There is much joy in a warm mug and good conversation, so I love to oblige when growing side hustlers and entrepreneurs ask me to coffee to chat about business. We share life stories and how we’ve discovered the passions that now make our hearts tick. The struggles that pull us back. The dreams that drive us forward.
Creative entrepreneurship is a beautiful thing, but it also can be challenging to harness infinite creating power and shrewd business sense. “How do I create when I don’t feel like creating?” “How much profit am I actually making?” If you are anything like me, those questions seemed big and swirly and not at all clear at the beginning.
Coffee and conversation - although one of my favorites - is just one in the arsenal of tools I use to keep my workflow inspired and manageable. If there is something that is going to help me grow into a better creative and businesswoman - I want to know about it, be about it, see about it. I am continually searching the internet for the blog post, the video, the Pinterest link, for the one resource that will guide me in the path of success. I’ve even Googled this exact blog title!
Well, I’ve sifted through the rubble - of which there is much - and there are a handful of of resources that have entirely changed my life and business. So, let’s have at it, shall we?
With episodes on everything from, “How to Build An Email List,” to “The Beginner’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing,” there’s not much Jenna doesn’t cover in her podcast. Available on iTunes Podcasts App and here, It’s my favorite thing to listen to when I’m feeling stuck or even - dare I say it - prone to procrastination. I just put on a bit of Jenna’s podcast and I’m motivated to take the world on with my bad self, and have even more tools to do so when I’m done. It’s also the resource I talk about most often because I find it that valuable.
I have always loved having a planner. I find cathartic release in plotting my days with colorful markers and take comfort in penning my to-do lists. Now with multiple side hustles, my to-do lists have to-do lists and my workflow has quickly outgrown my trusty old planner. Enter Trello. A project management software synced with your desktop and phone that allows you to do track timelines, create to-do lists, set deadlines, and even communicate with a team. And all for free! The discovery of Trello was a complete game changer for me; I now have a dedicated space for Booking and Clients, Marketing, Social Media Calendars, Miscellaneous Notes, and more!
3. Canva + Unsplash
Every business owner knows the importance of shortcuts, which is where two of my favorite free design resources come in: Canva and Unsplash. Sure, it would be ideal to hire a graphic designer or photographer to help execute your vision, but in a pinch - these two are great options to get you through. Canva is a free online design software that offers both DIY design and customizable templates for advertisements, brochures, flyers, and more, while Unsplash is a website dedicated to sharing of stock photography that has been donated by photographers around the world. Unsplash images are completely free (and legal) to download and use with or without credit to the original photographer. What’s more, you are welcome to tweak them to your liking (change editing style, add words, etc)!
APP ROUND-UP: Both Canva and Unsplash have free smart phone apps, but I use the app WordSwag when I’m designing 9x16 content (ie. Instagram/Facebook stories, Pinterest Images, etc). Although it costs a few dollars, I still whole-heartedly recommend - I use it weekly in my business!
I love Pinterest because it’s the perfect place to imagine your brand and flush out your vision. I have boards on everything from concepts that inspire me to a reading list of blogs I want to read later, and I even use it to help give me ideas for social media captions, content creation, and more. Not only is it a good tool to inspire your next project, it’s also one of the least trafficked platforms by businesses at present which is nothing to sneeze at when you consider both Facebook and Instagram are increasingly moving towards a pay-to-play model in order to capitalize on our digital marketing efforts. I take Pinterest seriously in my business! PS. Take a peek at my Pinterest Account here!
As a both a creative freelancer and distracted human, I love Toggl Time Tracking. Available on both desktop and smart phone, Toggl offers online time tracking and reporting services to help you take a clear look at where your time is going. If you’re working as a freelancer, download and send tracking reports complete with pie chart to your employer to validate billing hours or simply start tracking how much time you’re logging on various parts of your business - be it marketing, editing, answering email, etc. I have used Toggl in both circumstances, and it’s been a solid ally through it all.
The Venture Cafe’s The Gathering When I first heard about St. Louis’ biggest networking secret, I almost didn’t believe it. The Venture Cafe’s Gathering event takes place every Thursday evening from 3-8pm in The Cortex (4240 Duncan Ave, 2nd floor). Highlights include a chatty room full of people that span industries and professions, take-em-or-leave-em presentations covering a variety of topics, and 3 free drinks. Yes, you read correctly. Free drinks. My personal tip? Bring plenty of business cards and get there by 6pm if you want booze - I’ve seen them run out! Click here for more information!
That’s it! My Top 5 Resources for Creative Entrepreneurs. What are some of the resources you use? Leave me a comment below!