Updated: Feb 15, 2021
When I say my business used to be a complete #hotmess I'm not exaggerating. I had absolutely no system around anything I was doing and just went with the flow. I got stuff done but certainly not as quick or as productively as I could have. I'm sad to say, a lot fell through the cracks. I missed out on a lot of opportunity and this embarrassed me quite a bit.
In 2016 things changed when preparing to exhibit at Surtex for the first time with my Art Collective Swedish Creatures I was researching like a crazy person all sorts of things to make sure we were as prepared and professional as possible. I was researching not only pricing information, how to best present our work, contact information for all of our dream clients but also trying to keep track of over 700 illustrations and patterns from me and my fellow 5 other Swedish designers. How the heck were we going to do this?! And then I stumbled upon a Facebook post where someone mentioned their favorite tool to get organized and I checked it out. This is a pretty big statement but I'm pretty sure this tool saved my life! My business life at least :)
I went from using non updated random Excel files, and a haphazard "system" of notes and lists in several different notebooks to finally having a system that I enjoyed keeping up to date. I was also able to consolidate all important information in one single place. No longer grabbing for my paper planner, a binder for one thing, a notebook for another, now I've built a beautiful digital home in Airtable.
What's Airtable you say? It's a free online database building service that you can use to get your entire creative business organized. And it's the actual best!!! There are sooooo many uses for Airtable, it's an incredible tool, I can't believe it's free. (I've become such an incredible Airtable nerd that at this point I'm just trying to come up with more ideas and uses for Airtable so I can build more databases. I'm that obsessed!) Though it is rather user friendly and intuitive it does come with a slight learning curve. There is just so much possibility it can get a little overwhelming. (Don't worry I'll teach you the basics.) Also don't let the word "database" scare you off. It's not as complicated as it sounds, and if you've ever used Excel it's much nicer and easier. (Btw, I should mention that I am in no way affiliated with Airtable. I just genuinely love the tool!)
So what can you use Airtable for to organize your creative business?
Your artwork. Imagine if you had a database of all of your illustrations and pattern designs in one place that you could easily search, categorize, organize, and keep up to date. With Airtable you can do just this. You can create a visually pleasing database to house all of the most important information about all of your work. Things such as date created, category, price, format, sku, status and more.
Your contacts. This is one of the most valuable parts of your business. All of those email addresses to art directors, art buyers, manufacturers, collaborators and more are worth gold. Do you have a place where you save all this important information? Do you keep your list updated? Do you know which contacts you have contacted recently with what work? Airtable can 100% help you create a system around pitching your work and networking so you are consistently getting your work out there.
Your deals. How do you keep track of all of your deals, sales, licenses, royalties, contract times and all that jazz. It's impossible to keep all in your head. I've personally loved using Airtable to keep track of all of my deals so that I am always on top of what artwork is available and for how long. You can easily link your contacts with your artwork and deal information with Airtable.
Your finances. From tracking transactions for your taxes to your finance goals. Airtable can be used as a traditional spreadsheet as well.
Your to dos. The past few years I've moved completely into digital planning and have loved using Airtable for my master to do list just to keep all of my business organized in one place. Now I don't have to have Airtable, Excel, a paper planner, Asana, Google Docs open all at once to keep my business organized and just have everything in Airtable. Airtable is incredibly flexible and you can view your to do list, in so many different ways and find the one that suits you best. You can choose between the traditional grid, kanban (think Trello), a gallery or as a calendar. I lurve this!
Everything else! Important links, books you've read, your branding message, branding images, favorite podcasts, press mentions, product stock, online class content, blog post content calendars, etc etc etc.
Alright, I've now typed the name Airtable about 50 bagillion times and you totally get it that I'm in love. But is this the tool for you? That's why I've created a 5 day challenge to introduce you to the tool and what you can do with it for your business. In 5 days you'll get a daily email with a 20 min video to help you build Airtable bases to get your collections, contacts, finance goals, and to dos all organized. In just about a week your creative business will be completely decluttered. Think of it as a Spring cleaning for your biz that you can do any time of year. Why not today!?!
I'm so very happy to share this tool with you and hope you will find it as helpful as I have for my business. I also look forward to having you in my challenge! What is your favorite tool to keep your business organized? Are you an Airtable convert now? :)