It’s taken me awhile to figure out my niche, and where I want to be with my business. As a graphic designer, you have a tendency to want to take on “all the things” in order to get your business up and running with steady clients. If you’re like me, you’d design wedding invitations, business cards, flyers, brochures, billboards – you name it, I’m pretty sure I’ve done it. While it’s good experience – definitely any time you’re working with clients, you are learning something, as well as adding to your portfolio. Sometimes though you can soon realize that the hours you are pouring into this work is not profiting your business. Also, by not specializing, what you are offering can come off vague and non-cohesive. This can be a turn-off to potential clients, because they don’t know what you’re good at, if you’re all over the board.
So I made the decision this year that if I was going to put my whole heart into owning my own business, that I would invest money in the tools and training necessary in order for me to take things full-time. While I may not have had the money to do this (with a mountain of debt and student loans…and bills to pay), I did it anyway, using any means necessary. And while I haven’t met my goals yet, I’m still charging ahead full-force to invest in my business.
Keep reading, here are the 5 tools, resources and training I’ve invested in for my small business, when I was broke!
*Please note, this post contains an affiliate link, of a product I have used myself and recommend. Should you choose to click on the link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission. Thank you!
No. 1 – An updated computer
So, I’ve had my 13″ MacBook Pro since early-2011, and the storage capacity (300GB) just wasn’t cutting it anymore. After a lot of research, I decided on a 2013 iMac with 1TB hard drive. I found this older (but new in the box) model from B&H Video online for $899. I updated the RAM to 16GB and everything is running smoothly. With B&H Video there is no sales tax and free shipping! This gave me quite a savings if I would, in comparison, have went with a newer retina-display monitor. Yep, I’m super envious of the retina-displays, but for now this computer has the speed and ability for what I need it to do. I used my PayPal account to finance this, choosing PayPal credit for 6 months (no interest or payments) financing.
No. 2 – Stock Photo Subscriptions
I’ve always had a subscription to Adobe Stock Photo, and also recently have subscribed to Rosemary Watson’s stock photo subscription. Rosemary’s unique collection of photos is a great resource to choose from for branding your site, creating social media post graphics, and when you want something that is beautiful and “pinnable!” Kate Max Stock is another great option for feminine stock photos!
No. 3 – Tailwind
I initially used Board Booster, but now that they’re no longer a recommended scheduler for Pinterest, I’ve switched to Tailwind. After my free trial was up with Tailwind, I switch to their paid program, which starts at $9.99 per month. This has allowed me to set up a schedule pins with their helpful scheduling extension you can add to Google Chrome, and continue to loop my pins with their Smart Loop feature. This is super helpful if you’d like your old blog post pins to be consistently pinned and come up fresh in the Pinterest feed. You can put this on auto-pilot by spending a little time with it each week.
No. 4 – Planners
How can something so simple be so life-changing? By nature, I was a post-it note kinda girl, writing lists and making myself crazy with multiple to-do lists cluttering up my desk and my thoughts. I don’t love details, yet I felt something was missing in my business and had heard so much about various planners that help you create consistent goals. I decided to purchase Lisa Jacob’s “Your Best Year 2017” and it has been wonderful! Her writing style is super-engaging to read, and the planning exercises are very thought provoking. I utilize this planner to plan out my upcoming year, reflect on the past year, set goals, and much more. I chose the printable version, which is a hefty 140 pages, so make sure to have your black printer ink ready, as well as a binder and 3-hole punch. The printable planner (instant download) is sold on Etsy for $15.
Next up is the Brilliant Life Planner created by Beth Anne Schwamberger. I have the printable version, and am waiting with anticipation when I get the hard copy version in December! Beth Anne created an amazing planner that helps with all aspects of your personal life and small business. Plan out your editorial calendar, blog posts, social media posts and more with this elegant and beautiful planner. This planner runs approximately $50.
No. 5 – Freelance Academy Course
I have always loved Lauren from Elle & Company’s design style, and information-packed blog posts. So I dove into the Freelance Academy Course she was offering, even though it was out my comfort-zone in the price range. Not that the price isn’t worth it, but that with my mountain of debt and bills, I wasn’t sure if it would be a wise purchase at that time. But, I ignored those thoughts and forged ahead. I chose the handy payment plan option and away I went. It has been so worth it! Lauren is super organized and efficient, and her course is very easy to follow along with. I am putting all of my effort into this course in order to learn how best to serve my clients by offering amazing services. By far, this has been the most exciting course I have taken.
Don’t feel guilty about investing in your business. Sometimes you have to jump in before you are ready (financially). If it means using temporary financing, savings or credit (in small doses), and using it responsibly, trust your gut and expand your technology, resources and knowledge. When you have a small business, it’s so important to keep learning and growing.
With careful planning, and follow through on bettering your business, you will surely reach those goals and be on your way to being a successful #LadyBoss!
Now tell me, what investments in your business have you made in the past year? Or, what are you planning to invest in this year? I’d love to hear about it!