Scale your creative service business without sacrificing your time.
“I’m in, send me your link!”
You see those magical words and you are THRILLED that someone new has decided to invest and hire you.
So what happens next?
Do you scramble to create a proposal, create a new invoice, update your contract, and double-check that your intake questionnaire asks for everything you need?
Or do you smoothly send over a link to sign up for your signature service that includes everything they need to officially get started?
…And then what? Do you wing it through the project or do you have a system for delivering on your promises?
If you answered the latter, keep reading!
A good client delivery process will help you scale your creative service business without spending all your time at your desk.
You won’t necessarily be able to automate a lot of your delivery process but just having a system to handle the work can make all the difference in raising your success rates and scaling your business.
Nailing down the steps it takes you to create results will help you:
You probably already have a service delivery process in place in your business, even if it’s just a list of notes and checklists. By working through that process from a high-level perspective instead of while you’re in the weeds, you can formalize your process into a series of Standard Operating Procedures.
If that made your eyes roll into the back of your head from boredom, don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a rigid system of processes.
In fact, my clients have the most success when they leave room for growth.
That means your system should be structured enough to keep things organized and fluid enough that you keep using it even when you feel overwhelmed.
For online service providers like designers, copywriters, and other creative pros your customer journey (or more specifically your client journey) is the series of interactions (aka touchpoints) that a person takes from lead gen to loyalty.
I call this the Constellation of Service. It starts with Awareness, which is from the point that they are first introduced to your brand to when they begin to think you might be the solution to their problems.
Then they move into the Consideration phase and book into your schedule for an audit or discovery call.
Next, they move into the Acquisition phase, where they officially sign on as a client and you begin your onboarding process.
Now it’s time for Fulfillment, which is where you actually do the thing they paid you for, and then hand it over.
Lastly, you have the Loyalty phase where you check in regularly and ensure everything is going smoothly with their new assets and deliverables.
Here is the EXACT Client Journey Map I use to build systems for creatives (I literally copied and pasted it from my Notion database).
This includes each touchpoint as well as the lists and tags I use to organize the client journey in my CRM.
Start Here (Lead Magnet Form)
Book an Audit (15m Appointment Form)
Book a Discovery Call (1hr Appointment Form)
Contract & Invoicing
New Client Welcome (Registration Form)
Whether it’s 1 or 3, create a standard document to present the concept(s) to your client. Watermark it with your branding and if you’re providing more than one, number each concept for easy reference.
Don’t create a brand new layout for each brand board, instead create a standard layout that you can customize. That doesn’t mean you can’t tweak the style for each client, it just means you’re starting from the same well-thought position every time for every client.
Depending on the project, your prototype could be as simple as a static mockup you did in Illustrator or it might be an interactive Figma masterpiece. Either way, make a form with a standard list of questions designed to provoke thoughtful feedback so you can eliminate some back and forth and get to building the thing.
Whether exporting a million versions of a logo or teaching a proud new website owner how to log in, you can systemize the handoff process by creating a standard checklist for each deliverable. That way you know you’ve provided everything your client needs, every time.
Instead of throwing in an offhanded ask for a testimonial, create a form (bonus points if it automatically outputs to a spreadsheet) and ask questions that prompt valuable feedback that you can use in your marketing. Looking at old testimonials is also an excellent way to combat imposter syndrome.
Measuring and tracking Key Performance Indicators isn’t glamorous but you gotta do it to scale your services. Keep track of your revenue, audience, website visits, and other KPIs in a spreadsheet, and make time to update it weekly or monthly. Make sure to schedule time to do this kind of high-level business work and then create processes for it so you can build consistency in tracking the growth of your business.
Now you need to decide on what tools you want to power your system.
There’s no shortage of options here, so let’s first talk about the basic types of tools you need to research so you can find the best fit for the way you work.
Get a feel for a tool before committing, and ensure it’s the right one for your work style and preferences. The most important thing to remember about your tech stack is that YOU need to be comfortable with it.
Now let’s go over what you need to power an elevated system. I’ve listed my favorites for each category, with short notes on what each does best.
A project management tool allows you to keep track of all the moving parts of your business, even if your business a solo affair.
A content management system is used to house your website content, including your landing pages and other parts of your funnel.
A customer relationship management system is for communicating with your leads and clients, and keeping track of each persons unique customer journey.
There are also apps that allow you to manage the client journey from a single place, including contracts, invoicing, and project management.
Part of the magic of time stacking is having your different platforms and tools work together automatically using webhooks so that your business can work without your constant presense.
Automating what happens when a client books a call is also necessary in building a system that saves you time and energy.
If you choose to go with WordPress (which I personally recommend) you’ll need a place to host your website. Here’s a comprehensive list of the good, the bad, and the deadly places to host your website. I’ve listed my top 3 here to make it easier.
Full transparency: I am a registered affiliate for Cloudways & FluentCRM, which are tools that power my own businesses.
Once you’ve decided on the tools you will use, you need to make sure to keep the system on brand.
If you’re a brand designer, this part is easy because you already have stellar brand guidelines.
For web designers and copywriters, this means you need to make rules for how your branding is used in a style guide.
A style guide helps you keep your system aligned with your brand guidelines, which helps build and maintain trust.
It should include the different variations of your logo, when and how to use them, your color palette, fonts & typography, and the patterns or backgrounds you can use throughout your website and secondary systems. It may also include icons or other elements, or how to speak about your brand.
If you have a lot of colors in your brand, keep your system colors simple so your content, photos, and graphics can show off the rest of the color scheme.
A well-planned client fulfillment system helps you scale your creative services by organizing and automating the different processes that keep your business running.
That means instead of drowning in tasks and emails, you have more time and freedom. The freedom to do what you want like spending more time with your family and friends, more time for hobbies, and more time for yourself.
It also means having more time to generate demand for your services through social media and other marketing channels. More time to dedicate to growing your business instead of constantly working in your business.
Finding and signing soulmate clients requires more than being a faceless brand. Now you have to connect with your audience in real and meaningful ways, and that takes time. Time that you would have if you organized your systems to take some of the work off your plate.
If you’re struggling to scale your creative services without sacrificing your time (or your spark) it might be time to spend a little time aligning your systems.
This means pulling all of your tools, processes, branding, and website together into a seamless client experience so that you can confidently command premium pricing while being able to take on more dream clients who VALUE YOU and what you do for them.
If you need help with systems in your business but aren’t sure where to start, I offer a free 15-minute Client Journey Audit to assess where your efforts are best spent next. These audits are speedy and full of value for you and best of all, there’s no pressure to buy anything. (Even if you wanted to, there’s nothing for sale on these calls.)
P.S. After your audit, if you’re curious to find out more about working with me (offers, payment plans, details – etc) – we can hop on a separate call for that, OR you can take what I give you on the Client Journey Audit and implement it yourself!
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