There was a time, just after I started my business, where I would pay for so many resources that I barely made any money. I thought they could help me grow my business, but I wasn’t using them as much as I should have, for the price that I was paying. I don’t want you to make the same mistake I did.
Now, I’ve narrowed down my tools by a lot, and I want to introduce you to them. Most of them are free; some are paid (but most of them offer the two options). I know it’s important to invest in your business at the start, but make sure you spend that money wisely so you don’t end up with a crippling debt you shouldn’t have had in the first place.
I couldn’t run my business without them because… I wouldn’t have a website! And what’s a web designer without a website going to do? I decided to transfer my website to SiteGround a little over a year ago after reading some great reviews about them (my website was hosted on HostGator at the time, and it was down at least once a day). Since the switch, I have never looked back. I trust them enough to send all my clients to them, and they come back telling me how glad they are that I recommended them!
Want to know what makes SiteGround so different than other hosts? First, your website will be up pretty much all the time. Honestly, if you’ve been worrying about that, you shouldn’t. They also have the best support team I’ve ever seen. Technical problems can be so overwhelming, but their support will usually solve it within 20 minutes and not make you feel like you’re the dumb a$$ who created the problem in the first place (Bluehost did that do me once).
So if you’ve been having problems with your current host, contact SiteGround’s support 🙂 They’ll help you transfer everything over, and you’ll end up paying a similar price for such a better service!
Who would run a business without a mailing list? I’ve been using Mailchimp since day one and even though it does lack some features, the fact that it’s free until 2 000 subscribers makes it worth it. Eventually, I’ll move somewhere else when my list gets bigger, but for the moment they fit all of my needs.
If you’re starting out and have less than 2 000 subscribers, I definitely recommend them! They have an easy to navigate interface, and you can create lovely looking newsletter without a single line of code!
Since I started using Trello over two years ago, I haven’t found another software that could handle my to-dos like they do. There are so many ways to use that website I can’t even begin to list them all. I suggest just creating an account and playing around with it. I keep everything in there from clients’ notes and to-dos to travel checklists. The best thing about it? It’s free! You only really need to pay if you have a team and need bigger file attachments or integrations, which I don’t even! I had a free trial of the business plan a while ago, and the only thing I loved about it was the custom background (instead of just a plain color), but that wasn’t worth $9.99 per month…
If you love Trello, you’ll love Sortd! It’s the most amazing email management tool that I found. Like… ever! It’s free to use at the moment, but I can’t say for how long. All I know is that I can’t go back to my old Gmail inbox. It was such a mess before, and I tried to use some sort of color coding to try to remember everything, but to be honest it wasn’t working. Until I discovered Sortd and now my inbox actually looks great! I can keep track of clients easily, see how much money is supposed to be deposited in my bank account and keep my travel-related emails in the same place!
5. Zoho Invoice
Before I switched my invoicing to Zoho, I used to track my time in an app, write it down somewhere else and create invoices in Paypal. What was wrong about that? First, Paypal had a 3.9% fee, instead of 2.9%, so Zoho let me change to Stripe (which offered me the 2.9% fee). Second, I was also able to keep all of my US money in USD. As I live in Canada, Paypal didn’t let me have a US bank account, while Stripe does. Finally, I lost so much time tracking my time in one place, writing it down in another, then transferring everything over to my Paypal invoices.
Now, I track my time from Zoho, can create invoices in a second and keep my money in the currency I want, without having to pay if I don’t want to! Since I don’t have over 50 clients yet and don’t need recurring invoices, I can be on their free plans for a little while longer. Eventually, I won’t have a problem upgrading to their paid plans, but if you’re just starting out, they’re definitely worth looking into! (And trust me, because I spent hours looking into reasonably priced invoicing software!)
When it comes to being active on social media, Buffer is my best friend! I use it to schedule posts on Facebook and Twitter, but mostly for Twitter. I use it with Hiplay, which makes sure that my queue is never empty by reposting old tweets. I started using Hiplay a while ago when it didn’t have any pricing on the website. Since then, I’ve been able to use it without paying for it, but I see that now they lowest price is $5 per month. That’s still a lot cheaper than other software who do a similar thing (I’m looking at you, Edgar).
I’ve tried a lot of scheduling software in the past to find which one fit me the best, and Buffer was the winner in the end. I tried Hootsuite too but didn’t enjoy its
complicated feature-heavy dashboard.
You might not know this, but I’m a native French speaker. I’ve been able to understand English since I was 10, but it’s only in the past three years that I’ve gotten fully bilingual. Unfortunately, I still suck at writing sometimes and make weird errors that native English people wouldn’t make. That’s why I decided to buy Grammarly! It saves my butt a few times per day, so it’s well worth they investment (even though a tad pricey). So if you’re like me and aren’t a native English, or you just make grammar mistakes more than you wish you did, investing in Grammarly is so worth it!