Creative Workflow

46 Ways to Streamline Your Agency’s Creative Workflow (And Go From Zero to Hero)

As lovely as it is to release your full passion during a creative project, there still needs to be some organization within the process. Even great artists have individual systems for creating a painting or sculpture. But if you’re working at an ad agency, it can become a bit more complicated.

Many creative geniuses are scatterbrained, but if you want to be successful, you’ll have to establish some sort of order if you want to get started. Specifically, creative agencies have their own project managers who are assigned to organize tasks throughout the stages of the project. They answer these questions: Who’s supposed to do what? And when?

This is where the term “workflow” becomes important. Imagine everyone doing their own thing without any communication or knowledge about the priorities of certain tasks. It would end up in total chaos!

To get some background information on how other creative workflow experts get along with their projects and organization, we asked Hannah Ross to let us know about her thoughts:

Expert Quote

“The biggest barrier to entry for any workflow would be adoption by everyone. Once a platform is picked, it’s critical that all team members are active on the system. The next crucial step would be to set up a process for adding new tasks, what the taxonomy and hierarchy is.

Project management can easily become unwilling without taking the time to define how task organization is managed; and how to add new items within that process.”

Hannah Ross, Senior Producer

The creative workflow consists of four different phases:

  1. Definition and Ideation
  2. Creation
  3. Review and Approval
  4. Launch

This article will provide an overview of all relevant sub-processes, along with useful tips to master the creative workflow.

We also created a guide on how to streamline your creative workflow.

This course is packed with the valuable  tips and strategies to help take your agency’s workflows to the next level — 7 daily lessons complete with tutorials, templates, examples, guides, and more:

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Definition and Ideation

1. Start with the Creative Brief

The first step of a creative project is always the creative brief. It’s a document that you create with your client to get more information about the project. It’s the foundation for every project, and should answer the following questions (among others):

  • What should be done or changed? Why?
  • Who’s the target audience? Who are the buyer personas?
  • What’s the timeline and due dates?
  • What’s the budget?
  • What are the milestones?

 

Next Steps: You can use this easy-to-use creative brief template and this comprehensive creative brief checklist to get started. Also, don’t miss this step-by-step guide on how to create a buyer persona.

2. Conduct a Kickoff Meeting

After agreeing on the project specifications, you should appoint two kickoff meetings: one internal meeting and one that involves the client.

The objective of the internal meeting is to prepare your team for the project, while the meeting with the client should ensure that both you and your client agree on requirements, milestones, timeline, goals, and next steps.

The internal meeting should cover:

  • Information about the client and the project scope
  • Used strategy
  • Internal responsibilities
  • Preparation of a client kickoff meeting

 

The client kickoff meeting should cover:

  • Introduction of your team
  • Project briefing
  • Measurement of the project’s success
  • Timeline and milestones
  • Involved people and responsibilities
  • Reporting structure
  • Review and approval process

 

Next Steps: The Digital Project Manager created a comprehensive guide about the perfect kickoff meeting.

3. Set Goals and Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goals Approach

Getting started with a project also means setting goals. Having clear and precise goals will help you successfully approach the project and handle your client’s expectations. Then your customer will know what to expect during each phase of the project.

A useful approach to setting your goals is the S.M.A.R.T. method. The acronym S.M.A.R.T. stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely goals.

Next Steps: We’ve created an article about how to use S.M.A.R.T. goals (including the S.M.A.R.T. goals template) to make sure you’re achieving your objectives. In addition, the project management institute discusses the importance of goal-setting in projects.

 

4. Define Project Milestones

Goals are important and define the project’s direction. Project milestones will let you know if you’re heading in the right direction.

You should also distinguish between milestones and tasks. Milestones should be identified. For example, “Phase 1 is finished,” and, “Get approval on finishing phase 1”. In general, milestones are defined to indicate the beginning or end of activities.

Milestones are often related to communication (such as finishing crucial meetings), important decisions, project phases, and processes.

Next Steps: The Balance Careers published an amazing article about what a project milestone is, and how to define it.

 

5. Set Your Team’s Structure and Responsibilities

If you’re not done already, you need to define the team structure for this particular project. Who should be involved, and to what extent? Common roles include:

  • Project Principal
  • Project Strategist
  • Project Manager
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Designer
  • Developer

 

Of course, the needed roles depend on the nature of the project. A website redesign project will require a designer and a developer, while a flyer project doesn’t involve any development work.

