10 Must Have Skills to Smash Your Admin: Part 2

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Welcome back!

Time for those last 5 skills to needed to smash your admin!

6.       Spend Time Filing

You’ve heard of the expression ‘a stitch in time saves nine’?  This expression may be clichéd but it’s so true!

A little bit of time now spent on developing a sensible and straightforward method for your filing the easier you will be able to lay your hands on exactly what you need in the future!

Remember, nowadays this doesn’t just apply to that enormous grey monster of a filing cabinet lovingly rescued from a skip and now stuffed in the corner of your office.  This also applies to your computer filing system!

So, clear that cluttered desktop! Create that series of files in a logical way so that not only you can find everything you want but be prepared for when your arts business expands to include new staff members.  You don’t want to have to spend the first few weeks explaining the ins and outs of your computer filing which only you and your crazy brain understand!

 

7.       An Understanding of Social Media

I know I have a habit of repeating this, but social media is taking over the world!  It is becoming increasingly more integral to the running of businesses everywhere!  It is therefore important that everyone in your company knows how to use it.

The good news here is that over half of being good at Social Media Marketing relies on having excellent administration ability including the facility to schedule. 

Remember without your admin team (be it an actual team or be it just you) all the things we achieve in the exciting world of the creative industries wouldn’t be possible.  You could even post about them on Social Media!  They might be filtering through what appears to be the mundane but it makes the magic happen!

 

8.       Time Saving with Customer Service

I find often that email can be one of the biggest time drainers.  On occasion I have sat down in the morning to view my email accounts and quite often, before I know it, it’s midday and feel like I have achieved nothing because all I have done is sit and reply to messages!  So here is my advice:

If you have to email provide the customer with everything they could possibly need and then some extra stuff just in case.  So much time is wasted on toing and froing in emails.  If your business has been around for a while then chances are you have already equated a list of F.A.Qs (Frequently Asked Questions).  This is like the administrators’ bible: the copy and paste email dream.  It makes responses easy to find and, if properly produced, looks as though it is a completely personalised response! Save hours of your time from a cheeky bit of admin at the beginning creating an FAQ database.

If you still find a lot of email back and forth just pick up the phone and ring!  It is generally more effective than the constant and relentless email mountain!  It also means you’re less likely to misinterpret information.  Always remember emails are devoid of emotion.  That means that people inflict whatever feeling they want on them which can lead to a whole host of problems that simply wouldn’t have happened if you picked up the phone.

 

9.       Graphic Design

People in Arts Organisations often spend an obscene amount of money on outsourcing their graphic design.  Often enough there are employees in the office who are not only more than capable of designing your print and online content but also know the ethos of the business far better than any external designer will. 

This will also help to keep all your content consistent with your company brand.  Bare minimum if you are an outsourcer make sure that you keep a branding document so that the designer can get it spot on first time without having to ask too many questions.

If you are looking for administration work, having some photoshop skills under your belt will help you to stand out from the crowd.  If you find photoshop tricky then there are loads of cheaper alternatives out there nowadays! Give Canva a try or stay old school with Microsoft Publisher, just make sure you know the basics.

 

10.       Organisation, organisation, organisation

This links into all of the skills I have mentioned but basically, without some top notch organisational ability the whole of you admin system is almost certainly doomed to fail!  So get on top of it by getting organised.

 

 

And there you have it!  Now, away you go off into the world of administration and smash it!

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APP OF THE WEEK: Doodle

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Administration, App of the Week, Business Skills

 

Name Doodle
Product Description An online voting app designed to make scheduling meetings and events super easy as well as create online surveys and questionnaires.
Availability Only Available through your browser at https://doodle.com/ on the Apple App Store and from the Google Play Store.
Key Features ·         Schedule events and meetings, big or small across any calendar and platform quickly and easily

·         Ask questions by creating polls to send to your team and get them to vote for the most popular option

·         Sync most calendar apps with Doodle in order to avoid double bookings

·         Create and share your own Doodle URL to try and avoid that emailing to and fro

·         Send out multiple times to enable users to vote on their preferred one

·         New Doodle Dashboard keeps all your doodles in one place and makes them really easy to access

·         Auto-arrange reminders to go out prior to the meeting

·         With premium you can customise Doodle to be in keeping with your own company branding and receive advanced security

Prices and Plans It starts completely free to develop a basic poll! But they also have different business options for Doodle ranging from €3.50 per month for one business user to €12.50 per month for five.  Are you an even bigger business? Get in touch with Doodle to receive a quote!
Biggest Pro It’s basically like next level organisation without all the faff! That endless email back and forth and the accidental reply alls are more or less completely eliminated.
Biggest Con It is kind of limited, but to be honest, it’s the simplicity that makes it so brilliant.

