Updated: Feb 15, 2021
Being your own boss comes with wearing a lot of different hats. I not only have to be great at my craft of drawing and designing but I also have to be on top of all my social media posting, marketing, sales, email pitching and all that jazz. There is also quite a lot that goes on behind the scenes when running a creative business. People might think that us creatives just draw all day, but the kind of sad truth is that drawing might be only half or maybe even less than half of what I do on a daily or weekly basis.
So what are my favorite resources and tools for running my creative business?
(These are all genuinely tools and resources that I love and actually use. My list does contain a few affiliate links though. I make a couple of $ when you use my link to sign up to Skillshare or Flodesk.)
These are just my top 10 favorites. If you are interested in knowing absolutely every single tool and resource (30+ things) I use for my business I have created a PDF listing everything. You can access it by signing up for my newsletter and checking out my free Resource Library.
Skillshare. I'm going to mention this one first as I have become completely obsessed the past few years. I am not only a top teacher but I am also a student. I constantly watch classes around an array of different subjects to keep me inspired, motivated and inspired. Plus I always walk away with new tips, tricks, techniques, or other information to bring to my artwork or my business to help me grow. If you've never heard of Skillshare and would like to test out the Premium membership for FREE for 2 weeks use my special link here. And you could also check out all of my classes too :)
The iPad Pro with Apple Pencil. I used to draw all of my illustrations on paper in ink the old fashioned way. I would then scan them into the computer, edit out mistakes and ink blobs, then I would work on digitzing and adding color. Since being gifted an iPad Pro (thanks Dad!) I can skip about 3 steps. My workflow is much more efficient and I swear my work has become better. I can now more easily test out different effects, play with color in more exciting ways and try out different drawing tools that I wouldn't have tried in real life. Things such as pastel textures, dry ink lines or smudging. I love love love working 100% digital and actually don't miss paper at all. I've saved so much money on constantly buying new pens and other art supplies too!
Procreate. While we're on the subject my favorite app to use to on the iPad is definitely Procreate. I think the selection of amazing brushes and ease of use is just the best. I just wish there were more layers available and a couple of other features so I always finish my illustrations and patterns in Photoshop. (I have the Photoshop only Adobe subscription, btw.)
Airtable. I waffle on about Airtable way too much but it has seriously helped me in countless ways to build a system and structure for my business. No important links, contact information or deals fall through the cracks because I have a place to house all of this information in a smart and easy to up keep way. I've also been able to consolidate many different tools into just using Airtable and this has made my life easier having everything in just one place. Previously I've used Asana, Trello, Excel, and Google Docs to keep my business organized and didn't have much luck keeping track of everything anyhow. Now I just use Airtable. I've created a free 5 day challenge to help you organize your own business and introduce you to Airtable that you can sign up for here. Or if you want to go all in, I have a mini class all about it. Learn more about Airtable for Creatives at EmmaKisstina Academy.
IFTT or Zapier. Did you know you could use these tools to automate parts of your business? Me neither. One of my favorites is having IFTT automatically pin all of my Instagram posts to Pinterest. There are so many zaps and automations you can set up, I've only just dipped my toes.
Flodesk. This is my new favorite email service provider of choice. I love that it is easy and gorgeous to use. They have beautiful templates to design with and I am obsessed with the pricing. Using my fancy affiliate link you can get a 1 month free trial and 50% off every month for the rest of time. It will only ever cost you $19 per month no matter how many email subscribers you have. (Not like other email platforms!) I have a monthly newsletter that I send out to my art director contacts and my weekly resources email list for aspiring illustrators and surface pattern designers.
An A3 tabletop drafting/drawing table. This is the one that I personally have but there are many similar out there (or your could build your own if you're handy!) This drafting table has been so nice to use to lift up my iPad so that I can draw a little bit more ergonomically at different angles. Definitely saving my neck from staring down at my iPad drawing for hours on end.
Printful. For years I fulfilled my art print orders from my Etsy shop myself. In the beginning I printed them myself at home and then later I printed them to order at a local printshop. I spent hours every week taking the bus to my printshop and shipping orders, sometimes just one order at a time. A couple years back I had the sense to connect my shop to a white label drop shipper, Printful. This means that I no longer have to deal with printing or shipping my art prints. I connect Printful to my Etsy shop, sync my listings and Printful takes care of everything else. I love this! I have the control over my own shop but I don't have to do all the manufacturing and make sales literally in my sleep, win win!
Zoom. Zoom is great for virtual meetings with my agency Pink Light, with my Skillshare Top Teacher peers and other webinar type events but I also use it in another way. I love using Zoom to create very simple videos. Since you have the option to record a meeting (even with just yourself as the only guest) I can easily make video content to share with my Facebook group each week. I can switch between headshot view and screencast or connect one of my devices smoothly without having to edit together footage from a separate camera and screen casting software.
Thinkific. There are a lot of online learning class platforms these days but I fell in love with Thinkific. To be honest mostly because they offer a free plan (but it's a great and easy to use platform too.) On the free plan I can host 3 simple online classes. I of course don't get to use all of the features but the basic features are perfect for me at this time. I would highly recommend it if you are considering offering your own online courses or workshops. Check out my platform EmmaKisstina Academy here.
Again, these are just my top 10 favorites. If you are interested in knowing absolutely every single tool and resource (30+ things) I use for my business I have created a PDF listing everything. You can access it by signing up for my newsletter and checking out my free Resource Library.
Finally, if you are more of a video person I have covered this subject in one of my Wednesday videos in my Private Facebook Group EmmaKisstina Insiders. Feel free to check it out here, plus all of my other weekly videos. The group is private so you will have to request to join the group and answer a few questions :)