Next Steps: If you’re interested in learning more about the different team roles and responsibilities, read this article on project structure and organization. We also created an article about how to build a creative team.

 

6. Manage Your Client’s Expectations

Your client has specific expectations about the project, so you’ll only be able to successfully finish the project if you know all about them. So make sure that you learn more about your client’s precise expectations during the definition and ideation phase. The second step is managing and satisfying these expectations. Apart from delivering the best results, you should also consider the following techniques:

  • Proactively ask for expectations, and set them as needed.
  • Stick to your set goals, and present weekly progress.
  • Create an accessible timeline that you regularly update (for example, via Google Spreadsheets).
  • Don’t promise too much; keep expectations low.

 

Next Steps: This article by us presents different ways to properly handle client expectations.

 

7. Identify and Mitigate Project Risks

There are a thousand things that could put a spoke in your wheel and halt your project’s and work performance. Hence, it’s important to know about the most important ones and find ways to mitigate these risks.

Here are common project risks:

  • The Scope isn’t well-defined.
  • Cost forecasts aren’t well-defined.
  • Too many change requests, and no suitable processes to optimally keep them in place.
  • Client’s requirements are misunderstood by your agency.
  • Inefficient and slow communication results.

 

Next Steps: Simplicable has compiled a list of 130 project risks you should be aware of.

 

8. Do Research On Your Client’s Competitors

Before creating anything for your client, you should analyze their competitors in detail. Why? It will give you a better understanding of the industry, and you’ll know what’s already available. So you won’t copy it verbatim, but you’ll gather inspirational material.

First, you should compile a list of your competitors. How?

Second, conduct a competitor analysis by:

  • Checking their website and blog.
  • Checking their press mentions and interviews.
  • Checking their social media channels (such as Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn).
  • Signing up for their newsletter and downloading their eBooks.

 

Next Steps: Check out this comprehensive gu 10-step process guide on how to conduct a competitor analysis.

 

9. Use Creative Project Templates

A successful project requires that you create plenty of different documents. You’ll need to create Gantt Charts, timesheets, risk registers, reports, or budget plans. Building all of them from scratch will result in much more effort. Hence, you should either use appropriate software to manage these documents or plainly use available templates to save time.

Next Steps: ProjectManager.com has a valuable template section, which provides a massive list of project management templates. In addition, you can find plenty of useful templates on our blog:

 

10. Use Visual Timelines

Having a clear schedule is important. It will help your team stay organized and focused. In addition, you shouldn’t only list due dates, but also depict them. Visual timelines allow you to present all of your project’s activities in an easy way. To come up with appealing visual timelines, you can use software, such as SmartSheet or LucidChart.

Next Steps: Plan Academy explains why visual timelines are so important, and how you can easily build them.

 

11. Implement Creative Project Management Software

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the tons of information you’ll process during a project. Hence, most teams quickly decide to implement software for creative project management. But how can you find the tool that perfectly fits your needs? Before agreeing on the specific software, you should be sure about your processes. Afterwards, you’ll need to find a tool that’s able to adapt to your workflows. Here are other important aspects you should consider:

  • Are you able to communicate within the software?
  • Does the tool provide a sufficient amount of reporting functionality?
  • Does the software provide the integrations you need to embed it into the ecosystem of your existing software?
  • Does the tool allow you to manage your resources and depict your timelines?

 

Next Steps: Wrike, a provider of project management software, wrote a good guide about finding the right creative solution for your team.

 

12. Start Mood Boarding

A mood board is the visual foundation for your ideas. It helps you collect all of your brilliant ideas in one place and easily share them with your coworkers. There are plenty of reasons why you should create a mood board:

  • Make it easy for your clients to understand your ideas.
  • Get a better sense of your client’s expectations.
  • Improve your own creativity.

 

Next Steps: We’ve created a compelling mood board template that will help you easily depict your ideas without paying for any software. In addition, we’ve compiled a comprehensive mood board checklist (including all relevant aspects) to create a mood board on your own.

 

13. Manage Workload of Your Team

You’ve assembled your team, and you started spinning the first ideas. Wonderful! Before you can start working, you should rethink the workload of each relevant coworker. Is it equal? Is it feasible? Is it fair? Your coworkers are your most important resource. Hence, you need to make sure that the workload is optimally managed.

