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My 10 Favorite Programs for Creative Business Owners (Updated 5/11/19)

Hey Guys! I wanted to do a post on my top 10 favorite apps/programs because I get asked a lot about how to stay organized, what program is the best for this or that and I absolutely love all these programs. Each one will have a link to check it out (Some links may be affiliate links). I may make another post in the future on some of them going into more detail about how I use them! Here they are in no particular order! Most of these options are either free or very affordable, and the great thing is they are all available online and don't require you to download any software to your computer to use them!

UPDATE 5/11/19: I have discontinued using some of these programs and have replaced them with similar products that I now use. I have left notes of what changes I have made and why! My revisions are shown in red.

1. Trello (trello.com, FREE) Great tool for making lists, organizing information, and so much more!

This is probably the one tool on this list that I use the most often! It is very easy to use for pretty much anything! The example picture above shows a glimpse of my Trello board that I use to keep track of all of my patterns. It is really easy to setup and label and color code for certain things, leave comments, attach pictures, and so much more! I could go on and on about Trello and what it can be used for! This program, I will for sure be blogging about in more detail at a later time! 

The way Trello is setup is very simple. You start with a Board. You can have multiple boards within your Trello account. I basically have a few different boards for personal and business. Within your board you create lists. This is basically like a sub category of whatever you are using your board for. Then you have cards that are added to the different lists. The cards can easily be moved or copied from one list to another.

In the example above for our vinyl database, the Board is called Vinyl Database and then each list is a category of types of patterns we offer. So each pattern set we offer is added to a card and then that card is added to a list based on the type of pattern it is. So all of our patterns that are of Animal Prints are all separate cards but are on the same list. Each card has the name of the pattern, a picture of the pattern set, and then lots of info about the pattern. You can click on the card to go into it to see more details. You can add comments, more images, links, notes, and label them based whatever you need to use to organize them.

Trello has a great filtering and search tool you can use to find your info easily, even if you aren't on the right board. You can search by name or any other piece of information you have on the card. For my patterns, they each have a SKU so I can easily search by SKU to find that particular pattern quickly.

Here are just a few examples of what I use Trello for:

~To Do List
~Custom Order Progress
~Product Pricing
~Font List
~Instructions/Steps for Specific Tasks
~Grocery List
~Journal
~Important Passwords/Links
~Yearly Calendar
~Product Ideas
~Social Media Post Ideas
~Favorite Recipes
~Checklists for Shopping
~Inventory Tracker

2. Shipstation (shipstation.com, Starting at $9/month.) Best program for keeping track of orders, inventory, and shipping

This is the main tool my employees and I use for keeping all of our orders in one place!

I have changed the program I use for shipping. I still use Shipstation (on the $9 plan) just so I can access my old records but for shipping, inventory management, etc. I have switched to Shipping Easy (Shippingeasy.com) The price options are about the same but the biggest reason I have switched is because now that I use Shopify for my website, Shipping Easy will AUTOMATICALLY update my inventory counts to Shopify and Etsy where before I had to do it manually. I could not tell you how many hours a week I was spending on updating inventory and just knew there had to be a better way. I much prefer Shipstation's user interface, so it isn't that I don't like Shipstation, but with how I have everything setup, Shipping Easy made more sense for how I have everything setup. If you don't need extensive inventory control, then either program would work just fine for you!

3. Etsy (etsy.com, Price varies) E-commerce marketplace for handmade, supply, and vintage sellers

In addition to my website, I also sell on Etsy. If you are just starting out or want to expand your business, Etsy is a great place to start!

4. Get Vela (getvela.com, FREE) Bulk updating program for Etsy and Shopify. I had some glitches with using it for Shopify, but I think it is more the limitations of Shopify than anything.

5. Buffer (buffer.com, FREE & paid plans) Social Media manager/scheduler

6. Craftybase (craftybase.com, Starts at $9/month) Inventory/Accounting software for creative businesses 

I am working on switching to Quickbooks. Craftybase is still a good option, again it really just depends on what features you need for your business.

7. Home Base (app.joinhomebase.com, FREE & paid plans) program for scheduling/time clock for employees

8. Go Daddy (godaddy.com, Price varies) great option for having your own website including domains and hosting 

I no longer use GoDaddy for hosting but I kept my domains with them. Since I switched to Shopify, I don't need hosting because it is all include with your Shopify plan. 

9. Cognito Forms/Jot Form (cognitoforms.com & jotform.com, FREE & paid plans) programs to create forms to collect information, surveys, etc. from customers Now that I have switched to Shopify, I won't be using these form building tools as much because there are free apps that work within Shopify for the same thing that are easier to use. If you are needing forms for other purposes, these options are still great!

10. Canva (canva.com, FREE and paid plans) great program to design graphics for social media, websites, and much more without needing to know much about designing!


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  • Cathay Murry on

    Great stuff!


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