Running a creative business usually means having to do it all alone but it doesn't have to be that way! These tools can help automate and organize your business so you can focus on the more important things.
For your website:
Squarespace for web hosting
I love Squarespace because it’s easy to use and all the templates are responsive which means they look great on mobile phones and tablets. No coding required! You can also host your domain through Squarespace as well but I personally use Namesilo (below).
If you’re not design savvy, then I highly recommend hiring someone to build your website for you. A great designer can help you brand your business and create a functional yet beautiful website that attracts your ideal client.
*Namesilo for domain registration
This is the cheapest domain registrar I’ve found and it’s easy to manage all my domains at once. No fuss setup and their customer service is quick to respond, too. You can also get WHOIS Privacy for free!
For your email marketing:
Zoho mail for custom domain emails
If your business email ends with @gmail.com or @yahoo.com, then it’s time to upgrade. A professional email address that ends in your personal url (@polyglotdesigns.com for example) is what sets you apart from amateurs and makes you look legit. Zoho business emails are free and easy to set up, plus you can create multiple email addresses under one url.
*Mailchimp for email marketing
Mailchimp is the king of email marketing. I’ve tried Convertkit before but I found the platform to be a bit too simplistic. With Mailchimp you can sign up for the free account with limited email sends a month which is good enough if you are just starting out. It’s also easily integrated with a bunch of other platforms (such as Squarespace) which saves me a headache when it comes time to collect email addresses.
Boomerang for scheduling emails (or use Zoho’s send later feature)
This app is a God send for scheduling emails. If you use gmail as your business email hosting, then you can set a specific time in the future when you want to send or reply to an email. This works great for when you want to follow up with a potential client or answer a question. Zoho also has this feature within the dashboard labeled as ‘send later’.
For your social media marketing:
Buffer for social media scheduling
Buffer is my go to for all my social media platforms. You can use the free version to connect a few social media profiles, which is great if you are just starting out. I personally use the Awesome plan because I have several social media platforms I need to manage and need the option to schedule for all of them. For less than $10 a month, this saves me a lot of headache of having to schedule social media one by one. It’s also popular enough that it connects to other services so you can automate even easier (more on that below). Plus, their blog has great insights and tips into social media marketing so if you’re a newbie to the world of digital marketing, I highly recommend reading a few of their articles!
Recurpost for handling Facebook Group automation
I was recently turned to this platform for scheduling FB group messages and it’s saved me for when I’ve reached my Buffer limit. This is great because you can put in what posts need to go out on which days and it’ll post to the Facebook groups automatically for you. The interface could be simpler and more well designed but I hope they’ll update in the near future. It’s also free!
Pocket for collecting links
Where has this website been all my life? Consider it like a cloud-based bookmarking app where you can store links you want to read later. It downloads the links as offline reads to your phone or tablet so you can read them on the go. This is great when you find an article that you want to read but don’t have the time to read it right away. I have this hooked up to IFTT (if this then that) so when I favorite a link it sends it automatically to my Buffer queue for Twitter. I don’t even need to go back into Buffer to manually add it so this saves me a bunch of time.
These two are the best tools for automation. IFTT has a bunch possible automation “recipes” that simplifies your life. Zapier is the same but they have a pro version where you pay monthly. I use the free versions of both and personally find myself using IFTT more but both are great. You can automate practically everything between the two, from sending automatic Twitter replies when someone follows you, to automatically pinning your latest Instagram photo to your Pinterest board.
Later for scheduling Instagram posts
Now that Buffer has the option to schedule Instagram posts I don’t use Later much. It’s a great free alternative, although they do also have pro plans. I particularly love their feed overview where you can see how your feed will look like on the phone once you post. It sends a notification to your phone when it’s time to post and you copy and paste the text into Instagram and you’re done!
*Tailwind for Pinterest scheduling
Pinterest is so much fun but once you start getting more strategic about posting, you need additional help. Tailwind is a great way to schedule multiple posts to different boards all at once, plus they have suggested times to post so you can get maximum engagement. Click here to try your first month free on their Plus plan!
For your other system organization needs:
Google Drive for organizing all your projects
Google Drive is where all my current projects live. It keeps me super organized and lets me work on blog posts no matter what computer I’m on. Best of all, it’s totally free and you can view files offline across your other devices.
Google Keep as a to do list
I used to have a more elaborate to do list on Google Keep but decided to organize my tasks into more cohesive boards on Trello. Now I use Google Keep as a simple list of my top 3 tasks for that day. Once I check them off I can see how much I’ve accomplished which gives me a better view of what I’ve done so far.
*Trello for system organization
I use Trello as a way to keep all my ideas and tasks organized. It’s a visual feed of specific project tasks and you can share them with other members (such as your Assistant, for example). I have separate boards for my different businesses and within those boards I have several cards based on what type of tasks I need to do. This gives me a general view of what I should be doing weekly, daily, and in the near future to complete a certain project.
Waveapps for keeping track of finances and sending invoices
I’m all about finding free apps and platforms and this by far is the best free financial dashboard that I’ve come across. You can keep track of your finances and send invoices all for free. Come tax time, you can just print out the overview so you can see what’s a business expense and what isn't.
Google Analytics for measuring your website analytics
If you aren’t measuring your website analytics then you may be missing out on business. Google Analytics is totally free and you connect it to your website so you can track who found your site, how they got there, and how long they stayed. This is important because you can see what’s working and what isn’t.
What tools do you like to use to help run your creative business? Comment below!