We artists and visionaries often find ourselves lost in a sea of ideas, struggling to navigate the treacherous waters of marketing, finances and business. It's like trying to paint a masterpiece while juggling flaming swords and reciting the quadratic formula backward.
Challenging, to say the least.
Our creativity knows no bounds, but alas, our organizational skills sometimes fall short. We get so caught up in the magic of our craft that the mundane tasks of marketing and finance get neglected. Who has time for spreadsheets and social media algorithms when there are worlds to be created and beauty to be shared?
But fear not, my fellow creatives!
There are tools out there to help us rein in the chaos and bring order to our creative businesses. It doesn't have to feel so floppy and weird. We can bring it in and create a path that feels more "organic" and authentic to us as creatives.
As a creative entrepreneur, navigating the intricate world of marketing and finances can often feel like a daunting task. And In my experience it's the first thing to go when time gets short...but it's the last thing that should.
As a mom to five wonderful children, I know firsthand the juggling act required to manage a home, chickens, a huge garden, clients, and my own creative business.
The daily chaos can be overwhelming, leaving little time to breathe, let alone focus on the creative pursuits I love.
It was precisely this wild ride that inspired me to share my experiences in this post.
I've been through it all – from painting mishaps on the kitchen table with mayo (yes, you read that right!) to witnessing my kids' imaginative chicken circus performances in the backyard.
But amidst the craziness, I discovered a silver lining – the power of digital tools in bringing order to the mayhem. By incorporating some systems thinking and organizational skills into my creative process, I've found that I can finally escape the constant firefighter mode, ceaselessly putting out fires all day long. Of course, my kids still manage to create a few small fires here and there, but with the right tools, they are now more manageable.
So, in this post, I wanted to share some of the remarkable tools I personally use and swear by. From task managers that help me stay on top of my daily to-dos, digital calendars that keep me sane amidst the hustle, to design software that unleashes my creativity, and email marketing platforms that connect me with my clients seamlessly – these tools have transformed the way I run my creative business. By embracing technology and empowering myself with these digital gems, I've reclaimed valuable time and energy, enabling me to focus on what truly matters – my passion for creativity.
If you find yourself nodding along, struggling to balance the beautiful chaos of motherhood and creative entrepreneurship, know that you are not alone. Embrace these digital allies, and you'll soon witness the magic of streamlined efficiency. So, let's embark on this journey together and pave the way for more joy and fulfillment in both our creative endeavors and family adventures!
In this digital age, a plethora of tools are available to help you streamline and optimize your creative business. In this article, we'll explore a range of indispensable digital tools that will revolutionize the way you operate, including task managers, digital calendars, design software, email marketing platforms, SEO tools, and more. Let's embark on a journey to supercharge your creative business!
Here are some popular options that you can explore:
Task Managers and Digital Calendars:
Managing tasks and deadlines is crucial for a successful creative business.
In the midst of juggling a billion tasks daily, from marketing and finances to kid management and home maintenance, having a well-structured plan is essential for getting the most important things done.
Prioritize tasks and set achievable goals for both professional and personal responsibilities. Utilize time management techniques, delegate tasks where possible, and consider using task management apps to keep organized. Protect dedicated creative time and remember to take some time for rest. By breaking down overwhelming challenges with a realistic and flexible approach (and remember you cant do everything in 24 hours), you can navigate the complexities of life and creative entrepreneurship with confidence and achieve long-term success.
Here are some essential tools:
- Todoist: First up, we have Todoist, a trusty sidekick with a knack for task management. With its powerful features and intuitive interface, it's like having a personal assistant who won't judge you for wearing mismatched socks. Set due dates, create recurring tasks, and even collaborate with your fellow dreamers. Todoist has your back.
- Trello: Next, we meet Trello, the visual virtuoso. Imagine a giant wall adorned with sticky notes, but without the risk of your mischievous cat knocking them down. Trello's boards, lists, and cards allow you to organize your tasks and projects with ease. Drag and drop like a boss and collaborate effortlessly. It's like having your very own artistic director, minus the beret and pretentious French accent.
- Monday: Streamline your workflows, assign tasks, and track progress with Monday's comprehensive task management platform.
- Asana: Asana is a comprehensive task management platform that offers features for creating tasks, setting due dates, assigning tasks to team members, and tracking progress. You know, for when you start to hire or build a team! Yep you got this. It provides a centralized hub for project management and collaboration. Asana steps onto the stage, donning its cape of comprehensive task management. With Asana, you can assign tasks to team members, track progress, and keep your creative endeavors in one centralized hub. It's like having a superhero sidekick that handles the nitty-gritty details while you save the world with your art. Assign tasks, track progress, and keep your creative endeavors in one centralized hub with Asana.
- Google Tasks: Google Tasks is a simple and straightforward task manager integrated with Google's suite of productivity tools. It allows you to create tasks, set due dates, and organize them into lists. It seamlessly integrates with Google Calendar, making it convenient for managing your schedule. A match made in digital heaven for the artist who wants to manage their schedule with ease.
- Microsoft To Do: Microsoft To Do is a task management app that syncs across devices and integrates with Microsoft's productivity ecosystem. It offers features like due dates, reminders, and collaboration options. It also includes smart suggestions and a My Day feature to help you prioritize tasks.
