When I started this blog I had a low to non-existent budget. As my blog grew and I started thinking about creating my own products, I’ve started to invest more in different tools that help me run my blog better. As a result, I’ve got used to keeping an eye on my budget and only invest in things that I truly need.
Today, I’ve prepared a list of the tools that I use for my creative business and I will try to show you how I keep my business expenses low.
Tools for design and development
I use Adobe Creative Cloud products on a daily basis. I work mostly in Photoshop and Illustrator, but InDesign is also a great product and I’ve started using it for business cards and invitations.
If you are a graphic designer, Adobe CC is a must, but if you are a photographer or want to make money from your blog, you can subscribe to the Photography pack that has Photoshop and Lightroom. You can save a lot of money that way, and besides, you can do almost anything in Photoshop.
I use the Genesis framework to build WordPress themes. It’s only a $60 dollar investment and it’s worth every penny. Since I build all my themes starting from the base theme, I don’t have to purchase other themes.
If you are not comfortable with development, you can purchase other themes from the Studiopress website and customize them for your clients.
Business and blogging tools
Shake Law is a great online software for signing legal agreements. You can use the app for free on your smartphone or purchase the pro plan at only $10/month.
PayPal is the best option for me when it comes to sending invoices, but also for receiving payments from Etsy and Creative Market. You have to pay a small fee for every transaction and a small withdrawal free.
Google Apps for Work is only $5/month (or $10 with unlimited storage). I bought my domain through Google because I didn’t want to use the email that came with my hosting and I love Gmail. You can also backup your files on Drive, create documents, spreadsheets, and I even use it to send forms to my clients before we start a project.
I’ve recently started using Hootsuite to schedule my social media posts. I’m still getting the hang of it, but so far I like it.
When it comes to bookkeeping, I use Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to keep track of everything. You can view Google Sheets on your phone or computer and they also work with Excel. I know Quickbooks and Freshbooks are very popular, but I’ve always been good with numbers and I’m still not convinced I need them.
Free apps and other expenses
Of course, you will probably need a computer, phone, and other devices such as a graphics tablet. Not to mention a website and hosting.
When it comes to hosting, if you don’t need a huge website, you can look at managed WordPress hosting. It might be cheaper and easier to use. If you want to invest in a more expensive plan, make sure you are not paying for more resources than you need, and check in with your web host every few months to see if there aren’t any plans that are a better fit for you.
Besides the tools I’ve already listed, I use a lot of free apps and plugins. If you are an Etsy seller you should get the Sell on Etsy app. You will see your stats, favorites, and you can also send and receive messages. It comes in handy when I’m away on trips and I don’t want to close my shops.
Improve your skills
I’ve always loved to learn by myself and trial and error have always been my best teachers. Since we are talking about keeping business expenses low, I want to show you a few places where you can find free online tutorials.
- you can learn how to use Adobe products on the Adobe help page
- W3Schools is a great place for coding tutorials
- visit Moz if you want to learn more about SEO and social media
You’ve probably realized by now that I try very hard not to spend money on things I don’t need. I’m often tempted to purchase apps recommended by fellow designers, so I use free trials to see if they are a good fit and only use the ones that I find helpful.
What are your favorite creative business tools? Are there any tools you have found you can do without?