5 Mistakes I’ve Made In My Calligraphy Business

You guys already know I love to talk about business, and while I try to focus on the positive/educational side of things, I think it’s just as important to talk about the trial & error that we all go through on our business journeys. Most of what I know about business, truly, has come from making lots - and lots - of mistakes.

This has been me way more times than I would like to admit.

This has been me way more times than I would like to admit.

In honour of the exciting new online course that I created with Sylvia Wong of Via Calligraphy, (which is called The Badass Brand Academy, and is all about helping other creatives avoid these growing pains and get on the fast track to successful business babe life) - I thought I would share some of the mistakes that I’ve made in my own business. So here we go…

5 Mistakes I made in my Calligraphy Business

1. Spending too much time on the wrong tasks.

When I think back to how much time I wasted “perfecting” my website - tweaking the colours, agonizing over the fonts, switching templates 18 times - I honestly shudder. I was so consumed by the aesthetic aspect (which is important, don’t get me wrong, but not something you should spend 80 hours on - especially when you haven’t made any money yet!) that I completely ignored the things that would have actually made a difference to my business right away. Things like SEO, creating engaging content & blog posts, building an e-mail list, and crafting the message behind my brand. If I could go back in time, I would have learned everything I could about all those things first, slapped together a website in a day, and worried about the aesthetics later!

2. Being too shy to enforce my own policies.

Now that I’m a weathered old bat/cold-hearted business bitch (I mean…not really. But kind of.) I almost never make this mistake anymore. Sadly I do still catch myself letting small things slide that I know I shouldn’t. Being more assertive is something I’m always working on, because I do worry about being perceived as difficult or demanding. However in the early days, I was so shy that I would borderline not even ask to be paid. I would do work without a deposit, or without a contract, I would run around town delivering signage without charging for my time, I would wait around for weeks for an invoice to be paid and not make a peep. I allowed myself to be walked all over time and time again. Eventually I decided enough was enough, and now I hardly ever waver from my policies (which are fairly strict - ex. A late fee of 5% of the total project cost is charged per day that an invoice is late). But I do wish that there had been someone there to take my face in their hands and give me a sassy pep talk - I would have avoided many crying-into-a-tub-of-ice-cream moments (…and I probably would have made a ton of money on late fees. Going back to my Blockbuster roots, y’know?)

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3. Pretending that money didn’t matter.

I got into this whole calligraphy biz thing because I am an artist at heart - not a business-person. I just truly want to create beautiful things, and I genuinely never expected to make more than a mostly-adequate living from art. I used to think I would just be grateful to be able to pay my bills doing what I loved, and wanting anything more than that was somehow wrong, or greedy. That is, after all, kind of the narrative that’s out there for a lot of artists. I felt like there was a pretty low ceiling to how much I could ever make. After a while though, I realized that I have just as much of a right to make a comfortable living as anyone else in any other field. That I shouldn’t hold myself back because of societal expectations, or outdated concepts like the “Starving Artist”. It took time and a lot of un-learning of ingrained ideas, but I gradually shifted my money mindset, and made my finances a top priority instead of an afterthought.

4. Thinking that Saying No was a bad thing.

Guys. Saying “No” is basically my new favourite thing. I used to say yes to every project & every client, thinking it made me innovative and bold to always be trying new things, even if I wasn’t completely sure I knew how. When I first left my full-time job, I also felt like I wasn’t in a position to turn down work, so that led to a lot of projects I had absolutely no business taking on. There’s always a little spark of excitement when someone contacts you for a job - and then another feeling when you read the description of that job: either more excitement…or a pang of dread. I would say yes either way. Until one day, I got an email for something completely out of my wheelhouse - someone who was opening a restaurant, and wanted a full sign painted on the outdoor awning of their new establishment, in a vintage serif lettering style. I furiously googled sign-painting, trying to convince myself I could figure it out, and then I stumbled upon the website of Mr.Sign - another Montreal lettering artist who specializes in restaurant signage. And it occurred to me…I could just refer the client to him. He actually knows how to do this. So I did, and a huge wave of relief passed through me as I pressed “send” on that e-mail. Turns out, the feeling of liberation when saying “No” to something you either don’t know how, or don’t want to do - well, it’s fucking fabulous.

