How SmartSuite Revolutionized Our Content Creation Process
20 years ago, asking a classroom of children what they wanted to be when they were grown-up, you'd often get the response “fireman” or “teacher.” If you ask that same question to the youth of today, their answer is more likely to be a “YouTuber” or “streamer.”
Our company, Stream Scheme, began as a small project between friends who shared a passion for creating content and helping others do the same. We noticed that streaming platforms like Twitch and Facebook Gaming were rapidly growing in popularity, and we wanted to help aspiring creators navigate the complex world of live streaming.
We created detailed guides and tutorials for live-streaming platforms on our blog and YouTube channel to achieve this. Both mediums quickly gained traction, and we had over a million monthly readers a year from our launch.
As our audience grew, we began receiving personalized coaching and support requests. We saw an opportunity to help creators on a deeper level, and thus, we began offering coaching services to those who wanted to make a career of live-streaming.
To stay ahead of the curve, we began investing in new projects, primarily in the form of websites aimed at helping creators grow their audiences and build their brands on these emerging platforms. This required building a team and the proper tools to track our progress and manage new employees.
While finding the right tools was difficult on its own, trying to get all the data we needed to hit our desired traffic metrics and goals was a giant task. Even with integrations through Make.com, there were several instances where we would still need to manually sort through data on two or more platforms to find the results we sought, making us less efficient overall.
Describe the challenges we faced before implementing SmartSuite.
Explain how these challenges impacted our productivity, efficiency, and profitability.
As a relatively new company in the gaming industry with a heavy focus on education, we were constantly receiving outreach and proposals from brands wanting us to review or promote their products and services. As time progressed, we also ramped up our own outreach and began networking with other brand managers in the niche. We needed to effectively build an index of brands and contacts while also linking to pages of our website that were relevant to each.
While there are fabulous CRMs and task management systems on the market, they don’t always integrate with each other well, and when purchasing them (or subscribing to them) separately, business costs ramp up. There was no real way of tracking CRM things alongside the work we were doing on the websites. Emails/contracts/meeting notes were all kept separately and integrated later (or completely forgotten), creating more work.
To organize our content creation or optimization, we created ClickUp templates, which were far and away the best option available to us at the time. However, the templates were still bulky and appeared unorganized unless we manually copied/pasted things in a few places. This was compounded more when we needed to have some data that was only seen by certain people.
We also used subtasks but would then need to still constantly go through and search on a sluggish, buggy system. This made it tricky to find the info we needed, especially as new questions arose and we had to go through past data and manually create new ways to look at it. Templates would not "refresh" on tasks already created, meaning extra work would need to be done in order to get things "correct."
When we started hiring people, we needed a way to track the time they were spending on projects (and their weekly time overall). The ClickUp Time tracking was glitchy and took ages to load (or would not work at all on some computers), so we also needed to use another time tracker and chose Clockify. Clockify was supposed to allow us to be able to search for specific tasks so that we could see how long a specific task took (even if the employee started and stopped the task multiple times), but this rarely worked, meaning we would need to manually go through records and add up time if there was a discrepancy somewhere.
At a glance, we wanted to be able to see what staff were working on and how tasks were progressing. Running a team of writers, we ideally wanted a way to track words per hour and in-depth notes on changes made to existing content. We also struggled to calculate our spending on content services and needed a system to rank the importance/ priority of specific tasks. If we needed to find out how efficiently an article was written (words per hour), we would again need to compare this data against ClickUp.
While we continued to grow, I was frequently searching for ways to implement better systems and streamline our work processes. I kept trying to work through our limitations while keeping my ear to the ground for a better way. In September 2022, I began to try several other system management tools and was frustrated when I realized that ClickUp was the best option for us.
Eventually, I gave up on my search and continued to tweak our ClickUp templates to make them more efficient. One day, Layla at Process Driven posted a video talking about SmartSuite. I watched it, then decided to look into the program further for myself. I quickly realized that we could set up templates and alter them as necessary in the future without having to copy/paste nearly as much as we were.
I also looked through their Canny Roadmap and realized that they were implementing many other features that we would need, such as better time tracking. After trying it out, we started to make the switch.
“We set up a system that will not only track the progress on each new project, but it will also easily track metrics such as words per hour, how much an article costs, how long we estimated it should take, and more. Best of all, we are able to do this without a manual audit or comparing metrics side by side.”
SmartSuite allows us to edit field permissions on any record to determine who should be able to view or edit the field. While this was possible in some ways on ClickUp, for anything long-form, we would need to create different subtasks or different channels for information to be stored, and it wasn’t always easy to see the information we needed quickly. Now, we can keep all data in one place while knowing that confidential data is safe.
We are also able to nest specific data under dividers, allowing us to quickly find the information we are looking for and making it easy for our employees to find specific information. As work is processed, there are several time-tracking modules on each card so that we know exactly how much it cost us to write, edit, and upload an article instead of not knowing exactly how that broke down.
As far as our CRM goes, we have been able to “rebuild it” within SmartSuite and have it connected with our content. If a writer mentions another brand, they add it to the brief through the “Link to Other Records” module. At that point, we filter these brands based on how often they have been mentioned on our site, whether or not they have affiliate programs, how much traffic our pages that mention them get, and more. This has allowed us to find new opportunities for partnerships and monetization without “extra” work on our part, keeping track of everything elsewhere.
SmartSuite is also working on a communication center where we will soon be able to easily message clients from within the system without having to leave it. Potential partners can then write us back, and their replies will show up within SmartSuite, eliminating the need to copy responses over. They have also released their alpha version of a page-maker where we will eventually be able to easily invoice partners or send them necessary data without having to copy the information over into another program.
How SmartSuite Streamlined the Training Process for New Staff
Another important aspect of our business is training and SOPs. When we hire someone new, we want to be able to integrate them into our system quickly and efficiently. Not only were we able to easily set up a section for training and SOPs, but we were able to integrate them into our tasks.
For example, articles are occasionally uploaded to our sites in different ways, depending on their type. To make it easier for our uploaders to remember what process to take, we were able to set a formula in the button field to take them to the correct SOP based on the article’s category with a simple formula. After the initial setup, we have not had to think about ensuring our workers have the correct information for each task again. This has prevented errors we previously encountered and made it easier for our workers to always have the information they need.
Since making the switch from ClickUp to SmartSuite, we’ve been able to catch projects that are close to going over budget quicker, saving our small company hundreds of dollars per week.
Additionally, we have noticed that the time to complete some of our processes has decreased, sometimes by nearly 30%, increasing productivity while staying more organized than we have been in years.
Our staff is more aware of what needs to be done across all projects and can easily see what weekly priorities still need to be done. It has also encouraged better communication with the team. One of them recently wrote the following:
There is more efficiency when looking for and tracking information, and we can do so with far fewer clicks and comparisons than in the past. We also don’t have to deal with as many programs running in the background.
At Stream Scheme, SmartSuite has been a real game-changer! We've said goodbye to the roadblocks that used to impede us from reaching our business goals. Now we can track each project's progress with pinpoint precision and monitor key performance metrics quickly and easily. Not only that, but collaboration between team members is more effective than ever before - as well, all of those tedious manual tasks are now streamlined into one comprehensive system. All in all, this allows us to maximize efficiency across the board – something which excites us for what lies ahead.