This post and guide were last updated in November 2020 so some of the things mentioned may have changed.
Welcome to the Ultimate Creative Business Resource Guide. In this guide I have pulled together all of the resources that I recommend for small creative businesses including:
- Planner & Planning Tools
- Project management apps
- Apps for content creation.
- Social media management apps.
- Website basics if you haven’t got a website already or want to improve it.
There is always room for improving and developing your business so this guide is here to help you decide what resources you can use to make your business even bigger and better and easier to manage.
Whether you are just starting out in business or if you are right in the thick of it, I hope you enjoy exploring what is in here and find something new that you can take away and use in your business.
If you don’t know where you are going you’ll end up someplace else ~ Yogi Berra
Being organised is your secret weapon in business. If you are all over the place with your projects, you will be feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Nobody wants that so let’s get you prepared and on track.
Productive Paper Planners:
The Simplified Planner by Emily Ley – This planner has a daily and monthly layout. The daily pages give you space to fill in the day by half hour intervals and make notes on the side of the page which is perfect for writing lists.
The Happy Planner – This planner comes in 2 different layouts; vertical and horizontal. It is super versatile as you have the option to clip in extra pages. You could divide your day up into sprints and use colour coded stickers or pens to break things up further and also make planning your week fun. There are also pages to plan out your month as well as bullet lists to help you get super organised.
Passion Planner – The passion planner aims to help you break down your goals and create steps that fit into your daily life to make your goals actionable. At the end of each month, there is a section which asks you questions that help reflect on the progress of your goals.
Bullet Journal – A customizable analogue system designed by Ryder Carroll. This system is an awesome way to keep a log of your tasks in a very simple and super effective way. Check out this video for more.
Dailygreatness Business Planner – This planner includes daily, weekly and quarterly planning pages so you break your big vision down into chunks plus finance and budget management pages. You can also get an undated version of this so you can start your year whenever you want.
90-Day Planner – Working in 90 day chunks is a great way to keep on track and allows you to stay more productive. Print it out and use it as a desk pad or use them as pages that you can add to your daily planner.
You can read more about these planners in detail here.
Project Management Apps:
Asana – This is my top choice for To Do Lists. Plus, if you like celebratory unicorns flying across the screen when you complete a task then this is the app for you. Unicorns aside, I love that I can integrate this with my Google Calendar and if I don’t manage to get a task done it will roll over to the following day which is great as it means that I never miss a task.
Trello – This app is super simple to use and with it’s simple UI it acts as virtual board of “post-it notes” It also has an iOS and Android app so you can stay on take on the go.
ClickUp – This app offers various task views including lists, boards, calendar, but my favourite is the mind mapping view for a more visual overview of a project.
Other Organisational Apps:
Google Calendar – This is so versatile as you can integrate it with the calendar app on my Mac and the Asana app which for me makes a powerful combination for staying on track wherever I am. I also like that you can create different categories for different tasks which means that you can separate work from personal life. Yay for never forgetting birthdays.
Dragon Dictation – Ideas can come at any moment, usually when we are doing the grocery shopping or taking a shower. It is easy to have a lightning bolt moment and then allow it to slip away because we didn’t have a notebook nearby. Dragon Dictation is for those flashes of inspiration. You can later add to your To-Do list.
You may be a little undecided or feel overwhelmed when it comes to getting a website set up for your business, so I will make it easier for you – get it done! You are going to look more professional and more established plus you will have the option to sell your work without all the commissions that often come with selling through other websites like Etsy or eBay.
This can be a hard choice as there are so many options so I will tell about the ones I have personally used and loved:
GURU Cloud – As I am based in the UK, I wanted to move to a UK based company so I chose to move to Guru Cloud Hosting which has been absolutely brilliant. – I’m very happy with my decision to move. If you are in the UK, I highly recommend them.
I have also previously used Bluehost and InMotion Hosting which are both based in USA and were both great. They both offer great customer service and are always around to help which for a business is must to have a super reliable host Top Tip: Get your domain when you sign up for your hosting – These two web hosting services often give you 1 free domain when you sign up.
There are a ton of options out there so I am listing the main ones that have more features and clout.
Monthly or Annual Subscriptions:
- WordPress (Self-Hosted)
- I won’t list the other free options here because in my opinion the free website builders are not good enough to achieve a seamless site without paying a small fortune for extras such as adding mailing list forms, new colours or an SSL.
My own website runs on the Divi Theme by Elegant Themes and it is the only one I recommend. It is solid, always has new features, runs seamlessly and is highly customisable. However, you may not want to dive into a complicated website so here are some cheaper and often less complicated theme options:
- ThemeForest Marketplace
- Creative Market Marketplace
- Yith (Your inspiration Themes)
- MOJO Marketplace
- Don’t use a free theme. Always invest!
- Find a theme provider that offers solid support especially if you are building the website yourself.
- Hire someone to build your website for you or if you get stuck doing it yourself.
My Ecom Shop Case Study
To show you how much it costs to run an Ecommerce Store using WordPress, I have created a simple Snapshot at what makes my shop, mantraandmoon.com tick.