5. Trying to go it alone.

As someone who works alone at home all day, I have had a lot of one-sided conversations with my dog. And as much as he is an adorable angel who supports and loves me unconditionally, he can’t really give me any feedback when I have a situation or an idea that I need help working through. That’s why I’m extremely happy that I finally have an amazing group of fellow boss babes who I regularly talk to, bounce ideas off of, and occasionally ask to talk me off a ledge for one reason or another. I enjoy being independent, and as an introvert - I love my alone time - but it’s really lovely to have somewhere to turn when you need valuable advice or a second opinion. Being self employed can be isolating, and it’s super important to have a supportive network that you can rely on. You absolutely don’t have to go it alone, and you shouldn’t! It’s a lot better for your sanity to surround yourself with like-minded creatives when you need it.

So, those are 5 of the many mistakes that I made when in the early days of calligraphy business. Thankfully I learned from each of them, and they’re the reason I was able to change and grow my business. If you enjoyed this post, it would mean the world to me if you would share the below image on Pinterest, so more people can learn what not to do!

PS. If you’re in the market for a business road-map that will help you break through your self doubt and turn your hobby into a high end business, Syl and I created the perfect online for you! Check out The Badass Brand Academy here You can also watch our FREE Masterclass - Business Is The New Black | 4 Steps to Kickstart Your Creative Career, which we are doing an Encore Presentation of on February 18th!

How I started my Calligraphy Business

Starting My Calligraphy Business

The questions I get asked the most, by far, are “How did you get started in calligraphy?” and “How did you start your Calligraphy Business?”

The short, but not super helpful version is this:

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The longer version is almost too long and is not your average “calligraphy journey”. The story, in a way, spans my entire life. If you’re interested in reading basically my life story, you’re in the right place! If you’d prefer to learn about the more tangible, actionable steps involved in starting a creative business, I’m actually doing a Webinar on this very subject in two weeks, with Sylvia Wong of Via Calligraphy. If you’d rather skip my long-winded diatribe and just watch the webinar, go here to sign up!

Okay, so. Back to my life story. I am one of those people who picked up a pencil at like 3 years old and just basically never stopped drawing, and never really cared about anything else. I am incredibly lucky to have super supportive parents who signed me up for art lessons when I was 9, and I attended an after-school art class every Tuesday until I was 17 and started college (Quebec is weird that way and we do less high school, but kind of double-college).

I was always going to be an artist, it was just a question of what medium and in what capacity. But, given that my college years & the early stages of my career coincided with a really strange, transitional time in the art world, I struggled to find my place for almost a decade. I dropped out of my first college art program (Illustration & Design) because it drained my creativity - basically I went from drawing every day of my life for fun, to dreading the act of sitting down to draw. That totally broke my heart, and I knew it wasn’t worth sticking with something that affected me so negatively. So, I switched into a more lighthearted program (Visual Arts) in order to graduate with my artistic soul intact. It was honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and was totally based on my gut instinct.

In 2009, I took a year off from school and tried incredibly hard to make something close to a living from art (while also working at Blockbuster! Can you believe?!). This was before Instagram was a thing, so even though I did things like host my own art shows, had an Etsy shop and would post my paintings & drawings anywhere on the internet that I could (hi, Deviantart, Tumblr, and MySpace!) I hardly made a dime. I went back to school in 2010, enrolling in Fine Arts at Concordia University, but ultimately dropped out after one year (#artschooldropout). I never felt like I had the theory behind my work to be one of those fancy artists who shows at galleries, but also didn’t understand the mysterious world of commercial art or how to break into it. Even though I had a lot of skills and passion, I lacked focus and didn’t have the tools to turn myself into an entrepreneur at that point. So, I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I would never make a living as an artist. I bounced around in other jobs that were at least a little artsy, first as a makeup artist and then as a graphic designer…but nothing ever felt right or made me feel whole. There was always something missing, and it hurt. I was a big sad mess and I would cry in my car on my way to work every day. (#emolife)

And then in 2015, randomly and without really knowing what calligraphy was, I enrolled in a Copperplate Calligraphy class (taught by Joy Deneen, who is the best). I fell in love with it instantly, and finally felt like I had stumbled upon a medium that I could really focus on and build something around. After the course (which was in-person and 8 weeks long!) was done, I had not just a new hobby to focus on after getting home from my 9 to 5, but a mission. I was deeply miserable at my day job, and was already planning on making serious moves towards leaving it and pursuing a freelance career. Calligraphy was the catalyst that made me really take action. I practiced constantly, paying extra attention to developing my own style and making the kind of things that I wanted to eventually get hired to do.

