Tools I Use To Run My Creative Business
As a creative entrepreneur, there are often many tasks to juggle. Having the right tools to run my design studio and online business definitely makes things easier.
I’ve taken quite a few business management tools out for a road test. In this post, I’ve assembled my favorites. Only the tried and true have made it here.
The creative business owners I help often ask for my input on different tools and resources. I figured I would create a post and share all this information with you, too!
Take a peek at what keeps this business flowing and get some ideas for your own.
Website + Hosting
My business is on Squarespace. I find it has everything I need to run my creative business. I’ve tried WordPress. I’ve used WiX.
Squarespace wins for creative entrepreneurs in my book. The 20% off of my first year of service helped me save some coin and invest the money in other areas of my business.
Domain Name Registration
I’ve used San Francisco based domain name registrar, Hover for years. Really quickly, a domain name is the name of your website. It is the address typed at the top of a web page.
For example, my domain name is: studiobianca.co
Google’s domain name is: google.com
When it comes time to secure the name of your business online you will most likely do this through a domain name registrar. I pay Hover an annual fee to keep and maintain my domain name, studiobianca.co.
Professional Email, Google Apps, and Google Drive
For a low annual cost, you can get a professional email, Google Apps, and storage from Google. This is a pretty sweet deal.
Having a professional email is essential. Not only is it an important tool to have but it is also crucial for your brand.
In addition to a professional email, you will also gain access to a branded drive for storage of things like Google Docs, Sheets, surveys, and more.
I no longer use Microsoft Office products thanks to Google Suite. If I receive a Microsoft Office document via my professional Gmail account, usually, it can be converted.
Connecting this all to your Squarespace website is a breeze. If done at sign up for your annual plan, it’s even easier. Squarespace offers a free first year of service when paying for an annual plan.
As a service-based creative entrepreneur having a system that makes it easy to communicate with clients is super helpful. I give my clients access to my calendar so they can schedule time for a chat if and when needed.
I like being accessible to my clients. Acuity helps me achieve this.
With a Squarespace annual plan Acuity is free. It integrates beautifully both behind the scenes of your site or front and center on a page of your site.
Seagate Portable External Hard Drive
We creatives end up collecting a lot of stuff. Images, graphics, and other large files can clog up our computers. Space on our computers can become scarce pretty fast.
To help keep things organized and to just actually keep things, I use an external hard. Also, backing up your files is always a good idea.
On the subject of storage, I use Dropbox to gather and store client files and other documents. It provides a central space to exchange and gather files.
Google Drive is good for my own docs, but it can get a little hairy when it comes to sharing with others. Dropbox is a good meeting ground for me and my clients.
Sketchbook, Colored Pencils and Pens
Brainstorming and Sketching Ideas
Digital tools are great but, for me, nothing replaces the organic feel of pencil to paper. One of the first things I do is sketch out ideas for client websites on paper.
Proposals, Contracts, Client Management, and Invoices
So, like website platforms, I’ve taken a few business management tools for a test drive. While there are some pretty good ones out there, I’ve yet to find anything as simple, straightforward, and helpful as And.co.
And it’s free!
Another free tool that’s awesome is MailChimp. MailChimp is a recommended Email Service Provider for those just starting out but, individuals like Paul Jarvis who have been in business for decades still use and swear by it.
MailChimp is also a Squarespace integration.
Adobe Creative Cloud
Web and Graphic Design
An essential tool for digital creatives of all sorts. ‘Nuff said!
Even though I use Adobe CC for a lot of digital design work, I still find Canva super useful. Canva is quick, simple, and easy to use. It can handle simple social media templates to the design of larger docs.
I used Canva to design and create my Intro Packet and Welcome Packet. It worked for a business card design I sent off to Moo, too!
Business Cards, Stickers, and Journals
If you’re a bit of a stationery junkie like myself, Moo is your new candy store. They often offer great discounts and deals on very high-quality products.
I’ll take quality over quantity any day. A few thick, luscious business cards over a box of mediocre ones? Sold!
This handy dandy tool is super useful. Those gorgeous photos of yours in the desert or your studio slow down your website loading speed, unfortunately. To keep your site stunning and running quickly, use Tiny JPG to reduce your file size.
Pssst! Did you know that users will abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load? Visitors to your site will expect a site to load in 2 seconds, according to research done by Akami.
Design is visual and tech can get a little complicated, so instead of trying to explain things in long emails or without the help of visuals, I create quick videos and send them off to clients. This way, we can all be on the same page, and, clients get the added bonus of hit replay if they need to go back over something. Score!
iPhone & iMac
Smartphone and Computer
My first smartphone was a Windows phone. Yes, Windows really made smartphones, lol! It was around the same time I was creating websites on WordPress. From my smartphone, I ran admin tasks and wrote blog posts on the go. It proved to be a serious ally for me and my projects. These days I have an iPhone, (RIP, my little Windows phone). I still use my iPhone to help me with my tasks.
My other sidekick is my iMac. I may be one of the few out there who doesn’t work predominantly off a laptop, but I use to be. I recently made the switch to take care of the bulk of my design work on a desktop computer. No regrets!
It takes a lot to keep things going as a one woman show, so the right tools are important.
I hope you’ve managed to snag a few tips that’ll support the flow of your creative business.
Is there a tool you can’t live without? Let me know in the comments below.