I'm a former corporate employee who decided to ditch the 9-5 and start my own at-home business.
Now, with a lukewarm cup of coffee in one hand and a baby on my hip, I'm balancing #allthethings
THE sugar studios blog offers tips, tools and my own tried-and-true tricks for growing your beautiful business.
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January 18, 2019
This past year was a really important year for my business. I struggled a lot earlier this year with rebuilding my business after letting it go while on maternity leave. Over the past year I booked over a dozen amazing clients and created so many gorgeous brands + websites. I’m positive that I could not have done any of this without the tools I’ve been using to grow my business (plus a whole lot of coffee!)☕
I want you to be able to grow your business the same way I did by using the exact same tools.
This is the #1 tool I use to plan out my Instagram posts for my business is Planoly. With this app I’m able to plan out all of my Instagram posts in a visual grid and even schedule stories. In the past year, most of my business has come from people finding me on Instagram! Without having the Planoly app, I don’t think I would post as consistently as I have and been able to plan out my posts for weeks at a time. At only $9/mo. this is totally worth the small investment if you want to grow your small business. Hello, you can’t even buy lunch for $9 anymore!
This year I was really busy with client work and it was so important that I stay organized and keep projects on track. I started using Freedcamp a couple of years ago and it’s been so helpful. Freedcamp is a project management tool that allows you to create projects, tasks for those projects, create project timelines, and communicate with clients by posting work for them to review. The best part? Freedcamp is free for an unlimited number of users and projects. I’ve used many project management tools before and Freedcamp is the most streamlined.
Back in the early days of business I would invoice clients directly using PayPal. I wanted a more professional experience for my clients so I decided to invest in an invoicing system. There are a lot of different ones to choose from and all of them are great in their own way. For me, 17Hats was the best choice. Their system is very intuitive and best of all, their support team is amazing. They are always enhancing their system and they really listen to their customers.
This course taught by Jenna Kutcher has been a total game changer for my business in 2018. I told you earlier that most of my business comes from Instagram. Early on this year I struggled with how to use Instagram. I saw other business owners using it the right way, but I didn’t know what steps to make to change my method. In The Instagram Lab I learned so much, I even got back my investment when I quickly booked a new client from Instagram!
Marketing your business on social media is exhausting, do you agree? It’s impossible to keep up with all of your business feeds and still be posting fresh content. This is why I LOOOVVVE Tailwind for Pinterest. It’s like making a clone of yourself that gets to sit in front of the computer all day long pinning. You can schedule pins ahead of time in suggested time slots. So even as you sleep, or are busy getting your kids off of the school bus, you’re pinning. How cool is that? I’ve struggled with growing my Pinterest following but this tool has really helped.
One of my goals for 2018 was to build up my email list. After a lot of research I chose to use Convertkit for my email marketing. I have to admit, I started out really consistent with sending emails, but it slowly tapered off over time and I would go months without an email to my subscribers. ???? Convertkit has so many amazing features like creating email sequences, automations, link triggers and custom forms with automatic downloads you can add to your site. For examples of how I used Convertkit forms see this post about How to Unlock Your Brand’s Personality.
If you haven’t used Google’s collection of productivity apps, you’re about to become addicted. Everyday I use Google Drive, Google Photos, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Calendar. Each app has a different use, but collectively they will make your life soooo much more streamlined. I’m able to access everything from my phone, so when I have an idea for my business, I can open up a spreadsheet or document I’ve started and add my idea (before I forget it!).
Last year, when my business was really slow – I joined a lot of Facebook groups. I was hoping to meet new clients and get some support from other business owners. Some groups I found to be REALLY useful and full of genuine people who were so helpful. Originally I joined Facebook groups for guidance and advice during this difficult time, but I found that I equally loved to offer support.
If you’re struggling right now with your business, read my post about 4 Ways to Stay Positive When Business Is Slow
A long time ago I didn’t use contracts for my business. What a huge mistake I was making and I’ll never do that again! I purchased a legal contract for graphic designers from Annette Stepanian, an attorney for creatives. Her contracts are so helpful and versatile – it was well worth the investment. Having a contract has protected my business when clients propose out of scope work or delay project timelines. I can always refer to the contract that was signed.
You can’t do this alone. Your business needs tools to run efficiently. While some of them are minor investments that won’t break the bank, a few are significant investments that may take some time until you’re ready.
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