This episode features the two sides of freelancing—working as a freelancer or working with a freelancer.
Our guest is Brooke Markevicius. She’s the founder of Allobee, a freelancer marketplace that serves parents who want to support their families with flexible freelance careers, and the micro small businesses that hire them.
Brooke shares the lessons she’s learned while creating the Allobee platform. She also discusses how people can start and grow their own freelance businesses and how small business owners can earn the greatest ROI working with the right people at the right time.
- Be intentional with the name of your business. Have a name that is unique enough for you to be easily found on search engines, can be claimed in social media, and has a good story behind its creation.
- Starting a freelance business isn’t easy. The first few months consist of a lot of trial and error as you discover your sweet spot and services niche.
- Price to meet your short-term goals first. Consider your experience, available time, and the needs you have now when determining your price. Then raise your rates when it’s justified.
- Be realistic with your time. Understand that you need to buffer time for life and unexpected events, and allow time to manage your business outside of the specific projects you’re working on.
For those hiring freelancers
- Know when it’s time to hire a freelancer. When all the hats you’re wearing in your business start to fall off, you know it’s past due.
- Speed up the onboarding process. Document your processes (record a Loom video for example) to make it easier for any freelancer to get started quickly.
- A bookkeeper makes for a great first hire. Knowing your numbers becomes easier when you have a specialist work your numbers for you.
- An automation specialist makes for a great second hire. Hire a freelancer to set up a few critical systems in a defined period of time, which will save you time month after month.
- Start your relationship with a Scope of Work. A clear SOW document or email keeps both sides of the relationship clear on what’s expected and how the project is tracking.
- Allobee virtual assistant platform
- Brooke on Instagram
- Allobee on TikTok
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Who is Brooke Markevicius
Bob Sparkins: Brooke, thank you so much for joining me for our episode of the Lead Generation today.
Brooke Markevicius: Of course. I’m so excited to be here and see you again.
Bob: We have two things in common that I would love to just kick off for everybody. One is that I used to live just down the road from you in North Carolina. But more importantly, we both have history education degrees from our respective universities. As we get started here, talk to us a little bit about, what did you learn in that educational world of yours that you still use today in business? Because I know myself and many people listening, they might have a teaching background or somehow in the world of education, and jumping to entrepreneurship can be a bit of a leap. So what lesson have you learned from that back-in-the-day work at Appalachian State and coming into entrepreneurship?
Brooke: Yeah, for sure. Well, I always tell everybody that the best freelancers are teachers, and business owners in general, because you’ve literally worn all the hats as a teacher. You definitely were all of the things and more, probably way more than even some of us business owners are today. But I think the number one for me was project management. You just had to manage your teaching schedule, you had multiple classes, you were jumping from civics and economics to world history and back to US history on a regular basis. And then just keeping that plan rolling and having a lesson plan every single day and being able to adapt and change if school was out, and then always constant iteration.
And then also just in general, history, I think, is such a great thing to learn when you’re going to college because it’s that cause and effect, and making sure that you’re looking into what’s actually happening before you go take action. I think it’s just a really great way to utilize that in your business and that experience, for sure.
Bob: Very cool. After you graduated from your undergraduate, you did some work out in the real world before going to Boston University. That’s a really interesting path for a lot of folks, because some of them will just jump to entrepreneurship, some of them will go through a career for decades. You’ve obviously done a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Talk to us a little bit about that transition as you made your way through to deciding what you want to be when you grow up.
Brooke: Yeah, I definitely … This was not what I thought I was going to be when I grew up, for sure. My parents still make fun of the fact that I wanted to be a marine biologist forever, because we went on some boat trip and learned about jellyfish. But obviously, I didn’t go in that direction. But I’ve been a super curious and inquisitive person, which I think led me into entrepreneurship eventually.
But specifically after I graduated, and I graduated in 2008, in the recession, and there weren’t even teacher jobs that were really prominent. So I ended up actually teaching at a school that was for kids with extreme behavior and emotional issues for a while. That was a great experience and really taught me a lot about myself and my own grittiness, which would help me later in entrepreneurship. And then I did some work in nonprofit.
And then I found that I had always loved tech. I was the one fixing everybody’s computer and tech issues. And I also was pretty burned out of nonprofit work, and so I decided to go back and get my degree at Boston University.
