Everyone wants to make their lives a little bit easier. If you don't, more power to you. Particularly in business, when things are smooth sailing we smile a little more.
Having a list of tools and resources is one of the ways to work more proficiently. As I fumble through business, I have tried different software, read and few blog, and watched a ton of videos.
Here is my big list of resources that has worked out well for me and my business.
1. How Design
Loaded a wide range of industry info. The How Design blog is my go-to for design news and best practices. Read up on the latest in the design world or tips on of to progress as a designer including online lectures. Also, keep your eyes open for book sales. I picked The Logo Brainstorm Book for a few bucks on the How website.
2. Creative Bloq
Where I go for design inspiration and tutorials. The Creative Bloq is all about graphic design. You can find many posts on "how-tos" to help sharpen your skills. After learning, you can read up on news in the graphic design industry. This site is one of my main sources of inspiration.
3. Just Creative
A graphic designer whom blogs about a wide range of design topics. Just Creative is a blog created by fellow designer Jacob Case. Jacob gives us a lot of information about working in the design field along with resources to use.
4. Elle & Company
Graphic design blog ran by Lauren Hooker. Elle & Company is all about helping other creatives build their own design business. Lauren provides workbooks (some I have used), courses, and educational videos. Lauren definitely helped me get started with my business.
5. Roberto Blake
One of the first YouTube channels I originally followed. Roberto Blake has a ton of videos. Really, there’s a lot. Although he shifted his focus on helping others build YouTube channels, you should have no problem finding videos to help you become a better designer and a business owner.
6. The Futur
So so so happy I found The Futur (formerly the Skool). I have learned a lot from founder Chris Do with videos on how to build, run, and grow a successful design practice. For designers looking to go the agency route for a design career, do yourself a favor and subscribe to The Futur’s channel.
7. Will Paterson
Very talented designer and hand letterer with logo driven content. You can look to Will Paterson for design inspiration as well as tips on logo design. Along with his YouTube channel, check out Will’s Instagram. He shows a lot of his hand lettering.
Daniel White created the YouTube channel, Dansky to help designers sharpen their skills. He publishes Adobe tutorials that will definitely enhance your skills.
*Bonus* Sharese Hendricks
I created my YouTube channel to teach things I did not know a few years back. I want to help aspiring creatives find their career paths whether that's an in-house designer, solopreneur, freelancer, or starting an agency.
9. Adobe Kuler
You can browse colors or create your own color scheme. The best part about Kuler is the integration with Adobe CC. You can save a color scheme right to your library, open an Adobe document, and the color scheme will be there waiting for you.
Color-Hex provides color codes compatible for the web. Handle tool for searching colors while you are designing a website.
Mockups, Vectors, & Icons
You can find both premium paid and free graphic design resources on Pixeden. Perfect place to find mockups for various projects for both personal and commercial use.
12. Creative Market
Just an all around awesome site. Creative Market has a huge library of design elements to choose from. The font database is out of this world and that is only one category of items you can browse through.
Similar to Pixeden, GraphicBurger has a database of premium graphic design and web design files. GraphicBurger also offers files for personal and commercial use.
14. Design Cuts
Design Cuts is like a coupon platform for designers. Their deals will really save you a lot of money. I would suggest you bookmark this site and check back for deals often. You never know what you are going to find.
15. Font Squirrel
What of the best sites to find high-quality fonts. Font Squirrel provides a detailed filter to help you find the perfect font along with a font identifier. You can find commercial and personal licenses on Font Squirrel.
16. My Fonts
It is nice to purchase an entire font family. This way you will have a range of choices with the same font. Thin, bold, or regular just to name a few. My Fonts offers the opportunity to by entire font families which can be extremely useful.
Ever come across a font and you can’t tell what it is? WhatTheFont (an affiliate of My Fonts) provides an easy upload system to search a similar font
18. Da Font
DaFont has one of the largest free font libraries on the web mostly for personal use. They also provide an easy way to purchase the extended licenses if you want to.
19. Adobe CC
I could not live with Adobe point blank.I fell more in love with the programs after Adobe CC was introduced. The programs are not cheap so the monthly subscription gives people the opportunity to have the industry leading programs at a comfortable price. You also get upgrades! No need to worry about the program being out dated.