If you want to find out more, download my guide below where I break it all down. I will be creating a full Ecommerce site overview at some point in the future so keep your eyes peeled for that too.
In this section I will break down the most important parts of marketing your creative business online and in person.
You might be thinking that you don’t need a mailing list but you are 100% missing out on sales without one.
MailChimp – When I first started working for myself I didn’t realise how important having a mailing list was. I started out using the MailChimp ‘Free Forever’ plan and it was brilliant as a small business owner just getting started. When you first start building a list this is the app to use. You can download the app to your phone; ‘MailChimp Marketing & CRM. You can manage your subscribers, create email campaigns and view email campaigns & reports. If you are not on your computer or don’t fancy being stuck behind one but have some exciting news that you want to get out to your list, this app is for those moments.
ConvertKit – This is a brilliant for small business owners and a great alternative to MailChimp and you can sign up for as little as $9 a month for 300 subscribers. You can create unlimited forms, sequences, landing pages and automation rules as well as the ability to send as many emails as you want each month unlike the free version of MailChimp. It is also worth noting here that MailChimp duplicates a subscriber if they are in more than one list – ConvertKit has one list and separates subscribers by tags (categories chosen by you)
Content Creation Tools:
Image Creation Apps:
These are some of the must have apps for creating awesome images for social media, blog posts or email marketing.
If you are not confident with using Photoshop or other complex image editing programs these are great tools for getting started with creating impressive images:
- Pablo by Buffer
- Adobe Spark
- Pixelmator Pro
- Placeit by Envato
For Instagram /Facebook Stories:
- Plus the apps above for creating images.
These websites are brilliant for finding photographs for your website or social media images if you don’t want to always use your own photos:
- Unsplash – Free usage
- Creative Market
- Style Stock Society
- SC Stockshop
- Haute Stock
- ColorJoy Stock
- Kate Max Stock
- Sourced Co
- Her Creative Studio
Finding Beautiful fonts can be tough but there are a few websites that are the perfect place to start. Free fonts often come with usage limitations so invest in a few fonts that you can use consistently.
- Font Squirrel
- Creative Market
- Font Shop
Make your designs look super professional with a framed mock-up or use a mock-up of an easel to create an image to promote you work on social media. There are so many options and you are going to look like a total pro.
- Creative Market
- Sourced Co
Video is one of the most popular mediums for marketing so whether you want to talk about a new art series or create a slideshow of image from your last exhibition these apps are going to help you do just that.
- iMovie (mac) or AfterEffects
Social Media Management Apps:
- MeetEdgar – The perfect partner if you have a lot of products to talk about
- Agora Pulse
Community Hashtags for Creatives
- #Artsed – a good one if you are teaching your craft.
Twitter networking events UK:
- #UKBizLunch – Mon-Fri – 12-1pm
- #BizHour – Mon-Fri – 2-3pm
- #B2BHour – Everyday 3-4pm
- #WomanInBiz – Mon-Fri – 6-7pm
- #WineOClock – Mon-Fri – 6-7pm
- #CreativeBizHour – 8-9pm
- #MarketHour – 8-9pm
- #SmallBizHour – 9-10pm
- #TwitterBrothers 9-10pm
- #HandmadeHour – 7:30-8:30pm
- #WeddingHour – 9-10pm
- #TwitterSisters – 8:30-9:30pm
#RetailHour – 8-9pm
- #SatChat – 8-9:15am
- #SatchatUK – 6-7pm
- #SBS – 5-7:30pm – Dragons Den’s @TheoPaphitis Small Business Sunday with Weekly winners.
- #HandmadeHour – 8-9pm
Twitter networking events USA:
- #CreativeCoffeeHour – Every Monday at 6pm PST
I am trying to curate a list for USA based hashtags but I haven’t found many good ones. If you know of any that are active, please get in touch and I will add it to the list.
Places to sell your work
This list could go on forever, so we have picked out some of the most popular places for selling you creativity online whether that is through an online marketplace or via a print on demand service.
Handmade Products Marketplaces:
- Afrcra (US only)
- AndSoToShop (UK only)
- Art in the Heart (UK Only)
- Art Fire
- Felt (New Zealand Only)
- Folksy (UK only)
- Handmade at Amazon
- Handmade Artists (US Only)
- Handmade in Britain (British Brands Only)
- ICraft Gifts (Canada)
- Made by Handmade Online (British Brands Only)
- Made it (Australia Only)
- Misi (UK)
- Not on the High Street (UK Only)
- Renegade Craft
- Uncommon Goods
- Wolf & Badger
- iStock Photo
Print on Demand Platforms:
- DENY Design
- Fine Art America
Art Originals/Limited Editions:
- Absolut Art
- Affordable Art Fair
- ArtTree – Australia
- Producers Art
Places to List Your Creative Events:
- a-n The Artists Information Company
- Maker Faire
Download your free guide
In this guide I have pulled together all of the resources that I recommend for small creative businesses including planners & planning tools, project management apps, apps for content creation, social media management apps plus website basics.
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