Creative Small Business Essentials: Ways to Streamline Your Workflow | Sophia Chang™ | Skillshare

Creative Small Business Essentials: Ways to Streamline Your Workflow

Sophia Chang™, Designer, Illustrator, Friend

Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
7 Lessons (15m)
    • 1. Introduction: Approach Project Management Creatively

      1:41
    • 2. Fool-Proof Communication

      1:40
    • 3. Mapping Your Thoughts

      1:08
    • 4. Managing Your Thoughts

      4:35
    • 5. Systems and Toolkits

      3:25
    • 6. All About Maintenance

      1:35
    • 7. Final Thoughts

      0:42
56 students are watching this class

About This Class

Channel your inner project manager with this 15-minute class with designer and illustrator Sophia Chang, aka @esymai. Sophia shares her process on how she tackles her client projects, map her ideas, and track intersecting timelines.

This class is built for anyone and everyone, from the student who is working on multiple final projects at once to the entrepreneur who is running their own small business. The course is structured to help creatives optimize their projects and business and channel their inner project manager.

Each student will learn how to efficiently rollout their creative vision and walk away with a crash course on how to:

  • Map project workflows
  • Confidently handle client communications
  • Build your business infrastructure and toolkit to house your business
  • Always set yourself up for success

Most importantly she will highlight her favorite apps that keep her business wired and optimized for past, present and future projects. Some apps that she'll preview include:

By the end of the course, students will be equipped with new apps to map their ideas, structure their projects/business, and ultimately champion their creativity.

