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Owning a business can be extremely overwhelming when it comes to client communication, staying organized, marketing, blogging, creating new content, editing, hosting meetings, sending out emails, and so much more.
Over the years I have found programs that have made things easier and significantly more efficient in my business to keep things running smoothly and they allow me to have more time to work on the parts of my business that I love.
If you are an entrepreneur, a photographer, or a small business owner, then this list of 12 software programs are for you.
The first program I want to tell you about is one that I used to never take full advantage of until the past couple of years. And that program is Google Drive. You may have heard of this, or you may have one if you have a google account but my question is, are you using it to its full potential?
I use Google Drive for just about everything. It’s essentially an online hard drive where you can store all of your files. I use google drive to plan out all my content, write out transcripts for this show, write blog posts, and pretty much any written form content in my business. It is also a great tool to share PDF’s with clients, or team members.
I have folders for photography clients, my education students, my podcast and other parts of my business like business numbers / finances, templates, and a place to track my accounts for different programs.
I love that I can access my Google drive from anywhere whether it be my laptop, my desktop, my phone, or wherever. Since it’s online it’s the easiest way to take my work with me on the go without having to write a bunch of stuff down in notebooks or planners.
Probably the most important program I use in my business is HoneyBook. HoneyBook is a client management software that keeps track of all your client projects in a really efficient way. It is intended to organize your workflows in your service based business so that all of your clients can receive a unique and incredible experience from you even while you sleep.
Some of my favorite features of HoneyBook are the templates for literally everything, the automated workflows, the bookkeeping features, and the fact that I can get paid right through the app itself.
Even if you do not have a website, you can still maximize HoneyBook in so many ways. You can create a contact form that exists on its own page of the internet. No embedding required. Once someone fills out the contact form, you can have them immediately put into a pre created workflow which is essentially just a fancy to do list in a sense.
That workflow can send emails automatically, or brochures which I use to send out pricing guides, or other informational guides, and it can also send out a questionnaire to get more information from your clients or inquiries.
Once someone wants to book with you, you can choose from one of HoneyBook’s pre created contracts to send to your client where they can digitally sign (that’s right, no more boring back and forth printing and scanning nonsense) and they can pay you directly through honeybook too!
Now one of the hesitations I hear about HoneyBook is about the 3% credit card transaction fee. And I get that it’s kinda a bummer, however pretty much any program out there that collects money charges a fee.
This is important to know because I know a lot of business owners are using Venmo to send money back and forth to avoid this, but you need to be aware that unless you have a business account on Venmo (that takes a percentage of your transactions) you are actually going against Venmo’s terms and conditions and this could result in them freezing your account and keeping your money. At least those are some of the horror stories I have heard. It’s better to not risk it fam!
Plus the 3% transaction fee on HoneyBook is actually a write off come tax time! So just make sure you are keeping track of it!
If you would like more information on HoneyBook or if you want to get 50% off your first year you can go to www.SarahElrod.com/HoneyBook
Are you aware of how important email marketing is for your business? If yes, then you should listen to this next software program because it seriously changes the name of the game for email marketing.
Flodesk is a new, women founded email marketing platform that has everything my little aesthetic heart could want when it comes to emails. My biggest hangup for so long was that email marketing felt so boring and dry. Emails are ugly, and I honestly did not think anyone would read them.
Not to mention that email marketing is a whole new ballgame and there is a lot of tech and verbiage that can be really confusing when you are just starting out. But when I heard about Flodesk and all that it offers I knew I had to give it a try.
Immediately, I was surprised to see how simple and minimal the platform is. I was obsessed with how easy it was to navigate and create my first email. With Flodesk, my emails are colorful, on brand, adorable, and so fun. I love making them and creating exclusive content to send out to my audience.
Flodesk also takes away all the weird lingo and makes everything in email marketing so easy to understand. There are also no additional fees or price increases when you get more subscribers unlike some other email marketing platforms, Flodesk is one flat rate no matter what.
And if you know me at all then you know I love when things can be automated. With Flodesk, automating emails and workflows in a piece of cake. You can literally serve your audience and sell without having to lift a finger.
You can get Flodesk for half off for LIFE at only $19 per month when you go to SarahElrod.com/Flodesk.
The next program I think most businesses need to have is Lightroom. There are a few versions of this, there is just plain Lightroom which is also compatible with Lightroom mobile, this works off a cloud storage type system so your photos are constantly syncing back and forth. Or there is Lightroom CC which is a paid version of Lightroom used by most professional photographers.
If you are just editing simple photos for an Instagram feed or marketing graphics then Lightroom Mobile is just fine. But for more professional photography type content, I would recommend Lightroom CC just because it has a wider range of capabilities.
Lightroom is how I edit every single one of my photos. I love that I can export my presets from lightroom CC and use them to edit iphone photos in Lightroom Mobile that way my overall aesthetic stays consistent.
If you are unsure of how to maximize the features of Lightroom I would highly encourage you to check out some Youtube videos to learn what all the buttons and options are for editing. If you want to download Lightroom for yourself, head over to the Adobe website and choose the package that best suits your needs.
