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10 Ways I Automate and Streamline My Small Business Every Week

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Get the automated business solutions to help streamline your work flow and take back your work day. Here are 10 things you can do to automate your business tasks this week!

You know that one business owner who always seems to be on top of things? That popular blogger who pushes out blog content on a regular basis and is always posting great content on social media?

Everyone seems to be running a lucrative freelance business while still staying updated on admin and bookkeeping tasks.


Well, the truth is, they’ve learned how create automated business solutions within their freelance business.

They’ve figured out how to spend more time bringing in the moolah and less time on tedious tasks.

After nearly six years of being self-employed I’ve learned some simple, but effective, ways to create automated business solutions.

1. Manage business and personal projects with Asana

The main way I automate business tasks is with Asana. My team and I have talked about this awesome tool before, but I can never say too many good things about it. For one, it’s free for you and up to 14 other team members!

As someone who’s managing multiple blogs and worked with countless startups over the years, I’ve used Basecamp, Trello and several other task management systems, but none of them have been as amazing, full of features or effective for my workflow as Asana.

I use it to manage all my client assignments, blog projects and personal appointments. I even use it to keep my inbox at zero by turning emails into to-dos and completing them as tasks.

I also color-code all my tasks and reminders so I can keep all of my projects balanced (no more taking on too much client work!), and track them daily with the Asana calendar.

Asana calendar colored

2. Automate your client-finding process

The best thing you can do for your freelance business this week is to automate your processing for attracting clients. Instead of wasting hours and hours researching and pitching only to come up with little results, set up a “Hire Me” page on your blog to bring clients to YOU.

Use this “Hire Me” page to display your services, detail your rates and include a contact form so clients can easily find and hire you. Take it a step further by optimizing this page for a specific SEO term so clients can quickly find you in search results.

Setting up this one page has helped me automate my client-finding process and attract more client work than I can handle. Just check out this in-depth case study I did.

3. Book client interview calls with Calendly

One of the biggest time-wasters for freelancers is the constant emailing back-and-forth with potential clients about the best time to set up an introductory phone call. Instead of trying to figure out a time that works best for everyone, use Calendly to allow both potential clients and coaching students to choose the best time that works for them, based on your available calendar slots.

Calendly is free, for up to 1 type of event per month, so you can test it out and see if you like it, or pay $96 per year for unlimited events and bookings. I’ve been a user of Calendly for a year now and have no complaints! It syncs with Google Calendar and as slots fill up, it will only show the remaining times available, which helps ensure you don’t overbook.

You’ll also get a customized appointment link making it easy to give out to potential clients or people who want to “pick your brain” for like 15 minutes. Another popular call-booking tool is TimeTrade, which is also free for up to 5 calls per month and offers many of the same features.

calendly scheduler

4. Respond to emails with Boomerang

I’m one of those people who likes to randomly reply to emails at odd times of the day (like late at night or on Sunday afternoons), but I don’t want my clients to know this. I set boundaries with clients so they don’t expect me to respond during off-peak hours, or on weekends. But sometimes I get a burst of energy and want to clean out my inbox.

To keep up appearances, but still respond to emails whenever I want, I use a free Chrome Extension tool called Boomerang for Gmail. It allows users to reply to emails and schedule the sends whenever you want them to go out. You can also boomerang emails out of your inbox for them to return at a more efficient time, or to remind you of a certain task.

The basic version is free, which is all I ever use or need, or you can pay for expanded features starting at $4.99/mo.

5. Use FreshBooks for recurring invoices

It’s frustrating to know that a very large amount of any business owner’s time is spent every month on bookkeeping and admin tasks, like sending invoices to freelance clients (and following up with payment reminders). I used to spend 4-5 hours a month on tasks like this, and even outsourced at one point, this to someone for $250 a month.

Now, I spend less than an hour per month and save myself that $250, by automating this entire process. How? I use FreshBooks to send recurring invoices and set up automatic payment reminders.

You can schedule recurring invoices on your terms, whether that’s every week or every month. And the best part is that you don’t have to nag your clients with payment reminders, FreshBooks will do that for you every 15, 30, or 45 days.

If you’re not keen on using FreshBooks, PayPal also offers a recurring invoice option. However, they don’t have that nifty late payment reminder feature.

recurring client profiles with FreshBooks

6. Eliminate the paperwork with SignEasy

A couple weeks ago I was working with a fellow freelancer on a project and we had to sign a contract before finalizing a deal. She mentioned that she would have to send over everything the next day since she had to print off a copy of the contract, sign it and scan it back into the computer.

Uhhh, what? Aren’t we in the 21st century? Lol. Don’t even get me started on the story when my accountant wanted me to fax all of our tax documents over. Laughable!

But seriously, you can eliminate the paperwork and save yourself a ton of time by using an electronic signature tool like SignEasy. I pay for the Pro package, (at $39.99 per year) but you can try it out for free. I use it on my iPad the most because it syncs to my Google Drive and Dropbox accounts, so once I sign a document it will automatically create a backup copy in my SignEasy documents folder.

After just one time, SignEasy saves your signature and initials so applying your signature to a document is done in 2 seconds flat. No more wasting time (and trees!) printing out contracts or filling out forms.

7. Update your freelance portfolio with Tailwind

One of the ways I display my freelance portfolio is by creating a separate board on Pinterest and saving Pins that link to articles I’ve written, podcast interviews I’ve done and mentions in the media. Aside from it being free, using Pinterest to display your work because it showcases your portfolio to potential clients in a visual way.

But it’s important to keep your portfolio updated so clients will be able to see your latest and greatest contributions, and this is where a Pinterest scheduling tool like Tailwind comes in. It costs $15 per month but allows you to bulk schedule your own pins, and any others you find on the web or Pinterest.

