I am crazy about the Cloud. I do as much of my business up in the “cloud” as possible. One of my favorite cloud resources is Google Docs. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Why use Google Docs if I already have MS Word, Excel, etc.?” I like the simplicity, speed, and power of Google Docs. Plus, no matter where I am, as long as I have an internet connection, I can work on my documents. Also, it’s free, and I don’t have to worry about updating the software every year or two.
So, here are the five top ways I’ve been able to use it in running my business.
Proposals and contracts. I use the Document feature to write all the formal proposals I send to potential clients. I start with a template then adjust it accordingly. I can add pictures (like my logo in the header), tables, page numbers, page breaks, etc. When I’m ready to send it, I download it as a PDF and send to the client. Other formats you can save as include MS Word docs, RTF, ODT, Text and HTML.
Edit Logs. I use the spreadsheet feature to log the number of hours I spend on any project. This is an essential habit I think all filmmakers in business need to do. The spreadsheet I’ve created allows me to track total hours on a project, and I’ve even designed it so that I can track how long it takes to edit specific parts of a video (e.g. the opening, credits, color grading, revisions, etc.). I just enter the start and end times (using military time), and a formula calculates the exact time in hours and minutes. This is a great feature for you wedding and event filmmakers. I originally created this feature when weddings was our focus and I wanted to track how long each section of a wedding film took. You should have an idea how long it takes you to edit any particular project. The only way you can do that is if you consistently track that number. I create one spreadsheet for a year then track all the projects for that year in one document. Just like Excel, each project is a separate tab. Here’s the link to my template: http://bit.ly/ronseditlog.
Work Log. I am a classic case of the ADD-artist who can get easily side-tracked. After having one too many “discussions” with my lovely wife about my inability to stay focused and work effectively, I decided to create a document that allows me to track where I put my time each day. You’ll be surprised where you spend your time if you track it. It also helps you to see how many times a day you change what it is you’re doing. I’m a fan of block scheduling, so by tracking where I spend my time, I can evaluate how I’m doing. Here’s a link to my work log template: http://bit.ly/ronsworklog.
Budget Estimates. Whenever I need to create an estimate for a potential client, I calculate the numbers using this Google doc spreadsheet. I keep all the estimates in one doc. I can do a search within the document to easily find any particular estimate.
Internal Plans and Proposals. Our business plans, marketing plans, and any other internal proposals are created in Google docs. I can then share a document with my wife/business partner Tasra who can go in and make notes, changes, etc. It’s a great way to collaborate.
There are hundreds of free Google Doc templates you can start using as well. Just go to their main templates page. If you want to see the templates I have specifically created, here’s an easy bit.ly to remember: http://bit.ly/ronstemplates.
Other Google Apps
Google also has a powerful Presentation program (similar to PowerPoint) as well as a Drawing program. I don’t use those, but I could see myself transitioning to their Presentation program some time in the future.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about how we use another popular cloud app: Evernote.