Working Within The Cloud With Google Docs

April 27, 2011  |  Articles, Edumification, How To Articles

At the end of December of every year I Audit my Voiceover Business and review all the earnings.

In the first few years the process was very amateurish. I would not put expenditures into account and so my main focus was on how much I made as opposed to the proper review of what is coming in vs. what is going out.

To make matters worse I was only auditing my earnings through PayPal. Not the payments made via bank transfer or via western union.

So obviously I needed to come up with a better way of tracking everything.

Working In The Cloud

The Cloud is an IT catch phrase that means storage on the Internet. But it doesn’t just mean storage as in keeping documents out there. It also includes the use of applications that are web based and therefore accessible from any computer with a browser anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

That makes internet based email clients like Gmail and hotmail part of the “Cloud” since you can access them and all the emails that they store from your browser.

That also makes twitter a part of the cloud since all your tweets are archived on their server.

So how does this fit into our story? Well quite simply I was making use of an application called Drop Box which helps synchronize your files over a number of PCs. So if you are like me you have a Work PC, a Home PC and a VO Work PC then you might want to share a file or a demo mp3 between all these different computers.

The Sync process is easy and setting up the application is a no brainer… all in all this is one of the tools that help streamline by business.

But there was one problem… If the file I was syncing was a Photoshop file then obviously I would need photoshop on each of the 3 PCs to be able to view that file. Since I am not that rich (to own 3 copies of photoshop) I am stuck only being able to view that file on my work PC.

Google In The Clouds With Diamonds

More specifically I was using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to schedule my voiceover sessions as well as keep track of my income through all different payment channels. (As of yet I have still not included my voiceover related expenditures). This turned out to be a problem because other than the obvious … I will need to have Excel installed on all 3 PCs to view the schedule. I also had to make sure that the dropbox applicaiton was runningn and that all files were synced.

So I had to rethink my strategy.

This came in the guise of Google Docs. Now Google Docs isn’t new… it’s been around for several years now but I never really found a use for it… until now.

You see I had an epiphany one day while walking back from Night Prayers (so around 8 pm) that maybe I should check out their online Spreadsheet system… maybe I can import my existing scheduling template and maybe instead of having to need to purchase another license of excel… I can just use their online spreadsheet system.

So I logged into my Gmail account… you’ll need one to access this service and clicked Documents:

This takes you to the Documents Center where you can chose to open a Document (like Microsoft Word) a Presentation (like Microsoft Power Point) a Spreadsheet (like Microsoft Excel) a Form, a Drawing or a Collection.

What I needed was a spread sheet so I clicked Created New > Spreadsheet like so:

Once the spreadsheet was open I can then import my Microsoft Excel sheet which I had worked with for a while into the Google Spreadsheet system.

The file imported without a hitch and I saved it.

I then found that there was a feature in Google Spreadsheets that I couldn’t find in Microsoft Excel (because honestly I’m an Excel idiot.. I don’t know a thing about using it professionally).  I found that I could duplicate the same worksheet several times within the same spreadsheet… which means that I can have the same spreadsheet contain all 12 months of the year in 12 separate worksheets.

This option might be available in Excel (to reiterate) but I could not find it and was afraid I would have  to recreate the same table every month.

So Far… So Good… So What?

So far having access to my schedule from any online PC has been perfect. I can:

  1. Update my voiceover recording schedule in seconds
  2. I can put in the amount I quoted for the job without having to reference the email or the billing software.
  3. I can review if a payment is pending, or completed and update the status easily
  4. I can include the name of the company or casting agency that hired me.
  5. I can include the contact person in the sheet so I know who the person who hired me was in that company (sometimes I get different account managers contacting me from the same company so I need to know who it was the hired me)

Etc. Etc. Of course there are some Cons to the issue like if your internet connection suddenly fails (like the 8 days it did for me and the majority of egypt during the Jan 25 Revolution). That means you are basically cut off from your documents.

Still… how often does that happen? and apparently Google has a way for you to save your docs offline using their GEARS plugin.

The applications in Google Docs are not as sophisticated as their Microsoft Counterparts… but at the end of the day… they are free. And that is a price tag I can’t argue with.

If you have a system to follow your schedule and payments let me know… maybe you’ll help out one of your fellow VOs reading this article streamline their business.

Taji


4 Comments


  1. Great nerdy post Taji! Helpful for voice overs too, because doing the books is sometimes a bit of a pain for people working for themselves.

    • Thanks, You know sometimes I think I might be a tad too nerdy for my readers. But I figure eventually they will find my articles helpful. Oh by the way could you send me a link to your book so I can add it to the resource section?! Thanks,
      Taji

      • On the contrary!
        Your article was incredibly insightful!
        In every financial book I’ve read they stress accounting as the fundamental business practice and business must have!
        I think sharing this information is the most important and least covered topic on the voiceover business.
        Coaches, books, all of them seem to skimp or miss this topic entirely.
        I would love to have a guy like you on my team!
        Thanks Taji, please hit me back so we can talk more about the business of voiceovers. I have a few questions.
        Regards,
        -Don Edward

  2. Taji,
    I’m glad you’ve found all the free Google apps to be helpful! I, too, use them heavily. I’ve used Calendar and Docs for several years and they’ve simplified my life. Google Calendar keeps things in order for me and my husband – we’ve created calendars for my business, my personal schedule, my husband’s business, his personal schedule, a joint scheduled calendar (for dinner with friends, trips, etc) and even added a few “public calendars” to keep track of our favorite football teams’ schedules. You can share access to a calendar via email invite and all of your calendars and those shared with you will display in one place (and you can sync all this to many smartphones as well.) Set reminders and the calendar will email you at a set time before any appointments you have scheduled. It’s been wonderful and headache free.

    As far as Google Docs goes, I also have used their spreadsheets for tracking billing. For quick visual reference, when I went in to mark payments I also would update the rows Red, Yellow or Green to show 30 days/15 days/new invoices so it was easier on my screen to spot someone late on a payment and to see what payments I should be expecting. I’ve started using “Billing” software in January, and it has a mobile app that syncs to my phone so I’m no longer using the cloud for invoices. However, the spreadsheets in docs are still home to my business expenses, as you noted you will do as well. I keep a copy of my ratecard in there for quick reference, as well.

    Keep the nerdy posts coming! You’re certainly in good company and hopefully others have some tips to share!
    Arielle

    ps
    I love Dropbox and a few of my clients have now switched over to using it for easy file delivery, too.