Whether or not you use it for big corporate meet and greets or to find a weekend for that school reunion it really is the perfect little bit of software!

 

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10 Must Have Skills to Smash Your Admin: Part 1

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Business Skills

We all know the worst part of running any company in the creative industries is the boring paperwork.  Sometimes we get completely swamped with the ‘business’ side of activities that it leaves little or even no room for the fun parts!

 

It is therefore important to know the key skills necessary to smash out your admin tasks or (if you’re lucky enough) to hire the perfect administrative assistant to smash out your admin quickly and efficiently!

 

  1. Great Communication Skills

This seems pretty obvious, I know, but nowadays you need to be literate in all kinds of methods of communications: face to face, email to messenger, text to WhatsApp, phone to facetime… nowadays there are hundreds of different ways to approach customers, clients and colleagues.

Not only do you need to know how to use all of these platforms, but you also have to be able to deduce the appropriate manner for each different medium.  For example, Messenger, Text and Whatsapp generally have a more relaxed and casual tonality whereas email is generally more like a letter form.  These tend to be longer and full of more professional sounding vocab.

Great Communicators also tend to be great readers of people.  In a very short amount of time they can deduce how to speak to someone in an appropriate manner whether this is matey and approachable or professional.  There is often a fine line in the creative industries so be sure and, if in doubt, air on the side of professionality.

 

  1. Time Management

A good administrator is an excellent timekeeper.  I often find it useful to keep timetables which are designed so that I can use my time in the most efficient manner.

A great administrator also has the inherent ability to gauge the weight of certain tasks and prioritise them appropriately in order to get the most pressing tasks completed first.

An unbelievable administrator makes you think that they have all the time in the world even when they are the busiest ever.  That calmness can be infectious especially when there are lots of deadlines to meet.

 

  1. Microsoft Office (and their Apple Equivalents)

Every job you ever work in, whatever industry, wherever it is, will almost certainly require you using Microsoft Office (or the similar mac programmes like Pages, Numbers or Google Docs).

It never ceases to blow my mind how many job apps request this as a must have requirement in job application because I am of the opinion that if you don’t know the basics of Word, Excel and PowerPoint then where the hell have you been?! It’s been around since 1995! Have you been living in a box!

To give some clarity: that’s nearly a quarter of a century.  If you haven’t tried to learn how to copy and paste by now there is no hope for you!  It’s like living in France for 25 years without learning how to say ‘Bonjour’.

No more excuses!  If you don’t know how, ask Google and if you need visual guidance YouTube it!

 

  1. Problem Solving Abilities

I love problem solving!  Whether it’s that buzz of on the spot quick fix results or the longer term negotiating, searching for an answer until you find one that is just right, there is a real rush that runs alongside finding the perfect solution to a problem.

How can you be a great problem solver?  You need to be able to spot the problems, find solutions, pick the best one and most importantly apply your strategy then evaluate it to assess if it has worked.

Sometimes you have to perform all of these almost instinctively in a matter of seconds. I once, in a moment of genius and madness, played the part of the Magic Mirror in a pantomime of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’ when we had a technical problem. I was the Deputy Stage Manager but safe to say I was an awesome Understudy.  Although in moments (especially like that) it is partially instinctive, it is definitely something that can be learnt and gets easier the more you do it.

 

  1. A ‘To Do’ List

Learn to love a list!

Lists have some real benefits in the admin world:

  • You don’t forget things – carry a notebook round, jot it down in your phone, whack it on a post it, whenever and wherever it pops into your head!  Then compile it into a list later! And never forget anything again.
  • Think of the happiness – every time you cross something off a list you get a tiny kick of dopamine.  That little burst of excitement drives you on to check off the next thing, so however big or small write it down so you can cross it off.
  • Reward yourself – whether this is something as minor as the satisfactory sound made by Swipes or the way that Trello turns green or the physical action of checking something off a handwritten list or ripping a page out your list book it is unbelievably satisfying.  And our brain finds them encouraging pushing us onto achieve even more!
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What’s the Difference Between Categories and Tags?

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Blogs, Websites

This is one of the first questions I asked myself when starting my blog through WordPress.  When you add a blog to your website you will probably notice the options to add both categories and tags to your posts, but what exactly does this mean and why do you need them?

 

Categories and Tags are basically administration techniques to ensure your posts are properly filed on your website.

