APP OF THE MONTH: Audacity

Posted Leave a commentPosted in App of the Month, Business Skills, Creative Industries
Name Audacity
Product Description By far the best, cross-platform, professional, audio editing software available online and the best thing? It’s absolutely free!
Availability Available from the Audacity website
Key Features ·       It’s available on pretty much every single mainstream operating system.

·       Use it to record live sound through a mic, mixer or direct recording of digital sounds.

·       Import sound files from anywhere and everywhere and export your audio files in multiple formats at once.

·       Provides an excellent sound quality: 16-bit, 24-bit and 32-bit. For those who have no idea what I mean, sound quality is measured in bits kind of like how image quality is measured in pixels.

·       It supports loads of plugins (or a programme which can be added to a piece of existing software to serve a specific function or purpose).

·       Really simple editing functionality where you can copy, cut, paste and delete as well as saving all your individual editing steps so you can undo and redo every minor detail to your heart’s content.

·       They have loads of special effects available right at your fingertips including fades, reverbs, distortion, track repair, click tracks, noise reduction and so much more!

·       It is super easy to use with loads of quick mouse moves and keyboard shortcuts to manipulate your tracks simply and quickly.

·       Built-in analysis to allow you to visualise the different frequencies of your tracks.

Prices and Plans It is completely free software promoting free speech!
Biggest Pro Other than the fact it’s free, it comes with a frequently updated, easy to use and incredibly detailed user manual! Take a look at the online guide for Audacity here.
Biggest Con If you’re not knowledgeable on sound editing vernacular you might find some elements of this software tricksy but if you’re looking to upgrade your skillsets just get googling and YouTubing and reading that online guide and you’ll be a sound editing whizz before you know it.

Whether you’re setting up a podcast (like us), editing sound for a movie, a music track, a theatre show or an installation, whatever it may be, this is the best one available and will come at no expense to you and your company! It’s also a great new talent to add to the CV.

What do you use Audacity for? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Life is Better Shared: Focused Creative Community

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Business Skills, Education, Networking

Artists often have amazing ideas and ambition, full to the brim with plans for success, but they don’t always know how to channel that into achieving real results.

During the pandemic a lot of artists feel like they have come to a dead end, ideas dried up and no concept of what and when things might happen again, it’s easy for every day to feel like Groundhog Day.

Enter Tom Elliott with the Focused Creative.

As a freelancer himself with many years of experience in the Arts Industry, Tom quickly came to the conclusion that he needed to become business savvy.

After trying every different method under the sun, and spending a small fortune, he eventually designed his own method which is the driving force behind his online arts community.

The Focused Creative is a membership-based community encouraging creatives to come together and share their skills. It aims to enhance individual productivity by bringing people together in a supportive environment.

The main aim is to help artists find clarity and focus in planning, goal setting and understanding which tasks will drive future ambitions. It also assists members in gaining confidence alongside other people who are in the same boat, aiding you to battle any doubts or imposter syndrome you might feel when launching your career.

He believes in teaching creatives to take ownership of their career and have or create something of their own. It leads participants to define themselves as their own brand, setting themselves apart from others to create a unique, individual selling point.

There are weekly check-ins where the team work together to share what they have been up to and make a plan for the week ahead. This ensures a level of accountability for you to get work done. Not only are you responsible to yourself but now there are others backing you, who have helped you formulate a strategy.

The membership also includes quarterly Masterclasses with industry professionals to improve skills in all elements of business and creative practice. Also, coming soon will be your very own 90-day planner so you can plan for your future.

If you don’t think you have the time, then think again. It only requires 90 minutes of your week! By prioritising the right tasks you’re more likely to get the right results and introduce a sense of rhythm to your work.

And Tom is offering all of this for the bargain price of £19 per month! That’s less than a gym membership which, if you’re anything like me, you’re realistically never gonna use. Plus if you dedicate time to the community and yourself you should find an excellent return on your investment!

Tom has an amazing life philosophy:

Live Well, Dream Big, Laugh Often and encourage others to do the same.

Pretty inspirational right?

He spreads this philosophy through his own work as a comedy magician, the Focused Creative Community, and running a Variety Night in his hometown of Doncaster, all of which share the objectives to boost well-being and create a sense of belonging in anyone who may come across him and his work.

He has some great branding and marketing techniques we could all learn from too. Particular highlights include:

  • The tongue in cheek comedy elements strung throughout his entire website
  • The great injection of his personality found in all his online content
  • The ingenious method of getting visitors to sign up to his mailing list by offering instructions to a magic trick you can do yourself
  • His expansive coverage of all things social media

There are loads of ways you can get in touch with Tom too. Just click the links below to learn more:

 

 

Are there ways you could introduce community groups or shared learning into your company to help fellows in the creative industries? Or have you done so already? I’d love to hear about it so hit me up in the comments below.