I always tell people that you never know where those little dots are going to lead you one day, and they all connect in some way. I definitely think that every single part that I encountered in my career has led me to where I am today, whether the nonprofit experience helps me with any of our nonprofit clients that come in, or just the whole idea of impactful business and making an impact in the world. All of it came from my previous background, or the history bit with project management. But we learn from all of those experiences, and they help us to get where we’re at today.
The Birth of Allobee (and Its Meaning)
Bob: Perfect. We’re going to talk about both sides of freelance universe today with Allobee and what you’ve started and where it is, where it’s going. Before we get into the tactics of both sides of that, I would love for people to understand a little bit more about what is that mission that you have with Allobee, and how did the name come about?
Brooke: Yeah. After I got my grad degree, I got a job at Postmates when they were at their series B. I loved the gig economy. I loved the fact that you could get work for a really quick gig and it was really flexible.
I had always had a side hustle throughout high school, college, and into my career. I really was intrigued by it. But then I had my daughter and I needed flexible work, and I didn’t want to work 70 to 80-hour work weeks for a startup. That was not very friendly for a new mom. So that’s really where my experience came from for why I started Allobee.
But I started freelancing, and I worked predominantly for these micro businesses and nonprofits that were really small and overwhelmed and time-poor, and they needed support. So that’s really where the idea for Allobee came from.
And our name is pretty unique. It’s totally made up. We needed a name that would show up in all of the search engine optimization, but also be something we could claim across social media. That’s always a fun thing as a new entrepreneur, to name your business.
I’d always been really intrigued by this concept of alloparenting or allomothering, which is what elephants do. When a mama elephant has a baby, the whole heard of elephants takes care of that baby while the mom recovers and as the baby grows up.
I feel like here at Allobee, we really take care of these newer businesses and these smaller businesses that need that herd or that extra support. We’re here to do that here at Allobee for our business owners.
And then our bees are our worker bees. So we needed something to add to Allo, because actually Google-owned Allo.com. So we needed to add a little extra in, and I’ve always been a fan of bees. I love everything that has to do with them, and I felt like since we were a predominantly female workforce that we’re pretty underestimated, yet we have a powerful sting. So that’s where the name Allobee came from.
Bob: Awesome. I love that story. I obviously got to hear that before when you opened up the Minneapolis market for Allobee not too long ago. It was great to be there. Thanks especially for the mug, for those of you watching onscreen.
Brooke: Of course.
Finding Clients as a Freelancer
Bob: Now let’s talk about the two sides of Allobee. First thing, before we talk about the Allobee way of helping people find freelance work, when you were trying to do freelance originally, what did you struggle with? How did you find clients so that you could take care of your daughter and have a good income while you’re also being a full-time mom?
Brooke: Yeah. When I first dove head-in, I was pretty lucky because I had some technical skills, which kind of helped me to stand out in the freelance environment, because so many people, and especially females, are not as attracted, for whatever reason, to the more technical side. So I was able to help support especially nonprofits and small businesses that were really needing some extra support with their technology, specifically web design, or if it was a female founder, getting their MVPs out into the world.
But what I found is that I didn’t really like the platforms that were out there. You had to consistently be on them. You had to test into them. It was really time-consuming to get up and running. And then if you were just coming in and out of needing jobs, it wasn’t very flexible for somebody that wanted less than 20 hours a week to interact on those platforms. It was really made for people that were going to be on there hardcore, all the time, trying to get work. And that’s just not what I wanted for my flexibility as a freelancer.
So that was one of the reasons that I created Allobee the way I did, is that I wanted a platform that were specifically for the flexibility of a caregiver or a parent, that they could come in and get work when they wanted to and not worry about it when they didn’t, and we were still there when they needed it again, and there wasn’t that barrier to enter which a lot of platforms had. So that was one thing that I really wanted to make sure that was handled, that headache was off of their plate.
And then the other big thing that I struggled with was, I didn’t have a huge network. I was coming from nonprofit and then into grad school. I didn’t know a lot of business owners. So it was appealing to me, these marketplaces that were out there. I just didn’t really like how they operated. So I wanted some work brought to me and curated into my workflow.
So that’s one of the reasons we added in the ability to get jobs within the Allobee platform.
Skills in Demand for Freelancers
Bob: Awesome. As you mentioned, you’re specifically targeting moms who want flexible work, who have professional backgrounds of some level. What are some of the skills that you see are in high demand within the Allobee platform that people could be strengthening of their own skillset?
