It may not be glamorous, nor a romantic vision of business, but from our experience, being organised is the most important thing you can do. Below, I’ve outlined the approach we take around files management as a creative studio. It’s fair to say our take on this may not work for you, but if you’re a creative freelancer or small agency, there’s every chance it can save you a few headaches.
File management with a dose of common sense
One area we’ve personally been pretty hot on, but have often seen others fall down, is around file management. Files are effectively our currency, yes they’ll no doubt look great when printed, or work in a very clever way when online, but get down to the core and what we’re really producing is a load of files made of binary code, not particularly exciting. Without applying some simple rules and structure to your file management, you’ll quickly find them going walkies! If you approach the task with a healthy dose of common sense, you’ll not go far wrong.
How I manage files
Our approach (we're not saying this is the best or only way) is to have a clients archive directory, and within this all clients have their own folder. This is where all historical work will live. It’s amazing how frequently clients pop up a year or two down the line, needing a file from an old project. Making sure you have all of this data archived neatly means it’s a 30 second job to go and find and send it over. Beats tearing your hair out, asking “where the f*** did I put that file!”.
We then have another main directory called ‘Active Projects’. Within this we will have folders of all current projects on the go. This means it’s easy for anyone within the team to quickly see what we’re working on. They’re also ordered by project number (each project has a unique number), so you can see which are the more recent projects.
If it doesn’t exist in 3 different places, it doesn’t exist at all
I can remember being told this when starting Pixelfish, from more experienced folk than I. I must admit I thought they were perhaps a little paranoid, but after suffering a couple of times from not doing this, I can vouch for this being one of the most important things you can do. Make use of services such as Google Drive and Dropbox. Have some external hard drives you regularly backup to, and of course you’ll no doubt have your local copy on your computers hard drive.
Get into the habit of saving multiple copies of files and folders. I also recommend every 1–2 months, going through the exercise of restoring old files from backups, just so you are well drilled for when that unexpected hard drive failure may rear its head! Remember Murphy’s law.
Don’t just organise files. Organise everything.
It’s not just your files that need to be well organised, it’s everything else around your business. One area where you can see the most visible returns from a money perspective, is how you manage your leads and potential projects. Keep on top of these and they’ll look after you, helping you grow a sustainable business which you love.
There are a multitude of sales and CRM tools out there which can help you.
But whatever you choose to do, make sure you get organised!