Follow these steps to organize your resources:

  1. Conduct a workload audit, and depict the workload of all involved people.
  2. Identify coworkers that are allocated to more tasks than they can handle.
  3. Identify coworkers that are allocated to fewer tasks than they can handle.
  4. Review your team’s availability again.
  5. Reassign tasks, and make sure that the workload is optimally allocated.

 

Next Steps: In this article, ProjectManager.com describes the needed steps to improve your workload management.

 

14. Define Metrics to Measure Project Success

How do you define the success of a project? Success means different things to different people. Hence, it’s important that you internally define a successful metric with the client. For example, you could internally strive for the efficient execution of your project, so that estimated time and cost are met. To the client, success could mean that the outcome (such as a a website), is completely finished on time, while the budget is maintained.

Defining the success metrics can’t be accomplished during the project. Rather, it should be defined before you start working on it.

 

Next Steps: Mark Freeman and Peter Beale wrote a great article on how to measure the success of a project.

 

Creation

15. Use Brainstorming Techniques

Need an idea for a campaign? Likely, the first approach that comes to your mind is brainstorming. But did you know that there are plenty of alternatives out there?

Suitably modified brainstorming techniques include:

  • Mind Mapping – Visually collaborate on a challenge, add related topics/solutions, and connect them.
  • Reverse Brainstorming – What could cause a problem?
  • Online Brainstorming – Privately share ideas online. (For instance, use a Google spreadsheet)
  • Role Storming – Imagine you’re the person experiencing a specific problem.

 

Next Steps: Take a look at our favorite 7 brainstorming techniques.

 

16. Generate Ideas

Agency life can be tough. Each and every day, you’ll need to come up with new, fresh ideas. But how can you ensure creativity and avoid “idea burnout”? There are several ways:

  • Challenge existing processes and assumptions.
  • Use different techniques and media to generate ideas (such as brainstorming, painting, reading related books, and checking the most recent Instagram posts).
  • Create a connection between unrelated things.
  • Change your perspective.
  • Change your location.

 

Next Steps: Of course, these are only some of the methods that can boost the idea- generation process. MindTools compiled a great list of ways to think differently and spark creativity. Also, we’ve created a comprehensive storytelling guide that will help you to come up with a suitable narrative around your ideas.

 

17. Share Ideas with Your Team

Generating ideas is the first step. But don’t forget to share them with your team, collaborate, and get instant feedback. The problem is that some of your coworkers might rather tend to share ideas, while others keep their ideas to themselves. But you can change that.

  • Encourage all of your coworkers to share their ideas.
  • Regularly provide feedback.
  • Educate your coworkers about how to present an idea.
  • Establish brainstorming meetings with your team.
  • Create the right environment to spark creativity.

 

Next Steps: The Forbes Communication Council recommended these 15 useful ways to ensure that all team members share their ideas.

 

18. Create Different Types of Content

Of course, you know that content is important. Likely, your agency is offering content creation services, such as blog posts and infographics. But there are many different variations of written and visual content. Have you already thought about creating the following types of content?

  • Memes
  • Primary data
  • Podcasts
  • Slideshare presentations
  • Live-streaming videos
  • Email courses
  • Microsites

 

Next Steps: CoSchedule created a massive list of 113 types of content you can build for your clients.

 

19. Stay Creative All The Time

Being creative is your job, but sometimes it’s tough to keep your creativity level high. Don’t worry. That’s normal. Luckily, there are ways to get your creative juices flowing again.

Try these creativity techniques:

  • Use an idea journal to gather all ideas that come to mind.
  • Start meditating to strengthen your focus and creativity.
  • To clear your mind, complete all pending tasks, and start from scratch.
  • Take a walk, and enjoy the fresh air.
  • Analyze your competitors, and get inspiration.
  • Listen to creativity podcasts.

 

Next Steps: We’ve compiled a list of 29 proven tips that can be used to increase creativity in your workspace.

 

20. Learn from the Best

Often, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Hence, you should both analyze your client’s competitors and your own competitors; then you can learn from all of them. When you’re working on a new project, zoom out to discover whether other agencies have already completed similar jobs. Don’t be afraid to learn from them. Of course, you shouldn’t plagiarize their work, but you can get inspiration from their achievements. Use their success to see what works and what doesn’t.