Brooke: Yeah. A lot of times we get former teachers and healthcare workers and women that have been at more mid-level jobs in corporate America that are really great at transitioning into an executive assistant role or virtual assistant, marketing assistant, bookkeeping, or early web design. So really those support areas that come with a business. These are going to be the implementers.
We’re really good at implementing here at Allobee. So you bring the strategy, or we can help you get the people that can get you the strategy, and then we will be there to take those tasks off of your plate.
We are all here in the United States, all of our freelancers right now, and some in Canada. And we really focus on making sure that you get to stay in your zone of genius so you can get that work done and save that time. And we really want to make sure that our freelancers are able to save that time as well, so they can spend time either caregiving or taking care of their family or doing what matters to them.
And a lot of men have become caregivers during the pandemic, as well as a lot of people that are late Millennial and past generations, now their parents that are Baby Boomers are retiring or getting ill and aging, and they’re needing to step into caregiving. So flexible work is a huge issue in the United States, and we need to be on top of it. So that’s what we’ve really tried to focus here at Allobee, is to niche into that area.
Common Myths of Freelancing
Bob: For the people who are freelancing … Again, we’ll talk more about how to hire a freelancer better, how to work with a freelancer better in a few minutes. But for those that are doing the freelancing, or wanting to become a freelancer, what is a misconception that people may have that you are on a mission to help them be educated about so they can have a nice, strong freelancing career even if it’s 10 hours a week or 50 hours a week? But what’s a misconception that they may have?
Brooke: Yeah. I think one common misconception about starting freelancing in general is just that it’s going to be easy. It’s not easy. I think we should all just put that out there right now. It’s not an easy thing.
And it’s a business, too. Whenever you’re starting a business for yourself, it’s not going to be an easy thing. I think it’s one that you have to continue to harness why you started that. You shouldn’t start it lightly. And I didn’t when I started either. I knew that this was going to be a huge undertaking, but something that I was willing to do because I wanted that flexibility and freedom.
So I think number one, know it’s not going to be easy. But also, know that there’s support out there and that you can get that from platforms like Allobee and others resources out there.
I think the other common misconception is that you just have to go into one area as a freelancer. Normally when you start you’re going to have to take a lot of different kinds of jobs to, one, get your footing in freelancing, and two, figure out who that ideal client is that you want to work with, and then really to make some money in the beginning, to prove to yourself that this can happen.
So you’re not going to have the really cushy freelance gig on month one. Probably not even for the first six months to a year. It’s really a lot of trial and error. So I try to make sure that people feel supported in that, that we’re here to help you with that, but also be realistic about what you’re getting yourself into, and know that it is going to be an undertaking.
Pricing Strategies for New Freelancers
Bob: Yeah. I love the transparency behind that, because I do think in all areas of marketing, business podcasts, you do a podcast, you listen to podcasts, you know that it seems like the success can come in an instant. That can happen, but it’s super rare. But the idea is to have at least some degree of shortcut, and not feel like you have to do it all on your own. So my next question around that would be, I often see freelancers really struggle when it comes to pricing. I’d love for you to talk for a minute about, for that relatively newer freelancer, first few months, how should they be approaching pricing in a way that pays the bills, but also get them good clients that they can work with for a while?
Brooke: Yeah, for sure. This is the number one question we get asked, and one of the reasons we set up our platform the way that we did. So I probably will take a very contrarian statement on this. I am not pro-charge a lot of money as a freelancer. I think one of the reasons is because I specifically, and we do at Allobee, target micro-businesses, and micro businesses cannot pay a premium amount of money for a freelancer. Also, you need to know, is this your full-time gig, or is this something that is a side hustle? There’s different areas of what you’re going to be able to put into depending on what your goal is.
And specifically for setting a price, we scope out work and set prices at Allobee to take away that headache from you. So you know exactly what you’re going to get paid for that project, or hourly, and we tell the client, we handle it, and get it all set up. Or we have the ability to set up on-demand jobs, where the pricing is specifically listed per hour.
So at Allobee, we tell you exactly how much the average is to be charging for this specific type of task. It’s usually in the mid-range. We’re pretty good at being about the middle range of that service and that pricing here at Allobee. Not the lowest, for sure.
