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[109] The Digital Tools I Use to Run my Businesses – 2017 Edition

 

Do you ever wonder what digital tools and software other people use to run their businesses?

I do – and I get asked about various and sundry software solutions a lot, too. So, this week, I decided to do a big round-up of all the digital tools & software I use to run my own handmade business – and Create & Thrive, as well.

I discuss what I use and why in detail in this episode – covering social media tools, website design, shopping carts, time management, photo editing and graphic design, file storage, audio & video recording and editing, outsourcing, book-keeping… and more!

Take a peek behind the scenes of my businesses, and see how I keep everything running (mostly) smoothly!

P.S. While finishing these shownotes, I realised I left one or two things out of the ep. I’m sure more will come to mind, so I’ll update the links below if that happens!

 


 

Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

 

FYI if I have (R) next to a link, this means it is a referral or affiliate link. This means that if you click that link and sign up to the service, I get some form of reward. If you’d prefer to avoid that, just google it.) I am only listing and recommending tools and software that I use myself and would recommend to others wholeheartedly.

 

Digital Tools/Software I use to run all my online businesses:

  • My main social media are Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. I used to love and use Twitter a lot (not so active on there now) and I have a Google Plus account. I’m also starting to use YouTube more.
  • Handmade sales venues: Etsy (R) (I’ve also sold on Hatch.co, Dawanda, madeit).
  • My own websites are created with WordPress self-hosted, and I’m currently transitioning to Divi Theme (and lots of plugins – I’ve used a free theme called Pinboard previously on some sites).
  • My web host is Dreamhost (R). I’ve been with them for over 10 years and have always been happy with their service.
  • My current shopping cart on my e-commerce website is Ecwid, but I’m moving to WooCommerce.
  • I use E-junkie & Paypal to sell my C&T courses, ebooks etc.
  • I use Trello to keep track of my work and life, and I also use the Cal app on my android phone as my appointment-keeper (as well as some paper in my office – a whole-year wall planner and a weekly desk planner).
  • I use focusbooster on my computer when I really need to get stuff done – it’s a pomodoro-style app. I schedule work periods of 45 min and rest periods of 15 min each hour.
  • I use Canva for all my graphic design.
  • I use Picasa (now transitioned to Google Photos) for most of my product image editing.
  • I use GIMP for any image editing I can’t do with Picasa or Canva (it’s sorta like a free version of Photoshop – and it’s open-source).
  • I use Snapseed on my phone to edit photos on the fly – especially for Instagram.
  • Insta Downloader is the app I use to repost another person’s Instagram post. It has awful ads, but it works!
  • I use Grum on my desktop to schedule up my Instagram posts once a week.
  • I use Dropbox to store all my business photos and documents so I can access them from any of my devices.
  • I use Google Docs for some of my business docs, too.
  • I currently use Xero accounting software for my book-keeping.
  • I forgot to mention my mailing list software! I use Mailchimp.

 

For Create & Thrive Specifically:

 

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[108] Stop Trying to do Everything at Once

 

Do you feel overwhelmed by the process of growing your business? Do you feel like you have to be doing everything right now… and consequently scattered and unsure if you’re on the right track?

I’ve been there. And this week, I’m coming from that place a little bit further along the path to tell you that you need to stop trying to do it all at once.

After 9 years running my handmade business, as well as a few other businesses along the way, I know that it’s impossible to stay on top of all of the things all of the time.

If you’re trying to learn and do too many things at once to grow your biz, you’ll be stretched far too thin and be mentally scattered – and this can lead to you giving up altogether because everything just seems ‘too much’.

The key to long-term success is giving yourself permission to stop trying to ‘do it all now’ and to, instead, start being more strategic and patient with your business growth.

 

 

Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • Stop trying to do everything all at one time and start focusing on the things that matter.
  • “If you are trying to do everything all at the same time, all you’re doing really is setting yourself up for a burnout. And if you reach that point, you risk giving it all up for good, because you turn something that you loved into something that you now loathe.”
  • Your first couple of years as a startup, you will work a lot, but it is not sustainable forever.
  • Downtime is normal, don’t feel bad for taking downtime when you need it.
  • “Business is a marathon, not a sprint, if you sprint too much at the beginning, you’re going to collapse.” Think long term instead of short term.
  • You are going to make mistakes. Learn patience not just with your business development, but also with your personal development.
  • Give yourself permission to figure it out eventually, not all at one time.
  • Make sure to create a business that suits your lifestyle and personality. You cannot be working 24/7, you have to look after yourself as well.
  • Working towards creating a business that suits you is far more sustainable than doing everything at once.
  • Don’t get lazy, get strategic. “80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts”
  • Work out where your customers are coming from, work out what you enjoy and what you don’t enjoy in your business.
  • “Delegate or implode under the strain.” You only have some much time, space and effort to be able to give before you crumble.
  • There comes a point where you can only grow so far if you are dealing with everything yourself.
  • Going from one order a day to multiple orders a day can be tricky (Jess tells a story about when she first started up and blogging daily but slowly the blogging was not as frequent).
  • Doing one thing really exceptionally well is better than doing ten things in a mediocre fashion.”
  • Pick the one or two things in an area of your business and focus on doing those things really well. Picking key tasks will allow you to grow a business to support the lifestyle that you want.
  • Do something because through your research, you have decided that it’s the best choice for you.
  • You need to let go of some things and reach out for help when you need it.
  • Get smart and focus on the actual parts of your business that will help you grow.