 

Next Steps: McKinsey published an interesting article about how to get into your competitor’s head.

 

21. Use Collaboration Tools

Working on a new campaign for your client involves a lot of collaboration. But are you optimally organizing your team? In most cases, it makes sense to use one or multiple collaboration tools for different purposes. For example, to improve your internal communication, you can use software such as Slack or Stride. To simplify your content review processes, you could use Filestage. To increase transparency of your projects, you could use Asana or Nimble.

Of course, you need to define your processes first. Afterwards, you can select an appropriate tool that helps you digitize them.

Next Steps: Time Doctor compiled an amazing list of valuable collaboration tools you can use to improve your teamwork.

 

22. Build a Collaborative Workspace

Your projects will only be successful if your team smoothly works together. Hiring team players is one key to success. But you also need to build a collaborative work environment that makes it easy to deliver great results as a team. How can you achieve that?

  • Organize daily standups that discuss goals, milestones, and hurdles.
  • Define goals for your whole team.
  • Motivate your team to be innovative and creative.

 

Next Steps: Learn more about how to build a collaborative workspace.

 

23. Stay Productive

Efficiently using your time is crucial, and productivity is an important state of mind. But it’s not always easy to be consistently productive. Distractions are all around you, so it’s too easy to lose this constant battle. Here are different ways to make sure that you stay productive:

  1. Choose the right environment for your work.
  2. Before you go to bed each night, plan your 3 main goals for the next day.
  3. Listen to music that helps you focus and stay motivated.

 

Next Steps: We’ve published this guest post by Brain.fm about four brilliant productivity hacks and also compiled a list of 32 productivity tips from world’s top creatives.

 

24. Efficiently Manage Your Design Files

When was the last time you properly organized the files on your computer and in your cloud storage? It was probably a long time ago. But properly managing your local and cloud files is the foundation for a productive work environment. By mostly working with digital files, you can easily overlook the importance of a proper organization. So here are some basic rules to efficiently manage your files:

  1. Never put any files into the desktop or into folders that contain subfolders.
  2. Pursue a strict naming strategy.
  3. Minimize the number of folders you create.

 

Next Steps: The Asian Efficiency blog wrote a comprehensive guide about efficiently managing your computer files.

 

25. Prioritize Work

Having tons of important tasks makes it hard to prioritize. But since time is limited, you have no choice: You better become good at prioritizing, or you won’t get anywhere. These tools can help you achieve this goal:

  1. The Eisenhower Priority Matrix
  2. The Pareto Principle
  3. The Pickle Jar Theory

 

Next Steps: We published some great tips on how to efficiently prioritize your work.

 

26. Meet Deadlines

It can be tough to always deliver quality work within the given time frame. Scope changes, ineffective communication, and bad planning often result in missed deadlines. But you should keep the importance of meeting deadlines in mind. Your clients will judge you based on both your deliverables and when you’ve delivered them.

These tips can help you always finish on time:

  1. Be transparent about the deadline, and agree with the client on a defined deadline.
  2. Establish a list of due dates you need to meet.
  3. Break down your tasks and deadline.
  4. Only commit to projects you can handle.
  5. Stick to the deadline. Whatever it takes. (Learn from your mistakes, but stick to the deadline.)

 

Next Steps: Read this great piece about how to meet your deadlines.

 

27. Create Creative Project Status Reports

Often, many people are involved in creative projects. Hence, it’s important that everybody is on the same page. But how do you achieve that goal? Here, project status reports are the key to success. They’ll allow you to share your progress with all stakeholders, while identifying potential risks or issues. The content of the report depends on the audience. A project status report for your CEO might differ from the weekly report you’re sending the client.

Next Steps: Learn how to create a project status report that can be used to frequently inform your clients..

 

28. Exceed the Client’s Expectations

We’ve articulated the importance of delivering on time and standardizing your scope. But who wants to stick to the standard? You want your agency to stand out. At that point, you should think about how to exceed your client’s expectations. What can you do to build a long-lasting relationship that’s built on trust with your clients (and appreciation)?

These tips might help you:

  1. Make sure your customer service is world-class, your response rates are high, and your response time is low.
  2. Concentrate on the small things. Keep in mind: “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”
  3. Surprise your customers whenever you can.
  4. Over-communicate!
  5. Make sure that your customers and their needs take center stage.

