Freelance Life

How to Organize Your Creative Business

Get Organized, Babes! Here is everything you need to know 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!


“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)

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

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

How to Book Your Dream Clients: A 5-Step Guide

Starting a Calligraphy Business? Here’s how to land your Dream Clients!

This was written with calligraphers in mind, but could easily apply to a variety of creative industries, as the same principles will apply! Enjoy!

One of the most common questions I get asked when I post about extra-cool projects or working for bigger brands is simple: How?! There is a long answer (lots of hard work over several years and crying into many glasses of wine, for starters) and then, there are a couple of shorter ones. Below, I’ve broken down the “long story short” of it all - the main things you need to be conscious of in order to get the attention of the people you really want to work for. After all, not all freelance gigs are created equal!

  1. Hire Yourself

    Okay so you’re probably thinking “Um…what?” Let me explain - if you don’t have clients coming to you just yet, you pretty much have to pretend that you do. In order to attract your dream clients, you need to show them what you have to offer. To be successful working freelance, you simply have to be a person of action. Waiting around to be handed your dream projects is just not going to happen, babe! So, one of the best things you can do to inspire others to hire you, is to hire yourself first. Give yourself an assignment, or a “job” that you would love to do, and then just do it! For example - if you want to design wedding invitations, come up with a fictional couple (or use one of your favourites - I usually do Jay Gatsby & Daisy Buchanan) & an aesthetic for their fictional wedding (basically dream up their wedding scenario - a winter wedding in a castle, an elopement in Europe - literally anything you want!). Then, design, execute & document a gorgeous invitation suite that will stop people in their tracks (or rather, stop them mid-scroll). Photograph parts of your process as well as the final product, then share it on social media and on your website. Most people don’t know that they want something until they see it, and then they go from not knowing it existed to feeling like they need it.

  2. Be Easy To Find

    Okay so there is a lot to this part - but I’ll try to keep it simple. Once you’ve put some dream-client worthy work out there and your name has begun to circulate, potential clients will start to seek you out. But there will still be the other potential clients out there who haven’t heard of you just yet, but are looking for someone who does the kind of work you want to do. So, you need to be coming up in the searches they’re conducting! Most people don’t go past the first page of Google when they’re looking for something. You want to get your website SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on point, so that you climb the ranks of Google and show up at the top! This is done by making sure your website & copywriting are rich in keywords (the words that your prospective clients are using to search for you) and relevant content. You could either hire a professional to get your SEO in shape, or you can do it yourself - I would tell you how here, but this would go from a blog post to a novel pretty quickly. There are many free resources online where you can find out “how to SEO”! (Also - I may or may not be re-launching my calligraphy business class to include a section on this, so if you want me to keep you posted on that, you’ll have the chance at the end of this post!)

  3. Have A Stand-Out Style

    Going back to the whole “Hire Yourself” concept - when creating your example work (or portfolio), you should have the following question in the back of your mind: “Why would the client hire me for this, and not someone else?” Which sounds a tiny bit harsh as an inner dialogue, but it’s not meant to make you think negative things about yourself! It’s meant to make you pose the question what sets my work apart? Highly successful freelancers are not successful because they do what everyone else is doing - they are successful because they do what no one else is doing yet. They have their own voice, their own style, and they offer something unique and exclusive. Keep that question in mind when you’re creating, and you’ll be beating people away with a stick in no time.

  4. Say No

    A little bit counterintuitive, yeah? But believe it or not, knowing when to say “No” is one of the most powerful things you can do to land your dream clients. When you turn down projects that you’re not excited about, or that don’t align with your style, you’re left with more time and energy to pursue the creative projects that you really want. That, and you don’t have something sub-par that you didn’t particularly care for associated with your name forever on the internet (ahem, I’m speaking from experience). Another thing successful freelancers do: They offer only the products/services that they are amazing at - not a hundred different things they are just pretty good at. Of course, it can be hard to say No to things in the early stages of your career when you’re not exactly raking in the cash - but as you stabilize your workflow, being selective with your clients is imperative if you want to establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field!

  5. Be An Ally

    This is usually the first thing I talk about because it is so, so important - Community over Competition. As calligraphy increases in popularity, I can almost guarantee that you won’t be the only calligrapher in your area. There will be other calligraphers & lettering artists who will be considered for the jobs you might want. Instead of feeling competitive or jealous or lowering your prices to make sure you get the job - be on the same team as them, celebrate their successes, and get on the same page when it comes to pricing. I honestly can’t tell you how many times having a trusted network of peers has benefitted me, and them. By having a friendly relationship with your “competitors” you will open up doors to yourself that you maybe wouldn’t have had access to if you were to go it alone. They might get an inquiry for a project that they are not excited about, but you would be, and they’ll pass it along to you - and vice versa. As the saying goes:

    If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

    Bonus Tip: Just Throw It Out Into The Universe

    One of the beautifully creepy things about social media is that you never know who is watching. There is no harm in just being completely transparent and telling the world exactly what kind of project and client you want. Create a post on Instagram showcasing what exactly you want to do and who exactly you want to do it for! And not just that - be bold, and tag that dream client in the post! You could very well catch their attention enough to end up working with them, or the attention of a similar client. You just never know unless you try. What’s the worst that could happen? - You don’t book that client. But by not trying, you also don’t book that client. So you might as well try, right? I’ll say it again - you have to be a person of action. Ask the universe outright for what you want, and who knows - it just might happen.

    Bonus BONUS Tip: Organize Your Life

    Once the clients start rolling in, you’re gonna need a way to send them quotes, invoices & contracts! That’s where my personal fave Client Management System HoneyBook comes in! I would literally be lost without it and can’t recommend it enough - best part, I get to give your 50% off your first year, babes!

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 chicken nuggets as a thank you, if I could)

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

PSSST…Speaking of Business - if you’re in the market for a way to majorly streamline and organize your biz, I happen to have a gorgeous little 50% off discount for Honeybook! Give it a try for free and if you love it (I promise you will) the discount is all yours.

Who are the Dream Clients that I’ve worked for, you ask?

To name a few: Dior, Chanel, Aston Martin, Glenfiddich, L’Oréal, David’s Tea, Pandora, Urban Outfitters, Lululemon, and more!

PS. My turn to put something out into the Universe - would love to add a wine or champagne brand to that list! (I’m looking at you, Veuve & Moet ;) #goals)


Good things come to those who don't wait

Good things come to those who don't wait

I did the original “Good things come to those who don’t wait” drawing back in October 2010, in my dark, damp basement apartment that I shared with two roommates (it was my first apartment ever and man, was it ever gross). I was re-watching Six Feet Under on DVD for the millionth time - we didn’t have cable and I hadn’t discovered Netflix yet - so I was in a very “I could get hit by a bus or lightning and die at any moment” mindset. And this drawing is just what came out.