It took me a long time, and a lot of hideous work (PSA: When you learn a new artistic skill, you will have about 100 pieces of just-plain-bad art in you, that you’ll need to get out of your system! #Facts) before I started taking on “real” clients. In the Summer of 2016 I worked my first Wedding Season, which included a few disastrous situations - particularly one on-site seating chart that I actually contemplated running away from halfway through. Even though my work was not perfect and the jobs were coming in sporadically, at the end of that summer I took a bit of an insane leap of faith and quit my full-time graphic design job to pursue being a freelance calligrapher & artist.

I’m a naturally artistic person, not a naturally business-minded person, so turning my creative passion into a business was a steep learning curve for me. Admittedly, I leapt a little too soon, and even though I had savings when I quit - it wasn’t the most financially sound move. If I could go back in time, maybe I would have tried to tough it out a little longer at my old job, at least until I had a firmer grasp on the business side of things. It took me a solid year of working for myself to really find my footing and start bringing in the kind of money that I could actually support myself with. Now, 2.5 years into being my own boss, I am very comfortable calling myself a “business lady” - thanks to lots and lots and lots of trial & error, many late nights pouring over business articles & books, years of failures & mistakes behind me to keep me motivated, and a teeny tiny bit of luck.

Being a “#girlboss” or whatever isn’t all sunshine and rainbows - there are many really hard days, times you’ll go from feeling like a badass to feeling like the biggest loser on the planet in the span of an hour, there are downright painful tasks (oh accounting, how I loathe you) and many, many speed bumps along the road. It’s not for the faint of heart, and requires a high level of commitment and perseverance.

(Channeling Moira from Schitt’s Creek is not a bad idea at all…)

(Channeling Moira from Schitt’s Creek is not a bad idea at all…)

That being said, starting a creative business doesn’t have to be such a long, arduous, emotional process - and I truly hope that for most people it’s not. It is more possible than ever before to actually get to be your own boss, and to live the dream of making money while working from home with no pants on. The internet & social media have opened up a whole new world of possibilities for people who never quite fit in the “traditional career” box. It just happened to take me a really long time to master it because I was going it alone, and didn’t have anyone to show me what to do or how. So that, babes, is why - along with my friend/low-key idol Syl I’ve put together the Webinar I mentioned earlier in this post. It’s going to be a Free Masterclass (!) all about the key steps you need to take to kickstart your creative career path. This is the kind of knowledge that I would have literally killed for 3 years ago. And we’re giving it away for free because 1) We Love You and 2) We genuinely don’t want other future ladybosses to have to go it alone like we did. You can sign up for it here! (and I promise it will be much more concise and less ramble-y than this blog post).

When I was a student, and then a struggling aspiring artist, all I really wanted was to make a living doing what I loved. And especially as a Millenial, I grew up with that narrative - the whole idea that what you do for work should also be what you’re passionate about. That you could do anything you want in life, if you just put your mind to it. But for most of my 20’s, I felt like that had all been a lie. A big, stupid, idealistic fairytale. What I was missing (which I feel silly about, in retrospect) was the understanding that no one was going to hand me my dream job - I was going to have to create it. So now that I have, I get to be the one to say it’s possible. You just have to put in the work. And I am so excited to show you how in a couple of weeks.

If you actually read this entire thing, you honestly deserve a medal (or at least a box of chicken nuggets).

Hopefully you found some value in it, and if so It would mean the world to me if you could either share this blog post on Pinterest or tell a friend about the upcoming webinar!

