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My name is Hannah & I’m a DESIGNER & CREATIVE currently residing in Colorado! I started my own business in 2017. Since then I’ve continued to hone in on my skill set and WHAT I LOVE MOST – branding.
Running your own business isn’t easy, and when you’re first starting out we know you’ll be looking for as many ways as you can find to ease the load of that to-do list. We’ve worked together a list of some of the best apps for your business so you can start out on top and skip the scrambling phase.
Gsuite is by far one of our most useful apps and programs in our business. Pay a small $5 a month and you have all the perks of gmail with your own domain specific email. Along with a professional looking email address, you also have access to all the other apps: Google Docs (the equivalent to Microsoft Word) Google Sheets (the equivalent to Microsoft Excel) Google Slides (the equivalent to Microsoft Powerpoint), Google Forms (forms you can create and send to collect data and information) and Google Calendar. All of which you can use and organize within your Google Drive– which we will cover in more detail later.
Oh, Dubsado. We could write a love poem about this online application. When we first started out, we used Freshbooks for invoicing and bookkeeping. While it got the job done, we were finding ourselves needing other tools like contracts and project task management. Dubsado is an all in one client management system. Not only can you send invoices, contracts, and forms, but you can create and manage tasks, time track projects, and send proposals or galleries for approval. The options are endless, and the team is constantly adding updates as they listen to their user’s feedback and ideas.
Most likely you will need to make appointments with… someone during your reign as freelancer/entrepreneur. Our go-to app is Calendly. You can set up appointment times, specify meeting length and contact methods, as well as add specific questions to pick the best method and time to contact. There are more features you can unlock by paying their membership fee, like sending reminder emails and having multiple appointment options. If your business is heavily appointment based, it may be worth the investment. Definitely check them out and give the free version a go at minimum. If you create your account by connecting it with your Google Account, it will automatically add new appointments to your google Calendar as well as set reminders. If you block days or times on your Google Calendar, this will also reflect on Calendly.
Very similar to Calendly, Acuity has more features that help seamlessly connect your current on-boarding route. With the ability to embed the scheduling calendar you can place it on your website or within your Dubsado/CMS forms. There is a free version, but it doesn’t sync up to your calendar programs. This means that you will have to manually block your availability within Acuity, instead of everything connecting like Calendly. Note, if you do decided to upgrade and pay it will then allow you to sync them together.
When tax season rolls around, you’ll be wishing you had Quickbooks. Connect your business bank account and organize the purchases that roll in by their tax category. You can also take pictures of receipts or track your car mileage with their phone app. When that dreaded season rolls up, you can import all of this information into TurboTax and save yourself one major migraine.
Asana has become our all-in-one task application. Their free version is killer, and if you upgrade you get a slew more features. Make task lists or task boards that allow you to add all the specific information to each entry including due dates and files. Add users to projects and send messages within the app. We use it for personal project tasking and management, as well as drafting blog and newsletter ideas and content.
Asana is our favorite ever since it included the task board feature (heavily inspired by Trello). But, there is still a cult following for Trello, another great task app. We have also used Wunderlist and Evernote, which are similar task list oriented applications.
Not everyone has the budget, skill set, or time needed to learn and use Adobe Creative Cloud. Their photo and video editing applications are the best in our humble opinion, but there are a lot of other great options on desktop and mobile for these tasks.
If you have a Mac, iMovie is a great alternative to Adobe Premier for your video editing projects. In fact, we will use it for small scale video editing over Premier… despite having both on our computers.
A phone version of Photoshop, Snapseed is easily our favorite picture editing app on our mobile phones. Retouch image color, lighting, orientation, size, and more. You can brush away blemishes (pesky zit be-gone!) and enhance or desaturate areas of the image specifically. So many options right at your fingertips. They also include some great basic filters for easy enhancement.
Another great mobile photo editing app, the filters on VSCO are killer. With tons of free options and a huge library, you can create tonal image transformations to generate that consistent look you want on social media.
Ever get tired of the constant stopping and starting while recording on Instagram stories? Yea, us too. Instead, try recording straight from your phones recording option then throw it into Story Split to break it into the exact length you need. For Instagram, that’s 10 second clips. Then, upload the new individual trimmed clips to your stories, and rewatch to see the seamless transition between.