Transcripts

1. Introduction: Approach Project Management Creatively : I'm an illustrator and designer. In the past 10 years, I have been living this crazy lifestyle of moving really fast, having a bunch of things to do all the time. In today's present-day, I actually run three businesses. My personal, which is anything that has to do with me, Sophia Chang Illustration, and my personal brand. I also work with a business partner on a creative agency called We Ascend, that deals with larger, higher client production projects. I have a wellness initiative called Undo-Ordinary. We exist as a bi-annual publication, three events in LA and New York, and essentially we want to make wellness accessible for everyone. With so much going on all the time, it's certainly hard to map out your thought processes, so I wanted to share a few tips on the apps that I use to get my work and my life balanced out. The class is going to be broken up into two phases. One, you get to see how you can recap and work with your client directly and how communication looks like, and also internally, if you look behind the curtains, how your business should really be structured. What's really needed from the student is actually just your willingness to learn. If you're watching this class, this already a good start, you're on the way. This class is really just more so a boot camp to just give you a bird's-eye view on what needs to be done, how you can do it, and introduce to you different tools in your toolkit, and it's really up to you how you want to build and what you want to build. The better sorted your back-end is, the better your business can operate. The more maintenance you put into it, the more efficient your business can be. If you're someone who's working on a million projects at once, this is definitely the class for you. 2. Fool-Proof Communication: Usually when a client calls, I make sure I have a notepad and a pen ready. This way I can take down quick notes. If it's a really tight turn around project, what I tend to do is also pull up a calendar so that the client is on the call with me. We can look in specific dates so that we're all on the same page. What I like to do is send an email after a client call that lists out all the specific dates, what's going to be delivered, what they need to send over to me, anything such as local assets, style guides so that I can do my job. This way, it protects everyone on both sides, it avoids any confusion, and it's just a full summary that you can always refer back to. Another good practice is also if you have a really tight timeline, you can work backwards. Once you set the timeline, you pull up your calendar and you figure out, okay, what are the specific milestones that I need to be able to fully execute and fully get the clients feedback in time? An exercise you can start practicing is pulling up your calendar and start color coordinating everything. It sounds crazy, but it also gives you the option to be able to turn off and turn on different types of visibility for each project. Everything that's personal is, one color, everything that I need to do is one color, everything that's a reminder or some email follow-up or anything like that is another color. You can keep your personal items separate from your passion project and also keep those separate from any type of client related projects. 3. Mapping Your Thoughts: [MUSIC] Immediately right after a client calls, we start to get some sparks. We start to get some ideas. There are different ways that we can map out our mind, maps our initial ideas, even if some of them don't make it to the final. Just start writing out exactly some initial thoughts that you have when it comes to executing your project. [MUSIC] If you're really stuck on ideas and you hit a wall, a lot of times there's a lot of great websites out there, you might already know some of them. [MUSIC] You can dive in, add in keywords, even key colors, and see what images pop up just to get some gears training when you are looking for ideas. This is a great exercise for you to do a little bit of self-reflection and also for you to be able to just map out your initial ideas. What we're really doing here is actually training our inner project manager. Once we have all the thoughts scattered and written out, then you can dive into the next step of using different apps to make sure you're on top of timelines, deadlines and deliverables. [MUSIC] 4. Managing Your Thoughts: Now, we're going to get into different types of tools that you can add into your tool kits. Each of these tools have different perks and they all have their own internal system. I do recommend you spending some more time outside of this class to just play with each of the apps to see what you can add and also make sample projects for yourself. The first app we are going to walk through is Trello. The Trello is basically your corkboard, where you can map out all of your ideas. I'm going to take the project that I just got and create a new board. We're going to call it Mural Project. These columns are called cards. The first card I'm going to put info on everything you need, timeline, and then production. On the info, what's the client info? The first card is usually where I put any type of questions, concerns, anything is all here. Client assets that are shared. It's your center hub for everything like production information. When I click it, I can add a detailed description, client name, phone number, [email protected] We can include that. If you're working with a team, you can communicate with your team members in here so that they can see the message that you're trying to send over to them. Any type of assets, logos, brand style guides. You can drag and drop in here, which is great. You can add members, you can add labels, you can add a checklist, anything that you need information-wise, can be found right here. This way no questions are asked. Timeline, we have a general timeline in mind. Let's pull that up on our calendar. First one was legal sent. We can actually add a due date on here, and you can sync all of these to your calendar if you need to. When it comes to checklists, say your final is already done, let's create a general checklist of what's next once the mural art work is done. We need to make sure it's hi-res. Well, you should make sure from the beginning. You should make sure that the right color mode, CMYK. Supplies, and we can create a checklist of all the supplies that you need from paintbrush, primer, colors, any type of gloss that you might add over it. Say you need a team of people, you can also create section for team, Joe, contact information. For the sake of time, I'm going to use photo booth, and I'm going to take this picture. I have a photo file saved. What I can do here is, I can pull up my sketches and if you have any files, just drag and drop. It's right there, you can make it a cover. This way you can create icons. Just to show you an example of just another project. This is for Undo Magazine. We have everything we need here. What's our theme for the next issue? Addictions, prescriptions and supplements. Any type of word list, a mood board, we can share links here, e-mail intros, so that we know how to contact our writers. Anytime anyone has a question, I can find it in this first card. Every single story is a project in it of itself. This story is about being an actor on social stage. We created labels, this way we can segment the book itself or it has his own tracking. Who's our photographer? Are their proofs being selected? This is our general checklist for every single story. If you're a creative person and you have an amazing network of people, this is a cool way for you to be able to organize everyone you know. Graphic designers, food experts, fashion brands, make up artists, models, a drove by a cool plastic store, so I wrote it down as a reference for future vendors. If I need to buy Plexiglass, whatsoever. A homework exercise that will be great for this class is actually making your own Trello table. Create a sample, Trello board that has to do with moving or starting a new passion project or even starting a new business. When it comes to the legalities, or the [inaudible] , there's a million ways that we can go about it. 5. Systems and Toolkits: Airtable is basically any project manager, producer's best friend. It's basically a glorified version of Google Sheets, Excel. I know it sounds really boring. But if you've ever had to organize anything in Excel, things get really confusing because at the end of the day, it's still built for numbers and calculations. So here are some great ways for you to be able to think about how you would use a Airtable. You can do everything from your social media management to your project planner, to an art gallery, down to a sneaker collection. Airtable also has great resources and templates for people, so that it's a lot easier for you to do your homework. We're going to create a new Airtable, People I've Met. You can select cute little icon. Lets do one category for PR marketing, we can do all the art directors that we know. You can add the person's name, you can add their phone number. I use standard stuff that you would generally do in Excel, but the cool thing is that you can customize each field. This includes a phone number , so I can add a phone number, I can add a photo for her. You can also collaborate with people and assign people these things as well. Same thing goes if you're planning a art gallery show, you put the person's name in there, any attachments, their phone number and so forth, any notes. You have this great expandable view where you can see everything in one line item in its own little profile. If you're building a book, if you're planning an event, it's easier for you to track everything, especially from a production point of view. Say you're planning a music show, you're able to see everything from a bird's eye view. The other thing that I really love about this app is that there's a way for you to be able to link each thing from tab to tab. This is a sample template that you can find within Airtables and they have so many of these which are great. This is an example of a music festival staffing template. The cool thing is you can create master templates and you can also create the smaller ones. Here's everyone's positions when they're working out the music festival, there's a great way for you to be able to filter your groups. You can create different types of tabs. It's basically for you to be able to organize your information and keep track of things. Outside of this spreadsheet view, you can also view it as a calendar, you can also do a gallery point of view. The great thing about these apps is that they're free so that you have no excuse not to stay organized. The great thing about Slack is instead of mixing up the memes that you're texting your friends, you can keep all of your work conversation within one slot channel. The best thing is you can track it based on topic. Slack has direct messages very similar to traditional DMs but the interface is really great and simple to be able to use and also just translate to people. With channels, you can create different channels. Under UNDO Ordinary, We have a magazine project, we have shipping, we have distribution, we have events. Depending on which conversation we're having with whom, we can talk to them within that specific channel. 6. All About Maintenance: This is the part. My therapy. The same way I'm bored when I brush my teeth and wipe my ass. Because the thing about repairing, maintaining, and cleaning is, it's not an adventure. There's no way to do it so wrong, you might die. It's just work. Maintenance is key. Repairing and maintaining and cleaning is not meant to be fun. After you do it, it does feel extremely rewarding and it allows you to have more time to be more efficient and create more when you're a creative. I think that's one big thing that's missing for a lot of creative people which is, the operations in the backend from not just running your business, but organizing your business. Having everything sorted and organized also helps you whenever you do have time to update your portfolio from a bird's eye view, we can see how all of these apps work together. Slack is great for communication. Trello is great for a bird's eye view to track the progress of different projects. Airtable is great to be able to keep the data and track the data. But the maintenance process is also all a apart of training your brain so that you can get your system in place. The more you can wire yourself to think this way, the easier it is for you to think strategically every time a project comes on your plate. One thing I also recommend once you have this structure in place is to do it every week or if you can do it every month and definitely twice a year. Every small business should be able to restrategize and solves everything from new clients, old clients you haven't heard from in a while. Keeping in mind, when you're an entrepreneur, you're your own accountant, you're your own legal, you're your own marketing, and your own PR. 7. Final Thoughts: Now that you know how I stay organized with everything, hopefully this is something that can inspire you, and create more time and space for you to be able to create more. Anytime you do discover a new app, feel free to share it with the Skillshare community. I also teach another class called Analytics and Authenticity, that's focused on how to craft your digital presence online. For anyone that's an individual artist that wants to showcase their portfolio online or brand. The class is the great crash course for you to be able to learn different tips and tricks, and also different apps for you to be able to craft your online presence. Feel free to stay in touch by following me online.