- Any.do: Last but not least, Any.do steps into the spotlight, the master of multitasking. Attach files and notes to your tasks, integrate with other apps and services, and conquer your creative chaos. Any.do is the Swiss Army knife of task managers, ready to tackle any challenge you throw its way.
Design and Creativity:
Unlocking your creative potential begins with harnessing the power of design tools like Adobe Creative Cloud and Canva. These tools offer a wealth of possibilities to bring your ideas to life, but before diving in headfirst, it's crucial to recognize the importance of crafting a unique visual identity based on your brand's actual strategy.
Crafting a visual identity starts with a comprehensive brand strategy. Take the time to define your target audience, brand mission, and key differentiators. These insights will serve as the foundation for designing a distinct and cohesive visual representation of your brand. Consider elements like colors, fonts, logos, and imagery that align with your brand's personality and resonate with your audience. A consistent and recognizable visual identity not only helps you stand out from the crowd but also fosters brand recognition and loyalty.
Unlock your creative potential with these design tools:
- Adobe Creative Cloud: Access a wide range of industry-standard design software, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, through Adobe Creative Cloud. These may be a bit difficult for a newbie but they do the job. In addition to the core software applications, Adobe Creative Cloud includes complementary tools and services, such as Adobe Fonts, Adobe Stock, and Adobe Portfolio. Adobe Fonts offers a vast collection of high-quality fonts for your design projects, while Adobe Stock provides a vast library of royalty-free images, videos, illustrations, and templates to enhance your creative work. With Adobe Portfolio, you can showcase your portfolio in a professional and visually stunning manner, allowing potential clients or employers to explore your work.Adobe Creative Cloud offers flexible subscription plans that cater to different needs and budgets. Whether you opt for a single app subscription or the full suite, Adobe Creative Cloud empowers you with the tools and resources to unleash your creativity and elevate your design skills.
- Canva: Create eye-catching graphics, social media posts, presentations, and more with Canva's user-friendly platform. ****However, before you go slapping a bunch of Canva's free clip art all over your posts please create a consistent visual identity to draw from. Canva is a great tool but if you are using a lot of the pre-made templates or graphics you will look like everyone else out there. Be sure to build a visual identity that is unique to you first.
So, before you immerse yourself in the world of design tools, remember that a well-crafted brand strategy and visual identity are the cornerstones of a successful and memorable brand. Use Adobe Creative Cloud and Canva to breathe life into your creative vision, but let your unique visual identity be the guiding light that sets you apart and leaves a lasting impression on your audience. Embrace your creativity, and with the right strategy in place, watch your brand soar to new heights of success.
Project Management and Collaboration:
Don't let the many hats you wear, wear you out. Use a tool or create one. I have (here it is if you want it). I am constantly creating tools or adjusting mine to be better or more efficient. Find a tool that helps you wear all the hats for just the right amount of time.
Efficient project management and collaboration are essential for a thriving creative business. Consider these tools:
- Basecamp: Simplify project management and enhance collaboration with Basecamp's centralized communication and file sharing.
- Slack: Facilitate seamless team communication, file sharing, and integration with other tools.
- Monday is also a great tool for project management too.
Connect with your audience and drive conversions using these email marketing platforms:
- Mailchimp: Create customized email campaigns, automate workflows, and analyze performance with Mailchimp. However I am not a huge fan of mail chimps usability or ease of use. If I were to rate it I would give it a 4 out of 10 for usability, SEO, deliverability etc.
- Flodesk: I personally use Flodesk for my own email marketing. Heck if you use this link it will give you 50% off your year if you sign up. I use this myself and It's perfect for designing beautiful and personalized email marketing campaigns that deliver. For real, they actually make it to your intended recipient. with Flodesk's intuitive platform and stunning templates I highly suggest them. Actually if you want a small discount and want to help me out too, use this link. ;)
- Constant Contact: Another powerful email marketing platform that simplifies the process of creating, sending, and tracking email campaigns. This is my second runner up in terms of better deliverability and customer service. It offers a wide range of customizable templates, list management features, automation tools, and real-time analytics. Constant Contact also provides additional marketing features like event management, surveys, and social media integration, making it a comprehensive solution for small businesses and creative entrepreneurs. However one downfall that I find is that it's not easy to set up emails that are actually designed well. You will have to pay extra for them to design custom branded email templates.
Ensure smooth financial management with these tools:
- Fincent: Fincent is a cutting-edge financial management platform designed to simplify and optimize your financial life. With its user-friendly interface and powerful features, Fincent helps you track expenses, manage budgets, and gain insights into your financial health effortlessly. Take control of your finances with Fincent and embark on a journey towards a more secure and prosperous future.
- YNAB: If you didn't know it stands for You Need A Budget. And honestly, you really do. If you aren't taking control of your finances then more than likely they are controlling you. So, do yourself a favor and start looking at your money more like a tool. And THIS tool I use personally and professionally and highly recommend it. You can set it up to give yourself a budget for both your business and your personall life. Yep. I recommend you seperate your business and personal finances for so many reasons but hey, I am not a "financial advisor" but I can give you a few tips. And, if you sign up using my link we both get a little something. Which is always nice.
