I get this question, in some form or fashion, from clients and other designer friends. Here’s a list of my favorite tools and resources that help me save time and run by business more efficiently. I am an affiliate for some of these companies, which means that some of the links provided are affiliate links and will result in me getting a small commission whenever someone signs up using my link! They will, in most cases, give you a percentage off of the normal price users pay. Clicking the affiliate link costs nothing and I am so appreciative if you use them! I recommend every single one of these tools and would never recommend something that I haven’t used.
Here are some of the basic business tools and apps that I use. I’ve tried various vendors for each, but have landed on theses companies and love each of them.
Flodesk is how I build my email list, send beautiful messges to subscribers, and create automations that do the work for me. It’s a beautiful and easy platform.
Dubsado is my client management system. I can manage inquiries, send proposals, contracts, invoices [and more] all from one system. Saves me hours!
Formerly known as GSuite. All of my domains are managed via Google. I also have a couple of domain-based email accounts that I manage with Google.
Station is a little hard to describe. I have the desktop version and it’s sort of like a dock for ALL of my frequently use apps like gmail, Dubsado, Google docs, Dropbox, Calendar, Zoom, etc. I don’t have to individually log into all of those each time I log onto my computer. I just log into Station and it pulls them all up. Each app has it’s own tab. Super helpful!
With limited time, I have to make sure that my time is used wisely. Here are the tools I use to keep myself organized and work more efficiently.
Asana is a tool I can’t live without. I manage ALL of my projects, organize and plan my site content, gather ideas, and more via Asana. It makes my life so much easier. Clients LOVE it too because they can visually see all the steps we’ll go through, and communication is kept neat and organized. I use the FREE plan.
I record at least ten Loom videos every single day for my clients. Whether it’s a full blown tutorial or a quick design overview, Loom makes it easy to record and share instantly. I pay around $100 each year for unlimited videos. It is worth every penny for me. I can record my screen, my face, or both!
Back when I began my business, I started out managing all of my projects and product ideas on Trello. It’s a great organizational tool and very easy to use. Organize your ideas or projects into drag and drop boards… imagine sticky notes on steroids. Their FREE version is really great!
Airtable is kind of like if Excel had an organizational cousin; like a database in a spreadsheet. I use Airtable to organize all of my product and content data. I even use it with my VA so we can stay organized and know what products have been updated, etc. I have the FREE plan.
I’m the type of person that can get sucked into spending unreasonable amounts of time on a task or project and not realize it. The Focus to Do: Pomodoro App on my Mac helps me stay focused and be super efficient during short bursts of time.
Most of my business involves designing graphics and mockups. Here are my favorite business tools to tackle those tasks.
Canva is another favorite tool I utilize almost daily. I use it to create quick graphics for my site, social media, or client projects. I’ve converted MANY clients. They find it really easy to use The premium plan is worth every penny!
I mainly use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop for my design projects, but I have access to all the Adobe products. It’s the best in the industry and I love that my software stays up to date.
Stock photos are a very important part of my business and I gladly pay the monthly fee to have access to a massive library of photos, videos, and graphics for my own site and client sites. It’s a little pricey, but worth it for the quality and variety on the library.
Every business has to have a way to take payments and keep track of all of those finance things. Here are my favorite tools for those.
PayPal makes it easy for me to collect payment from clients and for my graphics. It’s on of the most popular payment gateways and I’m able to integrate it with Dubsado AND my webite.
In addition to PayPal, I use Stripe to allow clients and customers to pay via a major credit card. Stipe integrates with Dubsado AND my website. Payments are collected and then sent to my bank account.
QuickBooks helps me track and categorize all of my expenses, income, etc. It is connected to all of my banking and payment gateways, so I can rest easy knowing that I don’t have to manually enter it all. $17/month is worth it!
Here are my favorite business tools to either sell products or integrate my own shop on my site.
I’ve been selling on Teachers Pay Teachers for about ten years now. I sell mostly graphics, but still have some classroom resources on there from when I taught! It’s a great place to sell if you’re a teacher and are creating resources in your spare time!
I currently have most of my graphics on my Shopify site. However, I’m actually in the process of moving them onto my own site using WooCommerce, but Shopify has been a good option for me! It’s easy to use and has a lot of good themes you can use if you’re wanting your own ecommerce solution. It’s about $29 per month for the basic plan.
WooCommerce is amazing! It’s my favorite ecommerce solution for WordPress. I’ve just held off on migrating mine over for so long because I needed very advanced filtering capabilities for my graphic sets…. and I finally figured out how to tackle that. Woo is the most widely used solution for WP, and I find it integrates with almost every plugin I’d need to build an ecommerce store.
I hope this list of my favorite business tools and resources was helpful! I’ll try to add to it as a come across new reads, tools, and resources that help me in my business.