Seven years ago, on a whim, I started my business – Lost & Found.
I really was just looking for a hobby, something fun to do that would give me a creative outlet.
But I knew that I needed to have it generate some income as well–I mean, why not have fun and make a little money at the same time?
Wanna read more about how I started Lost & Found? You can here.
What started as a hobby has now become a full-scale business for me.
I’m proud to say I’ve learned a lot along the way about how to run a business and make it successful.
So today I would like to pass along to you my favorite business tools.
These are things that I use almost every day, and that have become an essential part of running Lost & Found.
My hope is that you can find use in some of these tools as well and that they will be a blessing to your business, whatever stage you are at.
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If you want to build a website, I highly recommend you build one with WordPress.
There are other cheaper, less fancy programs out there for building a site, but WordPress is the one that can grow with you the best as your business grows.
You are actually reading on a WordPress site right now!
With a WordPress website, you can host a blog, an e-commerce store, share downloads with readers–really just about anything you can think of.
It’s important to note that I am talking about a WordPress.org site, and not one with WordPress.com.
The first is a self-hosted site, which means you will need to purchase a host for your site, but it also means you have much, much greater control over how your site looks and functions.
There is some additional cost that goes into having a WordPress.org site (a WordPress.com site is free), but trust me–it’s what you need if you’re actually trying to run a business!
It’s good to know too that down the road, as your website traffic increases, you have the ability to generate ad revenue from your WordPress.org website, which you cannot do with the free version.
And ad revenue can be a great, passive income stream for your business.
You may not realize that to have a business Pinterest account that is actually healthy and generating good traffic to your website, you should be pinning at least 20 times a day, throughout the day.
If you want Pinterest to work for you (by driving droves to visitors to your website, IG account, or even Facebook page), then you need to play by their rules.
That means keeping their algorithm happy.
Pinning lots of pins, throughout the day, is how you do that.
And who really has time for that?!
That’s where Tailwind comes in.
Tailwind is a program you can use online to schedule pins to your Pinterest account.
As a business owner, it’s a HUGE timesaver!
I can load all of the pins I plan on pinning into my Tailwind scheduler days in advance–which means I don’t waste time falling down the Pinterest rabbit hole each day.
Using Tailwind to schedule my pins each day has helped boost traffic to my website significantly.
It also keeps my Pinterest account healthy and active–which means more exposure for my business.
You can also create and join Tailwind Tribes.
Tribes are where groups of bloggers and website owners come together and agree to pin each others’ content.
It’s a fantastic feature and a great way to help your pins get a broader reach if your Pinterest account is still in the early stages of growth.
If you’re using Pinterest for your business, I think having Tailwind is a must.
3. Adobe Lightroom + A Good Camera
In our image-driven world right now, a great picture can make or break your business.
To make great quality photos you need 2 things–a good DSLR camera (no, I don’t think your iPhone is good enough!) and editing software.
Don’t worry–neither are as scary or expensive as you may think!
A good DSLR camera and lens is often a one-time purchase, and for around $600 you can get one that will suit your needs.
Here is my exact camera in fact, here.
And this is the lens I have, also here on Amazon.
Think about the cost of it this way.
having a great camera on hand won’t only come in handy for your business, but you can also use it in your personal life.
No more grainy iPhone photos of your kids or pets!
Once you take those great pictures though, editing them with editing software is the magic sauce that will make them perfect!
Adobe Lightroom is my editing software of choice.
You can purchase it now on a monthly plan for about $10 a month.
I also highly recommend buying some pre-set edits.
What’s a pre-set edit?
Basically, someone who really knows the program has already put together a set of edits that will fix your photo with the touch of one button!
My favorite package of pre-set edits is from Aniko Levai and her book, The Ultimate Photography Ebook.
I’ve shared a bunch more about this resource back in this post here, if you want more details.
I love using these pre-set edits, though, to make editing my photos in Lightroom quick and easy.
No matter what your business, you need an email list. Like yesterday!
No, email marketing is not dead. It is alive and well my friends!
And while we all may roll our eyes at how full our inbox is, you have to admit that you still open up those 2 or 3 emails that come from your favorite company/store so you can see what’s new.
Am I right?
Having an email list for your customers to join gives them the opportunity to stay connected with you and your business.
And while it’s not a perfect system, email is still the most effective way to deliver the info about what your business has to offer.
Your email list is the one marketing tool you actually own.
If you’re only using Facebook or Instagram, what if those platforms go down?
Or what if they change their algorithm and only show what you post to like 2% of your account followers (hint hint, they’ve already done that!)
ConvertKit is an email program that makes it easy to start an email list for your business.
It can even link directly to your business Facebook page so your social media followers can join your list from there.
Once you have gathered some email addresses from loyal customers who want to stay in touch, you can then use Convertkit to put together engaging, helpful newsletters to send out.
In my experience, it is a really user-friendly platform and affordable for a small business budget.
5. Creator’s Roadmap Course
This one is a different kind of resource.
It’s not a tool exactly that I use everyday.
But it was incredibly helpful in my business so I wanted to share it as well.
The Creator’s Roadmap is a 5-week online course.
I took the course back in the Fall of 2017 and it was a gamechanger for both me personally and for my business.
It helped me transition my mindset fully and finally from hobbyist to business owner, and gave me the confidence to act on many of the creative ideas I’ve had in the past but was too scared to try.
I am so glad I took the plunge and enrolled in the course.
It was the first time I had ever signed up for any sort of business training or coaching, and it helped me realize the importance and power of investing in myself as a business owner.
I’ll admit, the course isn’t for everyone . . . It is an investment, both in time and money.
And the real thrust of the course is how to take your business online, which may not be your vision or goal.
With that said though, if you’re in a place where you are ready to commit to growing your business and want to start utilizing the power of the online marketplace, this is the course for you.
Registration for the Spring 2019 Creator’s Roadmap opens in early February.
You can see more about it and sign up for the free 4 part video preview series here.
I’m happy to share more about my experience with the course and answer any questions I can, so feel free to comment or email me and we can chat 🙂
Where are you at with your creative business?
Whether you’re just starting out or are years into your business, I hope at least one of these tools and resources will prove helpful to you.
Looking for more ongoing business training?
I also have a great option opening soon!
I am starting a Monthly VIP Business and Creative Skills group, called the Paint, Make, Sell Group!
The doors to join the group open on February 7th. You can read all about it here.
Thanks for letting me share with you today!