- Bench: Outsource bookkeeping tasks and get professional bookkeeping services tailored to creative entrepreneurs.
- QuickBooks: Manage your business finances, track income and expenses, and handle invoices with ease using QuickBooks' comprehensive accounting software.
Analytics and Optimization:
You know the saying "If life gives you lemons"? Well my fine creative friends. I live by the saying, "If life gives you lemons...analyze where they came from."
If you find out that your website bounce rate is 100% then for goodness sakes figure out why! To do that you need to track it.
Improve your website and marketing strategies with these tools:
- Hotjar: Gain valuable insights into user behavior, optimize your website, and enhance user experience with Hotjar's heatmaps, visitor recordings, and surveys. I love this tool. I use it on my own website. PSSSSt. I am probably tracking you right now. ;) It's how I know what you like, and don't and I highly recommend you use it on your own website.
- SEMrush: Boost your SEO efforts, analyze competitor data, and optimize your online presence with SEMrush's comprehensive suite of SEO tools.
- Google Analytics: Google Analytics is a helpful tool from Google that shows how people use websites and apps. It tells us where visitors come from, what they do on the site, and if they buy or do something important. This helps businesses know what's working well and what needs to be improved on their websites. It's like having a special detective that gives you smart clues about your website!
Expand your reach and sell your creative products with these e-commerce tools:
- Shopify: Build and manage your online store seamlessly with Shopify's customizable storefronts, secure payment options, and inventory management. It's one of my favorite options for ecommerce.
- GoImagine: GoImagine is an online marketplace that caters to artists and crafters looking to sell their handmade products. It offers a platform where you can create your online store, list your unique creations, and connect with a community of like-minded individuals. GoImagine focuses on supporting independent artists and small businesses by providing them with a dedicated platform to showcase their craftsmanship and reach a broader audience. It offers features such as product listings, customizable storefronts, secure payment options, and promotional tools to help you promote and sell your creations effectively.
- WooCommerce: If you're running your website on WordPress, WooCommerce is a popular plugin that transforms your WordPress site into a feature-rich online store. With WooCommerce, you have full control over your e-commerce store, including product listings, payment gateways, shipping options, and customization capabilities.
- BigCommerce: BigCommerce is a robust e-commerce platform designed to help businesses of all sizes sell products online. It offers a comprehensive set of features, including responsive themes, secure hosting, payment integrations, SEO tools, and multi-channel selling capabilities. BigCommerce focuses on providing scalability and performance, making it suitable for growing creative businesses.
- SquareSpace: This tool combines website building and e-commerce capabilities, making it a popular choice for creative entrepreneurs. With Squarespace Commerce, you can create visually stunning websites and seamlessly integrate an online store. It offers a range of e-commerce features, including product management, secure checkout, inventory tracking, and marketing tools.
- Wordpress: You can easily create a free website or build a blog with ease on WordPress.com, which offers dozens of free, customizable, mobile-ready designs and themes, not to mention free hosting and support. Premium plans can run anywhere between $4 and $45 for more features. It's a great place to start.
Time Tracking and Productivity:
Boost your productivity and make the most of your time with these tools:
Social Media & Other Tools
- Buffer: You can schedule up to 10 social media posts in advance for a specific time and day, and you can see which posts perform well with their basic analytics. Buffer Free allows you to connect one profile on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. It’s simple and very user-friendly and it's free.
- Later: I use Later myself and love that I can schedule posts and captions in advance and love that I can set it and forget it for months. I use a sweet social tool that I created myself and it allows me to create months of content without all the fuss and then post it without thinking about it everyday.
- Framelapse - A full-featured app for Android™ devices, artists can record and create high-quality time-lapse videos of their works-in-progress.
- Afterlight - Afterlight is an image editing app for Android, iOS and Windows Phone that gives you the tools to enhance your photos with adjustment tools and filters, purchase pre-sets from other artists, or create your own which is pretty slick.
- Wall App - The WallApp helps art buyers to quickly visualize your artwork in different rooms by uploading an image to preset room templates.
- VSCO - This photo-editing app has a cult following and is the go-to app for Instagram influencers. This app comes with pre-set filters, photo editing and a creative community and is free to start and up to 19.99/year.
- Toggl: Keep track of your time, analyze productivity, and optimize your workflow. Hint. This will help you determine how long that painting or ceramics piece actually takes you. That way you can finally put a price on it.
Remember to explore these tools and consider their features, user interface, and compatibility with your devices and workflow. You are going to have different preferences, so finding the right task manager or digital calendar that suits your needs is essential for maintaining consistency in your creative journey.
So, dear creative, take heart!
With these tools by your side, and a creative business coach like me... ;)
you can conquer the mountain of marketing and finance tasks that threaten to
bury your artistic dreams.
Embrace the order, tame the chaos, and let your creativity soar to new heights.
The world is waiting for your brilliance, and now you have the tools to make it happen. Onward, my friend, and may your creative journey be as organized as it is extraordinary!
Ah, the eternal struggle of the creative mind.