[UPDATED 7th of November 2021]
Some links in this articles are affiliate links. it means the brand is thanking me for sharing the love, at no cost to you. I only recommend tools I love and use/have used. They will be marked by a *.
If you are not getting paid, you may have a costly hobby, and for sure, you cannot be sure your idea is viable if no-one is ready to pay for it.
Setting up shop requires a few big important blocks (the order depends on the type of business you're keen to create, the assets you may already have and the laws of the country you are in):
- have an idea
- research and validate the idea
- check the legalities to create the business
- set-up the business
- set-up your business bank account
- find your offer (s)
- find your audience (knowing that they are intertwined with the offers and both will evolve over time)
- see how you can best deliver your services
- find the best way to getting paid
- find the tech to support you
- build your audience/list
Getting paid is a VERY important step obviously. Having the right set-up can boost sales and minimise energy drain, or time wasted in client communication. A couple years back, adding the Paypal option raise the sales of my workshop 50%. It sounds big because of the numbers of people who registered, but it can be a significant amount for you and that is what matters.
There are a few ways to set that up depending on your offers and at which stage you are in your business.
1. Minimal. No investment needed to start.
- Payment tools
Paypal, Stripe and GoCardless are your friends. They have a fee, but it's pay as you go. You don't have to pay anything to get started so it's really good when you want to start lean to test your idea.
It is largely used and people are used to the platform. It's not always playing nice with businesses, so as anything, it's not perfect. You can create invoices, get paid for one-off or monthly subscriptions. It also connect to plenty of tools you might want to use (invoicing or booking software for example).
Another great option for people starting. It connects to plenty of tools as well. You can send links for people to pay you, whether for one-off or monthly subscriptions. For some options, you may want the help of someone that is used to it as it can look a bit techy at first glance. Same as Paypal, it's an old timer tool, so it integrates well with plenty of tools you may use in your business.
It is great for retainers, packages and monthly subscriptions. You can also set-up one-off but because the platform is based on Direct Debit, it can be confusing for people.
These tools creates links so you can use them in emails, on your site...and connected to other tools, which brings us to....
*Revolut Business is a bank and now has a Merchant option built in. Really nice client experience, really simple to set-up and send a link for people to pay.
They also have a free plugin if you want to add it to your WordPress website via WooCommerce.
They apply a fee (3% I believe, as of today) but again, business has a cost, and depending where you are at, it can be a tool that helps you sell 10times more. I use it for some clients, as it allows me to create links from my phone, in a few currencies. It's really handy for spontaneous custom work dropping in my DM.
- Services, membership or workshops system
It allows you to be paid for all these and without paying a subscription. You need at least one of the above tool to get paid (Paypal or Stripe) that you connect to the platform.
It allows you to create easily an event, with a place to put your workshop Zoom link to access it after payment.
You can manage your simple membership payment or use the "Extra" for sessions, if you put a link to your free calendar booking tool for example in the "thank you" page.
You can also use it to allow podcast listeners or your Youtube audience to send you money to "buy yourself a coffee" to thank you for your content creation like I do here on my Buy Me a Coffee page.
- WordPress plugins
If you have a WordPress site, you can have buttons on your site to set "products" or services and get paid. There are a few options, more or less complicated. It's good to have a chat with someone who knows them if you have a doubt in how to set that up.
WooCommerce and Stripe plugin for example allow you to start receiving payment or create an online shop. WooCommerce is super powerful and like this Stripe plugin has many paid add-ons to get even more options. They connect to your Stripe and Paypal accounts.
It's a platform for courses but I know people using it for their coaching clients or their membership as well. It hooks up with Stripe and Paypal and let you accept payments, including instalments or subscriptions in any currency. Really handy. You can start for free with 3 products then upgrade to get more.
2. Low cost "getting paid" booking tools to facilitate delivery of your services
Having these payments links is great, but often, you need to deliver something after this payment.
That's where things can get more complicated for many small business who don't really like tech.
Maybe you need to let people book a call with you or join a group call or a workshop. Nowadays, it's easier and easier as many tools are being created to help you with this, for free as listed above or a low cost.
