Running your own business comes with its share of challenges. As creative entrepreneurs, we find ourselves wearing multiple hats. With the right resources, organization, (and copious amounts of coffee) managing a successful business CAN be efficient and low maintenance.
Here are a few of my most highly recommended business management picks.
Business Email and Web Solutions
- Google Cloud’s G Suite is by far my top recommendation for hosting secure, professional business email. For just 6 dollars per month, you can have a professional email@example.com email that is easy to set up and scale for a larger team. With the entire G Suite toolkit at your disposal, you’re set up with a wide variety of business tools to make you successful, such as Google Sheets, Google Docs, Google Calendar, and more.
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- Siteground is my website hosting platform of choice for WordPress. It’s one of the fastest self-hosted solutions, with great customer service.
- Google Domains is my preferred domain name registrar. As a digital marketing specialist, I rely so heavily on Google’s tools that it just makes sense to keep everything in one place.
- Cloudflare is a free CDN that can help improve your site speed and security. I think it’s a must for any WordPress site.
Project Management Software
Do you need one? YES. Please do yourself the favor of finding the right project management system for your business. The last thing you want as a solopreneur is to let little things fall through the cracks. That’s bad for business, and bad for your reputation down the line.
I’ve tried just about every popular project management software out there. Some were good, some just okay. Depending on your needs or your business niche, some might be a better fit than others. Try them out, and make sure you land on the perfect match.
What I look for in a great PM system are:
- Managing tasks with due dates
- Project flow visualization
- The ability to add notes, links, and project files within my tasks and lists
- Adding statuses to tasks (such as in progress, overdue, on hold, etc,)
Free Task Management Systems
- Asana is truly simple project management. I love the fact that I can choose to create projects in a list or a board view. It’s excellent for managing my content calendars, post-production schedule, and marketing schedule.
- Google Sheets may not cross your mind initially as a task management system. Don’t underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned spreadsheet.
- Wrike is also available as a free solution for up to 5 users. I used it and I personally found that Asana was a better fit for me However, I do know that a considerable amount of new features have arisen since my trial.
Premium Project Management Systems
- Teamwork Projects is my absolute favorite PM system for larger teams and agencies. It is extremely collaborative, customizable, and offers more features that I can even explain in one post. You can use it to save your files, create content calendars, and assign tasks to your team. There is a learning curve, but the online support and training is extremely thorough.
- Monday is relatively new, but is great for people that want premium functionality with an easy to use interface. It’s more top-level, great for viewing the status of tasks at a quick glance. If you’re a smaller team looking for an organizational task management solution, consider taking Monday for a spin.
- Basecamp is also something I’ve used, and is a great Teamwork Projects alternative if you just don’t have the time or energy to learn the system.
Business & Lead Management Software
For me, I can’t limit my organization to just task management. Where I am in my business requires a full business management suite to fit all my needs. Business management software is basically project management, client management, contracts, quotes, and invoices all in one. These come with a higher price tag but can bring you hours upon hours of time in return. To me, that’s worth the investment in itself.
Niche Specific Business Management Software
- Pixifi is hands down, my holy grail in the way I do business. Geared towards photographers, it’s much more than task management. Pixifi manages my invoicing, contracts, appointment scheduling, and online questionnaires with my clients. Managing multiple brands is a must for me as a creativepreneur. I can manage my clients and appointments like never before. I can also create booking pages for mini-sessions and workshops. Plus, I can brand EVERYTHING with CSS, which I love as a freelance web designer.
- Honeybook is another creative business-focused business management tool made popular by the online community, Rising Tide Society. Honeybook is not as robust as Pixifi, but creatives rave about the features and ease of use. Having a subscription with Honeybook also gives you access to their online community. As a Florida & destination wedding photographer, I found it extremely valuable to find local collaborations, styled shoots, and leads. (You can use my link to get 20% off your first year!)