But I think one of the things that you need to look at is reverse engineering. What do you need your monthly amount to be to make this work? If you’re adding it as just 10 hours a week and it’s going to be extra money for your family or for you as a business owner, great. Then you know that this is going to be extra money for you.
But if you need to make $2,000 a month, then you need to make sure that you figure out a way to do that. That might involve you having a higher rate, because you can only take on so many clients during a 10-hour-a-week or 15-hour-a-week time that you have to work. So you need to make sure that whatever it is, you can hit that goal.
Sometimes that means having extra revenue streams and getting creative with ways to bring in money. But if you start too high, too soon, when you don’t have enough to back that … So you need a portfolio to back it if it’s a more technical or design element position. And you also need references and testimonials to be able to share to lock in those jobs. So you probably have to go a little bit lower than you want to at the beginning.
But don’t feel afraid to, in a month or two, once you’ve got some work under your belt, up that price. One thing that we provide at Allobee is a template for you to increase your prices. It’s really plug-and-play but sounds really great, and it takes away that pressure of … You know, all you have to do is put in the number. You don’t have to write the whole email. Just get it out there. Because a lot of times, especially females, we struggle with charging our worth. So this usually helps a lot with that.
Managing Time as a Freelancer
Bob: Some of the people that are getting gigs on Allobee, and maybe other platforms, they’ll likely have three, five, maybe 10 clients. They could have a wide range or just one focused one. How do you encourage your folks to manage their time so that they deliver a good service in a right amount of time for the clients that they’re working with?
Brooke: Yeah, for sure. One thing that we do is, you can’t have more than 30 hours of work on our platform at Allobee. We encourage you to be more realistic about how much you actually can take. So we try to manage what we can at Allobee without going over that amount.
We also do an activity with our freelancers when they first come onto Allobee to talk about setting up that time management. It’s something that we come back to every few months at Allobee, is just looking at, zooming out, what do you … Going back to that monthly revenue goal, honestly, every single time. It’s like, how much do you need to make? How many clients or projects does that equate to? And do you actually have the time and bandwidth to do that? And preparing for those ebbs and flows, I think, is really important. So I just encourage people to really get realistic, and always buffer time in. You should always have extra time per week in case a client emergency comes up or something comes up that you can’t handle.
And one thing that I would say is my best tip for all freelancers is be proactive in your communication with your client. Do not tell them Friday at 5:00 that you can’t make a deadline for Saturday morning, or whatever it is. Give them a heads-up. Even if you’re not going to make the deadline, they’re going to be much more appreciative and okay with it if you just tell them ahead of time.
So I always encourage our freelancers to do that, whether you’re getting … because we had this a lot, because people got sick with COVID during the first two years especially of our business. But you know, maybe you’re going on maternity leave, or you’re preparing for a vacation. Whatever it is, people want to work with you to make it work. It’s just you need to be proactive in your communication.
Hiring Your First Freelancer as a Small Business Owner
Bob: All right, let’s switch gears now to the other side of the table, to the folks that are listening to this interview and they need to hire somebody to do some work for them. First question is, what’s a sign that it’s time to work with a freelancer in your business?
Brooke: Yeah. I just did a funny TikTok that I’m posting later about wearing all of the hats in your business. When you feel that the hats are falling off, that is a very telltale sign that you’ve waited too long to actually get the support. But usually when every layer that you add on, every hat that you add on to your business, the more it takes away from your zone of genius and the thing that really makes you money in your business. So when you keep adding those on, it’s less and less percentage.
I know that McKinsey did a study several years ago that talked about just how little of a percentage of time a business owner actually has to work on revenue-generating activities. So every time you add something to it, it’s going to take away something else. So ideally, you add it as soon as possible when you’ve added those extra layers.
But usually what happens is, you get to the point where you literally can’t fit it into your week, and something’s got to give. Usually we wait that long as a business owner.
What I always suggest to people is, you can try it out on our website. It’s called the Sting List. But it’s really a time assessment, to go through your week or your month and look at everything that you’re doing, and then just setting a goal for when you can offload that from your plate. When can you outsource that? Is it something that can be done really quickly by making a short Loom video and sending it to somebody to take over? Or is it something that you need to put together a whole training plan on how to outsource this actual endeavor that’s in your business? So really looking at what that looks like for you and your business.
And then also, how much money do you have to actually outsource? Can you outsource just one project right now? Can you bring down 10 hours a month? What does that look like?