 

Next Steps: We’ve asked 13 agency experts on how to exceed and manage client expectations.

 

29. Focus on Things that Matter

In your day-to-day business, it can be easy to lose focus focus on what really matters to your agency. But don’t worry. That’s normal. You only need to make sure that you quickly regain focus. This advice can help you get back on track, and make sure you’re not losing your focus anymore:

  1. Create long-term strategies and stick to them. Of course, if changes are needed, apply the changes, but stick to the plan.
  2. Develop a vision, and share it with your team.
  3. Set up weekly meetings to make sure you’re still on track.

 

Next Steps: Rashelle Isip wrote this great post about 7 tactics to focus on what really matters.

 

30. Properly Track Your Time

When working with clients, you’ll frequently be required to precisely track the time it takes you to get things done. Often, these time-tracking sheets are the foundations of your invoices and the basis for getting paid. Hence, you shouldn’t underestimate the impact of proper time-tracking.

These time-tracking tools can help you and your coworkers efficiently track your time:

  1. Timely
  2. Harvest
  3. Hubstaff
  4. Toggl
  5. Everhour
  6. TimeCamp
  7. ClickTime

 

Next Steps: HubSpot wrote this great guide about time-tracking tools.

 

Review and Approval

31. Get Your Manager’s Approval

You’ve worked hard on your design, and you’re finally able to pass it to your manager. But how do you make sure that your hard work pays off, and that you get his or her approval? These simple tips can help:

  • Be confident about your design, and answer questions with confidence.
  • If you present it, keep things as simple as possible, and only focus on the core attributes.
  • Make sure the benefits stand out.

 

Avoid the following actions:

  • Providing too much information and overwhelming your manager.
  • Getting angry if your manager asks questions.

 

Next Steps: Amy Gallo published an interesting article in Harvard Business Review magazine about how to get your ideas approved.

 

32. Share Content with Clients

Your content is approved and ready to be shared with your client. Perfect! But how do you share your content and review it together with him or her? This list of software will help you quickly get your client’s approval:

  • Filestage
  • Dropbox
  • Wipster
  • InVision
  • Frame.io
  • Hightail
  • Acrobat Pro DC
  • Frankie

 

Next Steps: If you want to learn more about these tools, check out our comprehensive overview of review and approval tools.

 

33. Analyze and Optimize Your Review Cycles

Reviewing cycles are often a mess, and can take a lot of time. But often, that’s not because there’s no alternative. In most cases, the only reason why they’re so ineffective is that nobody wants to spend time analyzing and optimizing them, which can ruin your team’s productivity and cost your company a lot of money. So what do to do? A workflow analysis is the key to success.

Break down your workflow analysis into these steps:

  1. Understanding and Documenting the Workflow
  2. Collecting Data
  3. Analyzing the Data
  4. Deriving Possible Workflow and Process Improvements

 

Next Steps: If you want to learn more about the mentioned steps, we’ve published a guest post about how to conduct a workflow analysis on the LucidChart blog.

 

34. Get Useful Design Feedback from Your Clients

Satisfying your client’s expectations isn’t always easy. At the end of the day, you can’t read minds; you can only follow creative briefs. To make sure you get valuable client feedback, apply these habits to your feedback cycles:

  • Don’t offer too many alternatives. To make it easy for the client to choose his or her favorite, only present two or three.
  • Make sure that you understand the requirements. If you don’t, ask again.
  • In the course of the graphic design process and prior to presenting the final design, you should ask for feedback at each stage of the design process. For example, ask for feedback about your mood boards and concepts.

 

Next Steps: HubSpot published a great piece of advice about how to get meaningful design feedback. If you’re interested in more information about valuable sources for designers check out the best design blogs and websites as well as our huge list of free design forms and templates.

 

35. Manage and Organize Your Client’s Feedback

The first step is getting useful client feedback. But projects can take a lot of time and result in tons of feedback notes. Hence, it’s crucial that you’ve a good feedback system in place that allows you to manage and organize your client’s feedback. These tools provide a centralized place for your feedback:

  • Filestage
  • GoVisually
  • ProofHub
  • Slope
  • Frankie

 

Next Steps: Do you want to learn more about the pros and cons of these tools? Feel free to dive into our comprehensive overview of feedback tools.

