Favorite 2018 Resources That We're Taking Into 2019
Where has the year gone?
From new platforms that needed decoding to new resources we didn’t even know we needed, 2018 was definitely the year of a lot of tech!
After 12 months of continuing to use old faithfuls from 2017 and diving into the new goodies of 2018, here are the resources we loved from 2018 that we’ll be taking into 2019:
I remember meeting Scottie Elliot, one of the co-founders of Gather at High Point Market, Spring 2018. We chatted for a bit & shortly after returning home, I got right into checking out the platform.
Why I love em?
I wear a lot of hats — like a lot! — and while there isn’t exactly a platform that can tend to all the inner workings of my personal life, for my business I love having a place to keep my creative assets & deliverables organized.
As an online designer & content creator, I use Gather to manage project details, organize product specifications, and track sourcing budgets.
I love Gather so much, it was an honor to have them come on board as a founding sponsor for The Design Influence podcast launching in January!
I’ve been using Dubsado since Spring 2017, after weeding out dozens of other CRMs at the time. I was in the very infancy stages of my business & Dubsado was the best fit for my needs, in terms of features & cost. Now, nearly two years later, I use it hand in hand with Gather.
Why I love em?
I got tired of having contracts over here & invoices over there, and just cobbling pieces of my business together through a bunch of different programs & emails.
Dubsado serves as the central administrative hub for my business — contracts, payment processing, automated workflows, and all of the operational elements. No more digging through emails & desktop files; instead everything is digitally organized & my client management is seamless.
I never imagined I’d be one of those people who’d find stock images useful — until I started using Styled Stock Society. After downloading a free sample set early 2018 — a set that I used over & over & OVER again — I purchased a bundle offer. Still consistently using those stock images, and slowly phasing out all other stock resources, I realized that this was a subscription that I’d actually use.
Why i love em?
I am not a photographer, by any stretch of the imagination, and even if I was, I don’t have the time, resources, or mental bandwidth to produce beautiful photos for social media, blog posts, or website graphics.
With the Styled Stock Society subscription, I’ve had access to amazing collections — styled but real life photography — that’s been on brand for both of my businesses! So whether it’s a cozy Hygge-inspired photo or something a bit more festive for the holidays, I never have to look to hard to find exactly what I need.
PowerSheets by Cultivate What Matters
Year after year, I’ve struggled with planners — be it from looking for the right format to actually remembering to use it past March, only to end up wasting 9 months of pages.
I started using PowerSheets midway through 2018, and quickly saw what the hype was about. And now, in tandem with a weekly pad, it’s my go to resource for intentional planning.
Why i love em?
Using PowerSheets, I’ve been able to get really clear on my goals — actual goals, and not just things that sound nice — and then break them down in meaningful ways.
With PowerSheets, you’re not just jotting down appointments & birthdays. Instead, you’re cultivating habits of intentional & thoughtful planning, week to week and month to month.
I giggle a little instead every time someone asks me for Instagram tips — but running multiple accounts, I guess I could see how one would think I know what I’m doing.
Spoiler Alert: I’m just winging it.
Like probably many of you, I’ve tested & played around with lots of different apps designed to help manage Instagram. I’ve even gone so far to consider passing the whole social media thing off to a virtual assistant.
What’s help me navigate Instagram with any semblance of strategy & clarity has been Later, and trust me when I say, without it, I would probably almost never post.
Why i love em?
With Later, I batch create & pre-schedule about 99% of my posts across two accounts. I dedicate one day to simply loading in my media for the week (or even sometimes 2 weeks) and organizing the feed, then I dedicate another day to writing out captions.
While I do sometimes fall short, using Later has freed up my time (and mental space) a ton because I’m not constantly posting in the moment & laboring over captions & filters. Instead, I have tome to reply DMs & comments, show up in my stories, and tackle Instagram with a clear mind.
I also use the linkin.bio feature a lot because it allows me to essentially make my feeds clickable, without having to constantly switch out the link in my bio.
When I started using Pinterest in my business, admittedly, it’s not something I was doing with any real strategy — I’d pin a blog post once & then be done. Even if the post had multiple images, I couldn’t bring myself to commit the time to pin multiple images to multiple boards.
I started using Tailwind a little over a year ago to keep fresh content consistently circulating on my Pinterest boards, and while I am a still a ways from nailing an actual strategy, the difference has been clear!
Why i love em?
With Tailwind I can schedule out all multiple pins from my site, versus constantly having to manually pin images — I can set it & forget it!
The real game changer has been their new PowerUp feature — SmartLoop. I set up a “loop” for the holidays to test out the new feature, and within a week a saw a spike in my blog traffic! I even received a notification from my website host regarding an anomaly in my traffic analytics — aka the sudden surge in traffic.
Because it was a small test loop, it was easy to spot the correlation between the pins I looped & the new “popular content” on my site.
I used to be that person that loved taking all the different types of fun quizzes you’d see on the interwebs — “What Harry Potter Character Are You?” “Which Zodiac Sign is Perfect For You?” “If Your Life Was A Movie, It Would Be…”
So it’s no surprise that the idea of adding a quiz to my won business seemed a little more than attractive. But I shoved that idea WAY down to the bottom of my list because I was in no mood to build an intuitive quiz.
In 2017, I started playing around with Interact to build my email list and I was super impressed with how easy to use it was, and it quickly became way more than just a list builder for me — it was a way to connect with my audience beyond telling them their decor style.
Why i love em?
As designers we automatically default to creating style quizzes — guilty! — but because of how easy to use Interact is, I was able to set up features that made my quiz serve me in more ways than one.
My style quiz, while due for a revamp, has served me as a way to onboard new clients, do market research on my email list, and create evergreen affiliate marketing.
In another life, I built my fair share of websites — from using Dreamweaver to build sites from scratch to using all kinds of different “plug & play” platforms.
I’m not a professional web designer by any stretch of the imagination but after a decade of doing this, I quickly started to compile a list of what I wanted from a platform — even as someone who enjoys tinkering on the backend, I knew I didn’t want to spend hours, endlessly laboring over scripts & coding.
After hearing so many rave reviews, I decided to Squarespace for myself and now a year later, I am happily hosting two sites on the platform.
Why i love em?
When it comes to building sites, I know what I’m doing, but that doesn’t mean I want to spend hours doing it, especially when handling sites for two different businesses.
With Squarespace I am, first of all, able to switch back & forth between my two sites with ease, saving me lots of time. Updating my sites involves no coding, which means no headaches, and a lot of the features even a novice would want from a website are already built in — SEO optimization, Google analytics, commerce options, and so much more.
This isn’t to say these features aren’t available on other sites — because they are — but with Squarespace, I’ve been able to do everything I need to do effortlessly, giving me the time & flexibility I need to stay creative.
Are these the only 8 resources I used in 2018? Not even close! But these were 8 of my biggest game-changers that’ll definitely be going into 2019 with me.
For a full list of all the resources I love & think you’ll love too, head over to the favorites page. While I may not currently be using them all — I am only one person — I have experience with em all. What I ultimately ended up using is based on my personal needs, so try em out & see which are your best fit to create your own curated business operations!