APP OF THE MONTH: ZOOM

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, App of the Month, Business Skills
Name ZOOM Cloud Meetings
Product Description The perfect app for lockdown! For all your meeting needs whether you miss your friends and want to stay in touch or you’re still trying to run your business and keep all your colleagues informed and up to date.
Availability Available from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store and on your PC/Mac.
Key Features ·       Meetings – Including online meetings, training and support Zoom has been used for all manner of things this lockdown, from hosting quizzes, lectures, discussions, choir sessions and, my personal favourite, the Ultimate Disney Singalong!

·       HD video and audio – It really is the best quality video communicator I have found and through quarantine I’m pretty sure I’ve used them all!

·       Mute – This seems like a simple addition, but as the host the ability to mute your attendees means they can hear you clearly and effectively.  I’ve run a readthrough over zoom and people can mute themselves when they aren’t talking so the script can be as clear and clean as possible.

·       Device Flexibility – They claim to be available on any device and as a user of all devices, from android to apple and back around to windows I am yet to find one it isn’t compatible with.

·       Security – Probably not necessary for your family pub quiz but great if you are discussing private or secret information you don’t want getting leaked.

·       Calendaring and Integration – It works across your browser and inbuilt software effortlessly. Without even intending to do so, if I schedule a meeting on my Mac it is automatically added to my iCal. It also offers extensions for Microsoft Office, Email and Web Browsers.

·       Screen Sharing and Remote Access – If a lot of your team are working from home at the moment then it’s a great way to make sure all company software and hardware is kept up and running. With their screen sharing and remote control your IT maintenance team can keep on helping from home too.

Prices and Plans Your basic meeting account is free (hence its increasing popularity throughout lockdown!) It’s paid accounts (with a few more features) range from £11.99 p/m – £15.99 p/m for each individual meeting host.
Biggest Pro The screen sharing and remote control! Yes, it is basically an updated Skype but the easy to use screen share and the ability to remotely control someone’s computer from your own is seamless. It makes life so much easier! Even if you’re only using it to sort out a straightforward technically problem for your Mum, you can save a lot of conversation conflict!
Biggest Con The 40-minute limit on group meetings can be annoying, but the sneaky way around this is to set up a personal meeting so the meeting number and password remain the same. This way after you’re booted out after 40 minutes your party can simply log back in immediately.

 

I love Zoom!

And I think everyone will agree with me when I say that this lockdown certainly wouldn’t have been the same without it!

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10 Must Have Skills to Smash Your Admin: Part 2

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Business Skills

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 MONTH: Doodle

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, App of the Month, 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 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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How to Manage your Photos

Posted 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 MONTH: ADOBE BRIDGE

Posted 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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Find the Perfect Idea to Start your Arts Business

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Business Skills, Creative Industries, Start Ups

Why Start an Arts Business?

 

It’s terrifying putting yourself out there and letting out your artistic endeavours in the world.

 

I hear excuses almost daily about why brilliant artists and entrepreneurs shouldn’t start businesses in the Creative Industries.  Generally, these people are amongst the most hard-working, inventive and organised individuals but they are scared of the risks often entailed with starting a new enterprise.

 

But, there are numerous reasons to set up a new arts business:

 

  • Creating (or manufacturing) new work (products or services) which can be seen and directly sold, whether that is a new piece of art for someone’s mantelpiece or a performance that you want to be seen by the right audiences.  This type of business can be taken directly to the customer.

 

  • The want to distribute others work – you could be a gallery owner, a receiving house, a fringe venue, a music academy, a poetry publisher, a producer, the list goes on.  You can take this work either straight to the audience or to other businesses so there are two avenues you can go down.

 

  • Running events or finding a product you think someone else will benefit from. Think your Theatre in Education (TIE), art workshops and school holiday activities.  Not for profit organisations or charities come with plenty of perks to like claiming Gift Aid on donations and the ability to claim back VAT.

 

  • Some people are simply on the lookout for business opportunities where an investment, either monetary help (funding or equipment) or through giving time and advice to help others start a business, or in many cases in the Arts run themselves as a business, is traded for a return on their outlays later.  This is the agents and producers of the industry or opportunities like residencies provided by galleries.

 

Most Arts Organisations start out in one of these categories and then quickly diversify in order to turn over profit to drive the main organisation aim. Once you have thought of your initial idea then you can branch out:

 

As an example think of a specialist antique shop that collect their stock and run their business in different ways:

  • Some stock they buy in from markets and sell on
  • Some shelves or sections they rent to clients and sell the stock on their behalf
  • Some products they display for free and split the profits with the owner
  • Some articles are faux vintage bought in new to sell on at a more substantial margin
  • Some items are handmade from recycled antiques
  • Some run a café alongside their shop
  • Some host specialist auctions at weekends
  • Some run courses to teach hobbyists more about antiques

You get the idea.  There are always multiple strings on their bow to help sustain their business and, more importantly, their passion.  So, think about your passion and how it can be funded.

 

Have you come up with your great idea but don’t know where to start?  Or maybe you’ve diversified your portfolio to fund your passion.  Tell us in the comments below!

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APP OF THE MONTH: Etsy

Posted Leave a commentPosted in App of the Month, Business Skills, E-Commerse
Name Etsy
Product Description A specialised selling (e-commerce) platform/online shop tailored to vintage and handmade products and craft supplies.
Availability Through Browser at https://www.etsy.com/ and as an app especially designed for sellers from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store
Key Features Unique items sold by small, independent businesses and individuals worldwide through a secure payment system.