 

36. Use (Approval) Email Templates

Let’s say you’re not using a software such as Filestage to manage your approval processes, but you are sending multiple emails out each day to review your creative assets. This situation doesn’t need to be as painful as it often is. If you’re using Gmail, use the Canned Response option to create templates for your approval emails. Apart from that, you can also use existing emails, so you won’t have to start from scratch.

Next Steps: Jami Oetting provides six great email templates that you can legally lift from agencies.

 

37. Get Your Client’s Approval

The objective of each project is getting your client’s final approval. The moment he or she finally approves your deliverables feels like heaven. Your hard work has finally paid off, and you finished the project. But how can you make sure to get this final approval?

These tips can help:

  • Upfront, you should know exactly who will approve your deliverables. That way, you can prepare the presentation, and tailor it towards this person’s expectations.
  • Set apropos expectations early in the process. Define objectives you’re comfortable with, and make sure they’re realistic.
  • During the project, actively listen to your client. That way, you’ll know what he or she places value on.

 

Next Steps: The envatotuts+ blog compiled a list of 9 further great tips on how to get your creative deliverables approved by your client.

 

38. Start Seamless Communication Away from Email

You’re using email for all kinds of communication? That might be a reason why your communication flows aren’t as smooth as you wish. Nowadays, there are different alternatives that can help you replace email in different areas of your business. Of course, this tactic should only be attempted to optimize your different communication flows, not as regular protocol.

This software can help you partially replace email:

 

Next Steps: Max Nalsky wrote a great guide about the way that quitting email boosted his team’s performance.

 

39.Invoice Feedback Cycles

As described, client feedback and review loops can result in spending a lot of time and effort on meeting the client’s expectations. But should you invoice this time, and if yes, how?

The most important aspect is that you stay consistent, and define such fees upfront. Hence, this advice might help you handle the monetary side of feedback loops:

  • Exactly define what a feedback round is.
  • Upfront, define the number of feedback loops that are included in the project’s budget.
  • Make sure which kinds of change requests are not included, and how they are billed.

Next Steps: If you want to learn more about how to cope with client revisions, read this Creative Bloq guide.

 

40. Use Best Video Review Tools

If you’re producing videos (for example to boost your client’s video marketing) and video scripts for your client, you’ll want to review them with him or her. In most cases, conducting review cycles via email isn’t a good option. It’s a ton of effort to send a lot of emails with change requests that need to be clearly described, especially if you’re reviewing a video. Hence, it makes sense to use video review software to manage and simplify that process.
Here’s suitable software you can use:

 

Next Steps: If you want to learn more about this software, check out our comprehensive overview of video review tools.

 

41. Implement Best Design Review Tools

Collaborating on designs can be challenging, too. So having a great software in place that centralizes your feedback and versions is always a good choice. But what software should you choose?

These tools can help you manage and centralize your design reviews:

 

Next Steps: Visme compiled a great list of design review tools and we’ve created a comprehensive list of feedback tools.

 

42. Find Your Way to Share Videos

Normally, you use email for all kinds of communication, but now, you’re unsure about how to share video files with your client. No problem. We’ve got you covered. There are multiple, easy ways to share video files with your clients:

  • Cloud Storage Software, such as Dropbox or Google Drive
  • File Transfer Software, such as WeTransfer
  • Review and Approval Software, such as Filestage

Next Steps: The Video Analyst suggests five different ways of sharing videos with your clients.

 

43. Learn How to Send Large Files

Facing the challenge of sending Gigabytes of deliverables to your client? Don’t worry. There are several ways to overcome this hurdle. The answer is using appropriate software to send these files. You won’t get far if you sending these files as regular email attachments.
These tools can help:

 

Next Steps: How-To Geek wrote an interesting guide about different ways of sending large files.

 

Launch

44. Decide on an Agency Billing Method

You’ve successfully finished your project, and it’s time to invoice your client. Perfect, congrats! But what kind of billing do you choose when invoicing clients?

There are several options for structuring your agency’s billing and pricing approach:

  • Bill per Hour
  • Bill a Fixed Fee
  • Cost-Plus Pricing
  • Value-Based Pricing

 

Next Steps: If you want to learn more about these approaches, check out this great guide on agency billing methods.

45. Send Out Invoices

Apart from setting the basic billing structure, you’ll need to find a way to physically (or digitally) send out invoices. Often, it makes sense to use an established invoice- management software.