One of the reasons that we set up Allobee the way that we did is that we let you just get 10 hours in a six-week period of time, or 20 hours in a six-week period of time, because we know that in that first time that you’re outsourcing things it can be really scary to commit to a six-month commitment, a three-month commitment. You’re a newer business owner, and we wanted to take away that barrier to outsourcing in those early days of business, because it can completely transform your ability to grow and scale if you start getting those things off of your plate and you stay on those revenue-generating activities.
Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring Freelancers
Bob: Yeah. I think the budgeting factor is always a big question that I know freelancers have. I know I’ve had it in the past. My wife has it as an executive coach. She’s always thinking about which part of the plate can she shuffle. For those that are getting started in this area … I asked you the misconception for the freelancers. Flipside, for the person hiring a freelancer, what kind of thing do they usually get wrong initially, or they believe incorrectly, about hiring freelancers?
Brooke: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think the first one is how long it takes to onboard. I think that people think that it’s a really long process to onboard a freelancer, and it doesn’t have to be.
Going back to the concept of being proactive on everything in your business. One thing that you can be proactive of is as you’re setting up processes in your business, just make a quick Loom video, note it somewhere, so when you do need to outsource that, it could be as simple as sending somebody a Google Doc with a whole bunch of Loom videos and saying, “Take this over. I’m ready to go.”
So onboarding does not have to be this massive endeavor. I think that that’s one of the biggest misconceptions.
I think number two is, people do think it’s a lot more expensive than it is to get stuff off of your plate. One of the cheapest things that I always suggest people do is have their first outsource … Well, it could be one or two things. One is to hire a bookkeeper. It’ll be the best thing you ever did for your business. They don’t have to be insanely expensive. It depends on all of your needs. It could be as simple as a virtual assistant just helping with your invoicing, or something simple.
The second thing is that a lot of times business owners really feel like it’s going to cost a lot, but if you look at automation and the time that it would take you if you’re not a very technical person to set up an automation, maybe if you pay, like, just less than $500 to get a technical assistant to come set up a ton of automations in your business, you don’t have to pay them again. It’s already set up once, the automations work, and you’ve saved a ton of time in your business.
So you can always look at those things, what can I outsource one time that gives me the best ROI for that money? That’s my two tips there.
Bob: Awesome. Now, we’re obviously talking about business freelancers, but I do want to make a side note that my favorite tip on hiring, the first person to hire is a cleaner of your house.
Brooke: Oh my gosh, yes.
Bob: Get somebody into your home to take care of that once a week or once every two weeks. That just frees up that mental energy for five, six hours, whatever it happens to be. Again, we’re focusing on what can you replace time-wise so you can focus on those revenue-generating activities.
Revenue-Generating Activities to Outsource
Bob: I also think it’s obvious that there are some freelancers that are very good at helping you with the revenue-generating types of activities. We talked a little bit about the brain-sucking vampires of bookkeeping and cleaning your house, things of that nature. What would you say are some of the revenue-generating activities that you see successful freelancers that people can hire?
Brooke: Yes. One of our top sellers here at Allobee is our marketing assistant. This is the best one, I think, for revenue-generating activities, because content creation, copywriting, email marketing, all of that is time-consuming. It can be very great ROI, can have great ROI, but it’s really hard for us to stay consistent if we’re the only ones doing it as the business owner. So that is one of the top ones that our business owners love.
You can get a marketing assistant for less than … I think it’s about $500 for 10 hours. You usually don’t need that much, because if you have it all set up and you’re ready to go and you just hand it over, they can get a lot done in 10 hours. So all of our business owners that have hired marketing assistants have ended up being able to add another service because they started making more money, and they were able to add in a virtual assistant or get a website project done, or whatever it might be, because they were able to consistently get that revenue-generating activity concluded by someone else.
Bob: Yeah. I think it’s important if we’re talking, for those of you listening, that you might be on that circumstance right now where the budget is super tight. You’re hearing this, you’re nodding, because what Brooke is saying is hitting home for trying to look at where the numbers are going.
I would encourage you just to think about that timeframe of a person who can take over something of yours, can deliver a revenue-generating result, right? A lead magnet, a sales page, whatever it happens to be, before the credit card statement comes to pay what you sent in to Allobee, right?