XOXO,

Jodi

How to Create Original Content & Stand Out on Social Media

How to Create Original Content & Stand Out on Social Media

Okay, so. Recently, I’ve noticed (and I know I’m not alone in this) a fair bit of less-than-original content populating the ‘gram. I don’t want to come across as negative here, and this isn’t aimed at anyone directly - I’m really just hoping to educate anyone who is new to using social media for their business, or just struggling to fill their content calendar.

It’s no secret that over the past few years, Calligraphy & Hand-Lettering have gone from being a lost art to something that everyone and their cat has tried. To a lettering artist, scrolling through an Instagram feed full of other lettering artists can be inspiring, but it can also stifle our creativity. All we ever look at is OTHER people’s work. We don’t look at our own work. We don’t sit down in a room with no screens, pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist, and look at what we’re capable of making on our own - if there was no Instagram. Every day we see what kind of art is popular and gets the most likes, & we think that’s what we should do too, to be successful - to be noticed. Inspiration turns into Imitation and before you know it you’ve seen the words “Rosé All Day” written in the same bouncy style so many times you want to rip your eyes out.

By the way, that was me throwing shade directly at myself, because I am absolutely guilty of this shit too. Exhibit A:

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I used to just do what I thought people wanted to see. But eventually, I made the conscious decision to do some serious introspection and develop my own aesthetic. To be as original as humanly possible. It’s something that I am still mindful of every time I go to post something.

Don’t get me wrong - I know it’s not easy to just snap your fingers and come up with original, one-of-a-kind content. It’s one of the hardest challenges facing anyone who uses Social Media for their business. And the newer you are to it, the more difficult it is to find your place. There are literally thousands of images posted on Instagram every second of the day, every day of the week. It’s overwhelming. I get it. I really do. I’ve been unoriginal a bunch of times. For example, the teal chalk wall in my old apartment was 1000% inspired by Lauren Hom. I gave her a shoutout for it every chance I got, and I also went to one of her workshops, and I still feel weird and guilty about it. I’m sure there are other times where I’ve let myself get too inspired by another artist’s work. It does happen, and it’s not necessarily malicious, but we do need to try - collectively - to do better.

So how exactly do we do that? How do we come up with new ideas and original material when we’re bombarded with images - all-day-every-day - that were created by other people?

The key, like with many things in life, is to put in a little more effort.

…Now that I’ve written my Thesis on Why Being Unoriginal Sucks, let’s get down to the point of this blog post - Here are my main tips for coming up with original content so that you can stand out on social media (which directly correlates to building a strong brand, FYI):

  • First things first: Put your goddamn phone down. Seriously. For like, an entire day at least. A weekend is better.

    Speaking as someone who spends way, way way too much time on my phone - I know how hard this one is. But all that time “under the influence” of social media, so to speak, is more likely to have your spiralling in a comparison trap nightmare than sparking your creativity.

  • Make a list of all the weird shit you love the most, and go from there.

    General rule of the universe: for every “weird” or niche interest you have, there are probably literally thousands of other people out there who are super into the exact same thing. Make a detailed list of your absolute favourite things (and get specific, babes), and I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll feel compelled to create something inspired by an item on that list. Take the ladies of my personal favourite podcast - My Favorite Murder ; who randomly decided to start a podcast based on their mutual morbid interest in true crime. They are now wildly successful and have hundreds of thousands of listeners, because - as it turns out - all of us true crime nerds (now known as Murderinos, just FYI) were just waiting in the wings for this podcast to come into existence, without even knowing it. Whatever your specific & unusual passion is, odds are there is an audience out their just waiting for you to create content about it.

  • Make the things you wish existed.

    This is a pretty basic piece of advice that in and of itself is not actually that original (#ironic) but nonetheless, it’s the best thing to keep in mind when you’re stuck in a creative rut. Do you wish you had a painting of Leonardo DiCaprio telling you how pretty you look hanging above your bedroom mirror? Boom. Make that. It’s that simple.

  • Aggressively avoid bandwagons.