Suitable invoicing tool suggestions are:

  • Harvest
  • Zoho Invoice
  • CurdBee

 

Next Steps: We’ve compared five useful invoicing tools, and illuminates their pros and cons.

 

46. Maintain Client Satisfaction and Retain Them

Customer acquisition costs are often quite high and unique advertising pitches result in a lot of effort. Hence, retaining existing clients is an important job of each agency. But how can you make sure to squeeze out the maximum of each client, without being pushy? These tactics can help you to maintain your client’s satisfaction:

  • Provide stunning customer service, and provide super-quick replies to all kinds of questions.
  • Connect with your clients on a personal level.
  • Over-communicate.
  • Provide regular reports, and let them participate.

 

Next Steps: Wordstream gathered a valuable list of ways to retain your clients. On top of that, we’ve written a guide on how to calm angry clients down.

The Long and Winding Road to the Perfect Workflow

There are many ways to establish a workflow. Some people get employed by a big agency and just need to follow steps in a given order. That’s good for you, since your company has already established their own workflow and their way of doing things.

At our startup Filestage, we have developed our own workflows for the creation of creative content, for the developing process, and much more…

But before we came up with a stable process for getting things done, we also had to try out different methods and tools first. That’s always how it is in the beginning: You just have to try things out and see if they work. Then if they don’t, you can find out why and learn from them.

One of the most important things to remember is that you should always document the current process once it’s established. For us, this tactic always comes in handy, especially when there are new coworkers joining the Filestage crew who need to be onboarded.

Nevertheless, having a functioning workflow doesn’t mean that everything will proceed optimally. Sometimes, there can be problems in your way of working that can range from tiny annoyances to huge time killers. Imagine that you’re about to create a new ad campaign with videos and several designs.

You need to get these media assets reviewed—one way or another.

Usually, this process works via email, which is fine as long as there are only one or two reviewers who have just a few tiny change requests. But if you have more files to review and more coworkers are involved, the feedback you have to consider will soon become unmanageable. And with more change requests to take care of, there will definitely be more than just two versions of a file.

This will sooner rather than later end up in a huge, chaotic pile of emails. You’ll need to find out who had which request, or when a certain email has been sent or received. Therefore, it’s unavoidable to dive into your inbox to pick out the right mails.

How We Do It at (and with!) Filestage

Especially in our marketing team, we create many different types of creative content, including videos, blog articles, eBooks, and designs for our website. To make sure that each media asset we share with our audience, feedback and reviews are crucial for us.

In general, we always create a brief concept, including our goals and what message we want to convey to our audience. This can be a rough draft scribbled down on a piece of paper or a short table of content in a Google Doc.

The most important thing is that you make it clear what your content is about and who your target group is. If you are working for an individual client rather than your own company, you need a creative brief to find that out. We have compiled a nice template to help you with that: Creative Brief Template.

Once this is done, we discuss with our product manager Maël whether or not the concept fits with the target group, our company language, and design philosophy, as well as what needs to be added or changed.

I guess you could say that we’re quite the feedback company, so everything, our process-building as well as our product are all about review and approval.

After we’ve finished our first draft, we upload it to Filestage and invite our product manager—and anyone else who’s involved in the project—to review it.

Once it’s uploaded to Filestage, everyone invited can comment on the file to give their feedback.

We usually organize this process by creating an Asana task for each team member and putting the Filestage review link into the task description. That way, everyone has immediate access to the file without dumpster-diving through all the emails in your trash folder.

You can either invite your reviewers via email notification or generating a review link to the file.

Copy and paste the Filestage review link into the task description to give your reviewer immediate access to the file.

Unlock Your Creative Workflow

With the help of the traffic light system on Filestage, you’ll always get updates about the review status of a file. Also, since every comment is immediately put into a to-do list, you’ll know the next task to do right away. After implementing the change requests, just upload the new version to Filestage again, and everyone who has been invited will be notified that there’s a new version ready to review.

With all your comments on the same page and a clear versioning system, you and your team members are always up-to-date, so there’s no need for confusion anymore.
Filestage links are easy to integrate (copy-paste-galore!) when using tools such as Asana and other common task or project management tools.

I hope that this article has shed more light on how creative workflows can be managed through Filestage. However, if you have any further questions, just message our support team, and we’ll answer ASAP. 😉

With a lot of passion and interest for creative writing and digital media, she always tries to learn new things every day.

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