My Business Resource List | PART ONE: ONLINE TOOLS
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I love talking productivity with my clients and other business owners. And since I’m a huge research nerd I’m always on the lookout for new programs, services and apps that can make running my business easier.

I also love getting a behind the scenes sneak peaks at other businesses. Here at Nash Franks Creative I’m an open book. So I made a list of everything I use to keep my business running. Some of the links I share are *affiliate links, which means that if you sign up or purchase something with that link then I make a small commission. Don’t worry though amigo, I’d never share anything that I don’t believe in 110% and use myself.  

There’s something else I have to confess to you guys.  In addition to being a research nerd, I’m also a course junkie. I’m not kidding… it is a little out of control, but I love to learn and there are so many smart people out there. I’ve made some purchases that were..eh not so great, but I do wanna share some that I learned a lot from and I constantly refer back to as I’m working with clients and doing the day to day of online business life. So in addition to sharing the tools and programs I use to run my business I’m gonna share with you my most favorite and helpful courses that I’ve taken.

As I was writing out this list, it started to get out of hand. So I decided to break this post down into 3 parts: Tools, Courses, & Misc (+ stock photo sources).

Let’s dive in with Part One: TOOLS. These are my day to day, go to programs and apps.

Squarespace

My site is hosted on Squarespace and I build my client’s websites there too. I love their templates and how easy they are to customize. I really love them for my clients because they are easy for them to update and keep up with if they don’t want to keep hiring me to do updates. I think it is also very easy for clients that blog to work with as well.

G Suite - through Squarespace

I pay for G Suite so that I can have my @nashfrankscreative.com email address. I love my gmail, so it seemed like a no brainer. PLUS, my email is not tied to my web hosting service, which means that should I ever decide to change in the future, I don’t have to worry about moving my emails. G Suite also offers upgraded additional storage space for all my business files. I signed up for it through Squarespace and it's $50 a year.

Asana

This s the HUB of how I keep track of projects and to-dos, both in business and in life. In this YouTube video I shared how have my daily review set up in Asana. I also use it for client projects. We can communicate through Asana and I can assign tasks for them to accomplish too. Best of all it’s FREE (if you have less than 15 team members) and it’s really powerful. I honestly can’t believe it’s free.

Dubsado*

Along with Asana, Dubsado is how I keep my client process running smoothly. I use Dubsado to send contracts, invoices, host a client portal and I can even email through Dubsado with my email. They are constantly updating and adding new features, and best of all.. They are SO NICE. They are very kind people who are always willing to help. Just love it!

Convertkit*

I started out with Mailchimp, and I do still love it, but they way Convertkit works with forms and tagging just works better with how my brain works. I don’t have a huge list.. Yet, but I’m willing to pay the cost of Convertkit (vs free Mailchimp) just because it works with how my brain works, and I’m all about saving brain bites for other more creative endeavors!

Canva

Ok, so yeah, I know I’m a graphic designer, but my clients aren’t…. and that’s where Canva comes in handy. I use Canva a lot to design templates for my clients to use and customize for their businesses. And sometimes Adobe Illustrator is giving me fits and I just need to make a social media graphic super fast, so I go to Canva. They do have an mobile app, but I honestly hate designing on it and can’t ever figure out how to just get my image onto my phone so I can upload it to Instagram or Facebook. But desktop version is great and it’s also FREE! If my clients think they will use it a lot, I recommend Canva for work. They can pay to have upgraded features, like uploaded fonts, which helps them when they are creating their own social media graphics
 

The Contract Shop*

Not everyone has the budget for their own personal lawyer and this is where The Contract Shop can come in handy. Not only are their contract templates for all kinds of business situations, there are also website terms and conditions and privacy policy templates. The also just added GDPR compliant templates. This means you don’t have to stress about figuring out the new rules, just get one of these templates and know you’re covered… that’s what I did, because I don't’ have time to read a bagillion pages of legal mumbo-jumbo.

Planoly*

I use the free version of Planoly to plan my Instagram feed. I use it to save hashtag lists and auto-post, so I don’t have to worry about posting at a certain of the day. They are an official partner with Instagram, so I know I don’t have to worry about breaking any Instagram rules. Don’t wanna mess with that algorithm ;)

Adobe CC

Oh.. I do love Adobe Illustrator so much. This seriously is what I spend the majority of my time using for my business. It’s so powerful and has so many features, I’m sure I’m missing a ton, but I learn more every day it seems. As far as the Creative Cloud goes, I also use Adobe InDesign and I’m learning more about Lightroom too for editing my photos.

