How to Use Google Docs to Power Up Your Training Business (Client Handouts, Homework, and More!)

by | Dec 7, 2020

The right tools are like “power ups” in a video game — when you use them efficiently, everything gets easier. Choosing and then using the right ones can help make the admin tasks that drag dog trainers down quick and convenient, while adding a bit of professional polish to help impress your training clients.

In case my previous posts on Google Drive and Gmail haven’t make it clear, I’m a big fan of Google’s suite of products. I think they have a lot to offer small business owners.

Today I want to build on my post about using Drive to create a Client Handout Library, and dig into using Google docs.

Google Docs: Create Word Documents that are Accessible From the Web

Google Docs is a free tool available for anyone with a gmail account. While I definitely recommend using google’s paid tool, Gsuite, all of the tips and information in this article works just as well if you’re using a free @gmail.com address unless otherwise noted.

If you’ve used a program like Microsoft Word before, many of the tools in Google docs will look familiar and feel intuitive. In many ways, it works like any other word processor…

Except unlike a program installed locally on your computer, you can access and work with your Google docs from anywhere, on any device — so long as you log into your Google account.

Here are just a handful of the ways you can use Google docs as a dog trainer:

  • Client Handouts
  • Write ups
  • Homework Assignments
  • Client Training Logs
  • Planning documents
  • Business documents
  • Process documentation
  • Contracts and client or contractor agreements

The Set Up: Creating A Consist Brand Style

Like any word processor, Google Docs allows you to set your font, font size, etc. But did you know you can choose which font/size/style it opens by default when you create a new document?

I recommend setting up your choice of fonts and heading styles and saving them — and then learning how to best use Google’s headings. I’ll show you why in the video below.

If you have Gsuite, you take take this one step further and create templates for yourself that include your logo and photo placeholders, too. If you’re NOT using Gsuite, you can sort of “hack” this by creating a template file for yourself and then using the copy function.

I recommend choosing font styles and colors that match the ones you use on your website, in your logo, and/or on your business cards. Doing so will help create a “brand” for your business.

Using Google docs for Client Handouts, Homework, and more

Once you have a rough idea of what styling you want to use for your business, you can layout or create handouts that you can reuse again and again.

In the article I did on using Google Drive to Create a Client Handout Library I shared how you could structure files and folders. However, I didn’t share a ton on creating and formatting the handouts themselves.

There are a few features that can be particularly useful for creating professional looking handouts.

Linking to Youtube Videos in a Document

May trainers create and use youtube videos to show their clients how to use specific training techniques or teach specific skills.

But just adding a plain link doesn’t make for a very attractive document.

Instead, what I recommend is taking a screenshot of your youtube video and adding the picture to your document, then linking it to the youtube link. I’d also add the link itself to the document below the video, just in case. If you don’t know how to take a screenshot on your computer, a quick google search for your device (mac or PC) and the word “screenshot” should turn up directions!

(If you wanted to get really fancy, you could even design a thumbnail image in Canva and add it to both your youtube video and your Google doc.)

Sharing Options for Google Docs

If you’re planning to use Google Drive or Google Docs as handouts, it’s important to get familiar with the sharing options. Google several different settings to choose from:

  • Restricted documents are documents that only you can see, edit, or access.
  • “Your Organization” will allow anyone with an email address at your domain name to access the document. This shows up as your organization’s name (this is a Gsuite only feature).
  • Anyone with the Link will allow anyone with the link access to the document.

After choosing WHO can access the document, you will also need to choose what level of access you want them to have.

  • Viewers can see a document or copy it to their own accounts, but they can not edit or comment on your document directly.
  • Commenters can read, leave comments, or copy a document to their own accounts, but cannot edit your document directly.
  • Editors have full editing access to the document and can make changes to the document directly.

I recommend keeping your original handouts as restricted files for only your use, then copying those into folders where your clients can access them. For those versions, I recommend setting them to “Anyone with the link.”

If you’re keeping a folder for a group class, I’d set it to be view only access; however, if you’re creating a folder for each individual client, you may want to give them editing access so they can add notes or helpful bits themselves.

Creating a Training Log for Client Use

One way you might find these features useful is if you were to create a training log for private lesson clients.

You could create a template version, then copy it into each clients’ folder for their private use and give them full permissions to edit. Or, if you wanted to make it useful for a class, you might use a neat “copy it” feature that Google docs offers.

Essentially, once you create the document you can edit the URL and change the word “edit” to the word “copy” — which will then prompt the user to copy the document to their own account when they open the link!

This same idea could be used if you wanted to create a “freebie” that you gave away on social media or to people who sign up for your email list!

Other Google Docs Features that Save Time and Streamline Your Admin Work

While I’ve shared a lot of the features I think most dog trainers will find the most useful, there are a TON of features I haven’t even touched on that I wanted to make you aware of, too!

For example, did you know that Google docs has “version history” — so you can go back in time and look at previous versions of your document?

It also has options for allowing you to make “suggestions” to a document, if you’re proofreading or reviewing someone else’s document; add a document as an attachment to an email; convert the document into all sorts of other file formats; and create custom “autocorrect” tools!

Here’s a short video showing you these in action!

Google docs is a powerful tool — if you learn how to use it well, it can easily help streamline the admin tasks that dog trainers typically hate, and free you up to spend more time doing what you love… training!

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