Looking to level up your creative business in 2023?
Over the past couple of years, I’ve discovered (or rediscovered) several programs that have helped me start and grow my business.
Here, I’m gathering them together and sharing with you my 12 favorite tools for creative entrepreneurs in 2023. I hope you find them as useful as I have!
Showit is the builder I used to design my new website. Now that I’m used to it… it’s awesome.
Totally drag-and-drop, Showit is the most flexible website builder I’ve used to date.
While I still love Squarespace for its simplicity, I enjoy designing select websites on Showit for clients who are, shall we say, more “creatively minded”!
Showing is (often) better than telling, right?
With Loom, you can record video messages of your screen, camera, or both — a way faster (and more personal) method of communication than typing or even meeting live.
Till, the agency where I work part-time as a copywriter, uses Loom all the time to explain new ad campaign requests and other ideas. I myself use it to record website walk-throughs and trainings for my clients.
In honor of my blog post, “My 9 Favorite Podcasts for Creative Entrepreneurs,” I’m sharing my favorite podcast app.
Why, you ask, do I pay $0.99 per month* on Pocket Casts instead of using Apple Podcasts or Spotify, both of which I already have?
Well, it’s prettier. 😂 Which sounds like an absolutely ridiculous reason, and it is … unless you are an aesthetics-loving Enneagram Four like me.
Pocket Casts does have a bunch of extra features that I love, too, such as:
I have no idea if there’s anything particularly unique about Pocket Casts’ features. 😅 But the clean interface and customizable themes are enough for me!
*Pretty sure there’s a free version too, but I wanted the desktop app.
Love the look + feel of this content survey (which I’d love for you to fill out, BTW)?
I created it with Typeform, the tool that makes answering questions fun.
Along with surveys, you can make and share applications, quizzes, polls, and more, all using simple, beautiful templates.
Under the free plan, you can create unlimited Typeforms (with limited options) — which is perfect for solopreneurs like me in the beginning stages of our businesses!
If you’re a designer who hasn’t been taking advantage of Creative Market’s free weekly assets… how on earth have you been getting by?!
Creative Market is a massive online marketplace where artists sell graphics, fonts, templates, and more.
Every Monday, the marketplace offers six “Free Goods of the Week,” which you can download (and get notified about) by signing up for a free account.
I’ve been snagging free assets since March 2017. Aside from Google Fonts and Typewolf’s “10 Best Free Fonts That Aren’t Available on Google Fonts,” Creative Market is where I’ve found all the free fonts I’ve used while designing websites.
Even though we’re not “on the clock” the way many employees are, it’s important for creative entrepreneurs to track our time so we can identify patterns and create efficiencies.
My favorite time-tracking tool is Toggl Track, an intuitive time tracker with great reporting features and a handy Chrome extension.
If you haven’t been tracking your time yet, Toggl is an easy way to start.
I am officially obsessed with this business management software.
Years ago, I had been using Bonsai to manage my clients, proposals, invoices, and other back-end business needs. While I still think Bonsai is fabulous for freelancers, over the past couple of years, I’ve fallen in love with the additional features Dubsado has to offer, namely:
If you’re interested in trying this powerful CRM for your business, you can use my affiliate code to get 20% off your first month or year of Dubsado!
When I started my business, I used ConvertKit to send my marketing emails because, well, it’s free.
Up to a point, that is. In the free ConvertKit plan, you get up to 1,000 subscribers and no automation or other advanced features.
While ConvertKit is considered more feature-rich, Flodesk is considered more aesthetic — and it’s still pretty young, so it should continue to add new features as it grows.
So, after testing out the free 30-day trial of Flodesk, I chose to lock in the beta price before it increased this fall. So far, so good!
(A bit of a stretch, but if you think of James Clear’s entire habit-forming framework as a “tool”… well, just go with it.)
And the book does live up to its hype! If you’re interested in breaking a bad habit, building a good one, or just self-improvement in general:
Chrome users, stop what you’re doing right now and go download Brave.
I’m serious. In one month since switching to Brave, I saved 38 minutes of browsing time and almost 45,000 trackers and ads — including all those annoying ones on YouTube!
Plus, it takes barely a minute to set up, as it imports all your Chrome bookmarks, extensions, and passwords for you (if you want).
With 3x faster page load times than Google Chrome, 33% less memory usage, and up to one hour more battery life, Brave is the browser that’s built to perform. Unlike Google Chrome, Brave automatically blocks ads that track you, allowing your content to load quicker. And since Brave is powered by the same engine as Google Chrome, all of your favorite Chrome extensions are still readily available for use. The difference? Brave delivers superior performance because of our commitment to protect user privacy. It’s truly a win-win.
Gusto is the payroll system we use at Till, and I like it better than any others I’ve used in the past.
For one thing, it’s actually pretty. 😄 Hey, I can’t be the only employee who cares about aesthetics! And as a website designer, I place a high value on user experience.
Gusto is more than a great interface, though. It bills itself as an “all-in-one HR platform,” with tons of tools to help you manage your business:
I will say, now that Till has switched our time tracking tool from Toggl Track to Gusto, I’ve still found Toggl to be more reliable in that area.
All things considered, though, I highly recommend Gusto if you run a business with employees!
If you run a creative business, you’re likely aware of Canva. But in case you aren’t, here you go (and you’re welcome).
Canva is an online program that allows you to design and publish virtually anything. There’s a free version, but I pay for Canva Pro, which includes additional features like custom fonts, Background Remover, Magic Resize, and more.
You can use Canva for everything from Instagram graphics to printed posters. Trust me: unless you’re an Adobe pro, you pretty much need Canva in your life as a creative entrepreneur!
If you’ve read this far, I assume you’re serious about building your creative business in 2023.
For more tips on how to increase your productivity and profits, I invite you to join my monthly email newsletter, Passing Notes, where I share creative ways to improve your writing, your website, your business, and even your personal life.
Real talk: I hate emails that don’t have meaning. I promise mine will (and already do).
Whether I see you in the inbox or not, I hope these business tools help you have a purposeful and profitable 2023!