The first time I wrote and handed someone an invoice for vocal work years ago, it was sooo awkward. After all, moments before it was all smiles in the booth, behind the mic recording harmonies to some song or another – and then, it was time to go…but I hadn’t yet implemented the deposit method now in motion…so it was time to slowly make my way to the exit, and ‘oh-by-the-way’ – hand over a pre-written invoice as a gentle reminder that, though this sesh was fun, there was still a fee attached to it.
Now, I type and send those puppies like a breeze, without any nerves because I understand that doing so is a part of tending to business, documenting work, and reminding clients that this is a career – not a hobby.
How are you with paperwork when it comes to your creative biz, and which of these 3 resonates most with where you are now?
- I find it easy to write and send invoices/receipts and do this consistently
- I write or type them, but freeze when it comes to actually delivering or sending them
- what’s an invoice?
For many creative entrepreneurs, the documentation side of the business can seem a bit intimidating (or tedious as ever), but check this – as an artist, author, freelance writer, graphic designer, chef, visual artist, producer – you’re already documenting in some form or another.
Writing or typing out lyrics is a form of documentation – so is sketching a mock-up of your next design, recording a song, jotting down ideas for your blog, writing out a recipe, composing and editing a beat – you’re already doing it.
Creatively-inclined people tend to be more…free-flowing. Especially when working from home or on tour, sometimes structure can seem a bit confining – it can also be extremely helpful in terms of maintaining a productive rhythm, understanding the seasons of your business, bringing a team on board and having a template for them to align with or improve on, as well as having a documented reference in case you ever make a pitch for funding/investment/ business partnership.
I remember waiting on business to happen – like there only was a business to manage and tend to, if or when a call or e-mail came through.
The reality is, as an entrepreneur, some things are just gonna feel overwhelming: sessions with unpredictable cut-off times to schedule, busy-seasons where you’re so overworked that the idea of having one more meeting makes ya wanna pierce your ear with a pencil (please don’t) – then there’s that client who wants everything for next to nothing – phew! Breathe. And all this with a smile?
It’s not easy, but documentation comes in handy and can assist us with planning, pacing, and monitoring progress for future growth. It can also be fun! Who knew?!
So let’s go a step further, with 3 Key Business Mapping Supplies that can help make things more clear, and the load – lighter. These can be physical / digital.
- stationery: even in techie-town recording studios, the amount of times someone has urgently asked around for a pen and paper is kinda funny, but also refreshing. So many of us are plugged into some gadget or another (typing this post on a laptop all now) but tactile interactions boost inspiration, cognitive learning, slow down the thought process, and enhance memory, especially for creative entrepreneurs. The very fact that you’re a creatively-strong person implies that you don’t need technology to be inspired.
Technology is a tool whereby you can translate, transpose and communicate an idea into a digital format. If or when the electricity goes off (still a thing) having stationery around is still a plus, whether it’s stickie-notes, a set of Sharpie markers, a grocery list, or a set of envelopes.
2. planner | calendar: Having a tool to map your schedule can help you note goals as well as pace tasks, meetings, social media posts, and appointments. That way, there’s less chance of an overlap or accidental double-booking/missed meeting. So, if you’re a session musician and have a midday-ish session and an afternoon one at another studio, you might want to make a call ahead and set a time in your planner (printed or digital) for each, so you don’t lag too long at the first ‘catchin’ up’ and have the second appointment waiting for 2 hours ’cause the chat-sesh before recording at studio #1 went on longer than expected. In planning remember life will happen, but having a general outline can help you pace tasks in a way that aligns with the healthiest most productive you. So pencil-in that beach-break in between if that’s what you need to be refreshed in between assignments.
Having a planner is a proactive way of mapping your tasks and meetings while finding your ideal rhythm for peaceful productivity.
3. templates & agreements: Whether it’s a pre-designed course registration form, booking request form, invoice, official expression of interest letter, templates come in soooo handy, and they’re a recipe for growth in business. You may not be in a position to hire a fancy lawyer to draft up a 12-page formal Agreement for each service you offer right now, but having a basic template as a comprehensive response (copied-pasted-and-saved on your laptop/desktop/phone/file folder) for specific services is essential to avoid continuous repetition of typing similar information over and over. Been there – got the T-shirt – it’s te-di-ous!
This info can also be a reference for you, re-purposed as a booking form request, and added to client files. (The plus is, your writing skills will sharpen, but it’s a real drain to the brain.) Some tweaking may be involved: the obvious – name, address, date, venue, time slot etc. and not all service requests are identical. In cases where you do have repeat requests for a set service/product, take the time – make the template, and save it for some structure.
You might actually find this incites you to put a l’il pep in your step’ when it comes to managing your creative business – and growing through it too.
Good for you – and good for your clients too!