I used to have my VA pin posts to my Pinterest portfolio page once-a-month but now I just use the little “schedule” button that comes with the Chrome extension for TailWind. This saves me from having to pay someone to update my portfolio. I also like that it spaces out my portfolio pins so they’re not all being posted at once.

Here’s an example of one of my articles and how I use Tailwind to pin links to my portfolio on Pinterest.

tailwind pinterest portfolio

8. Automatically pay your bills

Another way I automate business tasks is by automatically paying all of my bills, for both my business and personal accounts. I use one credit card for personal purchases, eating out and entertainment, and then a business credit card for tools, subscriptions and business expenses.

It takes way too much time and effort to pay all of my business or personal bills one-by-one every month, so I set them all up to be paid from the appropriate credit card account. Then every Monday morning I log into each bank account and send a payment to pay for the past week’s transactions.

No calculating. No check writing. And no paper bills. You also don’t have to worry about mistakenly paying a bill late and getting slammed with a late fee.

9. Use Canva for Work for magic image resizing

At the end of April, I spent an entire weekend giving my website a design refresh. I changed up the colors of my logo and imagery. In order to make everything cohesive I had to redo a lot of the post images on my blog so it would reflect the new design.

In the past, I’ve used Canva for Work for my old blog images, as well as ebook and course covers, so I copied one of my old templates and redid a few things, and POOF! In just a couple seconds I now a new image template that’s pin-worthy and reflects a freshened up blog design.

In other words, I just saved myself hours and hours of time by avoiding photoshop to come up with a new image design from scratch, and instead use a template from Canva.

And since Canva for Work already stores all my photos and business logos, I was able to create new images for all my blog posts (275+) in little over an hour. You can use the free version of Canva but it doesn’t have all the branding features, or magic resizing of images, like Canva for Work does — which costs $12.95 per month (but free to try out for 30 days).

canva for work design

10. Pay quarterly taxes without thinking

My quarterly tax payment is by far the highest bill my business has to pay. With a base tax rate of 15.3% to pay for Self-Employment tax plus Colorado’s 4.85% state tax, I have to set aside at least 20% of my income every time I get paid.

Not to mention the actual Federal income tax bracket that my husband and I have to pay as a married couple (which is usually 10-15%). If you’re doing the math this means I have to set aside $1,800 a month, or 30% (average monthly income $6,000 x 0.30 = $1,800).

Yep, losing that amount of money hurts. A lot. Needless to say, quarterly taxes aren’t fun but, unless you want to pay large penalties and fees, it’s a necessary evil when you’re self-employed.

To avoid a large tax bill at the end of the year (a mistake I made one year and will never do again), I set up automatic transfers from my business checking account into my free Digit account — this is a separate business savings account marked for taxes.

Then when it’s time to pay quarterly taxes I simply withdraw the money from my Digit “tax fund” and make the payment to the IRS. Easy peasy-ish.


Try automated business solutions this week

Alright, now that you have some ideas about how to regain your time by automating your freelance business this week, you’re ready to take things to the next level!

Lucky for you, I’ve created a free checklist to help you get massive amounts of stuff done every week. You’ll get a sneak peek at my daily routine and workflow. Plus, learn all the tools I use to limit at-home distractions and actually reducing your stress.

What’s one tool you use to automate business tasks and freelance work? 

Free Guide: My 10 Favorite Business Tools

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  1. Scott says:

    Some great tips that my wife and I will have to keep an eye on for the future as our business builds. If using some of these tools saved you that much time retroactively, I can only imagine the hours we’ll save if we can make use of them right off the bat.

  2. Megan H. says:

    Love these! I’ve recently signed up to use Meet Edgar to automate some social posts. I don’t want to overdo it but then I won’t have to forget about posting. It is super easy to use, too!

  3. Asana sounds intriguing, but would it really be helpful if you are pretty much a team of one? I’m looking for something other than a bunch of sticky notes and my head to help me keep track of different projects and where they are in the process. I write a lot of articles so a lot of the to dos are “follow up with so-and-so” or research info on this. Any ideas for that if Asana would be overkill?

      • Anna Fani says:

        I’ll check Asana & Trello recommended by Megan. I could really do with a tool like this as my workload on so many projects increases everyday. I already have something but it’s manual. I’m sure this would be more effective. Thanks for the article.

    • Carrie says:

      Asana is AMAZING whether you’re a business of one (which I am at the moment) or have a small team. It’s free for up to 5 members! I highly recommend trying it out and seeing if you like it. While it does have a lot of features, I didn’t find it overwhelming in the beginning. Just tink around with it and you’ll start to fall in love! 🙂

      Also, check out my friend Matt’s course, Asana for Bloggers: It will change your life (or biz rather — it did mine)!

    • Yes it absolutely helpful as a team of one. It really helps that you can use templates for common processes. So it keeps you on task and help you see were you are at in the process. I highly recommend it.

  4. Jeff Korhan says:

    Hi Carrie – Thanks for this information. I found my way here from a mention by Brian Clark in his Unemployable blog.

    I’ve been using Asana off and on but never did much with the calendar. I like how you are using it!

    Only thing is I cannot figure out how to use the tags to color code the respective tasks. Can you please share a little on how that works for you, please?


  5. Deborah says:

    Carrie, I found this right on time. I’m going to rethink my freelance business tools, and your article gave me some tips in which direction should I move.

    What tools do I find the most useful in simplifying my freelancing?

    Of course, Self control app, which helps me to manage my time which I waste on distracting websites. Another handy tool is a plagiarism detector called Unplag, which lets me not to get lost in my short copies. Some writers (and I am one of them) should produce content on the similar topics, but for different clients. Not an easy job, isn’t it? So having some tools to ensure the highest level of your work makes sense.

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