    Is there a new trend circulating that everyone is clambering to get a piece of? Instead of hopping on board the bandwagon like a teenager in the early 2000’s who just received a chain e-mail (how much did I just age myself with that reference? If you don’t know what I’m talking about please go here ) use that big beautiful brain of yours to think for yourself. For example - while something like 100 million people on Instagram were posting their “2018 Best 9”, Illustrator Abbie Paulhus chose instead to create her own, by illustrating 9 of her best memories & moments from the year. She took a trend and instead of following it, pushed it further and created an original piece of art. (That post has over 4000 likes, btw). So next time you spot a bandwagon popping up, either run in the other direction, or take it as a challenge to make something even better.

  • Do your homework.

    Sometimes we think we have an amazing, original idea - but then one quick Google search shows us our amazing idea has, in fact, been done before (#soulcrushing). This totally blows, for sure, but it is important to validate an idea (especially if it’s something you’ll be using to profit from, like a print or a product of some kind). It’s much better for your career, and more satisfying for your creative soul, to be totally sure before making something that you’re not stepping on another artist’s toes. Like I said before, it’s happened to all of is and usually isn’t malicious. But it should be common practice among creatives to do our research first, and be respectful of something that another artist made first. I had a design professor in college who said the words “Give credit where credit is due” so many times I thought my head would explode if I ever heard them again, but now I understand why. (He also struck fear into my 18 year old heart by calling out a girl in front of our entire class for copying Aubrey Beardsley’s work too closely for an Inking assignment, and letting us all know he would be giving her an F…ouch) (…just in case you thought art school was all unicorns and rainbows!).

  • Go Outside/Travel/Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

    Okay this might sound rich coming from me, seeing as I’m basically a hermit - but trust me, this works. If jumping on a plane to Europe and visiting the Louvre is an option for you - then please do that. If not, try checking out a local art show or museum exhibit, be a tourist in your own city for a day, etc. Sometimes all you need to get inspired is to get out of your bubble and immerse yourself in an aesthetic that wouldn’t normally be a part of your world.

  • Embrace your imperfections

    Thankfully, as we all recognize that social media is not great for our mental health (but unfortunately for those of us who rely on it to promote our businesses, it’s a necessary evil) the idea of showing highlights only is fading into a more honest and realistic approach for a lot of people. Many are choosing to be more open about their struggles and shortcomings instead of only ever showing their best self - and this is one bandwagon I can get on board with. We’re all flawed, fragile little creatures just trying to make our way in this extremely strange futuristic world (Like, we’re all carrying around computers in our pockets, when only 50 years ago they looked like this. What is life) and being vulnerable has a lot of value. At this point, I think we can all agree that nobody needs to letter “She believed she could so she did” ever, ever again. Try taking a done-to-death inspirational quote and putting a satirical spin on it, and people will be a lot more likely to engage with it, because they’ll actually be able to relate.

    She believed she could, but she was really fucking tired, so she put that shit off until tomorrow.

Alright my dears, so that’s about all I can think of for now, but you get the idea. There are tons of ways to kickstart your creativity if you really want to. To summarize: Get off your phone. Go out into the world. Make things you’ve never seen before, instead of making your version of something that’s been done a thousand times. Be unapologetically you.

Creativity comes naturally to some people, but I recognize that this isn’t the case for everyone, even artists. Sometimes you’re just having an off month and need to get re-inspired, sometimes you’re stuck in the Comparison Trap, and sometimes you just need to dig a little deeper to find your Creative Voice. But it really is in there, I swear.

Spend the time. Put in the work. I can promise that you and your career will be better for it in the end. 

P.S: It would just be silly of me to not take this opportunity to plug my Online Course - The Calligraphy Style Masterclass. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but it’s pretty much the ultimate resource for kickstarting your creativity and finally nailing down your own unique calligraphy style! Check it out here, babe!


Thank you for reading, babes! I hope you found this blog post to be helpful - If you did, it would mean the world to me if you could share it on Pinterest!

(Like, I would send you a box of warm, homemade chocolate chips cookies as a thank you, if I could)

To share on Pinterest, just hover over the photo below and click on the little Save button!


Addendum | Kinda why I wrote this post

I have a long list of Blog topics that I plan on writing about this year, and this one was not on there until recently. I decided, a bit spontaneously, to write about this subject for somewhat selfish reasons.

