When you venture out to start a business, you dream of doing the thing you love. You don’t necessarily consider all the backend work that’s involved, but the daunting task of being at the computer can be made easier with these tools and resources I’m about to introduce. There are a bajillion programs out there (okay maybe that’s an exaggeration, but there’s a lot) however these are just the ones I utilize on an almost-daily basis.
My favorite tools and resources for being a badass biz babe:
Canva is sort of like Adobe InDesign except free, easy to use, and not quite as extensive. If you are a graphic artist or will be ordering printed books and magazines from your work, you may want to invest in InDesign. BUT if you’re just wanting to design PDFs, invitations, pamphlets, loose paper material or eMaterial, Canvas should get you where you’re going. I use it to create PDFs and even my kids’ birthday invitations.
I use PicMonkey to do quick resizing of individual photos. They also have photo editing tools but I don’t use them, and I don’t recommend them for professional use. But if you need to resize a huge photo down, or crop it to a circle, or add text on top or even create a FREE logo, Picmonkey can be a game changer. They’ve recently added design capabilities a la Canva, but to be honest I haven’t used them so I can’t speak to it.
Bonus: To make a free logo, choose from their (or your) fonts, add text in the font/size you want, and make sure to save it to a transparent background. Voila- upload it wherever you need. Change the color to white, and adjust transparency to turn your new logo into a watermark.
Let’s get those business cards looking LEGIT.
Okay, full disclosure, VistaPrint is cheaper. But Moo is like buttahhh baby. You can order super premium paper in thick heavy cardstock weight, luxuriously-soft finishes and even gold foil or with a colored edge. I use them for my business cards but ALSO for my packaging: envelope stickers, inside stickers, quote cards that I write my “thank you’s” on the back of.
If you’re hosting your website on a platform that doesn’t have great form capability, meet your new bestie, Typeform. What it is, is a program that allows you to make a bunch of questionnaires FOR FREE as long as they don’t exceed ten questions. I’ve use it myself for gathering necessary client info. Before Honeybook (more on that below) when someone booked a session with me, I sent them a typeform link and they filled out the 10 questions, clicked “submit” and Typeform sent it right to my email. They also allow you to speak directly to the submitter by hitting “reply” on that email, which is a cool streamlined feature. There are a million ways you could use typeform, and I love that they offer a free option.
Because my website and branding material use my handlettering, I needed something that would allow me to easily script something up in a flash. I’ve never used a Wacom tablet but my logic is if you’re going to buy technology for one purpose, why not get one that can be utilized in other areas as well? The iPad is so versatile and I’ve ended up using it for many other things, like watching webinars or TV while I edit, browsing Pinterest, etc.
You’ll need an Apple pencil to be able to write on it though, so that’s gonna set you back another $99. This is one of those splurge purchases, but once you have it you’ll be glad you do. If you plan to use it for design work or hand lettering, I recommend the….
- ProCreate app
When used with the iPad Pro and Apple pencil, it’s a great, easy-to-use app for designing, drawing, lettering, etc. I think I paid a one-time fee of $10 for it.
ShowIt5 is a website platform that really caters to photographers and customizability. Which is why I have it. BUT there is a learning curve FO SHO, so if you’re new to all of this I would start with a free or less-expensive website platform before making the jump to ShowIt.
Y’all know I’m a firm believer in having a website. Being established at a dot com is the most effective way to add legitimacy to your business, and I don’t half ass anything. So you KNOW my website needs to feel like you’re over for wine and gossip in my living room. In order to make sure my brand message comes across consistent, professional and glitch-proof, I only trust Jen and Jeff at Tonic Site Shop. Not only are they the most down to earth, awesome people, but their sites are fressshhhhh, guys. If you’re in the market to boss up and own your digital space, check out Tonic.
Simply put, Honeybook is online CRM organizational software that streamlines your systems making it super easy to run a business from pretty much anywhere. My frugality mixed with my love of pen to paper, means up until this year I still did my organizing the old fashioned way, in a binder. Finally taking the leap to Honeybook is proving to be SO useful to me, for million reasons. If you want to take your business to the next level, get legit and legal with contracts and invoicing, and have it all in one place? Look into Honeybook. You can even get a discount on your first year with my code here.
I mean, duh right? Instagram is THE best social media platform in my opinion. It is visually-driven, which means it can act as a straight-to-the-consumer visual board of what you’re offering. Instagram’s reach is growing by the day and a good, curated feed can feel so much more welcoming that Facebook, which is inundated with relatives sharing recipes and political garbage.
You might’ve heard of Planoly, which is a similar platform for organizing instagram posts, but I like Plann because it’s less expensive and yet very comparable. With Plann you can write, schedule and organize your instagram posts. I love this because sometimes I put an image next to another and while it looked good in my head, once I see it it’s like “oh lawwwwd nooooo” and I can move it before messing up my grid. I realize it sounds crazy to worry about things like “the grid” but listen- as photographers, we are judged on our aesthetic. Don’t downplay the importance of curation when you work in a visual field!
Okay so there you have it! Maybe I’ll do a later post on the hardware I use most, but for now these are the software elements that really help when you’re getting started. Let me know in the comments if there are any you recommend too!