So just be thinking about putting those pieces together and realizing just how fast the result can be with you working with an assistant as opposed to you trying to figure it out on your own, which usually takes two to three times longer, in my experience, than working with somebody else.
Brooke: Yes, for sure.
Bob: All right. Any comments on that? I don’t want to speak for you, but I think you would agree with a lot of that.
Brooke: I would just say too that one of the things that I love that I’ve had our freelancers help to set up for us too is, honestly, we’ll just give Leadpages a plug right now, but getting all of our lead pages set up, because that way we can see what’s working and what’s not. You’ve got to look at your numbers and your metrics as a business owner constantly.
And one of the things that I think is really important, if you’re wanting to have those revenue-generating activities occur, are you tracking it? Can you see how this is actually helping you? Because if you can’t see that, you’re not going to be able to know what that ROI is. So I’m a big proponent of making sure you look at your metrics. Have a Financial Friday or a Metrics Monday as a business owner, whatever you want to do, to make sure that you’re seeing how it’s impacting your business, or you won’t understand how beneficial outsourcing can be.
Avoid Common Communication Mistakes with a Virtual Assistant
Bob: One of the questions that I know we should ask, I should ask you, or we should talk about, is communication, because I think one of the biggest challenges a lot of folks have when they ask freelancers to do work is they think the person didn’t deliver, but it was mainly communication challenge, right? So talk to us a little bit about how can a business owner be really good at communicating exactly what they would like a freelancer to do so they can avoid the back-and-forth that may come from not that?
Brooke: Yeah. Going back to the early part of our conversation where I said one of the best things that I learned from teaching was project management. I think one of the biggest problems in freelancing and the whole freelance space is the lack of quality project management that goes into every project that’s done.
So one thing that we really push here at Allobee is, on your first call that you have with your both … This is for business owner and freelancer to listen to. You need to make sure that first call, you have established a scope of work. What is that scope of work?
You don’t have to write a whole SOW document and go all crazy, but just literally, what are the bullet points of what’s going to get done ideally, in an ideal scenario world, what are the deliverables going to be, and when should they be accomplished by? Make sure that that is set in stone for both you as the business owner and you as the freelancer, and that both people understand that that communication line is very clear from the very beginning.
And then check in with those. Like, have I delivered this? Are those things happening? And make sure that you’re tracking them.
We have weekly reports that go out at Allobee every Friday morning that show what’s been worked on during that week. Communicate that to your client, whether you’re using a platform like Allobee or not, because they need to be aware. If they don’t hear from you for three weeks, they’re going to start to question, are you doing the work that you’re supposed to, that I paid you for? And they’re going to start thinking maybe something’s wrong, even if it isn’t.
So just communicate. It can be a quick email to them. It can just be a quick Slack message, if that’s what you’re using, whatever it is. But just check in and make sure you’re on the same page consistently, or there will always be a problem at the end of the project.
Top Tools for Freelancers (and Those That Hire Them)
Bob: You’ve mentioned Loom a couple times as a way to help with showing people what it is that you’d like to get done. I’d love to ask you some of the other tool favorites that you have around both project management for the business owner, but maybe also for the freelancer themselves. What are some tools that they should have, or are we ready to get, because it’s a frequently asked connection with their business owner client?
Brooke: For sure. So, Loom should start paying me, because I always talk about them. But I literally use them every day. They tell me how many hours I’ve saved per week, and it’s a little bit ridiculous. But as a remote business and running a remote company, it is the best way to save yourself from being in a million meetings a week. So I highly suggest Loom.
But the other tools that I love, obviously Leadpages. That saves you a ton of time. And it’s so fast. I think one of the things that you want to look at at a digital pool you’re using for your business is, is it seamless and quick, or is it going to take away more time from my … If you can’t figure it out in less than 30 minutes, usually less than 15, you probably should scrap it and move on to something else. If it’s too complicated, move on and find something more simplistic.
Don’t go after that shiny new thing platform syndrome, or you’re going to really regret it in the end. We have so many clients that come to us and are like, “I heard about this on a webinar, and now I don’t know how to actually use it, and I’m not implementing it into my business.” So that’s usually an issue.
Also, we use ClickUp here at Allobee to run our team. I love it. I love the automation that’s a part of it.
We also have a million Zaps set up with Zapier, so that’s another one. And if you don’t understand how to get these automations and these things set up, hire a technical assistant to get it set up one time, it’s good, and leave it alone. But there’s so many out there.