With the emergence of live streaming, OBS allows you to get a little creative. Before, you could only stream on a mobile device. With programs like OBS, you can stream from your laptop or a digital camera which can elevate the level of professionalism.
Comes in handy when you want to record your screen. I use Screencast-o-Magic to record various design tutorials. You can also use this to record instructional videos for your staff. There are many possibilities.
22. G Suite
Goole is pretty much awesome. not only do a lot of sites let you log-in or signup with your Google profile, G Suite offers some useful business features. One of the main features is the professional email address. You can better present yourself with a custom @yourbusiness.com email address over firstname.lastname@example.org.
A huge platform to showcase your work. With Behance, you can show your work for free. Signup for an account and upload your work. Many employers browse Behance so this is a great way to gain exposure.
Similar to Behance Coroflot allows you to post your work in a portfolio and post design jobs for you to browse.
The whos who of online portfolios. Anyone can sign-up to Dribbble but to post work, you have to be drafted. Nifty concepts I think. This brings a little more value and credibility to having design work on Dribbble
26. Adobe Portfolio
With Adobe Portfolio you can customize your website a little more than on Behance. The cool part about Adobe Portfolio is the integration with Behance. Post to one site and the work will show up on both.
Hands down the most proficient hosting company I have used. SitGround is easy to navigate through and reliable. Nothing worst than having your site go down for hours at a time because of a faulty hosting company.
28. Gravity Forms
Gravity Forms takes form building to another level. These forms have powerful functionalities that allow you more room for customization. You can create anything from a simple contact form to a detailed order form.
You know how to design a website but not how to develop. No problem. BeaverBuilder is a website builder that requires little to no code to publish your own website.
30. Yoast SEO
An easy way to add SEO information to a WordPress site and one of the most popular plugins. Yoast SEO is a no-brainer to incorporate search engine marketing.
Productivity & Organization
A simple way share your ideas across desktop and mobile platforms. Evernote is an easily accessible app to take notes, sketches, ideas, to-do lists, and reminders.
Amongst all of the project management tools out there, I find Trello is the most user-friendly. It is very straightforward and has multiple purposes from client to employee management.
Organize your daily task with Todoist and sync the app across mobile and desktop. Wherever you go you will have your to do list with you.
Basic social media schedule platform great for beginners. Hootsuite also has social media course to help with the marketing efforts. One of the best features will have to be the Google Chrome extension. Hootlet makes scheduling effortless with the ability to add content to your calendar with a few button clicks.
CoSchedule is more than just a social media scheduler, it allows you to streamline various marketing components. Having everything in one place makes things more convenient.
Take a picture, set the post time, and publish to Instagram later. That's how Latergram works.
Setup looping pins on Boardboster to keep your Pinterest account active. Boardboster has a feature that takes old pins and re-post them. This gets fresh eyes on your content.
Another Pinterest scheduling tool but can be used in a different way. Tailwand can be used to schedule a bulk amount of pins throughout the day instead of pinning all at once.
Automate tasks between more than 700 popular web apps. Zaiper allows you to set triggers for multiple apps.
40. Acuity Schedule
Acuity Schedule has really worked well for me. Instead of trying to figure out what time works best, send a link to your calendar and wait for people to book.
Related Post: 8 Ways to Automate Your Design Business
The most user-friendly email marketing system out there. MailChimp provides both basic pay-as-you-go plans and more featured monthly plans. You can start off small and watch your email list grow with MailChimp.
You can sign up to Skillshare for free and take a couple of class or get a premium monthly membership to access a large selection of classes.
Udemy has a massive amount of online courses. Instead of the monthly subscription model, you have the freedom to purchase one course at a time.
Much like Skillshare and Udemy, Lynda is an online learning site where you take classes and learn new skills on your own time.
45. Wave Apps
A free online accounting software to keep your money organized. Manage payroll and invoicing all in one place with Wave Apps.
So there you have it, a big list of some of the resources I used to run my design business. This is just a starter list. I could probably go on with the different programs and tools I have tried but this definitely is my core products.
Do you already use some of these graphic design resources? Are there any other sites you think should be in the mix?