New software for businesses comes out almost every day. Here is the software I currently use for my creative consulting company. I’m sure you have found some software gems for your business, so comment below to let us all know your favorites. A couple of these have affiliate links but they won’t cost you anything, in fact some of them give you a better discount.
1-3) Affinity Suite for Creative Design Software
Ok, this suite takes up my first three spots but that’s because they are great stand alone products for creating visuals.
1 – Affinity Designer:
This is a vector application (alternative software to Adobe Illustrator). All the design you see with logos, patterns, and brand identity pieces were created in Affinity Designer. It is lightning fast, works on Windows or Mac–and there is no subscription!
You could also use raster on your vectors, making this a welcome application for illustrators.
Pros: One time, affordable price, professional software, does 95% of what I would typically need to do on Adobe Illustrator
Cons: The other 5% of features aren’t there. For example, the “Live Trace” feature, where it outlines drawings, isn’t available.
2 – Affinity Photo:
This is a photo-editing application (alternative software to Adobe Photoshop). I use this to stylize photos and erase unwanted elements. Their Inpainting Brush Tool has been a lifesaver. I like to use imagery with text over it. This tool allows me to remove unwanted items from a photo in seconds.
Biggest Con: No smart objects for drag and drop mockups like available in Photoshop.
3 – Affinity Publisher:
(alternative software to Adobe Publisher) I make documents, forms, and PDF’s with this application. The most advanced feature in this application is the ability to use all three apps in one window. If you own the other apps (Designer + Photo), then at the click of a button, you can change the whole window to use all the tools associated with that application.
In Affinity Publisher, I lay out my document text, then drop an image in the background. I see the image has something which doesn’t complement the design, so I click on the “Affinity Photo” button and use the inpainting brush tool to fix it. I then can click on the “Affinity Designer” button and make a few vector elements on the page. Next, I click back to the “Affinity Publisher” button and continue working on the layout and flow of the document–all in one window!
4) Grammarly for Writing Tools
Grammarly is a relatively new piece of software for me. I’m actually using it right now to type out this blog. This is like the bigger, stronger, better looking brother of the “check spelling” feature you’re familiar with.
I’ve seen the advertisements but never thought it was for me. After a week of the free version, I knew I had to purchase it. Tight writing isn’t my strong suit. It has been helping me tremendously and, not to mention, you, the poor reader who has to put up with my writing mistakes. You can give the free version a chance to see if this is something useful.
5) Squarespace for Website Building
I have been using Squarespace for quite a while now and am a Squarespace Circle Member. I used to swear by them as a platform, but as new competitors come on the scene, I’m curious to see if they continue to keep their edge. I know how to use it, and their simple drag-and-drop blocks save me hours a week in website updates.
I still highly recommend them to business owners who are in the market for a professional presence, which does all the basic things you need well. For businesses that have an extensive selection of products or use their website for robust communications and plugins, there are other platforms which might be a better fit.
6) Tailwind for Social Media (Pinterest)
As a creative consultant, Pinterest has proven to be the best social media platform for me. The platforms setup gives creators and consumers an ideal place to find information, making it the right choice for creative consultants. Around 80% of social media traffic to the Trailway website comes through Pinterest.
I’ve started using the Tailwind App to schedule posts and connect with others. I love the features it offers, and it allows me to stay active without having to post around the clock. Saving time, I think, is at the top of every business owner’s list, and they have helped me do that while still staying active.
7) MeetFox for Client Scheduling + Video Calls
MeetFox is another new tool for me. I’ve used Calendly in the past and highly recommend them for what they do. MeetFox is similar in that they have a clean, simple scheduling user interface. What separates them is their integration with video calling via Web Browser.
The fact that new clients can schedule and join a video call without having to download a piece of software, is a welcome innovation. They are a newer application, implementing new features on their roadmap and I’m enjoying seeing where they are taking the company.
8) And.Co for Contracts + Payments
I looked through a bunch of payment gateway software, but what intrigued me the most about And.Co was their contract template. They partnered with lawyers to give freelancers and creative studios a standardized contract. The contract is straightforward and allows customization. This is a huge breath of fresh air for creatives who haven’t been using any contract for their projects. That’s what intrigued me, what’s kept me with them has been their simplicity and functionality.
And.Co offers a simple user interface and mobile app, which has been quite enjoyable for me to use. I’ve been able to resend contracts and update big projects while on the go. I have other software now which can handle the payment gateways and contracts, yet I still use And. Co. They do what they say they do and do it well. And when you’re talking about getting paid, this is something very important.
9) Email Newsletter: Mailchimp (?)
I’m a bit up in the air here. I’m using Mailchimp again after spending some time trying different applications, which just didn’t hit the mark for me. I like Mailchimp. They are integrated with other marketing tools, and their templates are clean and professional. But I’m still not convinced just yet on it being the best fit for my creative consulting business. I mean to look into Drip and ConvertKit next. What email platforms are you using? And what are the pros/cons you’ve learned from using them?