Often, we need a system to book discovery calls and sessions. If you really just start and have very little need, Calendly is super useful. Free option to start with, and a low cost option if you need paid sessions. I love how clean Calendly is. It hasn't got all the bell and whistle of other tools but it's very easy to use both for clients and yourself.
Be careful though, you cannot sell packages through Calendly (at the time of publication of this blogpost at least). If you want to sell coaching packages, you may want to invest in the next tools.
This is the tool I'm been using for a couple years. it allows for the usual paid sessions but also packages or group calls. You can see how it looks for example here for my Connection call options.
It's also easy to hide some services or deactivate them.
Another booking tool that offer different pricing options depending what your needs are. I bought a lifetime deal long time ago and use it now for French speaking people I am connecting with on Clubhouse at the moment.
It's worth having a look at all three and see what is best for you depending what you are offering and need.
Really a good option when you want to sell workshops as well as appointments, you can't deactivate services, so it can be a bit annoying if you offer things on and off, as it means you have to recreate them. It's prettier than Acuity and allow you to have mini sales page that can be more than enough when you start.
3. Checkout systems
If you are past the testing stage and are ready to have a system that helps you do various offers quickly & easily, that allows for upsells and downsells, and has a smooth connection to your autoresponder, it may be time to invest in a check-out tool.
I've been using *Thrivecart for clients and really appreciate the ease and power of it. (if you use my link, I offer a walk through, 60mn of me helping you set your first product and connecting to your Stripe and Paypal account.)
It allows to tag automatically people who buy so that they get a special automation (which makes onboarding and offboarding so much easier) or to send you an email if someone cancels a subscription for example.
New tool I discovered chatting with other OBM. This one allows you more variations in the kind of payment plans you want, allows to start without a big investment as there's a monthly option.
Cons is... it's a monthly subscription, so it can cost more than Thrivecart, and it won't allow the same tagging in Active Campaign that I adore in Thrivecart, but not everyone use the same tools or need the same thing. It's a good option for many people
- WordPress + WooCommerce
If you already have a WordPress website and someone to help you set-up the plugin or if you are a bit tech-friendly, this combo works well. It's an old-timer so you can trust it and the ecosystem it's from.
Make sure you have an install of WordPress.org on a self-hosted site, I don't think WordPress.com allows what you need for business.
WooCommerce is free to start and has a gazillion plugins to make it exactly what you want, some free, some paid.
All-in-one Tools for Coaches and Consultants
Last but not least, if you are a coach or sell various services, you may love these tools. They have a cost that is bigger than the scheduling software but do a lot more, so that can end up being cheaper if yo are paying for other tools, for proposals or contracts...
Plus, they help you save time, and makes you look good. Calculate what your hourly rate is and if the monthly cost can be easily recouped or not to decide for these.
They let you do a really smooth onboarding, with contracts, payments checkout, booking options and clients notes all included. (Always double check details, these apps change their features, so things can have changed between the time I've written this and the time you want to sign up)
- *Dubsado - a classic. sturdy and efficient. You can have 2 "brands", which will be useful if you have 2 sides to your business, or trade in 2 languages. Free for the first 3 clients. (You get 20%off with my link of your first invoice)
- Honeybook - Similar to Dubsado, low cost monthly for the first 10k of revenue.
- *Paperbell - TONS of features, gorgeous design, possibilities to have A/B week for booking (really useful if you have your kids every other week for example).
- *Willowspace - great for many people who want a simple and neat way to track and communicate with clients. Not as much possibility for now compared to Dubsado, but it can be working in 10mn set-up and woudl be enough for many people. It has also loads planned feature-wise. (Get $20 off with my link)
It's all about seeing what helps you NOW, what is good enough now, what is supporting you at this stage and what allows room for your growth.
Sometimes, being scrappy is the right thing, sometimes, you know you are ready to invest to boost sales.
So, what do you have now? Are you happy with your solution or struggling a bit?
I am planning VIP DAYS and a group offer to help you with this crucial part of your business. If you are not already on my list, hop on below, you'll be the first to know about them!