I’ve been running my own business since 2014 and I have learned a couple of things along the way, one of them being the best online business tools! Seriously, nowadays with an online business you need a lot of reliable tools that help streamline your process, keep you organized and ultimately make your business more enjoyable to grow. I’m going to be sharing all the tools that I use in my own business and pull back the curtain for you to see what goes into running a streamlined business.
Some of these tools have monthly fee and others I use the free version. In my opinion having some monthly bills that take the stress out and do most of the work for me is well worth the investment. It’s like delegating some of the admin things that I don’t like doing to an app so that I have more time designing. Either way I’m going to walk you through all the online business tools I use to run Emmygination.
Invoices + Contracts
First off, the most important part of any service based business is contracts! You need a solid contract before you begin to work on any project and with any client. Contracts are hard to do on your own and so investing in a service that helps you manage client projects and make contracts, proposals and invoices is a must!
Bonsai is a cool client manager app that handles invoices, contracts and proposals. It helps a lot with the on boarding process of a client and has a bunch of templates ready for any freelancer to use. I’ve been using this app since I started my business and love it’s gorgeous design and intuitive flow. Check it out here. Or try it free here.
Organization + Planning
I love having a physical planner for my day to day. I live for that feeling of crossing out tasks and marking them done, but I do like having a digital calendar to plan ahead and get every aspect of my business organized. Plus it’s nice to have a digital platform where you can delegate tasks. Since me and my husband work together and sometimes bring in freelancers, we like having a platform where we can all communicate and be on the same page.
I love Asana for brainstorming ideas, planning out projects and creating color-coded calendars. Note that I do not use this for my day to day planning (I got my Rifle Paper Co planner for that), but I use Asana to plan out big projects and goals. Oh and did I mention that it’s free?!
Any business needs some design! Whether thats for creating Instagram graphics, creating media kits or anything else that may come up… you need some design tools!
Adobe Creative Cloud
Running a design studio means I gotta have the latest and greatest so Adobe is the way to go. I have the whole roster of apps but my go-to’s are Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign and Lightroom. If you’re an entrepreneur you do not need to get the whole Adobe Creative Cloud, but Photoshop and Lightroom should be on your radar if you wanna handle all your design + editing for marketing purposes!
A Color Story + Filmm App
More for social media, but I edit all my photos with A Color Story and even schedule my posts right in the app (for free!). If I’m feeling extra fancy, i’ll use the Filmm app to edit videos for Instagram Stories. I don’t normally do it unless it’s a pre-planned thing but those two apps are the best ones for editing on the go!
Marketing is one of the most important parts of my business. I focus mainly on Pinterest marketing followed by my email list. To manage all of these I invested in three apps that are my ride or dies!
I schedule all of my Pinterest marketing strategies through Tailwind. Meaning that I can plan from a week to a month in advance and then let it run on autopilot and watch my site traffic grow! Check it out!
This one is new to me! I used to be on the MailChimp bandwagon but recently switched because of ConvertKit’s capabilities. ConvertKit is a great email marketing tool. It has so many options to create funnels and to communicate with your audience. I’m not gonna lie, I’m still getting the hang of it! Check it out here.
Ever wonder how people create those beautiful landing pages and pop-up opt-ins? Leadpages! It’s a very intuitive app that you can use to create beautiful graphics for site pages, sales pages, opt-in forms etc. Plus it integrates with virtually any email marketing tool.
And last but not least I wanted to toss in all the extra services that I pay for monthly that help run the more administrative side of my business like servers, emails and that physical address every LLC needs. Just in case you’re looking or wondering about the basic online business tools you need when setting everything up.
I know there are a couple of popular servers out there but the one we’ve been using for ages is Digital Ocean. This one is not common in the blogging world but it’s more common in the developer world. It’s super cheap compared to other’s at only $5 a month and it’s super easy to set up. It is more for developers though and if I didn’t have a husband that knew developer things, I would go with Flywheel (which is what we recommend to clients!).
For all our emails we use Google. It’s easy, dependable and fairly cheap to have an email with your own domain. Enough said.
And finally, with any online business you need a virtual mailbox! If you have a business that’s not a brick and mortar then you need a physical address. We use iPostal for our virtual mailbox, but we also liked Anytime Mailbox and used to have it when we lived in LA. Since moving, iPostal had a closer mailbox for us to actually go to if need be so switched. Either way, having a virtual mailbox as an online business tool is a must.
That’s about it! Honestly it does take a lot of tools to run a business but I am happy to report that my monthly bills are under $100 to run my business and that’s a very low overhead. Anything else that comes up in terms of bills or tools that I need to effectively run my business are random e-courses or office supplies!
What tools do you use in your business? Or which ones are you looking to integrate? Let me know in the comments below!