In recent years, everything has been slowly going to the cloud. iCloud hasn’t really lived up to what Apple wanted it to be, and a lot of independent cloud services can seem clunky and proprietary as you need a special program to access them. One cloud-based system that has really proven to be useful and beneficial for a lot of companies is Google Drive. Google Drive is the name for the ‘storage’ aspect of the software, but altogether, Google has a lot of things that integrate with it to make it one of the most powerful resources on the web. Google Spreadsheets, Google Documents, and Google Forms are something that I use every day with my business, and I couldn’t be happier with the flexibility it offers and the benefits from having everything safely in the cloud.
Mac or PC, iOS or Android
I, like many DJ’s, won’t trust performing at weddings and events on a PC laptop. If you use a PC, definitely no disrespect to your choice, but for me, OSX offers the stability and reliability that I feel I need to alleviate stress. I am bilingual in the sense that I use Mac and PC on a daily basis and have both at home. I also use an iPad with iOS and my phone is an Android phone. So really, I use literally all of the popular operating systems depending on the task.
One of the best ways to keep all of this stuff in sync is Drive and the Drive app for OSX. I use an iMac for most of my “work” at home, from emails to contracts, to writing this tutorial/blog post. When I make an edit to a contract, the Drive app detects that I’ve made a change, and it will quickly sync my local files on my iMac with the files that are in the cloud. I’ve taken all of my documents folders and have synced them with the cloud so at any moment in time, I can open my Android phone, and reference a contract and/or send an attached file via Google Drive without having the files locally on my phone. This is great for on-the-go customer service!
Buying some Drive Space
Most everyone I know is using some form of Gmail. If you are a larger company, using Google Apps (rebranded to Gsuite by Google) for business is a great thing to consider as it will keep your and your employee’s calendars and email all in sync and working seamlessly with URL based emails. As an independent user, however, as most event DJ’s would most likely be, the first thing you can do to leverage the power of Drive is to invest in some cloud space. Personally, I find the 1 TB plan to be enough. The fee is $9.99 a month, for an entire terabyte in the cloud! If you compare this to Apple’s iCloud pricing and various other services, you really can’t go wrong. This also will allow you to sync up your photos with your drive space, for even more flexibility for Android users.
I absolutely love Google Forms and I’ll tell you exactly why, and how it relates to running my entertainment business. First off, I’ll have to divulge that I am not a huge fan of the contact forms on DJ Intelligence or DJ Event Planner. While there are some customer management tools that I admit can be helpful, the forms themselves do not inherit the CSS (styling code of your website) and there isn’t much in the way of customization of these forms. It can leave your form looking very old school and ‘HTML’ on your website, and even worse, the response is an email reply that can leave your inbox feeling a bit messy. If you use a form that is built into WordPress or WIX for example, you most likely will get an email responder, as well as you’ll have to log into the backend of your site (or event software like DJ Intelligence) to see the responses in list format.
Google Forms allows you to create a custom form, choose from a decent list of styling (still not the greatest and when it comes to looks, having it as a WordPress plugin is going to be your best bet). But here is the great part of Google Forms: all of the responses are put into a Spreadsheet into your Google Drive account for quick reference and organization. Google Spreadsheets are an awesome way to organize and keep track of information.
You can take the information that was put into the sheet from your forms response, and then make additional fields, tabs, and make notes like “responded” or “referred by” so you can ensure that you are reaching out to those who have referred you and thanking them for doing so. Personally, I am a big fan of going to ONE spreadsheet for all of this information and hitting ctrl or command + F and doing a quick Find. From there, I can type in a name, a venue, a wedding date (to see if others have inquired for the same date for example) and quickly manage and organize the information of my leads. You can even take the entire “email” column, and very quickly input that into your mailing list. You can color code those who have gone in another direction for example, or just about any other helpful thing you can think of that Spreadsheets are capable of.
Using Google Drive and Documents for your “planning forms”
Most event DJ’s I know have a lot of different ways of organizing the abundance of information that is necessary to perform an event. For me, I have a folder on my Google Drive that is labeled as “Planning Forms” and each event, I put in the timeline from the event planner, the layout document from the planner or venue or rental company, and the music notes from my event planning software into the same folder. This way I everything I need on my Android phone, and my iPad Mini when I am at an event. Since I use the Google Drive for OSX app on my iMac and Macbook Pro, when I make the edits to the documents at home on my iMac, the forms get updated across ALL of my devices instantly, and there isn’t much else to do.
One tip if you are using a wifi-only tablet, is to go into the Drive app and be sure to ‘tick’ each file that you want to have as an offline file. This allows you to essentially download the file to your tablet to have if there isn’t an internet connection.
I am a huge fan of having this information on a tablet as opposed to printed paper. Sure, you can take a pen and draw on the paper, but really I rarely need to do that as I am very detailed in the planning process of my events. Tablets do not blow away in the wind, they glow in the dark, and they allow for a quick pinch to zoom for reading print that might be too small. The wedding planners that I work with on a regular basis have gotten so used to me having all of the content ready to go for them, that they many times will come to me and ask to see my tablet because they left their clipboard elsewhere and they wanted to reference something. That sort of reliability and consistency is key in getting people on your team!