 

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[107] Top Takeaways From Artful Business Conference and More

 

I was lucky enough to join some wonderful creative business colleagues at this year’s Artful Business Conference!

That, of course, included a number of Thriver Circle members… you can see that we were taking thing very, very seriously…

 

(Photo courtesy of Kez Tutton. Left to right are Kez, Sue, Me, Jayne, and Steph)

As always, I came away from the weekend energised, inspired, and full of new ideas (as well as reminders of ‘old’ ones I’d put on the back-burner).

This week, I wanted to share with you some highlights and some advice I took from the event that will help all our businesses thrive.

In this episode I share with you what I came away with and my own personal ‘best bits’ of the Artful Business Conference.

I also share some pretty exciting changes for Thriver Circle Members… so let’s go!

 

Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • One of the key note speakers was the knowledgeable Kate Toon who spoke all things SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
  • SEO is a topic that is so important to learn about and utilise as a business tool.
  • It is incredibly important to get it right so that you show up in search engines.
  • Another speaker who was a breath of fresh air was Elle Roberts with her talk on the ‘7 Rules for Entrepreneurs and When to Break Them’.
  • Because let’s face it, sometimes the rules need to be broken!
  • Remembering there are no hard and fast rules and that you must run your business in a way that works for you is so important.
  • Kylie Lewis shared some insights into marketing and delved deep into the ‘Why’ of your business and how important it is.
  • Kylie shared a video with us that I wanted to pass on to you as it really helps open up marketing possibilities by re-framing the order in which we tell our story:

  • I want to share with you my own takeaways/action steps: what I will be doing with all this new information and inspiration:
    • I will be updating my websites
    • I will work on my SEO
    • I will be putting myself out there offering my knowledge and experience on other podcasts (watch this space!)
    • A few little changes that will make big impacts within the Thriver Circle to shake things up a little.
    • A new Q&A video series to answer your questions about running a handmade business (if you have one I can answer in under 5 min, leave it in the comments below!).

 

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[106] Staying Open to Possibilities with Lisa Congdon

 

Have you ever felt like you have missed the boat in your creative career? Ever thought you were ‘too old’ or it was ‘too late’? Or maybe you’re not experienced enough in your chosen creative field?

My guest this week – Lisa Congdon – is a wonderful example of someone who stumbled into a creative career due to discovering her passion for art in her 30s. Lisa hasn’t always been ‘an artist’ – indeed, when she was younger, ‘creative’ wasn’t a label she would have given herself.

Fast-forward 15-ish years since she first picked up a paint brush, and she is now a well-known and prolific working artist – creating art, illustrations, books, videos, and more – and making a living from her creativity out of her home studio in Portland, Oregon.

Lisa is the perfect example of how you can make a shift into a creative career, even if it’s something relatively new to you. It is never to late to learn new skills and it is never too late to pursue your creative path as a second (or third, or fourth!) career. The key is to put yourself out there, to build a name for yourself, and to be open to the possibilities that come your way – to grow your career or business in ways you might not have anticipated or planned for.

Lisa’s journey and my story have a lot in common (chatting with her I felt like I’d found a sister from another mister!), and she has a lot of practical advice and wisdom to share with you – whether you are an artist or any other sort of creative.

 

 

Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • Lisa’s art started purely as a hobby after taking a painting class with her brother.
  • In about 2004 Lisa started uploading images of her work online and after a while, she started to get inquiries and gallery offers.
  • She opened her Etsy store in 2007.
  • Lisa realised that she had to continue to share her work and create her opportunities if she wanted to do this full time.
  • Lisa has built a huge following which creates its own opportunities.
  • She now also has a couple of published books which were exciting opportunities that appeared for her.
  • Instagram is an incredibly important place for artists to show their work and to help be found.
  • Don’t be afraid of others stealing your work or ideas – the benefits of being present online far outweigh this risk.
  • Lisa can’t stress enough how important it is to have a support network.
  • ‘If you don’t have a supportive partner or supportive family then go find other artists who could be your support network’ {Lisa}
  • You need to be prepared to take risks if you really want to see the rewards of a creative career path.
  • ‘The magic is always in the creative ideas’ {Lisa}
  • You can find Lisa on her website, Instagram and Pinterest.

 

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[105] Should You Start a Second Shop?

 

Have you ever wondered if you should start a second shop?

Maybe you’ve started a new craft. Maybe you’ve started making work that is vastly different to your current product lines. Or maybe you want to start selling different types of products all together.

So – when is starting a second shop – which is, basically, a second business – the right choice? And when should you just integrate your new work into your existing business?

I see this question pop up all the time – so I thought it was time to address it in a podcast ep.

In this episode I discuss how I’ve approached this very thing myself – multiple times! – and why I made the decision to run multiple businesses, rather than just squish everything together.

I also give you a few questions to consider that will hopefully help you make the right decision for you if and when this question arises.

 

 

 

Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • Do your multiple product lines have enough in common to exist under the same brand?
  • Can they be ‘branded’ together – i.e. photography style, target customer etc. Or are they too different?
  • I’ve started multiple businesses numerous times because I didn’t want to dilute my brands – but it’s a LOT more work to run multiple businesses. So be sure.
  • Ask yourself the following questions:
  • Does my new idea have anything in common with my existing brand?
  • Will incorporating my new idea into my existing brand compliment and improve my brand/shop overall, or dilute it? 
  • Do I have the time/energy to manage two separate brands/shops?
  • You want your business to be known for doing one thing well. Don’t fall into the trap of being a ‘little bit of everything’ brand.

 

 

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