How to Perform a SWOT Analysis on your Arts Business

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Business Skills, Creative Industries

As a second lockdown looms and we are all wondering what is in store for the creative industries it’d be easy to hunker down and get back to our main mission of 2020: trying to complete Netflix.

But don’t rest on your laurels!

Use this time as a chance to analyse your business and create a plan for the future.

The easiest way to do this is to create a SWOT analysis for your arts business. Now, I’m sure many of you have heard this term before but haven’t necessarily put it in place for your business.

Simply put, SWOT stands for:

When creating your SWOT analysis just take it section by section and ask yourself the following questions:

STRENGTHS

  • How strong is your product or service?
    • Whether you’re a theatre company creating a show or a gallery retailing prints it is important to look closely at what you are selling.
  • What is your Unique Selling Point (USP)?
    • What makes you stand out from the crowd? Are you a musician that can play the drums and electric guitar at the same time? That would be your USP.
  • What makes your company stand out from your competitors?
    • Perhaps you’re a wedding photographer, what makes you different from all the other wedding photographers out there? Are you an airbrush expert? A master at taking action shots? That is most definitely a strength.
  • What business areas and departments are your best?
    • If you’re a performer you might be amazing at coming up with social media content for your marketing, or great at sales! Think about all the different departments of a traditional business and which ones you ace.
  • What assets does your business own?
    • Take an up and coming arts centre, a key asset might be an office and multipurpose arts space in a bohemian suburb of a city. That would be a mega-strength!

WEAKNESSES

  • What are the weaknesses in your products or services?
    • Be objective here, where does your arts company fall short or where could you see room to improve.
  • What is your brand lacking?
    • For example, are you up to date with all the latest technologies? If you’re a comedian, you could be well suited to Tik-Tok so if don’t yet have an account this could be a weakness.
  • In what areas are you vulnerable to your competition?
    • If you’re a new business you might lack the staff base that your competition has, this could be a vulnerability.
  • What business areas and departments are your weakest?
    • I know here at the Arts Business our weakest department is our accounts! But we have transformed this into an opportunity enrolling in numerous online courses in bookkeeping to improve.
  • What assets are you lacking?
    • This could be anything from lacking external office space to having a limited following on social media. Take these in your stride and create business goals around them.

You can then use these answers to help you establish your Opportunities and Threats.

OPPORTUNITIES

  • Where could you make improvements in your company?
  • Can you build upon your weaknesses?
  • Can you turn your problems into opportunities?

THREATS

  • Are there barriers or obstacles which may affect you entering your chosen creative industry?
  • Are there external factors (for example a tumultuous government or a global pandemic) that may cause problems in your chosen market?

We all know, as artists, it can be a struggle to brag about what we’re good at and admit to our shortfalls which is exactly what can make performing a SWOT analysis tricky. The difficulty comes in looking objectively at these aspects of your business.

There are a few things you can do to get into the swing of it:

  1. Start by performing SWOT analysis on your competition! It is easier to nit-pick at a company that isn’t yours, and once you have discovered their strengths and weaknesses you will find it much simpler to spot your own. Also, you might even find a gap in the industry which your company could fill.
  2. Have a friend or colleague perform a SWOT analysis of your business. Bringing in external opinions or utilising your staff who see your company from a different perspective can be a great way to reveal strengths and weaknesses you may have otherwise been unaware of.
  3. Get in a consultant to do it for you (like the Arts Business). If you’ve got the money this can be a great way to spend it as an external consultant is much more likely to be impartial when analysing your company.

This will enable you to successfully construct a plan of what you can do to improve and how the things you are already awesome at can help you to become even more awesome!

REMEMBER: If 2020 has proved anything to us it is that the world is always changing and we need to be ready to adapt and evolve with it.

So, don’t just do a SWOT Analysis once! Think of it more like a cycle to enable constant growth and development.

Have you done a SWOT analysis on your Arts Business? We would love to include it in this post as an example! Let us know in the comments below or contact us.

stage babies

Stage Babies: A Booming Business Idea

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Business Skills, Start Ups, Theatre

Guest Post by Producer & Designer Rachel Dingle

 

Stage Babies was born (eh) from several personal experiences.

I was working as a set and costume designer on a play in London and it was a huge job. Looking back far too big for one person to do on their own. But we did it and it was awesome. One of the characters was pregnant throughout the piece (the first bump I ever made!) and at the end she has a baby. It was barely onstage for a minute. It was essentially a kid’s toy and 100% the bottom of our priority list. But I could hear the audience reacting to it, and the ‘clearly just a doll’ was a hot topic in the loos at the end.

