Our Favorite Business & Design Tools
Plus Referral Links!
We LOVE talking tools and technology. And we’re also really proud of the systems we’ve put together and how efficient we’ve gotten in the first year of starting our business. Below are some of our favorite tools, along with referral links if you want to get started and save some money!
Google Workspace, formerly known as GSuite, is the whole set of tools for businesses, from Gmail to Google docs, calendar, messaging, and more! We’re on the Business Standard plan ($12/user/month) with 8 users, which gives us access to shared folders for the team, along with templates (which make Jenn’s heart happy and help us present a polished look to clients). You can also get a lot of the features with the Business Starter plan ($6/user/month) if you want to try it out before committing to the higher level. We have great referral benefits for this one! Use our link and the promo code for the plan you want (below) and save 10% for the first year! (And we’ll make a few dollars, too. Everyone wins!)
Our Referral Link: referworkspace.app.goo.gl/896D
- Business Start Plan: D9JG4K4R4JY3NJ7
- Business Standard Plan: MDGYRLTV3DTM7MW
Our CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform of choice, 17hats lets us schedule with leads/clients, send automated emails, create workflows, handle invoicing, and check our P&L. We love it so much, we’ve even set up 17hats for a few clients. 17hats offers a pretty decent discount for referrals, so definitely use our link if you’re considering signing up!
Our Referral Code: rvswtkdshp
So technically 17hats can do tasks, but we needed so much more. We use Teamwork for time tracking, to add links, files, and notes to projects, and to map out our workload for the next month/quarter. It’s a little overkill for solopreneurs, but great for teams big and small! Teamwork offers inconsistent rewards for using referral links, so this might do anything for you, but why not check?
Our Referral Link: teamwork.com/partner/slajj1qcpt
We are on Slack all day, every day! Technically, you could get away with using a different messaging tool, like Google Hangouts, or even texting, BUT Slack is a convenient place to store all the messages, organize conversations by topic, and add some fun extras like custom emojis and gifs to keep our team’s spirits high! Once your team gets to 4+, it’s just easier to have a messaging platform with a way to sort conversations. No referral link for this one, but I couldn’t not mention it when it’s so crucial for us!
Airtable is spreadsheets with a serious boost! If creating formulas with Excel has always baffled you BUT you like the idea of collecting data that does the math for you, give Airtable a try. In addition to formulas, forms, and custom field types, Airtable lets you link data between tabs AND has some really cool extended functionality to create graphs and charts to visualize your data in the most meaningful way. We mostly use Airtable for planning our marketing content, but in the past, we’ve also used it to collect testimonials, report on analytics, and measure operational metrics. Like many of these tools, Airtable has free and paid versions.
Our Referral Link: airtable.com/invite/r/av5qDK6s
The best web host we know! We use Siteground to host our own website and our clients. If you want to own your own web hosting account, definitely go for Siteground (or anything other than GoDaddy, pleeeeease). Or, you can always have us handle the hosting for you, which comes with maintenance and some other cool perks. We charge $40/month for hosting and maintenance (backups, security, minor updates) or you can get an account with Siteground for as little as $15/year. Unlike other web hosts, Siteground doesn’t nickle and dime you with hidden fees and is compatible with website builders that give you flexibility and make it easier to manage your own site. Save more than 50% for the first year with our referral link!
Our Referral Link: siteground.com/go/brandswan
We cannot say enough good things about Canva! Yes, we’re graphic designers. And yes, we do a lot of our design work in traditional programs like Illustrator and InDesign. BUT you can’t beat Canva for ease of use and speed. We use it for all of our social media graphics because it’s so quick to create graphics and resize them for every network. Canva also offers video editing, interactive elements, a massive stock photo library, AND social media scheduling! (On the Pro account) While not all the features are free, you can do a lot with the freebie version. Use our referral code to get a credit towards free stock photos or graphics.
Our Referral Link: canva.com/join/zdd-ptn-mhn
There are a TON of options for marketing emails. We like Mailchimp because we’ve used it a lot AND it integrates well with many other tools. Depending which plan you get, Mailchimp lets you set up automated emails, add sign-up forms to your website, use landing pages, post to social media, send surveys, AND create workflows (although that’s one of the pricier plans). You also pay by the size of your email list so Mailchimp tends to be very affordable for most small business owners starting out with less than 2,000 contacts. The referral link for this one is stupid, and will take you to an absolutely useless page. From there, click on pricing in the top navigation to get to the information you actually care about. (Or skip all this nonsense and go directly to Mailchimp.com. We won’t be upset.)
Our Referral Link: eepurl.com/hqoDFL
We use Hootsuite for social media scheduling and analytics. If, like us, you manage multiple accounts per platform or you need to see analytics for monthly reporting, then you need a legitimate social media scheduling tool. (Small businesses who don’t care about analytics can get by with a pro Canva account!) Hootsuite is great (and offers a free option for 3 accounts or less) BUT we’ll be the first to admit, it’s not that much different than the many tools out there. We’ve also tried Buffer, SmarterQueue, and Sprout Social and they all have pros and cons. No referral link for this one but let us know what you think!