There are 2 main reasons for doing this:

  1. It makes your posts easier to find when a reader is looking for a specific topic area which basically means that your users can interact with your website more straightforwardly.
  2. It can work towards improving your SEO.

 

But what exactly are they?

 

What is a Category?

A category is basically a wide-ranging subject heading for posts.  These display topics which help explain to your readers the subject of your blog post.  Think of it like a kind of index page: just click on the theme and it will take you to the relevant pages. Try to limit these to 2/3 per post.

You can also create subcategories within categories.  Don’t get carried away here!  Things like Artist Names and Play Titles keep as tags.  Always remember that the purpose of a category is to make your website navigable.  So, if you are running a blog for a Shakespearean Theatre Company you might have ‘Shakespeare Plays’ as a main category then ‘Histories’, ‘Tragedies’ and ‘Comedies’ as Subcategories.

 

What is a Tag?

Tags get into the nitty gritty.  You can use these to really get the detail in there.  Continuing with the example above your tags may specify things like play titles (‘Twelfth Night’, ‘Macbeth’, ‘Hamlet’, etc.) or Actors (‘David Tennant’, ‘Jodie Whittaker’, ‘Christopher Eccleston’ etc.)

 

Things to Remember

  • You have to give your posts at least one category.  If you don’t then it will be filed under the ‘Uncategorized’ Category.  Don’t forget you can always rename this category to something like ‘Other’ or ‘Random’.
  • If you custom your blog posts URL then you can build your categories or tags into the web address for each post.  Here at The Arts Business we custom our blog post URL to include both the title of each post and the lead category whereas you could include the tags as well or instead.  This will help with your SEO.
  • Even though your tags are more specific you still want to limit them to a point.  Remember both tags and categories are primarily there to make you website easier to navigate for the user so you don’t want to end up with thousands of tags to traipse through.  Keep it in the hundreds.  Every few months you can go through and edit these to ensure they remain limited or simply have a range you stick to.

 

And there you have it!  Easy when you know how.

If you have any advice about Tags and Categories we would love you to share this in the comments below!

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How to Manage your Photos

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Business Skills

A dull as subject which I have jazzed up with this Snazzy Infographic:

 

 

Why bother?

 

  • I’m sure all of you freelancers have been into an office you don’t know and logged onto the desktop to find a completely random file management system in place (or none at all)! So overhaul your administration and filing starting with your photo management.
  • In the world of constantly producing social media content we want to have millions of photos of various events and everyday happenings of what’s going on at our company to add some variety! Wouldn’t it be great if they were super easy to find?
  • When all of your pictures are saved in ‘My Photos’ and have file names DSC000001-DSC999999 it is impossible to know what your looking for unless you spend a solid few hours of your life waiting for thumbnails to load and then flicking through them.
  • The above technique is a universal way to file your images which will only take you slightly longer to implement when uploading images and save you hours in the future.

 

For more information on making the file naming process even easier why not check out our APP OF THE WEEK this week: Adobe Bridge

 

I can’t promise anything, but if you love organisation, you mind even have fun!

 

Do you have any admin advice or queries, let us know in the comments below.

 

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APP OF THE WEEK: ADOBE BRIDGE

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Business Skills
Name Adobe Bridge
Product Description A companion product to Adobe Photoshop designed for file management and cataloguing your digital photo collection
Availability Through Browser at https://creativecloud.adobe.com/apps/download/bridge
Key Features A Digital Assets Management (DAM) or Desktop Media Browser Programme allowing you store and sort your images professionally and easily on your desktop or laptop computer:

·         Highlight your favourite photos and hide the ones you don’t like as much

·         Add keywords to the metadata (basically background digital copy) of your photos to easily find the perfect image you need on search and improve your SEO if you upload your images online.

·         Upload your images directly through Bridge to have them automatically renamed to match your filing system.

·         Add Star ratings 1-5 to your images

·         Use the filter system to search through your images

·         Creating Collections (kind of like music playlists) to regroup your photos into different albums without creating doubles on your hard drive.

·         Preview your images without having to open them in another programme through numerous different ways.

·         Completely customisable workspace/dashboard so you can prioritise quick access to the features and files you use the most

Prices and Plans It is completely free regardless of whether you purchase the rest of the Creative Cloud from Adobe.
Biggest Pro It’s quick and easy freeing up a massive amount of time in the long run, making it easier to track your existing images.  It lowers the chance of losing or accidently deleting images.
Biggest Con At present they don’t have any ability to access the app from your phone which is where most people take majority of their pictures so their isn’t really an option to file your images on the go from your mobile.

 

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