- Dubsado is very similar to Honeybook, and I do like it for business management, although I don’t currently have an active subscription. One of the features I loved most about Dubsado was a very visually appealing questionnaire builder. It can be customized toward freelancers, wedding planners, writers, designers, and more.
CRM and Sales Tools
- HubSpot CRM is a free tool that I use passively. It sort of acts as the funnel where I sync all my contacts, leads, prospects, as a backup for if I ever need it. My business doesn’t require outbound sales, but HubSpot does come with a few great features that I find valuable. For example, I get notified when a client or prospect opens an email from me with the Chrome extension for Gmail. Now I know if a client is dodging a bill or if I’m being ghosted by a hot lead. That alone is worth it in my eyes.
- If you already use Gmail, Google sheets is always a valuable FREE contact list backup plan. Try one of my free templates!
- Flodesk is by far the most intuitive, on-brand email marketing software I’ve ever used. It’s still a new software, but already I have seen it change the game for my email marketing (you can read my full review of Flodesk here). The templates are STUNNING, and very easy to set up. I have an exclusive link to give you 50% off your subscription!
- Klaviyo is fantastic for creating complex email automations and integrating 3rd party resources. There is a free trial AND they offer a limited free plan.
Social Media Scheduling
- Later is my top choice for Instagram scheduling. The free plan is limited, but still has a ton of useful features! I love the fact that I can lay out my Instagram feed in preview mode and get the exact aesthetic that I am looking for BEFORE I post.
- Hootsuite is also widely known and used. They do offer a free limited plan as well.
- Tailwind is the ultimate Pinterest scheduling tool. And, if you’re looking to build organic SEO, Pinterest is a great way to do so. You can start your trial today and get a free month with this link.
Yes, you can have an amazing Instagram feed without being a professional photographer. There are so many great online communities that offer free stock photos. With that being said, please be sure to credit your photographer, it’s only polite!
Free Stock Photo Apps:
- Pexels is a great place for overall images, as long as you aren’t looking for something too specific.
- Unsplash has great travel photos. I go there regularly for amazing beaches and destination photos.
- Kaboompics is perfect for people who like the more urban/moody images. They look amazing on your social pages and give more personality.
- Pixabay is my go-to when I need something a little more commercial, and they also have a good selection of vector graphics and free stock video.
Premium Stock Photo Apps:
Sometimes free stock photos just don’t cut it. You might have a really specific need, and that’s where the big dogs come in.
- Adobe Stock is my overall go-to, as the images tend to look less “stock photo-y” if that makes sense. They have more authentic style images great for branded content. Plus, an Adobe Stock subscription works right into your Adobe programs and Adobe Spark – an extra bonus!
- Shutterstock has a great selection for your overall commercial photography needs. It also integrates nicely with Photoshop. They offer a free 1-month trial to get you started.
- Deposit Photos is my favorite place to find great vectors, and they are the least expensive from the group.
- Getty Images is a really great resource for editorial images and photos of celebrities. Depending on the photo Licence, you can embed them on your blog for free! However, keep in mind that if you want the rights to use one of their images, you’re going to pay a pretty penny – some images go over $120 dollars apiece!
No perfect Instagram feed would be complete without the perfect photo editing app to rely on. From hobbyist to pro, there’s an app out there for everyone.
Free Photo Editing Apps
- VSCO is a great app for adding filters to your photos and find a unique style.
- Snapseed is a free app developed by Google. It has professional functionality and a very easy to use user interface. Plus, iPad compatibility which is huge for digital nomads such as myself.
- Pixlr is another great free photo editing app.
It’s my personal preference to not create video content on my mobile and tablet devices. Call me old-school, but I need to be sitting at a desktop computer to create video content. However, these apps below are highly recommended for video editing on the go!
Free Video Editing Apps
- Magisto is very popular and has both a web-based and mobile app.
- Enlight has a limited free version. The full version boasts the ability to create extremely creative video content.