13 Fabulous Online Tools I Use Practically Every Day (and most of them are free!)

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Note: None of these links are affiliate links (because i'm not that cool yet). I just GENIUNELY like these tools!

 

I am . . . shall we say . . . not great at organization. Those who know me may be surprised by that statement. (HA HA JUST KIDDING.) Look, we creative types often thrive in chaos, right? So having it all together just doesn't come naturally to our right-brained selves. 

What I'm trying to say is, I need help in this department. Lucky for me, I've found several tools that keep me squared away . . . and I'd like to share them with you in case you've been looking for these magical apps, too! 

Now, without further ado, my top 13 online tools that I use All. The. Time. in my business – each paired with a fun GIF for no reason other than I amuse myself! 

 

1. Canva

Free; paid plans available
(I use the $12.95/month plan)

Try your hand at graphic design with Canva! You don't have to start from scratch – use any of their bazillion premade templates to spark your creativity. To all you graphic designers out there: I know, I know – it's not Adobe Illustrator – but it gets the job done and it looks pretty darn good. And it's free! What more could you ask for?

I use Canva to create quick graphics for my blog posts, Facebook posts, Pinterest posts . . . pretty much anything related to social media. I can also design logos in Canva, although I prefer to use Illustrator for that because I can create vector images in Illustrator.

. . . . OK, I won't get into all those details here, because chances are (unless you're a graphic designer) you don't care. It's cool. 

 

2. Buffer

Free; paid plans available
(I use the $10/month plan)

Speaking of social media . . . . Tired of trying to remember all the bazillion things you need to do for your social media accounts? Buffer's got your back. You can schedule your social media posts ahead of time through Buffer, and it'll post your stuff right when you want it to appear.

I'm trying to get better at using social media in my business, and Buffer is proving itself to be an invaluable tool! 

 

3. Google Drive

Free; paid plan available
(I use the $5/month G Suite plan, which includes custom email addresses and a ton more)

If you don't know about Google Drive, who are you and how do you live in our society?

It's cool, you probably live in a cave or under a rock or something primitive like that. No offense. 

Anyhoo . . . .

I use Drive to store pretty much any document or file I need for my biz. It's all in one place, it's easy to organize, it's easy to share with my clients, it converts Word docs so I don't have to deal with Microsoft BS . . . as far as I'm concerned, it's perfect! 

 

(I love rainbows, and I'm old enough to have been a huge fan.)

What can you do with Coolors? Check out endless color palettes. Create your own. See how certain colors look next to each other. Adjust colors to your heart's content.

Coolors is about as easy to use as, I dunno, oxygen. Click the space bar to get a new palette. When you see colors you like, click on them to lock them. Then click the space bar again to get new colors along with your locked colors. So. Simple. I use this to create and refine color palettes ALL THE TIME. 

 

Whenever I'm in need of some inspiration, I turn to Pinterest because it has EVERYTHING THAT EXISTS IN THE WORLD. <-- true fact

What else is there to say? 

 

6. Trello

Free; paid plans available
(I use the free plan)

Organize your business and/or your entire life inside Trello. Really.

OK, I'll admit I'm not quite that fluent yet in Trello to organize my entire life (see intro paragraph), but it honestly works wonders to organize my business. I've got my workflows in there, random tasks I'm working on, my short-term and long-term goals, and all kinds of projects.

Super super easy. I highly recommend it.

And if you want to learn how to be a Trello pro, check out Trello for Business ($29), a course I've used myself. I learned a TON in there, and it made Trello even more valuable for me. Highly recommend.

 

Need free stock photos? Chances are good that Pexels has exactly what you're looking for. And generally, you won't find much cheesy crap that's OBVIOUSLY a stock photo. (Because those kind of stock photos are the WORST, amirite?)

Just be sure to double-check that the photos you plan to use are cleared for commercial use. Otherwise, download away! 

 

8. Zoom

Free; paid plans available
(I use the free plan)

I don't use an old-school phone and I'm not a dog . . . I just wanted to use this GIF.

Back to Zoom . . . .

I love this app for videoconferencing, which is something I do often in my biz.

Zoom's best feature, IMO, is that you can screenshare – even on the free plan! It's also super easy to use. And I haven't had issues with it like I've had with Skype. Connections are solid, videos are good quality, audio is clear . . . two thumbs up. And unless you're doing a big webinar or something, you can totally get by on the free plan. Yay! 

 

9. HoneyBook

Free trial
(I pay for a membership – I got a promo code for $20/month for the first year)

I use HoneyBook for as my project management software. I can send proposals/agreements with it, track my project workflow with it, and use it for ALL of my client communication. It's so helpful to keep EVERYTHING in one spot! 

I even use HoneyBook for my contact form, which was so easy to seamlessly embed in my website's "Contact Me" page. Whenever someone contacts me through the form, HoneyBook automatically sets up a new project for me with that person's completed form and contact info. SO AMAZING. I love it!

 

10. Typeform

Free; paid plans available
(I use the free plan)

Need to make a survey but want it to look super polished? Check out Typeform.

The free plan limits you to ten questions, but that's been enough for me so far. My questionnaires look clean and professional, and it's pretty easy to get the responses. It could be a little more clear, but considering I'm not paying for it, I'm cool with how it's set up. 

 

11. Squarespace

Free trial
(I use the Business Plan, which is $216/year or $26/month)

This one is so obvious that I nearly forgot it. I build sites on Squarespace – I built THIS site on Squarespace – so of COURSE I use it every day! Duh! 

10,000% worth it. Really. It's so easy to use and it makes lovely sites. You can customize practically anything, too. Love love love.

 

 

12. Flaticon

Free; paid plans available
(I use the $10/month plan)

Need an icon of darn near anything? You'll probably find it here. I use this site for literally every website I design.

You can even customize the icons to fit your color palette without having to open them up in Illustrator. (Of course, customization is much more limited than what you can do in Illustrator, but it's usually all I need.)

 

 

13. Adobe Creative Cloud

Free trial
(I pay for a membership, which is a whopping $49.99/month, plus an additional $29.99 for Adobe Stock, but it's worth it)

All right, kids, this is where I really splurge. And by "splurge," I mean "spend a large chunk of money on essential software I absolutely need." So I guess that's not really a splurge since it's necessary. 

Regardless, I pay for it, because I really really really need Adobe Illustrator, and I want to learn how to use it better. And I want to learn how to use InDesign, too. And I use Adobe Stock for photos, backgrounds, and other images. And Typekit. I use Typekit for waaaaaay more font options than I could ever possibly use. It's so easy to plug them into a Squarespace site! 

Adobe Creative Cloud – if you're doing any kind of design work, you know you need it.


There you have it: my 13 must-have online tools for running my business. What's your go-to apps for your business? Tell me in the comments – I'm always looking for more!