I think the biggest thing that I look at when I go to any digital tool is, how many things does it integrate with? Does it integrate with everything that I’m already using? And the number one thing it should always integrate with in my mind is, however, you’re processing payments, because if you can’t have your mainstream of where your money comes in, the heart, in many ways, of your business, attached to all of these different tools, it’s not going to be very effective for you. So that’s usually where I tell people to start.
Bob: Cool. And last one about the tools. Asana, Trello, Notion, Basecamp. There’s all kinds of project management software platforms. A lot of freelancers will just need to do whatever the business owner has. But I know a lot of business owners, they need the guidance of, this is the tool that we recommend. Do you have one that you have settled on? That obviously may change, because this type of platform changes from year to year.
Brooke: For sure.
Bob: But anything that you recommend in that regard?
Brooke: Yeah. I have used them all. I also am totally a project management geek, so I have wanted to try all of them. I would say that oftentimes they’re too much for the early business owner. There are too many things going on. It’s too much. You don’t even usually have a team as an early business owner, or you have very few people. So I think when you’re looking at one, you really need to be honest about how many people do you have on your team, what does that look like.
Asana works really great for bigger teams. It is fabulous. I love it. I used it when we were at Postmates. I’ve used it in several other places that I’ve been. We used it originally with Allobee, and actually, funny enough, we hacked together our original platform, our project management. All of our projects were run through Asana. So it’s a very powerful tool.
But one thing that we really love right now is ClickUp. We use that actually for everything that we’re doing, and I love it. It’s just, it’s working for us at this stage of business. It’s a little bit more simplistic, has a lot of really great automations. So that’s what’s been really good for us. But it really depends on where your business … I think Trello is actually one of the better ones when you’re first starting. That’s my opinion. But it really just depends on where your business is and where you want to go with it.
One thing that we did at Allobee is, we only have a little bit of project management in our platform, intentionally. We could’ve added all that we wanted to, but we just have it very simple. You set your milestones, you set your scope, and your project is tracked, and then you have time tracking. We just kept the bare minimum to not overwhelm people. That’s what works for us right now.
Bob: That’s cool. My final question for you today, Brooke, is I imagine that as you’ve grown your business, as you continue to work at the next stages of what Allobee’s up to creating, that you run into challenges just like everybody else does. Is there a mantra or philosophy or quote or something that you turn to to remind you of either why you do what you do or just to get your head straight about the task at hand?
Brooke: Yeah. I actually just recorded a podcast on this that went live this week for Allobee, is that you have to know … At least for me, I have to know what impact I want to be bringing into the world. It goes back to, I think, my roots of where I started in my career in nonprofit, and I wanted to go into technology to create something that was tech for good. So it’s really easy to get stuck on the details and the things that might not be going right in your business, but you need to zoom out and zoom out every single week and look at what impact you made that week. What impact did you make that quarter, that year?
One thing that we recently did was look at how much money we had paid out to all of our freelancers since we launched. How much have we paid individual freelancers? Who was making the most money? Like, going into all of these things that were at the core of what my mission was. So it’s not always necessarily associated to your business, but what is your core mission as a person, too? Because if it’s not relating to that and they’re not jiving, you’re not going to feel good as a business owner. So for me, it was to get women paid for flexible work, and I still feel very confident that we’re on the path for that based off of our impact assessment.
But I think that’s one of the best things, is zoom out look at the impact that you’re making. And every little impact is important. Maybe you helped one client build a website or one client get set up in ClickUp. That’s a huge impact for that business owner. Own that, and make sure that it’s aligned with what you want to do in this world.
Bob: Love it. Obviously, in the show notes we have everything listed out for the resources we’ve mentioned today. But Brooke, do you have a preferred social channel where people can say hello and share some gratitude for what they picked up from today’s session?
Brooke: Yeah, for sure. You can follow me. It’s just my name, @BrookeMarkevicius. I’m probably the most on Instagram, just because I’ve had a pretty loyal but small following that has followed me throughout all of these random connect-the-dots that are still supporting me and Allobee. So that’s where you probably can get the most unfiltered who I am. We are really focusing on our TikTok, which is just @HireAllobee right now. So if you want to get some good educational and fun content as a freelancer or business owner, you can head over there.
Bob: Awesome. Thanks so much, Brooke.
Brooke: Of course. Thank you, Bob.
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