Running a business as a solopreneur or small business owner can be really overwhelming. There’s so much we feel we should do or want to do but feel too busy to handle, so many missed opportunities trying to stay afloat, it can be easy as hell to get burned out. That’s why business automation is seriously a lifesaver. It helps you preserve creative energy, get more done, reach more people.
What is Automation?
You can automate in many different ways, from technology to systems to delegation. Some may say that only the tech stuff is true automation, but if it helps get things off your plate and frees up brain power and energy, it’s automation in my book.
So, what are some of the benefits of automating your business or blog?
- Faster growth. The more content you’re pushing out and sharing automatically, the faster you’ll see your reach expand. You’ll see more traffic, more shares, more signups, more clients.
- Creative energy. This is a big one. The less you’re draining your energy by the sheer volume of tasks you have to accomplish each day, the more energy you have to dream up new products and services, more time to think up creative solutions to your clients’ problems, and the more space you have in your life to get inspired. (See this post for more on using your environment to increase your productivity and creativity.
- Ability to be present more for your family and friends. Having a life outside your solo biz is essential just for getting the most out of our short time on the planet, and it’s worth investing time and presence in those relationships for its own sake. I also believe it will only improve your ideas and business. You never know what a conversation with a friend might inspire if you’re paying attention. Or how being a witness to a family member’s crisis might show you how you can use your platform to help.
Who is automation good for?
Hmm…. Oh, I don’t know, everybody! There are ways that everyone can improve their systems and automate parts of the day they don’t care for.Automation is especially good for solopreneurs, as trying to do it all without any help will eventually fry your brain.Click To Tweet
Now, if you don’t have a lot (or any!) money to start out with, you can still automate! Yes, you’re likely not going to be investing in a virtual assistant right away. But, if you’re using WordPress for your blog, there are FREE plugins, there is social media scheduling software that will let you use a free account, free trials of most things galore, and systems that you can learn to make the day-to-day smoother for free on blogs.
Getting started with automation
Social Media Scheduling.
This is a great place to get started with automation, but I do want to be clear that you will STILL need to engage yourself. Authentic questions, freely sharing your expertise, and thankfulness will always have a place in your social media strategy. However, as there is an incredible amount to stay on top of, you’ll also want to have an automated element to this.
First, consider what your primary platforms are for your business.
Don’t try to do them all! Master 3 and then expand. If Pinterest is one of your platforms (it is for me. I love Pinterest so hard!), consider using Tailwind. Tailwind will let you schedule pins to a bunch of boards ahead of time so that you can batch your pinning in like an hour or two a week and if you pin like 50 times a day (which I recommend you do), this is a huge time saver.
Another excellent tool for social media is Hootsuite. You can have a free Hootsuite account for up to 3 social media profiles. There’s also a Tailwind app for Hootsuite that you can add so you can see everything in one place. You can use Hootsuite to schedule your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn posts (if you’re using those) weekly, though one thing to consider is that Facebook punishes your reach when you use a third party scheduling system :(.
You can also add RSS feeds to Hootsuite to push out your posts automatically and so you can share another favorite content creator’s work through your feeds. Share the love!
Hootsuite’s Pro account is only about $10 bucks a month, and if you have a lot of social media accounts and love to see numbers and reports, this may be for you.
There are other fantastic programs out there, such as MeetEdgar, CoSchedule, etc., that I know can help automate your business even better than Hootsuite, but I have yet to use them personally, so I don’t have much to say about them yet. Anybody who does have experience with them, I would LOVE to know your thoughts on this in the comments!
Client/customer retention management and project management automation.
I use 17Hats for my client onboarding, invoicing, year-to-date profit and loss reports, etc.
One of the features I love is called Work Flow. You can set up a system to automatically begin once you set it off. So let’s say you’ve just turned a lead into a client, it can automatically first send them a contract, then once signed an invoice, welcome email, etc. It’s fully customizable to your process. You can also set it up to wait for permission for each step, but have it basically ready to go.
Clients can pay right from within the invoice (using Paypal, Stripe, and I believe even credit cards), saving you more time. And you can save templates for all of these emails that require minimal adjustments each time you send a bill.
Adding automation to your blog is super simple with WordPress. Two of my favorite plugins for this are Revive Old Post and Inline Related Posts. Revive Old Posts will continually repost your blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Google +, keeping traffic flowing and taking some of the pressure off of you to promote your old content. I still like to repost old content on my own as well, but this helps when I simply don’t have the time to do anything additional.
Inline Related Posts helps a TON with SEO. It will automatically add your old blog posts to your new posts, helping keep people on your site and exploring more of your content. It’s super simple to set up too!
If you’re just starting out as a solo biz owner, freelancer, or indeed any online entrepreneur type, you’ll soon find out how variable income can be. One awesome tool to help you automate your savings is Digit.co. It saves for you and seriously you don’t even notice. I’ve just started using this, and I’m at $77. Not a ton, but not bad for money I didn’t even feel was missing. I would still recommend having a separate savings account, but this is a great cushion and something I could see using to fund a course or other product to help my business. And, I just really like the idea of automating my savings.
A virtual assistant is the ultimate automation tool. We can help you run just about everything behind the scenes. VAs can specialize in just about everything. A few services I offer that help my clients save time and creative energy are:
Automate/delegate everything from formatting, creating graphics and adding images to your posts to commenting and monthly WordPress security maintenance.
A virtual assistant can format and create images, much like managing your blog, for your newsletter, set it up in your chosen email system, and help you keep them coming on a consistent schedule.
Social Media Management
This is a great option for people who HATE social media, but know it’s a necessity to grow their business. It’s also helpful for peeps who are super pressed for time. A social media manager can help you set up the automated systems that I mentioned above, respond to comments, add in organic posts, run reports to track your social media growth, and basically do all the things you need to do to maintain a healthy presence across multiple platforms.
Will you give any of these a try? Are you using something to automate that you think I’d love? Please share!
*I sometimes link to books, tools, and other things that I adore and may receive a small commission for it, at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.
Beth B says
Pinning this to come back to. Checking out tailwind is in my just after New Years list. Thanks for sharing!
You’ll love Tailwind 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
This is something I would like to do for the new year. Whenever I have scheduled my social media, it helps so much. I’m pinning this to save. Thanks.
Totally, Barbara. It’s on my list to get better at this myself 🙂 Thanks so much!
Stefanie Williams says
Thanks for the informative post; I love learning about anything that can save time and effort!
My pleasure! I hope it saves you some time 🙂
Loralee Hutton says
Awesome roundup of automation tools, and resources. Another few I turn to, to help with automation, are: zapier.com, Ifttt.com, SmarterQueue (similar to meetedgar), postplanner, and activecampaign.
There are so many tools on the market, that it can be a bit overwhelming – and super distracting 🙂 I love researching tools, and testing new tools, but I have to admit that I go down the rabbit hole with them far too often.
Thanks so much, Loralee! I’m going to check out the tools you mentioned. I keep hearing the name Zapier popping up, but I haven’t explored it at all.
I know what you mean! It can definitely be a rabbit hole 🙂
Love the thought that automation can free up some creative energy! So far my favorite tool is definitely Tailwind! I think it would be an even cooler automation tool if I lived somewhere other than Africa and had faster internet 😉
Yes! I find the more tasks I can take off my plate the more room I have for daydreaming and creating in my life. I love Tailwind. I image slower internet might be frustrating, but how cool that you live in Africa! Thanks so much for checking out my post 🙂