5 online tools I can't live without
I love establishing systems and processes and there are some great online tools out there to increase efficiency within your business. A few of these may only be useful for professional services like graphic design, but I feel like a handful of these can work for most industries.
This post isn’t necessarily about the best tools out there, but it’s what works for me. I’m always curious about people’s work flows and systems so I thought I’d share some nerdy admin stuff that I get excited about.
Quickbooks Online is where I manage my accounting and invoicing. While there are tons of options out there, I preferred Quickbooks because I found that most bookkeepers and CPAs work with this program. Both my bookkeeper and my CPA are users in my account which makes it really easy come tax season. The interface is also beautiful (which I’m obviously a sucker for) and I love that I can customize the dashboard to see important information like total sales, net income, and invoice updates every time I sign in.
One important thing to note is that there are two types of Quickbooks: Quickbooks Online and Quickbooks Desktop. The difference is the desktop version is an application installed onto your computer and the online version is only accessed on the internet. I prefer the online version because of it’s automatic back-ups and access from any device. I probably also prefer it because I’m a millennial ;)
Toggl is a time tracking app that I use to track all my design time. I’m able to label each task to a client and project and check reports to monitor how much time I’m spending on each job. This is super helpful because it helps me determine my pricing and quoting as well as shows me which type of projects are the most profitable. Right now I’m only using Toggl for my design time, but in the future I want to begin monitoring my admin time to see how long I’m spending working on certain tasks within my business.
There are so many project management apps out there, but my favorite is Trello. It’s a very simple system of boards, cards and lists. I have 6 different boards: Rotanz Design, Active Clients, 2019 (for scheduling out projects), Wedding, Personal and Katie + Geoff (for sharing info like utilities and grocery lists).
Each time I open the app on my phone my “BRAIN DUMP” card is the first one I see. That’s where I type out all the random thoughts I want to keep track of. Once I sit down at my computer to work, I’ll sort the list onto the appropriate board and card. It sounds lame and simple, but ever since I started working for myself I can’t get my brain to shut off and love a quick way to catch my fleeting ideas (and actually read them again).
In the morning before I begin my work day I open up Trello and then write down the absolute must-do’s for the day in my Poketo concept planner. As much as I love having digital tools I can’t give up a physical planner.
Okay I have to tell you this because I think it’s hilarious… I one time exchanged my phone number for 10GB of space on Dropbox (lol). I met a guy at a bar in San Francisco who worked there and he apparently liked using storage as leverage. The good news is I still have the free 10GB!
I have two accounts: a personal and a business. The business plan is a paid account where I backup most of my client files and important documents. This gives me peace of mind knowing that if either of my computers were stolen or lit on fire I wouldn’t lose the most important stuff. It’s also a great way to share large documents or galleries of high-res images.
It’s also easy sharing documents with myself between my laptop computer and my desktop computer at the office. I get so mad when I’m working from home and realize that a file I need is at my office so I created a Work in Progress folder that can be quickly accessed via the Finder App. I chose to only select a few folders to sync onto both computers since my laptop doesn’t have as much storage as my desktop.
I loved using Dropbox while I traveled because every time I had wifi, all my photos would automatically backup straight to Dropbox. I also scanned my passport and important travel documents so I could still access those files anywhere if my bag got stolen or I got into an emergency situation.
HelloSign is a game changer if you deal with contracts. It’s an easy, secure and legally binding way to sign documents online. When I first started my bizz I would print off the contract and bring it to the meeting for my client to sign. While that worked for a while, I don’t always meet my clients in person and I hated feeling like they had to read it all in front of me. Now that they can read it on their own time, my clients can make sure they understand everything and ask questions if necessary.
This method feels much more comfortable for me and it’s a great way to track all contracts. You get 3 free contracts a month which I was doing for a while, but I eventually upgraded to the paid account and couldn’t be happier. While this service isn’t exactly cheap, it has really streamlined my client onboarding process.
There are so many more other programs and applications that I use (Adobe Creative Cloud, LastPass, and Google Drive to name a few), but these tools are definitely a few of my favorites and I visit these sites multiple times a day.
What are your favorite online tools? Let me know in the comments! I always love learning new things and who knows… maybe you can convince me to change it up :)
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