Going on maternity leave for the second time in 12 months (Yep, my kiddos are very close together. Yep, I am crazy. Yep, I am very very tired.) I decided that I needed to cut down on my online business costs this time around.
Last time I just let everything renew and didn’t bother cancelling all my subscriptions, basically I was just throwing money out the window. This time I vowed to really bootstrap my business expenses to the bare minimum.
So if you’re in a position where you need to take a break, you’ve read the barefoot investor or you just want to cut some costs for a bit here are my tips.
Swap out paid, for free
You will be surprised at how much software and services you can get for free these days, especially when you’re starting out. Some people may think of it as a step backwards but in most cases some of the free stuff out there is amazing and the paid stuff you probably don’t even use all the features anyway!
If you’re a creative, you’re probably going to be shocked by this, design purists look away. But I let Adobe Creative Cloud go. $80 a month was a big chunk of my business expenses and I was getting a bit peeved with the fact it just would randomly increase without much warning (I started on $30 a month). As I am not a print designer I am lucky enough to have access to the plethora of tools out there for us web designers (I’ll be checking out Sketch and Figma). In the mean time, for social media graphics I’ll be using what I recommend to all my clients and students Canva.
I let go of my project management software Basecamp and moved over to Asana (it’s free for what I need).
I cleaned out my email marketing list (removed everyone who had never ever opened an email) and moved it back to a Mailchimp free plan (from ConvertKit). And automation is now free in Mailchimp!
If you look hard enough you’ll find something that is possibly free or more affordable that will do exactly what you need.
Cancel all the things you don’t need
When you sit down and really look at what is coming out of your bank you may find that you’ve got some random things still taking money.
I had heaps of premium plugins that I had used for clients who had moved on and were not paying me to renew them, so I cancelled them. It worked out to be close to $1000 a year I was paying, all because I wasn’t taking notice.
Check your payments and see what you can ditch.
I have an accounting system that I use and the plans are based on the amount of invoices I send. Whilst on leave I wouldn’t be invoicing so it seemed that this was an easy decision to drop it down. This obviously wont work if you still have to send loads of invoices, but take a look at what plans you have maxed out and what you can downsize if possible.
When my phone comes up for renewal in a few short months, I’ll be re-contracting and not upgrading my phone. This is going to cut my bill by two thirds. If I am smart and wrangle a good data bundle, I may also be able to get rid of the cable internet (because Australia’s fibre internet sucks right now).
Pay in advance
Sometimes if there is a service that offers monthly or yearly fees, the yearly fee is a better deal. If you know that it’s something you will need for that time period definitely try to wrangle the discount.
Obviously this may be a cashflow issue but in the long run you’ll be better off if you can save a few dollars here and there.
Hands up if you are one of those people who has a random idea and then decides to go and buy half a dozen domain names just because they are available *raises hand*. Then spends 5 years just letting the auto renew happen because, you know, one day you’ll have time to implement it. If this is you, implement it now, or let it go. I jumped into my domain console and turned off auto renew on about a dozen domains. $10 here and there isn’t much but it definitely adds up.
The things I didn’t drop
Whilst I was on maternity leave I still needed to keep my business ticking over. My Digital Alchemy course is evergreen and uses Video from Vimeo, I needed to keep paying the $12 a month to keep that up and also the hosting for my websites (as I have a few clients on my plan as well). I also kept my website backup system, just in case.
Whilst there are loads of tools that could potentially help streamline your business, I am a big believer that if it requires some kind of monetary exchange then you must wait for it to hurt. Don’t fall for the shiny object, just because some big shot internet superstar is using it with the expectation that it will turn you into a big shot internet superstar (I see clients do this all the time). Ask yourself is it essential to my business before adding another expense.
As I am heading out of the baby bubble and back into work mode, I am going to try and stick to my bootstrapping ways. I’ll be a lot more conscious of logging into Paypal or whipping out the credit card from here on in.
How do you save money in your business? Leave a comment below.