AZ Screen Recorder
With your IOS device there is a screen recording option already included, for Android users we have to go get something (come on Android!). Nonetheless, there are plenty of apps out there to choose from. We currently use AZ Screen Recorder that gets the job done well. It also has a snazzy “shake your phone to stop recording” feature that comes in handy.
A new obsession, Unfold is a pretty story maker for photos and videos. Lay out multiple images and video into a single story to export and upload to Instagram or other social apps. The user interface is also gorgeous, and looks like something we would design. Hah! A similar app we are still looking into is In Shot.
If you are into planning your Instagram feed, our favorite is Preview. It’s simple, basic, and gets the job done. Add your images and videos, rearrange to the layout desired and prompt post reminders. You can also draft your captions inside the app to populate when you push the post.
If you are looking for something more robust:
Planoly is comprehensive and definitely a crowd pleasure. They have a browser version allowing you to upload and plan from your computer. (Yes please!) There is an uploading limit and a upgrade plan to unlock more features. If social media management is on your plate, definitely think about upgrading to Planoly. They have also been granted access by the oh-so-strict Instagram, to auto-post. Huge!
If you need just basic layout planning, then try Preview or even Plann.
You may feel like Snapchat is past it’s glory days, but it’s video capturing features are perfect for Instagram stories. Not only do their filters look way better than Instagram’s, you can also export the video into 10 second segments after recording. This allows you to upload to Instagram stories and have seamless transitions between each story.
If you like to share other users images on Instagram, the Regram app allows you to copy the image and save it to your phone. Always remember, GIVE CREDIT. Not only on the image tag, but in the caption itself. No one likes taking credit for someone else’s work, or seeing others do it. Things can get lost in the regram loop, so if you plan to do so always plan to give credit.
This little app can be used in countless ways. We personally like using it for pushing our Instagram posts to Pinterest. To summarize IFTTT: if this “action” happens then that “action” should happen. Apply that algorithm to anything and everything.
Combin is a desktop app that assists you in your Instagram growth ventures. Search hashtags, comment, like, and follow users from your Desktop. It’s non-spammy and simply allows you to socialize like you would on your phone… on your desktop. If you are like us, tiny screens and pecking phone keyboards can be a nuisance. We love being able to type out our responses and find endless new accounts to follow and interact with all from our computer screen.
We run a company that includes a LOT of files for a lot of different people. Organization and storage is key for us. We use Dropbox and sync it to both of our computers. We are able to add, edit, and work from our Dropbox folders just like we would saving directly to our desktop and it translates to both locations AND stores it online. A little extra reassurance!
Google drive is free for those with google accounts, and as we mentioned at the top of this post a feature of Gsuite. We use this to share files with clients, as well as create folders and content for them to edit and add to. It’s a great storage and sharing method, and has plenty of space for you to start out with.
Oh look, it’s a Google app again! Google Hangouts (aka Gtalk) is a great app for chatting, video & voice calls. It is directly integrated into your gmail, or you can bring it up in a new window if you don’t want to be reminded of all those emails you haven’t responded to yet.
Another great chat and video app is Skype. You can place voice or video calls with users from around the globe. We’ve had calls with clients in Dubai, Barbados, and London without any connection issues.
If you have the pleasure of working with people from around the world like we do, WhatsApp is a great thing to know about. It connects with your phone number, and allows you to place calls with others outside of your residential country without having to pay the insane long-distance fees most providers have.
Zoom is a video app with lots of bells and whistles. You can chat with multiple users and share the screen between all, or have it showcase the person talking with the others smaller. There is a chat section as well for asking questions or making conversation while one person takes the mic.
Before Dubsado integrated their time tracking app, we used Toggl. It has a great tracking method for all of your hourly tasks. Categorize them by client or project, and color code to your heart’s content. There is a free version that works great, and also an upgrade if you need more features for your studio or team.
Quality Time monitors your time use on your phone. Get a daily breakdown of the apps you used and for how long, as well as the total time you spent on your mobile device. Take back your hours and get some accountability for those subconscious scrolling moments.
We hope this post will save you the countless hours of research or trial and error that we participated in when first starting our business. In today’s age, we have so much readily available at our fingertips. Starting your own venture is easier than ever. With the help of these tools and other professionals, there is no doubt you can take your business to the next level.
If you are at a stage in your business where you find yourself in need of branding, web design, photography and more, we hope you reach out! We would love to be of some assistance in your new venture and help you grow by creating a visual identity online that is unmatched by competitors.