Copywriting Tools I Use
All writers need a workflow process to manage contacts, proposals, projects, and billing. You can do this any way you want, but some methods will be more chaotic than others.
- Contacts: you need a way to store contacts and flag contacts that are new leads
- Proposals: you need an easy way to create professional-looking approvals which include an approval mechanism
- Invoicing: you need good invoicing software with online payments and low merchant fees; you will also need accounting software at some point
- Project Management/Creative Review: you need a way to organize project tasks and other to-do’s, plus a way to present and discuss your work online if you work with clients remotely
Automating the creative workflow process is not easy
I finally reached the point where I wanted to automate these tasks. You would think finding software to handle this would be easy as pie. Nope, it’s hell.
I spent months testing software and integrations. It was really difficult to find something affordable that would automate the administrative workflow of my freelance business.
- A lot of apps don’t integrate together
- A lot of apps are super expensive
- Zapier will connect apps, but not always the way you need it to
I started with my must-have app
Your must-have app is the one piece of software is most critical to your business. If you have a lot of projects to juggle, project management software may be your priority.
I invoice clients online, so FreshBooks is my must-have app. I use it because it is easy and its merchant fees are cheaper than Quickbooks. (Update: I really need full-featured accounting, so I have switched to Xero)
I tested the app’s native integrations
Sign up for free trials for all the apps that integrate with your must-have app. And then look at how those apps integrate with other apps.
- FreshBooks has native integration with several CRM apps: Capsule, Solve, and You Don’t Need A CRM. Capsule is the cheapest ($12 mo.) but I found it complicated to use. Solve was too expensive at $25 mo. YDNACRM was too complex for my needs; it is really built for teams.
- FreshBooks has native integration of two proposal software apps: Proposify and Blinksale. Proposify is really expensive if you want to use it for all your estimates ($50 a month for 30 proposals). And Blinksale just isn’t very pretty.
- When an estimate is approved, I need to create a project. FreshBooks integrates with with Proposify, which integrates nicely with Basecamp. This means Proposify will create a project when an estimate is approved, but you still have to enter the tasks. Proposify is $25 mo/10 active proposals and Basecamp is $20 mo/10 projects. In reality, you will need to step up to the next subscription level for both apps, which will be $50 mo. each.
Total cost: $112 mo + $29.95 mo FreshBooks = $142 mo ($1702 annually)
Test alternate integrations (Here is my solution)
- I use Pipedrive ($12 a month) for a CRM. It is super simple, so I will actually use it instead of letting it gather “software dust.”
- I use NiftyQuoter for estimates. It has the same functionality as Proposify but costs $19 a month for unlimited proposals. (I save a whopping $456 a year!) It also asks prospects to give a reason when they reject a proposal. With some effort, NiftyQuoter can be set up to export quotes to FreshBooks as invoices. (Update: I now use Xero, which is a full-featured accounting program for $30 month) You can also tie proposals to “deals” in Pipedrive and they will sync, letting you know in Pipedrive which leads result in projects and for how much.
- The last piece of the puzzle is project management. Ideally, when a proposal is approved, one could export it with all the “to do items” to a project. Basecamp is the best-known project management software out there, but I like the functionality, live chat, and interface of Teamwork ($49 mo./40 projects). Sadly, even though NiftyQuoter claims to integrate with Teamwork, I could not get the integration to work. Since I have to enter the projects manually anyway, I decided to go with a free solution (Freedcamp ), which is similar to Basecamp but prettier.
Total cost: $31 mo + $30 mo Xero = $61 mo ($732 annually)
Of course, I also spend money on BigStock photos ($79 a month), Dropbox ($100 a year), Microsoft ($100 a year), Typeform ($30 a month), Flywheel hosting ($70 a month), Placeit Mockups (around $300 a year), Balsamiq wireframes ($49 a month), Google apps for my email ($5 a month) and about $500 a year on various plugins and theme support. Plus, I use the free versions of Clarity, Trello, Airstory, Slack, Zoom, Skype, Calendly, MailChimp, and Zapier (I may have to upgrade to paid versions on some of them).