It took so much blood, sweat and tears to create that show – so it was so upsetting that something so seemingly insignificant can make such an impact, and take the attention away from what was a really good piece of theatre. And is what the audience were thinking about afterwards.

I also saw a drama school production of Ragtime, which is set over a few years and the baby didn’t grow and wasn’t the right skin tone. And it irritated me.

So I experienced this annoyance both as a creative and an audience member. And I thought I could do something about it.  Anytime a baby appears onstage (or in real life) it inevitably distracts people. Maybe it’s a human instinct? Who knows, but if it’s going to happen it should be a positive experience “Oh wow that baby looks really real!” rather than “That baby is so obviously fake…”

I got in touch with a really good mate who is also a professional props maker and we both said let’s do this. So we started Stage Babies with a couple of hundred pounds. We bought some fake babies, added better hair and weighted their heads, bodies and limbs. Made different types of pregnancy bumps – of different sizes and colours – and added weight to them too. It’s fascinating how it alters they way you move! It allows actors to just act rather than having to fake being pregnant too.

Since we started about four years ago we’ve hired our reproduction babies and pregnancy bumps to London fringe venues, off west end venues, school productions, NYT, drama schools, short films and most recently a music video for Loyle Carner.

It’s a little side hustle that makes a small but significant difference to people’s projects, and it also gives us the opportunity to network with so many amazing people. And we love that!

Check out our website www.stagebabies.co.uk

Find out more about Rachel at Show Up Productions.

Command Fringe Festival: Continuing through Coronavirus

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

Usually this time of year I have packed up my life into a suitcase and I’m sitting on the floor in a friend’s living room surrounded by magazines, reviews and lists of everything I want to see at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

But thankfully in times of adversity and disappointment there is always one group of people who step up the plate: Students!

Unjaded and enthusiastic, a group of students from East 15 Acting School at the University of Essex launch what I hope will be a new yearly event: Command Fringe Festival. An all online, all experimental, all awesome internet theatre extravaganza!

The incredible array of ideas and variety of software used can give all arts organisations food for thought when navigating the storm that is this pandemic.

Here are my highlights from this ticketed event: an array of companies, training and professional and a myriad of ideas you can bring to your own company.

Rainbow Socks by Maryam Noorhimli

This Bunker Theatre Monologue was reinterpreted for a zoom screening showing a pre-recorded film edited like a YouTube influencer. The piece discussed what it means to be LGBTQ+ and Muslim with camera angles changed to reflect positives and negatives in an almost Golem and Smeagol way reminiscent of Lord of the Rings. Fundamentally it is about how it is ok to be an individual with your own views and your own story. It ended with Maryam dancing all over her apartment in her rainbow socks! Something I think we should all be doing more of during this pandemic!

Each arts business is ultimately about the people who built it so think about the short form content you could write and produce autobiographically and how it could appeal to your audiences using different camera angles, props and simple costume to explain the story.

MAN By George Hargreaves

Think Radio Play come dramatic podcast. A short monologue following a young man and his brush with drugs. Simple but effective, the great music choices and realistic sound effects (from playing Call of Duty on your games console to the soothing timbre of background birdsong) is what brought this piece to life, with excellent writing and performance pulling it all together

Creating drama through podcasts could be a cheap yet effective way of introducing new work during these bizarre times. There are loads of websites, like FreeSound, that offer free sound effects and royalty free music for you to use in your pieces or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, you could go out and record your own!

The Many and Varied Lives of Rock by Sisu Theatre

A lovely concept, Sisu Theatre have created a modern-day epic poem following the story of a rock from it’s creation on earth and throughout history. Again, taking place as a live event on Zoom the story was passed between different voice actors with subtle filmed loops of different landscapes from flowing rivers to ebbing waves cleverly designed to universally resonate with the subject matter.

A continuing saga like this could easily be developed and marketed as something to dip in and out of, easy listening to do your work to or go for a run with. Each section could act as a mediation session, something becoming more and more popular in the current climate. It felt good taking some me time whilst listening to a tale about time.

Caged Bird Sings (an extract from The Dripping Mirror: A Burlesque Musical) by Runt Theatre

Runt Theatre are embarking on the epic task of devising a new musical during this pandemic! Set in the 1930s and combining live music, sketch comedy, dance and burlesque this production looks set to reimagine the boundaries of musical theatre. You can check out their awesome acapella music video on Facebook.

There are plenty of music groups, from Broadway to bands, choirs to orchestras, professional to amateur and everything in between, all over the world who have used this technique. They create video content using Zoom (or similar apps) for rehearsals, individually recording their parts, mixing them together and creating music videos in the comfort of their own home! So, get on it!

