The Tools you need to succeed at every stage of your creative biz.
THE MAKERS MEGAPHONE MAKER TOOLKIT
Welcome to the Makers Megaphone Maker Toolkit section, a curated list of tools and websites that will help you build and grow a successful creative business.
I've done the work so you don't have to!
Over my career working with makers and creators, and in building my own creative business, I've compiled a list of resources, tools and inspiration that have been invaluable to me and the most successful makers I know. I have tested every recommendation on this page and share them with you because I hope they can help you. Save yourself time and money by using these curated resources I've already tested and know will get you results.
To be fully transparent, some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This will in no way impact the cost for you, you will just be helping me provide more free resources. Please know I only suggest resources that I truly think will add value to your life and move your business forward. That said, please do not spend any money on any of these resources unless you think they will be beneficial in you working toward your goals. I look forward to hearing how these tools help your business grow!
MANAGE YOUR BUSINESS'S MONEY
This software makes small business accounting easy and it is cheaper than hiring someone to manage your books. You can keep track of all your expenses, stay up-to-date on the money coming in and out each month and be prepared for tax season well in advance.
The miles you drive to operate your business, such as driving to and from craft markets and getting supplies, are all tax deductible! But you have to have record of them. MileIQ makes it super simple to track your miles from your phone whenever you are in your car. This app will literally save you money.
Receipts - those tiny pieces of carbon paper that get stuffed in pockets and bottoms of tote-bags - are so easy to lose. With Shoebox, it is super easy to capture and store your receipt through you phone so you have record of all your expenses come tax time and are able to deduct as many of your business purchases as possible to save you money.
Square is a super simple and low-fee way to accept credit card payments from your customers either in person or online. I use it to send invoices to clients as well as to quickly take payments when I meet folks face-to-face. Great if you sell at in-person events.
This app has helped me stay on budget and even save money each month by tracking where all my money goes. I love being able to have all my accounts visible in one location and I use the visual graphs and alerts feature to show how much I've spent in each of my budget categories. This helps remind me if I'm spending too much.
BE MORE PRODUCTIVE
I can get lost in a dark tunnel of time suck browsing the web. Thankfully I found Freedom. This app can block distracting websites and apps from all your devices. You can determine which apps, what times, and even put in place recurring sessions to help you truly focus. Game changer my friends!
I can honestly say Evernote keeps my life in order. I use it to capture any task, idea, document, or article I come across. The software helps me easily keep my thoughts and resources in a central place. One of my favorite features of Evernote is you can add tags to anything you capture as well as search through all the things you’ve added by keywords and quickly find your documents and notes. Evernote can even search for text you have hand written, so I capture pages out of my notebooks and scan them into the app. I have it synced on each of my computers and my phone so my notes are with me wherever I am.
Having secure accounts is so important. Yet, as I've made my passwords increasingly complex, I've wasted so many hours trying to remember and rest passwords I've forgotten. But not anymore! Dashlane securely stores and remembers all your passwords and will autofill them for your whenever you try to log into an account, freeing your mind to remember and think about other more important things.
This is a great tool for managing projects. The app uses a series of visual boards to digitally organize content and allows you to see what you are working on in one space. As a creative, I love how visual this tool is and find it super helpful if I'm ever working with multiple people on projects because boards are easy to share and collaborate on.
I am admittedly a digital hoarder. Thank goodness I found a cloud storage service so I could keep everything! I use Dropbox to auto backup all my photos, share documents with clients and save space on my computer.
Canva makes design easy and you look like a professional. They have a very simple to use photo editor, can help you select good font combinations, and create branding color pallets from photos you take. I love using it for designing social-posts on the go, as well as for quick marketing banners and flyers.
If graphic design is not in your DIY wheelhouse, and you have a small budget for hiring someone else, 99designs is a great solution. This service uses crowd-sourcing to get you multiple design ideas for your project allowing you to select the one you like best for a reasonable price.
ADOBE CREATIVE CLOUD
As a designer, Adobe's Creative Cloud is a must have tool for me. I use Photoshop and Illustrator to design my website, marketing materials, and social media posts. With the cloud software, you can use the programs on multiple devices and have your files synced.
Sometimes you just need a great image and aren't able to get the shot yourself. Istock has an incredible library of images and a good price point to purchase collections and single images.
MARKETING & SELLING YOUR PRODUCTS
If you are in business, you need a business card. Business cards are a great way to give people you meet your contact info and drive them to make an online purchase from you or learn more about your brand. I love the design and paper quality of MOO. When I hand my biz card to folks, they are always impressed with the weight and slightly irregular size - it's memorable. MOO also prints stickers, postcards and more.
As a business owner it is so important to collect the email addresses of your customers. Email is one of the best ways to keep in contact and send updates to past customers as well as prospective buyers. AWeber is a super easy way to mail newsletters out to your list and store contact info.
Selling online is an incredible way to reach a global audience and get your goods into the hands of more customers. Shopify makes creating your own website, collecting credit cards payments and selling online easy with incredibly powerful e-commerce capabilities and a large selection of well-designed themes you can use to build your own site.
Managing multiple social-media channels can be a daunting and time consuming task. I use Tailwind to keep organized, and simiplify my social-media marketing. You can pre-create and schedule out posts that will go out automatically to Instagram and Pinterest, saving you time and allowing you to provide your customers with content in the medium and time that is most effective.
PACKAGING, SHIPPING & INVENTORY MANAGEMENT
Managing order fulfillment for your online products can be a huge headache but investing in ShipStation's service to help can be transformational to your productivity as well as your customer's satisfaction. ShipStation integrates with all your online selling platforms helping you with processing, fulfilling, and shipping.
The presentation of your products through your packaging can really delight and impress your customer and make your brand stand out from competitors. With Boxup you can customize your packaging for shipping and gifting creating a memorable way to deliver your goods. One of my favorite features is the ability to order really small quantities of custom boxes, great for folks just starting out.
Inventory management can be a real challenge, especially if you sell in multiple locations. Stitchlabs helps automate this process and insures you know where your products are and how many units you have available at all times so that you are able to meet the demand of your customers and fulfill their orders quickly.
GREAT BOOKS TO LEARN & BE INSPIRED
I love reading, but I simply don't have enough time to do it. That was until I found Audible. Now I love listing to books. With my Audible account, I always have a book I'm listening to while working, making long hours way more enjoyable.
THE ARTIST'S WAY
This book is a classic and a must have for any creative. I read this book during a time when I was stuck professionally and frustrated I wasn't living the creative life I wanted. I started doing the daily exercises, called morning pages, and saw real breakthrough in my practice.
START WITH WHY
This book has really helped me in shaping my vision for my own business as well as helped me get clarity for any new projects I work on. Worth the read.
GETTING THINGS DONE
This book transformed my productivity. If you are looking for a system to help manage all of the things you have to do, and an actionable process for getting more things done, this book can help map out a plan. I've used the get things done (GTD) method to organize everything from my email to my collection of saved online business articles.
I read this book before launching my own biz. It helped give me the courage to realize you don't need a ton of money to get started. It also helped me keep it simple as I mapped out my own business plan.
MAKING IDEAS HAPPEN
It takes a lot of momentum to move an idea from a sketchbook into something that actually happens. This book is very inspiring and encouraging for any dreamers and creatives who want to bring their ideas to life but still haven't taken the leap.