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The 10 Best Creative Business Apps

I love hearing about the programs, apps and overall time-saving systems that other artists use in their business. So I thought I'd share my list of the 10 best creative business apps that I use on a daily basis. Now, I started writing this list a while ago. You will notice at the end of each app description I list the cost. I did this a few times and was shocked at how much money I was spending on some apps. For example, I was using 17hats to send invoices, quotes and contracts. I like it because it was easy to use and the electronic signature was cool. It was costing me $300/year on top of my Quickbooks monthly subscription. So I paused writing this article and shoved all my info from 17hats across to quickbooks and saved myself $300!

I did something similar with Spotify. I was paying for a family account but there are only 3 members in our family - so I signed my Mum up too. Getting my money's worth! So, not only is this list hopefully helping you to make your business run a little more smoothly, but also to assess your expenditures too.

This is a no brainer right? I listen to music and podcasts all day in the studio. Spotify is the first app I open on my phone when I arrive at the studio and I'd like to say the last app I close - but I don't. I just jump in the car to drive home and the music keeps playing in my car! Then get home and have the music playing in the kitchen. I upgraded to a paid account when I had a solo art show and I was in charge of the music. I didn't want adverts playing throughout the night. I also take a portable speaker and play Spotify playlists during workshops and while I'm painting murals. I have the Family Account and this costs $18.99 a month.

Normally curled up in bed at night I use Procreate. This program is a drawing app. It works well with the Apple Pencil on the iPad. I use Procreate to: design murals, create mural mockups on walls, design NFTs, illustrations for kids books, commission mockups for proof, designing the build of my new studio! It is such a wonderful program to use. The pencil makes it feel like 'real drawing'. I have bought extra brushes to load into the app and they help a lot. One great trick with Procreate is that it records everything as a timelapse. So when you have finished your amazing drawing, you can go back and watch your amazing talent. I have downloaded and used these Timelapse's as videos for Augmented Reality (see Artivive below). Procreate costs about $9.99 - just a one-time payment!

Wix is a website hosting platform. They have so many creative templates to turn into your own website. I love Wix because it's so easy to use. It's intuitive and suited to designers as it works like a design program. The apps, integrations and offerings for Wix is growing week-by-week. It now means that I can host all my online workshops on my website (saving me a monthly fee hosting them at Teachable). I can design and send out my e-newsletter from Wix (at an additional monthly fee) and it manages my mailing list. I have my online store, blog and portfolio all on my website. I love having everything all in one place. There are other integrations I haven't even had a chance to look at yet too - like advertising with google, analytics and a load of other tools. This convenience comes at a cost though. I received an email from Wix last week increasing the yearly fee and I almost fell off my seat. It's almost at $500 a year. But, if I look at the amount of time I save updating my website and the money I save moving the online courses and mailing list to Wix, it is worth it. If you'd like a little tour of the backend of Wix, you can head over to my 'Setting up your online portfolio' blog post.

I love post-it notes. So much. I'm a serious list person. This is where Padlet comes in. It's like a digital board with post it notes all over it. Different people, I'm sure use it for different reasons. I love to use it as a visual to do list for my Virtual Assistant. I also have a seperate board for my business goals and projects. When I work with my virtual assistant, I add projects for her to work on into her Padlet. We can add comments and images and links. Once she has completed the project she will move it across to the 'completed list' we set up. There are also other lists for her to move her tasks to: 'Waiting on Sarah' or 'Low Priority'. On my business Padlet I have so many different categories with my post-it notes underneath: Art, Murals, Passive Income, Marketing, Website, Online Workshops, In-person Workshops and so on...

The best thing about Padlet apart from being pretty and colourfully customisable? It's free!

Buffer is my mental health saviour. I'm sure not many people would refer to this program as that - but for me, it is! Buffer is a social media scheduling program. I can throw up my posts for the week and then I never have to touch social media and put my mental health in jeopardy. I still get my business info out, without the stinky smell of 'I'm not good enough' when I scroll socials. I only have my business Instagram account and business Facebook accounts connected. So that means my account is free (up to 10 scheduled posts). It's good for when I have a lot going on and I would normally forget to tell people about the art opening, the workshop and the magazine feature all coming out in the same week. I can schedule all those posts a week or so out from the mayhem. I always have a Buffer tab open and ready for me to throw content into.

Anyone who knows me well (AKA shared a hotel room with me) will know that I adore Calm. Every single night as the lights go out, I turn on a sleep story with my Calm app. I have anxiety, and these sleep stories are one of my tools in my mental health tool box. I also use Calm in the mornings, when I pull up to the studio in my car. I turn on the Daily Jay to do my 10mins of daily meditation. Some days it works - some days it doesn't. Give it a go. What has this got to do with running a business? The better my mental health - the better my creative output. I pay a yearly subscription to Calm and have been using it for 6 years. From memory I think it's about $89.99 a year.

This is an app I use all. the. time. But I always forget how important it is to my business. I take it for granted. I store all my business and work files on Dropbox, which means my VA can access files. I can send my clients links to their files to download. I have shared folders with different clients and I feel secure knowing my files are all backed up. I pay $18.69 a month. Well worth it!

Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign and Rush are my go-to programs. I've been using Illustrator and Photoshop since I was 14 years old. I still use these programs for my design clients, for mural and art commission proofs and most business projects. I have just started using Rush to edit videos for YouTube. There is a bit of training needed prior to tackling these programs, but once you've learnt them, you're on your way! I pay $27.49 a month for my Adobe Subscription.

I have a CriCut machine. It's a little desktop die cut machine and it is adorable! To run this machine and get your amazing designs to the machine to cut from your laptop, you need the CriCut desktop application. It's easy enough to use and it has some free project templates included. I imagine when I retire, my days will be spent going through all the CriCut templates and making 384,037 different craft projects. I use the CriCut to cut stencils smaller than 12x24 inch. I have also used the machine to cut vinyl for signage projects, tshirt designs and cut flower petals from paper. The program is free - the machine is not. You can purchase the machine from here.

I have recently been creating more and more Augmented Reality projects. The program I use to host the AR projects is Artivive. I take a photo of the mural (or project) and upload the photo (AKA barcode) to the online Artivive Bridge program and upload the animations to play when viewing the project. They have free accounts up to a certain number of views per month. If you have time, check Artivive out.

What creative programs do you use in your small business?


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