I can barely believe the end of the year is starting to creep up on us, and yet it edges closer every day. As I look outside my window today, most of the leaves have dropped from their summer home on the trees, and autumn begins to slide into winter. The Christmas adverts have started cropping up on telly, and I sense a change in the air.
It feels like a good time for reflection, and so I thought I’d share with you some of the software, apps, courses and resources I’ve found particularly useful this year for running my own creative business.
I’ve split them into a few sections to help you find things easily:
The base ingredients of my business get stored in my (wonderfully yellow) Filofax. I used to have information scattered all over the shop, but since I’ve owned this beauty I know exactly where to look for key information.
My bullet journal is my world when it comes to my business. I’m not strict about sticking to the original bullet journal system, but I use it as a basis for logging my tasks.
I use a Stàlogy B6 notebook, and EVERYTHING goes down in there… daily check-ins, task lists, ideas, brainstorms, journalling, meeting notes and project planning.
I resisted this for a long time. I’ve been a long-time lover of a written appointments diary, but my booking system changed this year and a written diary just didn’t cut it anymore. I now keep all my appointments on my Apple calendar, and my bujo takes care of the rest.
I finally bit the bullet this year and moved my mailing list over to Mailerlite from Mailchimp, and I’m so glad I did. In my opinion it’s lighter and easier to use, I can create better-branded emails, their handling of groups is infinitely better and their free tier includes automation. This last point is a huge bonus for me, as it means I can actually set up email courses now… watch this space!
I’ve been using Canva a lot this year to do collaborative designing for The Dept. of Kindness, but I’ve started using it for my own business more too. It’s particularly great for creating quick & simple PDFs, flyers or social media posts. It can’t complete with Adobe CC on capability, but if you don’t have the skills or the frankly extortionate £50 a month an Adobe subscription requires, Canva is a great alternative for a solo business.
A Color Story
I’ve been using A Color Story for a couple of years now, and it’s one of my favourite Instagram editing & planning apps. It’s particularly well suited to anyone who like to use bright, colourful photos.
This is the second Instagram app I’ve been using this year, but this time for The Dept. of Kindness’ Instagram account. Its nice and simple to use, and you can schedule posts so you get a reminder – I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a planning app!
Your Life Signature
I was a guinea pig earlier this year for Cerries Mooney’s newest offering: a self-study programme to create a mini-manifesto for meaningful living. It was an amazing experience, and helped me gain real clarity on what really holds meaning for me in my business and my life in general.
(disclaimer: this is an affiliate link)
I used some of the extra time I had during the first lockdown in the UK to do a bit of CPD. I found a few interesting courses on Future Learn, and I’m now a bit more knowledgable about digital wellbeing, play theory & creative problem solving!
The Good Ship Illustration
I joined the Good Ship Illustration’s course Fly your Freak Flag in the summer, and it was so much fun! I don’t have plans to become a professional illustrator at all, but it was fun to stretch my creative and artistic muscles a bit. They have a bunch of free drawing exercises too…
The Calm app
Staying calm, relaxed and centered is the bedrock of me being able to run my own business, and I find myself coming back to the Calm app again and again.
It’s one of the few apps I’m actually willing to pay a subscription for at the moment, and in the turmoil of 2020 it’s proven its worth to me.