Knowing which tools, subscriptions, and resources to invest in as a small business owner is so difficult. There are so many options out there to choose from, and finding the right program to fit your needs can seem impossible sometimes!
This week I’m sharing a curated list of my favorite resources I use to run my successful, sustainable small business. Take a peek below!
When I first started my business, I used HoneyBook to keep track of projects, send contracts, etc., but I always felt somewhat limited by it. A few months before my annual subscription with them was up for renewal, I heard a podcast interview with the founders of Dubsado and was so intrigued, I had to give it a try!
I’ll be honest, the setup process was a bit confusing at first. The thing that’s so amazing about Dubsado is that it can do SO MUCH (and be customized for basically any small business out there) that it can be pretty overwhelming at first. But once you get the hang of things, it’s absolutely amazing and I’ll never go back! Their support team is also incredible which makes it even better.
They’re constantly rolling out new features to make it even better, and I love that you can customize every aspect to fit your brand.
Use the code “AlisonHeffington” or this link to get 20% off your first month or year with Dubsado!
I feel like I’ve tried every website platform out there at some point or another. Squarespace, Wix, self-hosted WordPress site—you name it. I felt so limited by everything in one way or another. Whether I couldn’t achieve the design I wanted, I needed more control over various aspects of the site, or I didn’t know enough about HTML/CSS/all the other confusing stuff, I just felt stuck!
ShowIt was EXACTLY what I needed though! The interface feels similar to Adobe programs like Photoshop, so there wasn’t a big learning curve to it. Their support team is amazing too, and they’ve always been able to solve any issue I’ve come across incredibly quickly.
You can design essentially anything you can imagine on ShowIt without needing to know any sort of code which is amazing! ShowIt’s blog is through WordPress so you’ll still work with that, but you can create the design through ShowIt so everything looks perfect.
I’ll never leave ShowIt and wish I would’ve switched over sooner!
Having a beautiful online presence is incredibly important for any small business, and even more so, having a website that converts visitors into paying clients! My website is based on a template I purchased from the incredible Davey & Krista, and let me tell ya—my website’s conversion rate increased SO much since switching to their templates! They’re beautifully designed, SEO-optimized, and created with converting website traffic into paying customers. My website is based on the Isle of Palms template which I absolutely love!
If you decide not to go with Showit for your website, you can also purchase templates for a self-hosted WordPress websites! You can view those designs here.
With Grace & Gold is another amazing Showit template shop! I used to use the Sydney template for my website and still use the blog layout from that design on my current site. Their templates are beautiful, SEO-friendly, and affordable!
Check out the rest of their gorgeous designs here!
Similar to website platforms, I tried a ton of different photo gallery platforms in the past but didn’t really love any of them! They were either too slow, too expensive, too limited, or too ugly! I recently made the switch to Pic-Time, and it is incredible. It’s by far the most beautifully designed gallery platform I’ve found, but it also makes it incredibly easy for clients to order a ton of products with
The company I used right before I switched to CloudSpot was fine, but I was constantly needing more storage space and things were getting really expensive.
I made the switch to CloudSpot a year ago and absolutely love it! It was made by a photographer for photographers, so it really has all the features you need for your business! My favorite features are the ability to create multiple galleries for one event (i.e. have a separate vendor gallery separate from the gallery I send my clients without having to upload more images) and custom client apps!
Get 20% off your first subscription here!
If you’ve ever tried email marketing before and been confused by how to set it up or annoyed by the high price tags associated with some of the more robust services out there, then Flodesk is for you!!
Flodesk first caught my eye when several people whose email lists I subscribe to started sending these gorgeous, beautifully designed emails. They looked incredible, and I was wondering how they were able to do that! Flodesk was the answer—and it’s AMAZING.
Flodesk was created by two women who wanted to make an email marketing platform that was actually intuitive, powerful, and beautifully designed. They certainly achieved their goal and created one of my favorite business platforms to date! I’m currently in the process of moving everything over from my old marketing platform to Flodesk and can’t wait to start using it even more.
Get 50% off your Flodesk subscription here!
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t post on Instagram as often as I should, but Planoly is the reason I ever remember to post at all! You can write out your captions in advance, save your frequently used hashtags, schedule your posts ahead of time, and even set it to automatically post on Instagram for you at the most optimal time of day for your audience!
I’m not great at remembering to do this (it’s something I’m working on!), but ideally, I would upload 3-5 favorite images from each new wedding or session to Planoly and organize my feed. I would also include placeholder images (a feature built into the app) for days when I know I’ll have a new image that needs to be shared (like a sneak peek from a wedding!). Then, I would plan out my captions and feed at least a week (or several weeks!) in advance.
Even though I don’t use Planoly to the fullest yet, it’s an app I use almost daily!
If you really want to drive traffic to your website, Pinterest is one of the best ways to do it. But no one really has time to pin images from across your website and blog every day! That’s where Tailwind comes in!
Tailwind is a Pinterest-approved app that lets you schedule pins from your website. Any pin you schedule will be automatically pinned to the board you select at the most optimal time of the day. You can also create something called a “Smart Loop” that will automatically repin evergreen content from your site!
My audience on Pinterest has gone up by 57% since I started using Tailwind which is pretty amazing I think!! You can get a free month of Tailwind to try it out for yourself here!
One of the most important parts of my post-wedding workflow is backing up images. The absolute last thing you want to happen after you photograph a wedding is to lose any of the images, so having a really solid plan for backing up images is essential. One program I use in my business to backup my files is Backblaze! Backblaze will automatically back up your computer and any connected external hard drives to the cloud anytime you’re connected to the Internet. If you’re ever in a situation where a card or hard drive gets corrupted, but you’ve already backed it up, you can easily restore it or access the files online.
Click here to get a free month of Backblaze and try it out for yourself!
I cannot sing Narrative’s praises enough!! As a business owner, you probably already know that blogging is super important. I used to absolutely DREAD blogging, especially since most of my blog posts are very image-heavy and take a lot of extra work preparing images, pairing them together, adding them to the post, etc., and it was just such a time-suck. I heard about Narrative on a podcast once and decided to check it out, and I’m SO grateful I did!
Narrative makes publishing blog posts incredibly easily for photographers. From easily pairing images, to automatically optimizing them for the web, to the simple, beautiful interface, you just can’t go wrong with Narrative. I’ll probably write a whole blog post soon diving into the features of Narrative and how I use it in my business, but for now, I’m going to tell you to just go download the trial and give it a shot! It’s currently available on Mac computers only, but I believe a Windows version is in the works!
Get 15% off your subscription with the code alison72 or using this link!
What are some programs or platforms that you use in your business? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links and I would love if you decided to use them! Affiliate links + referrals programs help small business owners & educators like me to fund the free content that we provide on our blogs! I only share things that I love and use in my own business.