Good Day Gone Bad by Jonathan Bensusan Bash

A live zoom performance which is incredibly relatable in lockdown telling the story of a man struggling with anxiety and, let’s be honest, who isn’t struggling with mental health problems at the moment! Clearly filmed at home but with lovely thought to the LED lighting which changed colour and intensity dependent on the mood and location of the action.

This beautifully presented story, driven by individual experience and told through simple direction would be easy to replicate. With Amazon Prime to hand for your next day delivery LED strip lights and majority of houses painted magnolia you can achieve some great special effects creating a perfect environment for your performative content.

The Curse of Being a Pisces by Jean-Paul Mark Shlom

I’m a sucker for anything remotely sci-fi so I absolutely loved this interactive zoom performance. Set in a slightly alternative universe there were similarities to our world but lovely nods to differences told through the set and lighting alongside Athena, a more advanced and sassier Alexa. It also included chatting to audiences via Zoom having them shout out answers and choose the direction of the piece.

To make something like this work it would need to be performed to small groups but with a length of around twenty minutes, you could perform it multiple times a day to make it feasible. Kinda like a small-scale escape room business model. It is a really clever way to keep the live, interactive nature of theatre alive during this pandemic!

Aidy the Awesome by The Gramophones Theatre Company

The Gramophones Theatre Company is one to watch and, though nothing can replace the real deal, Aidy the Awesome reignited the spark of my love for Children’s Theatre. Through this YouTube Video Aidy the Awesome, with help of the Super Nana Network, sets out to defeat Ron De-Chocolate who has stolen stories from the world! It packs a punch of Girl Power with simple cartoon video effects, bright costumes and excellent multi-roleplaying this could have stepped straight of the CBBC channel.

If you are looking to create work the whole family can get involved in, then take notes from The Gramophones. With a fun, superhero warm up routine in the middle and a special mission for viewers to contribute their own stories they encourage online interaction and provides parents and grandparents with a great lock down activity to do! So, think about how you can improve online engagement and provide content suitable for the whole family to enjoy!

Thoughts of an Incoherent Mind by Puro Caos CT

This piece is European Fringe Theatre at its best cleverly reimagined for the online realm. This is what I had been missing and it felt like being back at Summerhall sipping Pickering’s sitting in Anatomy Lecture Theatre. Puro Caos cleverly entwined a plethora of multimedia on Zoom: some live elements, some pre-recorded, all feminist. They interwove multilingual performances, charcoal drawing, stop motion and live polls all tied together with matching lipstick.

This is a performance BE (Birmingham European) Festival should check out. Not only is it edgy, experimental and ever so slightly random but it perfectly demonstrates how work like this can be built for an online medium. Hopefully this will encourage you to try new things, mix together art forms, film them from different angles and get them on Zoom.

Global Enhancers by Global Enhancers

A masterclass in how to interweave different online platforms and media to create a performance. Global Enhancers began with a Facebook live countdown to a product launch of the ‘Global Enhancer’, a product which records and archives your memories. The website launched (built with Wix) and included videos, images and text content beautifully formatted and presented. This had an ‘advert’ to the anti-business website with even more content and concluded with a live Zoom, which was hacked into by a previous employee, who asked you to turn on your cameras to stand up to the revolution.

I felt like a treasure hunter as I explored the websites! The videos were brilliant parodies of News Reports, Documentary, CCTV Footage, Online influencers, Brand Ambassadors and Staff Interviews with excellent attention to detail. I especially loved Teenie and her Pops, a social media influencer offering 20% off your purchase with the code TEENIE20.

We see inspired Sci-Fi like this all-over streaming sites from Mr Robot and Upload on Prime Video and all over Doctor Who. But this piece was special, complete genius, and amazing inspiration to people looking to create work online by utilising a multitude of platforms and content to create a performance. If this is the future of site-specific work, then it is bloody exciting!

Crap Art Club by ShowUp Productions

A prerecord online readthrough which, with a little adjustment, could easily be a lockdown story. Broaching themes of religion and mental health the overall message I took from the piece is: It’s ok to be happy when you’re happy and it’s ok to be sad when you’re sad. We all have a huge amount of pressure put on us to achieve our dreams but what it we’re just happy with a normal life?

This performance had been rehearsed and recorded on Zoom then edited for YouTube. ShowUp Productions have created a full-length online play, showing that new work can still be put on during lock-down, just maybe not in the way it was originally intended. Are there new writings in the works for your company? Have a think about how these could be filmed responsibly under Covid-19 guidelines to enable an online performance.

Is this the future of the creative industries? Who knows. But if it is, it ain’t looking so bad!

Have you been inspired to create online performances or exhibits? Let us know in the comments below.

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!

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!

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!

 

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!

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.