5 Free Programs to Move Your Interior Design Business Forward!
There are SO many tools out there, but who has time to try them all? Not to mention, the cost. You can easily ramp up your bottom line by adding in a few projects here and lost profit is never good, especially when you aren't exactly sure when you will have time to master that tool or program you signed up for anyway.
I have curated a list of the free programs you can start using today that will help you feel more confident in your business and more professional with your clients. Ready? Here we go!
Mailchimp- If you haven't already been introduced to Mailchimp, it's a platform that allows you to easily create and schedule newsletters to go out to your audience. You have probably heard about sales funnels, right? Yep, you can start those here. While it will require the more comprehensive package (I believe it starts at $9-$14 per month) to create a full-fledged sales funnel or welcome series, you can dip your toe in the water with the free package. With the free package, you can choose from different templates, replicate a template you like and want to use again, integrate Mailchimp with your website to allow people to sign up directly to keep your list up to date, send an automated welcome message to new subscribers and more. In fact, most clients I have worked with who use this program have not gone beyond the free option, but when your ready to do it, there are tons of great options!
Canva- If you are not already using this program, consider it now! I consider myself a decently creative person, but when it comes to creating graphics and Instagram posts, my creativity goes out the window! This program provides templates for flyers, social media posts, newsletters, and more. Looking to create consistent branding across all documents, including mood boards? Save your various creations as templates and use them again and again. Upgrade to get extra features like the background removal tool (one of the best I've used) as well as other photo editing features and access to exclusive stock photos.
Project Management Systems- If you are not already using a project management system, there are some easy introduction programs. My whole approach to my business became more streamlined and organized once I started using a project management system. Looking to grow your business? Having an organized process with all information in one place makes it exponentially easier! Here are some options you can check out to get started.
* Trello- This was the first program I used and I actually still continue to use it for personal things. I will say, it was a challenge for my designers to use it with me as it can be a little overwhelming if you are not familiar with it, but it is a GREAT tool for creating checklists, organizing projects, and communicating with your team. The free program integrates with dropbox, The upgraded version is a very affordable $5.00 / month.
*Asana- This has a bit more of a learning curve than Trello, but is overall a much more robust program, especially for the free price. In this program, you still able to create task lists, track project progress, and communicate with your team in addition to tracking your time through integrations. Upgrade to the next level for $13.49/month to create private teams for various projects, provide a client dashboard, reporting, forms, rules, and more.
*Click-up- This is the only one I haven't used personally, but I have heard good things about it. From what I can gather, the program most closely resembles Teamwork, which if you work with our team, you have an introduction too. Like Asana, this is a robust program for the pricing and can be difficult to take on, but will allow you to create some really efficient processes and task flows. The basic model is free and the next level up, which includes added integrations (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc), permissions, and more is $9.00/ month per user.
Dubsado- This program is free for up to three clients and is structured a little differently than the other programs. While other programs are more focused on managing the back-end, Dubsado is directed more to the client-facing side with an easy to use and understand client dashboard and communication tracking. This program allows you to set up payment plans, easily accept payments, and provide clients an easy way to connect with you. While this program is only three for the first three clients, this is a great program to use if you are just getting started and looking for a program to evolve with you. It can be a great accessory to any of the programs described above. Once you exceed three clients a month, the monthly fee increases to $35.00/ month.
Zapier- I have used this program off and on with my business to create processes designed around different client's needs and, quite honestly, just make things easier on myself. If you aren't already familiar with Zapier, Zapier is an online that helps you to create an automation. Remember how we were talking about sales flows before? Imagine if you could send your contract to be signed and once signed, it automatically added the client's email to a mailing list that sent them a welcome series you had already designed. Sounds good, right? You look professional and the client is well informed. That type of sequence does require some paid programs, but the Zapier service itself is free for single-step "zaps", like the one I described. If you are looking to get more creative with them, you can pay the monthly service of about $25.00. The free service provides you up to 5 active zaps for free. Trust me, your life will get just got a little easier.
Google Forms- This program is SO underutilized. I use this ALL the time. Google forms are free, you can create an unlimited amount of forms and it is such an easy and professional way to gather information. You can use this program to create fun website quizzes, send out event invitations, gather details about post-project satisfaction, vet new potential clients and SO MUCH MORE. Better yet, if you already have Gmail, then you likely already have this service, you just need to use it!
Use a collection of these programs, or just one, I promise you are going to see some changes! Have a program you love? We would love to hear about it!! Emal us at firstname.lastname@example.org.