12 tools I use to successfully run my design business
Owning and operating you a business as a solopreneur means you are often wearing several hats. You are not only the one running your company, you are also the one who is writing, designing and managing projects.
Sometimes it can leave you feeling overwhelmed, but if you use the right tools and the right systems, you can work less, and have a lot more freedom.
Below, I've put together 12 apps and tools that I use to run my design business and that can help you set systems in place, so that you can spend less time doing things you hate, and spend more time doing things you love.
Before I go any further into this post, I do want to note that there are some Affiliate links listed below, which means if you purchase anything through the links listed with an '*', I do receive a small commission, and it does not cost you anything extra - Thanks friend! :)
I have been a Squarespace advocate for at the very least, the last 3 years, when I made the switch. I was hooked within the first 14 days! It's the perfect all-in-one platform where you can find your domain, hosting and website platform. It is incredibly user friendly, and easy to design - no coding necessary.
There are several different places where you can find incredibly inexpensive domains. GoDaddy was definitely one of them for me. When I first shopped around, I fell upon GoDaddy where I paid less than $10 for my first year.
My go-to design program is definitely Adobe Illustrator. I use this program religiously to create my website mockups, website graphics, instagram graphics, logos and more.
If you're looking to learn how to fully use the program, check out Lauren's Adobe Illustrator Basics course, registration opens in Spring 2018!
If you are looking for a design program that is free, I highly recomend using Canva. Before I started using adobe illustrator, I had used Canva for all of my website graphics, workbooks and worksheets.
Sometimes, while designing a website, you're looking for a little extra something to complete your piece of art. That's where Creative Market comes in! This website is my go-to website for all of the latest custom fonts and gorgeous one-of-a-kind illustrations and patterns for any client site.
Okay, this one has been one of the major game changers for my business! I use Dubsado* to manage all of my client documents, files and more. It keeps everything in one place, nice, neat and organized.
Some of the features I mostly use this application for is Lead tracking, Invoicing, Client portal, Contracts, and Questionnaires.
This project management system is definitely one that is growing into something huge - constantly launching new features and integrations. If you're looking for a PMS that keeps everything in place, organized with a system, then you should definitely check out Dubsado!
I was recently introduced to this project management system in October 2017, through Haley of Market Beautifully. In fact, I wrote about the course that got me incredibly organized just this last week.
I use Asana as my online calendar, to-do list, goal tracker, editorial calendar and client project checklist. I even use it to keep track of some personal things such as bills, sports games, school events and more.
Also, did I mention it is free?
It's where I set up my professional email, create my online documents, keep track of bookkeeping and more. G Suites is definitely the perfect solution for any small business.
Okay, I'm all about the gorgeous stock photos for social media and my blog. Unsplash has all of the best free stock photos so that you can share more of the good stuff online.
I started using BoardBooster* recently also. It's an awesome app that helps you schedule pins on Pinterest, so that you can concentrate on other areas of your business.
Since Mailchimp is integrated with Squarespace, it's definitely been the email marketing app I've used for my business, so that I can send special offers and behind the scenes content and freebies to only those interested in my business.
Okay, this has also been a game changer for my business. I use Planoly to schdule all of my Instagram posts ahead of time, which also allows me to see what my photos look like in my feed.