Like any other business, there’s a lot of work that goes into being a graphic designer. Simple things such as file management, client records, payments, stock photography and most of all designing can be a lot more organised with the right tools.
There are many many options online, but it takes a while to play with a few before you find the one that works for you. In this article we are going to list out a few of our favourites. Some new and some old, some paid and some free, tools that have helped us keep things in place and hopefully can do the same for you too.
We’ve talked about this in a previous article and we can’t say enough! The Adobe Creative Cloud! This is of course your first investment and it’d rather be done right. You pay a monthly charge as per your plan and get access to ALL of Adobe’s softwares including many new ones such as Muse and CreativeSync. You also get access to stock photos and fonts and many other design resources. Like all others, you can access the cloud from any gadget, anywhere. Which we think is great! The best part is that Adobe provides different plans for large and small businesses, individuals as well as students. So even while you’re in college, you can rock it!
Alternatively there’s an online tool called Canva. This has lately taken the internet by storm. It is a brilliant tool for full time bloggers who tend to create their own pictures and little illustrations to give their blogs a personality. It’s online so it’s easily accessible plus it has lots of templates, font options and support to make any one a designer.. Well almost!
It’s the era of the clouds, what can can we say?! WD cloud is a product that replaces your hard drives. You can connect it to your Wi-Fi and instead of storing your files and data on the computer you store wirelessly on to the cloud. Now as the name suggests, you can access these files anywhere. There’s a mobile app that let’s you open, transfer or delete files anywhere. It’s also a great back up for when your hard drive crashes!!.. We know, we’ve learnt the hard way!
The drive is very easy to use but smart enough to allow you to make multiple users with their own passwords. So it’s great for personal use or work and also for businesses to give each employee their “own” cloud storage. It’s a one time expense and it goes a long way.
There are also online clouds such as the good ‘ol Dropbox. Recently launched Google Drive which is great if you are already used to the good family. And of course the cloud of al clouds, iCloud! All of these free options are great to start with but have limited space available.. If you need more space you have to buy in chunks. So if you are a growing business, it’s a great starting point.
Having an online portfolio is a no brainer when you are a Graphic Designer. But, making one might not be as easy as pie if you’re not a Web Designer as well. There are lots of options online to make portfolios for free. These websites are also communities for graphic and other designer and often a hangout for prospective clients looking for the right kind of designer.
Adobe Portfolio is the latest in the trade and was launch in October 2015. It’s a fantastic was to make your own website with live editing to allow you to make changes as you see them. You can have your own domain name and the websites are responsive, which means they fits just well on an ipad as they do on a desktop. You can read more about it on our article about Types of Websites.
Behance is the brilliant platform for designers, job seekers and clients who are looking for creative talent. What more is that now Adobe Portfolio and the Creative Cloud are synced with behance. So if you were to make your adobe portfolio, you can sync your projects with behance..This can save you to oodles of time.
Carbonmade Is another fantastic website with over 500,000 active portfolios and is a great choice for displaying your website. Some others include Coroflot and Dropr. All free and all with a great following and community.
We’ve heard of many softwares and online options for maintaining finances but we recently came across Paymoapp. And ever since then it’s been smooth sailing. It’s a brilliant online tool that allows you to manage projects, clients, invoices, estimates, make timelines and it has templates to make things quick. We love that it as time tracking which works well if you charge by the hour. You can share the progress of your project with the client and also get paid by integrating your Paypal or bank account. It’ll send schedule reminders to the client until payment is marked PAID. Its all automated and it’s all so organised that it beats ever having to hire an accountant or an assistant to follow up on payments.
Like all great things Paymoapp comes for a price. But there’s an equally amazing tool called Waveapp. This is as good minus the time tracking. So it’s primarily a finance tool. We’ve used both and we love both..
There are couple others like Freeagent and Freshbooks which can offer the same features, give or take a few. As for time management, Klok and Toggle are great with time tracking and calculating based on hourly rates.
This is an important step especially if you are a freelancer or a student right out of college. You need to find ways to promote your work, your brand and your self in order to be seen. And unlike pizza, designers cannot be picked out from flyers in the junk mail. While social media is the obvious choice in promoting yourself or your brand, it often goes un-noticed unless you’re constantly tweeting or pinning!
Mailchimp is the king of newsletters for us. You can create lists of subscribers aka your friends, family, clients and prospects and send them newsletters as frequently as you want (of course not too frequently to annoy your subscribers). You can integrate mail chimp to your blog or website to gain new subs. It’s free for upto a limited number of subs and activity which is a good way to get started. They have tools that allow you to create templates without the need to spend hours resizing and renaming. A mobile app gives you notification of any new activity such as reports on your campaign or new subs. Speaking of which, we have a list of subscribers to whom we send monthly newsletter and freebies.. You can subscribe here if you want to keep upto date!
Another equally great tool is Aweber. Both these tools are great to keep your clients coming back and stay unto date with what you’re doing.
It goes without saying that a major chunk of your promotion time goes in social media. One way to save time is to interlink them so that you post on one and that sends your post to all other linked medias. Assign yourself limited hours in a day and week to spend on social media – we all know how it can take over your life.
What tools do you use to automate your business and day to day promotion? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts with us.