When an artist/creative notices their work has “inspired someone a little too much”, let’s say… they have three choices (shoutout to Jesi of Cabin Calligraphy for coming to this conclusion first!):

  1. Ignore it. Eat some ice cream, drink some wine, look at the post 55 times before realizing it will be better for your mental health if you just block the person so you can’t look at it anymore. Live with the feeling of being punched in the gut for a little while until you get over it.

  2. Privately contact the person who has imitated your work and try to explain kindly to them that you are hurt. Attempt to educate them on the subject and hope they react well.

  3. Publicly call the person out, and watch as your followers & friends rake them over the coals, pitchforks in hand. (Not recommended)

…Okay actually, 4 choices - Option #4 is to write a semi passive aggressive but also educational blog post about it.

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Why You Need a Client Management System

Get Organized, Babes! All About Client Management Systems for Creatives

This post is not just for calligraphers! Whether you’re a florist, a photographer, an event planner, etc - basically any type of creative business entrepreneur - this post is for you!

Alright my dears, it’s time to get down to business! I decided to write this blog post because I get a lot of you lovely darlings coming to me when you have sticky situations with clients, and I see a lot of the same issues arising quite often. This inspired me to do a little poll on Instagram, asking the question: Do you have a system in place for sending out quotes/contracts/invoices and receiving payment? I wanted to know exactly how many girlbosses were out there winging it. The answer? A whopping 70% of those who answered said No. I practically spat out my wine when I saw those results! So if you fall into the group of business babes who do not currently use a Client Management System - please, honey, let me help you, by answering the questions you are probably thinking right now.

“What the EFF is a Client Management System?”

It is your personal saviour. Your new best friend. It is your virtual assistant, your bill collector, kind of even your lawyer, and your personal calendar all rolled into one. Or in less dreamy terms; A Client Management System is a program that you use to streamline your business - a single system that allows you to craft & deliver quotes, contracts and invoices. It also allows you - and this is my favourite feature, because I love making money - to be paid instantly with a credit card*. If you’re not using a system like this, I honestly can’t stress enough how much it will change your life, babe! Like, truly I don’t remember what I did before I discovered this magical business tool.

“Why do I need a Client Management System?”

Okay. So. God there are a lot of reasons. Let’s start with the most basic - and again, my favourite - making money. How many times have you waited for a cheque in the mail (ew) or had a client come to pick up their order and forget to bring you cash? How many times have you waited to be paid, because a stressed out bride has maxed out the amount she’s allowed to e-transfer because it’s the week before her wedding? When you have a Client Management System, getting paid is literally as simple as sending and receiving an email. You are able to send digital invoices that include a beautiful, magical little button at the bottom that says “Pay Now”. When your client clicks that (which they should do right away, because you have a clause in your contract stipulating that any late payment will incur a fee, right henny?) they can immediately pay you with their credit card.

Speaking of digital documents and immediacy - you can also send your contract in the same way, and the client can sign it digitally right away. No more waiting forever to put a client in the books because they have to print the contract, scan it, find a goddamn pen, sign it, and somehow send it back to you (like, do they fax it? Are people still using fax machines? What year is it?).

Beyond the digital contracts and easy-peasy invoicing, you will also have access to basically all of the other business tools that you need - all together in one place. Bookkeeping, scheduling, quote building, time tracking - it’s all there. You can sync your email inbox, organize all of your pricing, email templates, and project workflows in one beautifully streamlined place. Some of these apps even tell you the weather. It’s like a de-cluttering program for your brain.

“How will all of that affect my day-to-day life?”

I can tell you from experience that your life will literally become less stressful overnight. First of all, the fewer hoops that a client has to jump through in order to hire you, the more likely you are to book them. Again, I don’t really remember what it was like before I started using an app, but the client journey now goes a little something like this:

1. Client reaches out to me via email or through my website asking about a specific project.

2. I email them back using a template which I will tweak a bit to personalize it to them and their project, giving them an outline of my pricing for their project. In this first email I state that the next step if they want to book is to sign a digital contract & pay an invoice for a 50% deposit in order to reserve.

3. If my prices fit the client’s budget, they will let me know they’d like to move forward.

4. I use my invoice template to make a deposit invoice, plug in their name & project info into my contract template, and send both off simultaneously.

