The Apps You Need to Build a Solid Design Business

September 22, 2020

Whether you’re new or established, I am excited you’re here! Building a design business with solid systems, processes, and a library of apps is tough. It took a lot of trial and error since 2014 for me to find the best apps for my business. While I don’t know if this will be the absolute best option for you, I want to help take a lot of the guesswork out for you while you’re aiming to make some big changes in your business! Here’s what I use and love the most. These apps literally help me run my business everyday.

Asana

I keep my business (and myself) completely organized with Asana. I keep my client project checklists, content calendar, and plans for future personal projects (like my courses, collaboration opportunities, and more). Having everything in one place keeps me sane and it’s easy to see each and every day what items I need to get done. I’m able to check that and my calendar before wrapping up each day and writing in my Simplified Planner the to-do’s for the following work day. It’s a streamlined process that keeps work during work hours and I enjoy my off time that much more.

ConvertKit

When I first started my own business, I started with MailChimp and I lived to regret it. While it was a free option up to a point, I wasn’t able to setup my list in a strategic way when it was time to send my newsletter to subscribers. I tried a few more options over the following months. Once I made the switch to ConvertKit, I was hooked!

ConvertKit has all the tools you need to build a robust email list which will be essential for you when growing your business and bringing in additional income. You can tag subscribers based on what they are interested in, build sequences to automatically send welcome emails to new subscribers, and automate many tasks all from within the app. It’s definitely my favorite of the many email list services I’ve tried.

HoneyBook

I’ve shared my absolute love of HoneyBook in the past. Not only do I use the app to handle all of the paperwork in my business (from contracts and invoices to client homework) but I also have a dedicated space for my clients and I to have easy access to all the documents and payments in one place. The pipeline (or dashboard) keeps all of my clients organized by project date so I can quickly see where I’m at in every project no matter how many projects I have active. The archive also helps to keep all of the information from past clients. It’s a great tool to help streamline your business so that you’re using only one app for most of your behind-the-scenes tasks. Get 50% off your first year of HoneyBook (and you get a free trial to see if it fits your needs) by going here.

G-Suite

Gmail is hands down the best email software around but did you know there are other benefits to using Google? With G-Suite, you gain access to other features like word documents, spreadsheets, and forms that you can use to collaborate and keep track of your business.

Google Docs are great for creating collaborative word documents that are easy to share and comment on. I use Google Sheets when I need to keep track of data, like expenses and income for my business. And Google Forms make it easy to collect information from people and store all the answer in one place. Using G-Suite for your business is a must-have.

Calendly

The biggest headache I had when first starting out was setting up a time and date to meetup with a client. After a million emails back and forth, we’d finally figure out a time that worked for us both but it wasted a lot of time. I wanted clients to know my availability more easily and be able to book their own appointment. Then Calendy entered my life.

Calendy connects to my Google calendar so that two different people cannot book the same time and date, I can specify days I’m unavailable, when I do have time for calls, and plan ahead for a whole year so I never need to reschedule due to my schedule being packed or because I’m out of the office. It has made the booking process so much more efficient and it’s free!

Planoly

Before planning out my posts on Instagram, I always felt like I had nothing to post. Also, I’m not a super-curated-feed kinda person, but I want my posts to feel balanced and showcase a range of my business’ assets and offerings. Planoly has been such a great tool to do just that. Not only do I schedule my posts, seeing them all on a calendar that allows me to see if I’m posting 3 times in one day then not posting again until 4 days later but I can see what those posts will look like.

The other feature I love about Planoly is that it does not violate Instagram’s terms of service. You don’t want to plan some posts then lose access to your account or have it deleted. The most important policy that can get you in trouble is if an app posts for you. When it’s time to post, you get a phone notification, it adds the photo to your phone, and copies the caption. Then you just choose the photo and paste the caption and post! It’s super simple and quick and I love that I can plan a bit more ahead of time but still post genuine and helpful content on Instagram.

Tailwind

Tailwind is such an amazing tool to really boost your traffic from Pinterest. I love using Pinterest to pin my blog posts and work. It’s a curated and visual search engine, which is a perfect way for designers to get their work and resources in front of other designers and potential clients.

Tailwind allows you to schedule your pins ahead of time so you can have consistent content being added to your account with only about an hour of time per week to set it all up. I love watching my monthly views and traffic grow the longer I use it. This is one of my favorite ways to automate my marketing.

Zoom

Before finding out about Zoom from my business coaches (thanks guys!) I was using Skype or Google Hangouts. Skype would have problems all the time with sound and video quality. It’d look great for a bit then start falling apart the longer I was on the call. Google Hangouts would stutter and the video quality left much to be desired. Since switching to Zoom (which is free and a lot easier for non-account holders to use) has had a clear video, clear audio, and it’s simple to send the link to my clients to chat with them.

You can look more or less professional based on the programs you use and I love that I’m more confident when chatting with people now. Zoom is the newest addition to my app arsenal but it’s a lifesaver!


These are my go-to apps day to day but there are a lot more I use and love! Find more information about the other resources like podcasts, tools I use to create my websites, where I got my contracts and policies, and more by clicking here.

There are so many business apps out there, it's overwhelming. I'll be sharing my favorites and how they all tie together in my design studio.

#smallbusiness #freelancer #graphicdesigner #websitedesigner #branddesigner

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