Improve Your Workflow Episode 04 with Michelle Ives

14 August, 2019

Michelle Ives is the Founder and Word Chief at Wordy and Smith, a copywriting studio.

Improve Your Workflow is sponsored by Digital Pigeon. For an extra long free trial, visit www.digitalpigeon.com/podcast/ and use the coupon code: WORKFLOW.

Learn more about Wordy and Smith:

Wordy and Smith: https://www.wordyandsmith.com/about
Wordy and Smith Instagram: http://instagram.com/wordyandsmith
Michelle Ives LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelle-ives
Michelle Ives Twitter: https://twitter.com/michelle__ives
Michelle Ives Blog: www.thatgirlonfire.com
Michelle Ives Instagram: http://instagram.com/thatgirl_onfire

Products and software mentioned in the show:

Gmail with Boomerang: https://www.boomeranggmail.com/
Wave: https://www.waveapps.com/
Google Drive: https://www.google.com/drive/
Dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/
Trello: https://trello.com/
Squarespace: https://www.squarespace.com/
WordPress: https://wordpress.com/
HubSpot: https://www.hubspot.com/
Qwilr: https://qwilr.com/
HelloSign: https://www.hellosign.com/
Mailchimp: https://mailchimp.com/
Buffer: https://buffer.com/
Slack: https://slack.com/
Google Analytics: https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/

Transcript of Improve Your Workflow podcast with Michelle Ives of Wordy and Smith

Voiceover:

Welcome to the 'Improve Your Workflow' Podcast, brought to you by Digital Pigeon. Learn from other creative and media businesses about attracting more work, delivering projects efficiently, getting paid on time and everything in between.

Paul Evans:

Hi there and welcome to the fourth episode of Improve Your workflow. My Name's Paul Evans and I'm your host. The format for this show is really simple. I interview owners and managers of media, marketing and creative businesses about their productivity and operations hacks as a way where we can all learn from each other and hopefully make our lives that little bit easier. Our guest today is Michelle from Wordy and Smith. Welcome to the show, Michelle.

Michelle Ives

Thank you for having me.

Paul Evans:

Right. Okay, so could you just tell the listeners what you do and who you do it for?

Michelle Ives

Sure. So I am the founder and chief word nerd behind Wordy and Smith, a copywriting studio. We are a business who obsess over all things words, be it creative copywriting, communications strategy and technical write ups. My background is in startups, but we service a range of clients, so corporates, not for profits, startups of course, and government. I'm also the founder behind finance hub, That Girl On Fire, which is a blog about personal finance and my goals for retiring early through saving, wait for it, 70% of my income, and investing, so-

Paul Evans:

Wow.

Michelle Ives

I learned about how to save, I know, what I invest in, obviously why I do it, and that all goes on the blog. Sometimes I write for media as well.

Paul Evans:

70%, wow.

Michelle Ives

Sometimes 80, sometimes 80.

Paul Evans:

Whoa, that's unreal. All right, so you've obviously got a lot of productivity hacks, I think, if that's the case that you're saving that much of your income, so, but what would you say is your number one productivity hack?

Michelle Ives

Well look, it's an interesting one for me because what I'm trying to achieve through FIRE, which is an acronym for Financial Independence, Retiring Early, is really about having greater control of my time and energy to do things that I love, without, I guess, having to think about the money piece that comes with them. So I'm basically trying to architect a life whereby money's kind of this really low touch part of the process.

This frees up a lot of my time naturally, but it also allows me to be more inventive. What happened when I started my business, being Wordy and Smith was that I realised that I could do a lot of that straightaway, but just with good optimisation. This goes for an actual tech stack across the board, but I think it's also personal productivity rituals. So my business on any given day has multiple digital avenues going in and out.

So the incoming pieces are things like leads and queries and requests and updates for where work is at, but the outgoing pieces are things like contracts and proposals and documents and invoices and then obviously activities that help me market my services. There's a lot of admin across the board there, so the main productivity ritual that I subscribe to is that I plan my week out really simply in advance every Sunday night so that every activity, like even going to the dry cleaners, is on there. I literally use notes on my phone and I just categorise it like, Monday, big dot point task, mid-level dot point task, small level dot point task. Tuesday and Wednesday's the same and this way nothing gets missed.

And then the second, is that I have this rule that one big, important thing must absolutely get done in the morning before lunchtime every day. So whether that's a big meeting or a big piece of work, I just know that mornings are better for me and I find that my clients and sometimes my team are actually clearer in the morning too, so it's like time hacking and I'm really strict about those things.

Paul Evans:

That's really interesting. Yeah, you're the, I think the second person now to say getting things done in the morning is really working for them. So, yeah, I think that comes up a lot, whereas I probably am a bit more of a night owl.

Michelle Ives

Exactly. Some people are and some people seem to [inaudible 00:04:05] high heavens that they just work better at night and that's fine too. It's really just about whatever works best for you, but it's, well I personally have found that my clients and my team are more clear in the mornings which is something that kind of round table works for everyone.

