There are so many great resources available to help you run a surface pattern design business. I have compiled a list of my absolute favourite FREE business resources that I use almost every day!
I use Airtable to organise my design library and my client list. I did have all this information in Excel spreadsheets but have found Airtable to be much easier to use and visually nicer to look at.
Before I set up my Airtable workspaces I did the excellent Skillshare class on Airtable by Shannon McNab.
I now have two workspaces – one where I have all my designs with information on licences and print on demand sales. The second workspace has a list of all the companies I want to contact, including the date I last contacted them and any other important information.
Asana is a calendar-based to-do list – you add a task to any day on the calendar, and can include attachments, notes etc.. with the task. You will get reminders of upcoming tasks and as you complete each task, you get to tick ‘complete’.
I love using Asana to record regular administration tasks like updating my finances, publishing blog posts, reviewing my social media, and to also make a note of important dates like submission dates for design competitions.
I use Mailchimp to send newsletters to email subscribers. It allows you to create pop-up forms and links to embed so that you can collect email addresses (your subscribers). You can do this long before you send your first newsletter which is great.
It is quite easy to use to design newsletters, there are lots of templates to choose from or you can set up the design yourself. You also get statistics on each newsletter sent which is great information when reviewing your marketing strategy.
My love for Pinterest knows no bounds! It is fantastic for getting inspiration, I love creating different boards to save images to and will often do this when I am working to a brief or doing trend research.
The other thing it is great for? It is an awesome marketing tool for your business and to send traffic to your website. There are many online resources in how to create Pins and develop a strategy for Pinterest. What I like the most about Pinterest from a marketing perspective is that, unlike social media, the Pins you create will appear over and over again when people are searching. My Pins that get the most attention were posted over 2 years ago, which is pretty amazing. I doubt that anyone would look at my Instagram posts from 2 years ago!
Planoly is a social media planner – I use it to organise my Instagram posts but you can also use it to schedule Pins.
Scheduling my Instagram posts is a massive time-saver for me – I love that I can visually plan my upcoming posts, write the captions, add hashtags and locations, and when it comes time to post I just open the Planoly app on my phone and woosh, it’s all there on Instagram!
If you have never scheduled social media before trust me, once you do it you will be so happy, I plan out a month ahead and it is such a relief knowing that I only need to think about my social media for a day and then its done!
I looooveee Unsplash – this is a brilliant image library of royalty-free photos that you can use for anything. I use it to find images I want to draw when I don’t have my own reference photo. The other thing it is awesome for is finding photos I can turn into mockups – so images with white clothing or white objects are perfect for this. This tutorial from Every-Tuesday shows you how to turn a photo into a mockup.
WeTransfer is a file-sharing service that allows you to send up to 2GB of files at a time. A link is sent to your client that is valid for 7 days, and you get an email notification when they have downloaded the files.
I use WeTransfer to send all my design files – it looks super neat and professional and is very easy to use.
Last but not least is YouTube! I often go to Youtube for tutorials on everything art & design related, particularly when I want to do something specific in Photoshop. There is a wealth of information on there, and often the videos show you exactly what you need to know.
So there’s my list of favourite FREE business resources that I use all the time – I’m sure there are more that I don’t know about, please let me know your favourites in the comment box below!