Creative business idea number 4: the best online tools and apps to help you.
Over the years as I’ve built up my own creative business, I’ve built up a really useful box of online tools I couldn’t do without. So, I thought I’d share them with you to help you run – and grow – your business too!
Scheduling app Tailwind is the best tool for putting your Pinterest strategy into practice – so I would heartily recommend you give it a try if you’re not already using it. You can get a month’s free trial before you commit. I love working with Tailwind and it has been absolutely crucial in allowing me to grow my Pinterest to over 2.5 million viewers a month. Have a read of my post about creating a solid Pinterest strategy to get ideas for your own business.
If you do decide to give it a go, this is a really helpful video tutorial to get you started:
I always used to use Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator for everything. For complicated design projects, they are definitely the best software for the job. However, I have found that free-to-use Canva is a fantastic, easy way to create graphics and designs really quickly and easily. And because time is money, I would recommend you try Canva for creating graphics and designs (there are ready-sized graphics for specific social media which I have found particularly handy). I save a template once I’m really happy with it and then use this with new images to create further graphics).
I’ve recently found a really cool template on there for creating PDF documents, like this free pattern I made. I added it as a free download to a blog post by using a WordPress plugin called PDF Embedder.OMBRE SNOOD FREE PATTERN
To edit or crop images, Canva Photo Editor is simple and effective (and also free.)
This tutorial video is really helpful to get you started:
There’s lots of help and advice available when you’re on the website – including Design School, with tutorials and courses. There’s lots of content to help you create a strong brand identity and great designs from there.
Mailchimp email marketing
I dabbled with Constant Contact for a while, which did the job okay. But I find Mailchimp much more intuitive to use and easier to achieve a clean, attractive design. Click the link on the image above to see an example of a recent newsletter we sent out. I’ve customised a template to reflect the look and feel of my website, using the same colours and fonts. Each time I send out a new newsletter I update the same basic design with new content and images. I really like the design consistency of this, plus it means I can create and send out a beautiful email in less time. And because time is a key, often limited, resource for many of us, anything that works seamlessly is worth its weight in gold.
There’s plenty more you can do with Mailchimp than just send out emails to your list… like automation, landing pages, segmenting of lists and staggering the sending of emails.
Newsletter sign up box
Whatever your social media following, the one thing you actually own yourself is your email list and it’s a hugely valuable asset. These are the people who have actively taken the time and trouble to say that they want to hear from you. Your email subscribers are worth their weight in gold – and you need to make them feel this.
I’d advise you to prioritise building up an email database from day one.
I use a WordPress plugin (Boxzilla) to create a newsletter sign up pop up box each time someone visits my site. It’s worth knowing, however, that out of the box this would be quite annoying for visitors – and also something that google will penalise because of the impact on visibility. The solution is to customise the settings – make the pop up disappear for good once someone has closed it down, rather than popping back up again at the drop of a hat. I also think it’s nice to give a good few seconds before the pop up appears too, so your carefully crafted landing page has time to make its mark first. And don’t underestimate the value of personalising the wording. This is your audience, so speak to them in your own voice and make them feel your appreciation.
Buffer for Twitter
Buffer is the scheduling app I find works best here and is particularly useful for posting lots of content to a specific twitter event (such as #ethicalhour #HandmadeHour #UpcycledHour…). That way you’re free to be more active in responding to the chat and interactions to your content. I have sponsored a few hashtag events within my community and without Buffer to take care of regular tweets throughout the hour, it would have been impossible to keep abreast of all the comments and interactions when everything starts to kick off. Because I only use Buffer for one social media platform, the basic free plan works fine for my needs.
To be honest, I am old school when it comes to To Do lists and prefer a nice notebook and sturdy pencil or ink pen. But I have dabbled with Asana when I’m organising a complicated project with multiple strands and set deadlines. It’s quick and easy to set it all up and you receive alerts and reminders to your phone as deadlines approach. I must admit I stopped using it for daily organisation as I’ve come to realise I’m a somewhat obtuse individual who doesn’t take kindly to being hassled. Even if it’s by an app that I have set up myself to do just that. I can only accept that it must be something to do with getting older. Now, where’s my notebook and pen? That’s the only downside with the old school approach. I do tend to have a couple of notebooks on the go because I’m always losing them…
They are my favourite tools and apps to help me run my creative business. I hope you found something useful to help you run your creative business more effectively. I would love to know what yours are too!
I’ll be sharing other online tools and apps, such as photo editing, in the Social media post, so watch this space…
I’m sharing my 10 Steps to Creative Business Success in a series of separate posts, as well as a PDF with all the information in one place for you to download and keep at the end.
The 10 steps I’ll be covering are:
- How to design and build a great website
- Photography to help you stand out from the crowd
- The power of Pinterest and how to make it work for you
- Online tools to help you run your business
- Social media expert help and hand-picked resources to make it work for you
- The importance of knowing the numbers
- Marketing creative businesses
- Why you shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes
- The power of planning
- Why you should sometimes forget the plan and seize the moment instead
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A PIN TO SAVE TO PINTEREST