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The Business Side of Color Guard

I found a cool thing today. But first, some back story.

I use to create and manage our incredible website. Over the years, it has grown and changed, streamlined and grown some more. And now, it's a beautiful full-service managerial service site. I do pay for a combo package subscription and because I have used this same service for so long I've been grandfathered in under the old price and it's glorious.

Over the years, they have added a lot of really great features to their point-and-click site designer system. A Facebook likes box, a YouTube subscribe button, a Twitter feed... Things that just sort of tie all of our online presence together in one place. When they added PayPal buttons I thought I was in heaven. It was a great solution to the issue of camp registrations that I was having! They then connected apps like Blogger and Google AdSense so that I could really tie everything up and make the online creations of our website work hard for us, earning a little bit of money on the side to help supplement our underfunded programs. But there are two apps in particular I want to gush over today...

The first one I actually started using a while ago and you probably have seen it already; the e-mail list. I used to have an e-mail service called FlashIssue connected to my Google mail account and it worked quite well for what I wanted. It allowed me to send one e-mail per month to a large list of people without getting flagged as spam, blocked, or blacklisted. It also allowed me to make the e-mail look pretty and have lots of information and links. However, because of the number of subscribers I had at the time (over 500) I had to pay a monthly fee of $15 to use the service. I let that go on for way too long until I realized it was somewhat of a cash leak on our bank account. Plus, they kept updating and changing in such a way that my templates would be no good after about a month or so and I would have to start from scratch. It was getting to be quite frustrating. Enter Wix ShoutOut. People can subscribe to the list by putting their e-mails in on the website, I can use the same template for each e-mail, and I can send up to 3 e-mails per month completely FREE. Well, I mean it comes with my Wix website of course... but yeah, it's all included so why on earth would I pay more?

The second app has been around for a little while, but I only recently felt like I had the time to actually even attempt to use it. It's called Invoices and that's basically all it is; an invoices app. Most of you color guard folks probably couldn't care less about this one but OMG. I haven't been able to find an invoices app that was free and easy to use OR a simple enough setup for what I wanted that I wouldn't mind paying a little bit for the service. So what did my stubborn self do? I created an Excel book that had pages for each member, tracked charges and payments, and took FOREVER to start new sheets or add payments and charges. Mostly because I kept having to flip through everything, copy addresses and such from registration paperwork, and so on. In fact, after our first weekend of rehearsal it took me four hours to input everyone's data and then add their charges and payments to get totals. I just thought "what on earth am I doing with all of this time?" So I finally buckled and checked out the Wix Invoices app. It was really quick to set up, even with putting everyone's information into it! It is also very easy because it sends the invoice directly to the recipient's e-mail address for me, thus eliminating the process I was using of sending individualized Facebook messages to every single member every single week. And probably the best part of all is that it's all hooked up to the Spintronix PayPal account, so payments can be made directly on the website. Genius. I have a feeling I am going to wonder how I lived without this app.

However, it's not entirely perfect. And I already gave some feedback on this point to the developers just because it's that important to me. Payments go in all lumped together under a category that just says "Payment." I can't seem to put in any dates, notes, check numbers, or anything else on the payments. They don't even show up as separate payments, and that was the one advantage my spreadsheet had over this program. If a student said "Hey, how much did I pay last week?" I could confidently say "This much." So I guess I'll just have to keep track of that separately now. Good luck to me on that. Ha!

<3 Jackie

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