The app consists of:

·         A Dashboard in which you can easily see your Shop Overview and any News and Activity from your shop.

·         A Stats (or analytics) section to see your views and visits along with information of where your traffic is coming from and a list displaying the order of your best performing products.

·         An Orders tab where you can see both open and completed orders

·         Conversations (or messages) where you can talk to other members and customers – a great feature of this is that Etsy will save ‘Snippets’ or your personal commonly used phrases to add to your conversations.

·         A place to view listings, your shop, reviews and finances.

·         The ability to shout out about your shop items across all your Social Media Platforms.

·         Etsy Ads in which you can budget what to spend each day in order to rank higher in both Google and Etsy.

·         Links to educational videos and articles about how to get the best out of your Etsy store.

Prices and Plans The app itself is free.  To list an item on Etsy is $0.20 (which with the current exchange rate is around £0.17).  Your listings will be active on Etsy for 4 months or until that item is sold.  When sold Etsy will take a 5% commission and charge a processing payment of 4% plus £0.20 per transaction.  So, if you sell an item for £10.00 Etsy would receive around £1.27.

They now offer Etsy Plus for £8.30 a month which includes 15 free listings, £4.20 to spend on Etsy Ads, a custom web address, email stock alerts for customers and new personalisation options for your store.

Later in the year they will be launching ‘Etsy Premium’ although pricing plans a full spec are yet to be announced.

Biggest Pro Unlike Amazon and eBay on which you can buy anything and everything Etsy is specifically targeted towards sellers of vintage and handcrafted things meaning this is where designers and makers can find their target audience immediately.
Biggest Con Of course, this can also be a con as there is a lot of competition on Etsy.  There is also no way to ‘patent’ your ideas, so to speak, which means similar designs to yours may appear and there is little you can do about it.

 

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Set SMART Edinburgh Fringe Objectives

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Business Skills, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Start Ups

All businesses in the creative industries need objectives.  These are, simply stated, stuff your business wants to achieve.

 

They’re generally pretty straightforward especially considering most artistic organisations have existing mission statements, visions and values in place to adhere to.

 

But when coming up with your objectives it’s important to think SMART:

 

Specific If you are too vague in your statements no one will know where to start.  Most of Edinburgh have the same objective to ‘Sell more tickets’, so instead think ‘Sell a minimum of 10 tickets per day’.  This makes your goals both clearer and more achievable.
Measurable You have to find some way to measure your outcomes so that you know if you have achieved them for example ‘Increase daily website views by 10%’ is a measurable goal whereas ‘improve website’ is not.
Agreeable Make sure everyone who is associated with the objective knows about it and supports it.  It is especially important at the fringe to keep everyone on the same page and ensure your team is on board with all decisions.  It improves team morale when the whole company is beating to the rhythm of the same drum.
Realistic Don’t be over ambitious.  If you are a first time, one-woman musician in a 10-seat venue you probably aren’t going to set a goal of an international stadium tour within a year.  It’s great to dream big but set achievable aims which motivate you to continue and make you feel great about your accomplishments.
Timely Set a time frame for your objectives otherwise they won’t be deemed as ‘urgent’ and will slip by the wayside.  If your objective is ‘Get 200 social media followers before the end of the festival’ your company has a common goal and will get to work on it straight away.

 

 

Once these are in place it is much easy to develop strategies!  Basically, once you know where you want to go, it is much easier to plan the route.

 

Share your objectives in the comments below!

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Make Fringe Friends, Romans and Countrymen!

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Business Skills, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Networking

One of the best things about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the shear number of artists, practioners and generally like-minded people who are all in the same place at the same time!

 

Do you think they can find a freelance lampie in London? NO! They’re all in Edinburgh!  What about up and coming poets for your open mic night? Edinburgh! An audience in general? EDINBURGH!

 

In fact, the population of Edinburgh triples from 500 thousand to 1.5 million!  That’s 1,499,999 potential friends to make.  I know what that sounds like but people inherently like to work with people who they know a little bit about, both in regards to their work and on a personal level.

 

So, run a meet up.

 

So simple! So effective!

 

Get in touch with fellow minded companies and individuals and invite them out.  If you’ve got a bit of budget to spare you could take a group out for a meal and a show. Less budget? How about cocktails at Cabaret Voltaire. Shoestring? Go for a picnic in the park.  No money? Throw a party at your digs!

 

With or without seducing people with food and booze the key selling point is the good company.  Although this is essentially a networking event you are organising for yourself or your company it is sure to benefit all parties who attend so let them know who you’re inviting and why.

 

How do you invite them? If you find their show on the Edinburgh Fringe site you’ll find links to their social media and websites so send them a message on facebook or Instagram, drop them an email or, old school, give them a ring.

 

Keep your eye on the numbers at gatherings like this, too small and it can be awkward, too big and there is no way you can have a personal conversation with people.  You’ll find a sweet spot between 10-20.

 

And that’s all there is to it!

 

For one month a year you can find similar minded individuals, with similar ideals and similar goals, to raise awareness of their show.  So, take advantage of it!  And you’re bound to meet all kinds of interesting people from all over the world!

 

 

Thinking of running a meet and greet?!  Why yes, I’d love to come!  You only need to ask. 

 

Have you run a successful Meet Up in Edinburgh! How did it go? Let us know in the comments below!

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