stored in separate locations.
You can also experiment with backing up files using Dropbox, Google Dive and other cloud based backup services. The main goal is to make sure that not all of your files are on only one device because if something should happen, you could loose all your clients files and hard work.
I hope some of the organization tactics and practices that I’ve implemented in my business have helped encourage you to do the same! We’re just scratching the surface of ways you can organize your business so be sure to test some of these ideas out and do what works for you. And if you have any organization techniques that you’d like to pass on, be sure to let us know in the comments below!
Tomorrow: Effective Client Onboarding Processes for Your Divi Web Design Business
There are several challenges when starting a new Divi Web Design project; from making sure the client is prepared and knows your process, to getting content, to setting expectations and realistic deadlines – these are struggles we all face as web designers. Tomorrow we’ll explore some practical ways you can create an effective onboarding process for you and your clients!