14 June 2018

The Tools I Use to Run My Business

As you may know, I don’t think new tools are key to success - hard work is. That said, coming from someone who loves to try out all the new shiny things, I think it make sense to compile a list of the tools that stuck with me.

Here’s what I use or recommend as the best tools to run your freelancing / design / UX / whatever business. I’m not going to lie, a few are affiliate links (so I get paid a tiny amount if you sign up), but I 100% stand behind every single recommendation. Where possible, I even tried to get you a discount for signing up!

Website

My website is a static generated website which is technical lingo meaning that it’s not Wordpress and it doesn’t require a database. This is great because it allows it to run a lot faster and there’s nothing evil people can hack into. I’m happy with the setup I have now, I can write content on both my computer and my iPad and as soon as I commit the changes to Github, Netlify automatically builds and publishes a new website. I could not recommend Netlify higher and the fact that it’s FREE is one of the great wonders of the world. Their application looks amazing, performs great and they offer things like a great CDN, free SSL and image optimizing.

I mainly use GoSquared for analytics as I think they offer the best graphical interface for understanding my visitors in a clear and easy way. Google Analytics is a great tool but for the most of us, it’s way too detailed. GoSquared is one of the biggest costs I currently have for my website but I use their tool every day

My newsletter is sent through MailChimp (after trying Mailchimo, Drip, Convertkit, Mailerlite and then Mailchimp again). I have a serious sweet spot for Mailchimp’s branding and their user experience. MailChimp is simple - which is great in this case - and does what it should without all the bells and whistles.

I prefer the simplicity of Gumroad for selling my books.

Software

I have my entire computer synced and automatically backed up to Dropbox. If my computer would crash, I’d have a new one fully restored within a couple of hours. There’s no price tag on that. I’ve do most of my writing in Dropbox too.

I’ve enjoyed Sketch a lot but have lately been working more and more in Figma. I was really hesitant to the whole “work-in-the-browser” setup but their app makes me forget about that. It does offer some clear advantages as developers on PC can access my files and there’s no need for Zeplin or Invision anymore. Less tools and are usually a good thing.

Whenever I get a new device, be it a computer or a phone, the first app I install is always 1Password. It stores all of my password and their 2FA-logins, synced through iCloud. This is a life-saver as it allows me to have custom, full-length secure passwords for every website I use. It’s the one app I don’t think anyone should be without.

I’m tracking my time with Harvest and have started using them for sending invoices too. It’s great to get automatic reminders of invoices that aren’t paid!

I keep tracking of things to do in Things. I don’t have a fancy GTD systems all set up, rather something far simpler. I simply have 10 different folders: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 2018, 2018-2028 and Inbox. It’s all pretty self-explanatory but I add tasks to whatever day I need to perform them which makes it easy to check in at the end of the day and see if I’ve done everything I should have. If not, simply move it to the next day. 2018 are bigger things I want to do this year and 2018-2028 are for things that are more like a mini bucketlist (e.g. visit Chicago, attend WWDC, be kinder). Inbox is where things that I add through Siri end up for sorting.

I’ve tried Evernote, Bear and all the fancy notes apps but keep returning to the stock Notes. It’s simple and lightweight and the drawing capabilities are much improved in iOS12. I do a lot of work in Keynote which works really well on both the iMac and the iPad. I keep my book keeping in a Numbers file that I’ve had since I started in 2010.

Office

I’m blessed with having my own office space and the tools I use here are carefully selected. After years of using a Macbook Pro with an external monitor, I finally took the leap in 2017 to switch to an iMac and an iPad Pro for traveling. I’ve always found that it’s almost impossible to do real design work on a Macbook without an external monitor anyway and I couldn’t be happier with this setup. The iMac is one of the best Apple products there is imho; the screen is amazing, the computer looks great and works like a charm. I have the 10.5” iPad Pro with a 4G connectivity which turned out to be a blessing - no more hassling with sketchy airport wifi! Especially since roaming fees were banned in Europe, this works great. My mobile plan includes two SIM cards and unlimited data.

I’m currently using the iPhone X and while I love it - knowing myself I’m likely to exchange it in September for whatever new model arrives.

One of the first bigger expenses I allowed my newly founded company to take on was this Herman Miller Aeron chair. Never regretted it. I have two IKEA SKARSTA desks.

I’m using both Spotify and Apple Music and everything plays through a HomePod. I have the BeoPlay M5 at home which is another speaker I highly recommend.

Doxie Go is perhaps one of my best tech purchases. I use it to scan receipts that sync to a Dropbox folder (that my accountant has access to). The Doxie Q looks great but I’ve used Doxie Go for years and years and it just keeps going. This purchase has paid itself multiple times over.

I make my morning coffee using a Sjöstrand French Press and I have a lot of plants in my office too.

Office Office