Paul Evans:

Yeah, cool. All right. So, you mentioned that you have a bit of a tech stack as part of that sort of, I guess, improving your productivity. Could you tell us a bit about some of the tools that you use to help get that job done?

Michelle Ives

Yeah, happy to. So my stack is this four piece that is across admin, experience, communication and insights. So, for the admins, and I tried quite a few, this is what I've whittled it down to. So for the admin side, I'm a really big fan of tools like Gmail with Boomerang, so I can do my emails in one blast and just schedule them.

I use Wave for anything accounting- or invoice-related. I use Drive and Dropbox for storage because obviously they're smaller files and sharing of client files, and then I use Trello for a high level project overview of everything we've got going on.

On the experience piece it's a mix of Squarespace and WordPress with all the SEO and optimization bits that come with it. I publish a lot. I use HubSpot to nurture leads as well as manage lead forms for myself and on behalf of my clients. I love Qwilr for customer-facing documents like proposals because they can literally open it like a webpage. It's beautifully optimised, from a consumer help.

Paul Evans:

That's a, yeah, that's an Aussie-based business isn't it?

Michelle Ives

I think so. Yeah, they seem-

Paul Evans:

Yeah, Q-W-I-L-R

Michelle Ives

their customers are pretty Aussie. Yeah. Q-W-I-L-R. Qwilr. And then I use HelloSign because I think signing contracts is a pain and anything you can do to make that better for your clients is a win.

Paul Evans:

Awesome.

Michelle Ives

Communication is MailChimp and Buffer. So that's email marketing and socials and then Slack, because I think everyone in the world uses that now, and then I use just mainly Google analytics.

Paul Evans:

So good. Thank you.

Michelle Ives

Cool.

Paul Evans:

All right, we're just going to take a few moments now to hear from our sponsor.

Voiceover

This episode is brought to you by Digital Pigeon. Digital Pigeon is the leading file-sharing service for creative and media businesses that can't afford to miss deadlines. With a focus on moving large files from A to B quickly and reliably, Digital Pigeon is the tool you can count on where others fail to deliver. Try Digital Pigeon out for free today at www.digitalpigeon.com/workflow for an extra long 90-day trial. Now, back to the show.

Paul Evans:

All right, so if you could work with one brand that you don't already work with, who would that be and why?

Michelle Ives

I love local success stories and as a startup orphan myself, I love Abasian. I use their products but I believe that they also deeply care about problem-solving and they put a great emphasis on teamwork, which I really genuinely think is crucial to building good, diverse things that people want and need, and also their story is just compelling and it's interesting and as a storyteller I love that because it makes my job more fun.

Paul Evans:

Great. Here's a question that I keep getting the same answer to, so I've restructured it a little bit, is how do you go about solving problems that you don't know the answer to? And, you're not allowed to say just Googling it, but are there specific blogs or do you use mentors or anything like that?

Michelle Ives

Google's great, but just like Dr. Google, it can be grossly incorrect sometimes. So, personally I ask people who have done it. I'm pretty fearless about reaching out and making connections. I try and do it in a way where they get something out of the exchange as well, so it's not just one-sided, but I've found that most people are actually really keen to share their expertise and what they've learned, if you just ask in a really polite and non-expectant way. And doing this I've spoken to some pretty amazing people and also gotten work out of it too, which is a nice bonus.

Paul Evans:

Oh, right, that's a good idea. So do you just reach out to them by email or ... ?

Michelle Ives

Yep. So sometimes I find their contact details online. I try and do a bit of a warm intro so it's not like, "Hello, can you help me?" Or, "Can you answer this question?," like try and establish a relationship first. But yeah, I mean I really just contact them or sometimes if, I do a lot of networking, so sometimes I might see them at an event that they're speaking out or something like that, and I'll just go up and walk up to them and introduce myself and I really, I know that people are, particularly people who are very successful are quite time-poor, but you would be so surprised at how open and helpful they can be if you just ask in a really nice way.

Paul Evans:

That's a great tip. Something I probably should do more of to be honest.

Michelle Ives

Yeah, but it's hard because it's kind of intimidating to just approach

Paul Evans:

Awesome. Thanks Michelle. Thanks for being on the show.

Michelle Ives

Thank you so much for having me.

Paul Evans:

Well, that was some amazing productivity tips there from Michelle today. Personally, the idea of retiring early was absolute gold and I look forward to learning more about FIRE, but I also really love Michelle's idea about planning out the week on a Sunday night and making sure that you tackle the big tasks in the morning. Until next time, thanks for listening and keep on delivering.

Voiceover:

Thanks for listening to the Improve Your Workflow Podcast. If you enjoyed the podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes. Go to www.digitalpigeon.com/reviewpodcast for more info, and we'll add you into our monthly draw to win a Digital Pigeon T-shirt. Bye for now.


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