Similar to Lightroom in the sense that it’s an editing software, Photoshop is another one of those programs that is crucial in my business. As a photographer, most of my overall editing is done in Lightroom, but any major tweaks or changes is always done in Photoshop.
Photoshop is where you can really alter an image, make objects disappear, or change something completely. I don’t use this as often as Lightroom but it’s really important for me to have it on those days that I need to remove some shrubs behind my clients in the photo.
Photoshop is also a great way to create Instagram story graphics, a logo, and pretty much anything else you need. It’s a very powerful program that requires a lot of knowledge to just get started and even once you have the basics down, there is so much more. Give yourself grace in your times of learning and educating yourself. Or just hire someone to do it for you! Ha!
I get asked quite a bit what website platform I use for hosting my site. The answer? Show it. I used to use Wix, which a lot of people were against but honestly I loved how customizable it was. So that’s why when Show It came out I was immediately intrigued.
Show it is very drag and drop based just like wix but basically on steroids. You can move any element, anywhere to make sure your site is exactly how you want it. It’s extremely SEO friendly and their support team is incredible!
When I first set up my site I think I emailed them like 500 times and they always got back to me within an hour if not sooner.
I think anyone is capable of using Show It however it can be pretty complex if you are wanting to start your site from scratch. Templates might be the way to go at first until you are able to figure out more features and slowly make adjustments.
I think after 2020 we all know what Zoom is, but in case for some reason you have been living under a rock.. Zoom is the video meeting platform used by just about everyone these days. It’s essentially the modern day Skype but you can have huge groups of people in a chat all at the same time.
This is very convenient for one on one meetings or meetings with the whole team! Another nice feature that I have been loving is that you can record all the calls which is great for being able to go back and re-listen to conversations that are valuable.
There are a lot of Instagram feed planning apps out there but my favorite is by far UNUM. I have been using this app for years and probably just got used to it but I love that I can plan and schedule my posts for multiple accounts, move around the squares, and that it automatically adds in blank spaces as fillers when needed.
I think in general, apps like Plann or Planoly or Later are all about the same for the most part, but UNUM is what has my heart when it comes to my Instagram feeds.
If you are wanting to create Instagram story graphics that are quick and look amazing, then you need Unfold. This app has the coolest Instagram story templates to choose from which makes it so easy to just drag and drop and post. You can even do this with videos!
Even though I edit most of my photos on Lightroom, anytime I need to just throw on a quick filter I use the Tezza app. The filters are super pretty and modern with a fun film look to them. Tezza is by far my favorite way to edit my iphone photos in a pinch!
The next software program you need like yesterday is Canva. Whether you use the free version or you pay for it, Canva has changed my life.
I use Canva every single day for literally every piece of content I produce. From logos, to facebook posts, Instagram posts, Instagram reels, youtube videos, making client brochures, pricing guides, graphics for my website, I mean I am not kidding this program does everything.
It has the most stunning templates, and the measurements for whatever you are creating are already done. No more guessing how many pixels wide your Instagram story is, Canva has it all figured out for you.
I used the free version for years and it did just fine. But now that I use the paid version I am even more shook by all the possibilities this website gives me. If you create any type of content for the internet.. You need to be using Canva.
Last but certainly not least, we have come to Quickbooks. Now this software may not be the most fun program you will use but it is probably one of the most important ones, if not THE most important one.
Quickbooks is a bookkeeping software that tracks all of your income and expenses for your business and personal accounts. It can also track your mileage automatically too so you can have premium write offs.
I use quickbooks to track how much I bring in each month, what my profit/loss margins are and just to stay organized for tax time. Once I have everything filled out and logged in quickbooks all I have to do is email a link to my CPA and he can take care of everything for me from there.
Tax time is a heck of a lot less scary with quickbooks. Do yourself a favor and save the heartache and confusion and get your booty on quickbooks. This is an investment that you do not want to skip out on.
DISCOUNT CODES & LINKS:
Google Drive: You need to make a google account! Go to google.com! and click up in the top right hand corner of your screen!
HoneyBook (get 50% off your first year) Here: http://sarahelrod.com/honeybook
Flodesk (get 50% off for life) Here: http://sarahelrod.com/flodesk
Lightroom & Photoshop (find them on Adobe’s website) here: https://www.adobe.com/creativecloud/plans.html?promoid=P3KMQYMW&mv=other
Show It: https://showit.co/
UNUM: Check the app store!
Unfold: Check the app store!
Tezza: Check the app store!
Get 50% Off Quickbooks Self Employed: http://fbuy.me/v/sarah_36783
I'm Sarah Elrod
I'm a Cowgirl turned serial entrepreneur.
I'm a horse trainer, western wedding photographer, business coach and ranch wife.
I help women in the western industry grow thriving businesses from rural America.
When I am not strategizing new marketing tactics, you will find me riding my horses, cuddling my cattle dog, or kissing my hot husband.
There is also a good chance I am buying way too many outfits from western boutiques.
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