5. Client signs the contract, pays the invoice, and I put it in my calendar. I just secured myself a job, got paid, and delivered a seamless & professional service all in the span of most likely a day or two. No crazy long back and forth emails, nothing lost in a sea of DM’s, no time for the client to hesitate, no waiting around to get paid. Just a simplified, straightforward onboarding process. And if ever there is a delay - for example, the client doesn’t sign the contract or pay the invoice within the allotted time - the Client Management System reminds them for you automatically.

From there, you can use your Client Management System to schedule in that client’s project and all of the steps you need to do to complete it, track the time you spend working on it, make to-do lists and check off the items as you go, etc. As you continue to use the program for your client work, you can use it to simplify your bookkeeping, keep a record of all your clients’ contact information, and just generally get your shit together and organize your life!

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“Okay FINE. You talked me into it. Where do I find one of these babies? “

There are several different options out there to choose from, but I’ve focused on the following 3 platforms because A) they’re the most widely used among creatives & solopreneurs that I know personally and B) I didn’t want to overwhelm you by listing 87 different options to pick from! Here is a quick breakdown of each (since I’ve already written a tome and you probably have other stuff to do).

  1. HoneyBook

    I’m listing this one first because it’s the one that I currently use, and not to be biased - but it is pretty awesome. At first, what drew me to it was honestly the aesthetic. Everything about it is clean, gorgeous, streamlined, and professional looking. Then once I signed up for it, I discovered that their customer service is killer. I switched over from 17Hats, which I expected to be a long and arduous process - transferring allllllll of that information was going to take me forever - but one of their reps literally did everything for me. I felt like a princess. They also have fantastic built in templates for every scenario imaginable. Their contract templates are especially amazing, so that’s one less thing you have to spend money on elsewhere. They are also affiliated with the Rising Tide Society, so being a member comes with a huge potential for networking and community building. And the best part for last - I get to give you 50% off your first year of membership (!) when you sign up for a free trial here. Yassss Queen.

  2. Dubsado

    I don’t have any personal experience with Dubsado, but my girl Jesi from Cabin Calligraphy does, so I asked her! She said that if you’re located in Canada, the setup process is on the time consuming side - apparently Canadians don’t get the same welcome package that American users get (so if you’re in the U.S, this wouldn’t be an issue for you!). She said that the Pros are being able to do things on the fly on your phone, it’s aesthetically pleasing, they have a phenomenal support team & Facebook group, and it’s designed by creatives for creatives. You can also give clients their own portals! If you opt for using Dubsado, you get to take advantage of 20% off when signing up here - courtesy of Jesi Yay! I’ve heard pretty much nothing but good things about this platform, so I think it’s a pretty safe bet.

  3. 17Hats

    Okay so 17Hats is the first Client Management System that I used, and I stuck with them for about two years before that saucy minx HoneyBook caught my eye. It is extremely user friendly and easy to work with. You can have Client Portals, it’s very functional and can be synced with Quickbooks! This is maybe a bit superficial, but the main Con for me was the aesthetic - even though it’s somewhat customizable, I just don’t love the fonts, backgrounds and colour options that are available. They also don’t have much of a referral program in place, so sadly I don’t have a discount code for you! That being said, it is still a very solid platform and if you’re not as much of an aesthetic snob as I am, I would recommend it!

There you have it - exactly why you need a Client Management System and how it will change your life. Now go forth, get organized, and get paid, babe!

*Quick Note about being paid with a Credit Card - you will need to have an account with Square, which you will then link to your Client Management System, so the funds can be transferred to your bank account. Square accounts are free and super easy to set up, with the caveat that they take a small processing fee from each transaction. But, if you sign up here you get your first $1000 worth of sales processed fo’ free.


Thank you for reading, babes! I hope you found this blog post to be helpful - If you did, it would mean the world to me if you could share it on Pinterest!

(Like, I would send you a bottle of champagne and a box of chicken nugs as a thank you, if I could)

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links! Which means I will receive a small commission from some of the above links. Purchasing something you would buy anyway using an affiliate link is a really lovely way of supporting your fellow girlbosses! I love to share my knowledge & expertise in order to help you improve your biz, and I would never promote anything I didn’t believe in 1000% Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog!

XO, Jodi