The internet is full of resources, websites, ebooks and articles that can help bloggers and artists manage their business, increase their productivity and make things run smoother. Today I’m going to share with you some of my favourite, go to online resources, that I use very often (some even daily) to run my business, that I find extremely helpful, and hopefully you will too!
To me, Dropbox is a quick fix on USB pens. Besides using it to share project folders with some clients, I save the files I need on my laptop and they are synced automatically to all my devices (they have apps for iPads, iPhones and Android users). For example, most of my Instagram pictures are first taken with my Samsung camera and then I upload them with dropbox to my tablet or phone, edit them there and then I finally upload it to Instagram (long process I know, but it’s worth it). Or if I want to post a wip picture, I simply print screen my laptop screen, upload to Dropbox, and then it is on my tablet, ready to be uploaded to Instagram. Another feature I find really useful is that once my files are uploaded, I can work without internet, anywhere I go – I just open dropbox and there they are.
I started using Mailchimp when I created my first monthly newsletter. I use it to keep my clients and subscribers updated about new blog posts, new work and other bits and bops about my business. If you’re not familiar with email marketing and newsletters and want to get started, I’ve written a blog post on ‘How to set up a newsletter’, using Mailchimp. I find it to be super user-friendly, easy to edit and customize, and if you’re not keen on investing in a paid package, they have a very good free plan, that includes a free account signup, 2,000 subscribers and you can send up to 12,000 emails a month.
I think that most of us have been there: you’re working on a project and you know you have that perfect font on your computer, but among your trizillion fonts you can’t seem to find it and/or remember its name. Yes, I’ve been there. Or when I’m working on a creative branding project and I want to have a full view of what fonts I have to pick a few to try, it’s time consuming to go through all of them using the type tool on Illustrator. BUT, worry not! Three years ago I found the light at the end of the tunnel. Ever heard of Wordmark? No? Now you have and you’ll thank me later!
On Wordmark, you simply type in any word or phrase you want, and the website loads your word in every.single.font you have on your computer. You can change the font size, make it smaller or bigger, see in negative or positive, see the fonts you clicked/selected at the end – this online tool has saved me hours!
LOST TYPE CO-OP
If you are on the hunt for some good, free, high-quality fonts, look no more. Although they don’t have a huge collection, Lost Type has lots of great fonts available.
Note: If you are planning on using the font for commercial purposes you will need to purchase a commercial license. It allows you to use Lost Type fonts in situations where the typeface is used for commerce, including projects like logos advertising campaigns, printed goods, websites, software, e-books, etc.
One of the best advices I’ve got after starting freelancing was to never stop learning. Learning is a key to staying creative and I couldn’t agree more. After discovering online classes and lectures, I never looked back. You can be in the comfort of your own house, at a café or anywhere you like and learn new things. Below are my two favorite places/websites:
From my experience, I’ve taken there some amazing free online lectures and classes with great content and learning material. They have five different class topics available: photo & video, art & design, music & audio, craft & maker and money & life. Here’s some of the classes I’ve taken through CreativeLive:
- Pattern Design: From Hand to Screen to Surface with Molly Hatch
- Design Surface Patterns From Scratch with Bonnie Christine (I wrote a review here)
- Design, Print, and Build Your Portfolio with Bonnie Christine
- Create Digital Products That Sell While You Sleep with April Bowles-Olin
Design Garden Classes
I’m currently taking their 5 week e-course on Illustrating Picture Books and so far I’m loving it. It’s full of great learning material, resources, tips and tricks, video tutorials, practice exercises and really good and constructive feedback from both the teachers and fellow students. Below there’s some of the courses available:
- Design Garden Foundation Class (it’s on my wish list!)
- Trends Online Workshop
- Illustrating Children’s Picture Books
- Color Workshop (three video lectures with little assignments as you go, that make you practice what you have learned about color, contrast and color theory)
- Lecture Lab
DEATH TO THE STOCK
We all love great looking and engaging photos with beautiful compositions, and we all want our websites and blogs to have some of those, but it’s quite hard to find ones you can use without violating any copyright law. If you’re a good photographer you can create your own stock photos, but if you are not or just don’t want to waste time, you either purchase or take a whole Saturday to search the web for good-ish photos that you can use.
Last year when I came across Death To The Stock Photo, I signed up (you just need your email) to receive their first pack and when I had presented to me high quality, high resolution, crisp and very useful photos, I thought to myself: amen to them! So now, at the start of every month I receive in my email a pack of high quality photos that I can use for my business. The cover image of these two blog posts (1 . 2) were made with photos from them. Go check them out!
Whenever I need to purchase fonts, mock ups and brushes this is my go to place. Creative Market has a huge selection of graphics, themes, photos, templates, add-ons and other design assets, made from independent creators, so not only you will be buying good quality stuff, you’ll also be helping out small businesses. You can also set up an account (for free) and open your shop to sell your graphics there (you need to be invited, but this aspect keeps the overall market quality high) or just sign up with your Facebook account and get access to their weekly free goods, that usually include free mock ups, fonts and clip arts.
A very good place to get high quality and well developed mock ups, from posters, to packaging, to business cards and stationery. Browse through their mock-ups.
If you are reluctant to order from an online printing company, ask for samples. The first time I ordered their sample pack (it’s free) I had a little problem with the mail service, still not sure what happened till now, but their customer service was on point and the second time around I received them and was amazed by the quality and the amount of options they offer. MOO has a very user friendly site (with templates and guidelines), amazing quality, good range of products and good customer service.
Be sure to sign up for their newsletter – they usually notify people of their sales through email (they either offer free shipping or 25% off), and if you want, you can use this link and get 10% off your first order at MOO.
Some people splurge on clothing, other people on tech. If you are a book devourer and bibliophile like me, you know the bills on books at the end of the year can be astronomical. After discovering Book Depository, my bookshelf lost all its free space. They have a pretty good range of books, even the newer ones at really competitive prices, they often do sales and promotions, the shipping time is quite good and guess what? They offer FREE SHIPPING, on every order. The only thing that I have to point out that I think it’s not working properly is their newsletter – I’ve signed up a couple of times in hope to be notified in advance of their sales, but till today I haven’t received a single one. Aside from that, I really like them and is my go to place to get books.
Browse my book reviews.
WACOM BAMBOO PEN TABLET
Last but not least, my Wacom tablet. It’s not an online resource, but it’s one of my most important business tools. Once I made the transition from a mouse to a tablet I never went back! It’s a tool that I can’t live without and although I have a pretty old model, it’s a CTL-460 Bamboo Pen and Tablet, it still does the job. (not sure if it’s still on the market, but you might find second hand on Amazon or Ebay). I use it to add handwriting to graphics and illustrations, to process all my illustration and surface pattern design work, to everything basically.
Do you have any favorite online/offline resource you use to run your creative business? If so, please share it in the comments below.