Slack

Slack is like the best group communication tool out there. It seamlessly flows between my laptop and my iphone. Why not use a Facebook Group? You might ask… well I find FB to be a serious time suck. Slack is just about communicating and I love how you can have different channels for various topics. I can also DM individuals in my group. I also find that it is MUCH easier to search for content within Slack than on a FB Group, which can be super helpful when you’re in a group with a bunch of rockstars who are super friendly and full of helpful information.

Launch Brand Grow Community

Speaking of a community full of rockstars!!! This business group is seriously one of THE TOP investments I’ve made in my business this year (well starting last year to be technical). There are super friendly amazing business owners who are sharing their stories and advice. There is just this spirit of community and generosity and desire to help each other succeed, which I love. Kyrsten, of Copper Kettle Co is the founder of LBG and she has big plans on how to keep making the community even better so this isn’t a group you’ll just want to join for a month or so… there is longevity to the group. FOR.SURE.

Zoom

I just started using Zoom for the Mastermind that I’m teaching in the LBG Community and I’m really enjoying it. It’s super easy to use. I can record the calls and re-purpose them as video or even audio, so I love that.

WOW… that’s quite a list, and it’s only Part 1. Next post will be all about Courses, so stay tuned for that. For now, I want to know what tools do you love using for your business? Do we use some of the same? Anything that I missed that you think I HAVE to check out? Let me know in the comments por favor!

Jenn Nash
The ultimate guide to working with a designer Part 2: The design process
 The ultimate guide to working with a designer Part 2: The Design Process. Learn how the process works after you hire your graphic or web designer

The Design Process

Each designer’s process is a little different and this is something that you can discuss in what is called the onboarding phase of the design process. For most designers the overall process is the same, it’s just the smaller steps in-between or how they deliver their proposals, questionnaires, or worksheets to you that may differ. You can take a peek at the questionnaire and worksheet I use with my branding clients by visiting the freebies section of my site.

Client onboarding may look like a form on website, a DM, an email, phone call or Skype to determine if you’re good match to work together. The designer will then determine if they can handle the scope of your project.

Discovery Phase

Once the contract has been signed and a timeline agreed upon you typically move on to the first actual phase of working together, which I call the discovery phase. This is where you’ll get homework assignments from the designer that can include a questionnaire and directions on pinning inspiration images to a Pinterest board. This phase will also likely include strategy sessions, mood board presentation, and questionnaire follow-up discussion(s) to make sure on they are on the right track with your vision and everyone is on the same page.

Design Phase

After the moodboard (a designery word for inspiration board) has been approved and everyone is confident that the project is moving in the right direction your designer will actually start designing :) For me this takes the form of an old fashioned #2 pencil and my sketch book. I draw and draw and draw some more. During this phase is where there will be logo concept presentations where you will be required to offer feedback. This part of the process can look different depending on how your designer works. Some designers will deliver multiple logo choices while others do a one design method, where they present one design fully realized. This can work amazingly well when there is a lot of collaboration during the discovery phase and designer truly has a grasp on what the client wants. After the concept(s) is delivered, feedback is given, then refinements to the concept will be made. This cycle continues based on the number of refinements/revisions that the contract states is included. If you have additional items (social media graphics, cover photos, profile photos…. Banners images… etc.) that are being designed they will also be presented during this phase.

Launch Phase

Get the champagne and plan the launch party. It's time to go LIVE with your fabulous new brand identity. During this phase you’ll pay the final invoice and the designer will deliver your final files based on the terms of your contract.  Most designers also include a style/brand guide. Some may call it the brand blueprint. This can take the form of a single page or multipage document that outlines everything about your brand in one succient place. You can hand this guide over to your web designer (if it’s someone different), your virtual assistant or anyone that will be creating content using your brand to ensure that all your visuals will be consistent.

Schew…. This is A. LOT. OF. INFORMATION…. But hey, you’re spending lots of money on hiring someone to create what is going to represent you and your brand, so it’s going to pay off to be well informed! So let’s wrap up this how-to with the final piece of the pie. If you want to be a rockstar client to your designer make sure that you give quality feedback. Download my free guide: How to give quality feedback to your designer.

 How to effectively communicate with your designer during the design process and give quality feedback

So with part 1 of how to hire the right designer, plus part 2 on the design process AND the free guide to giving quality feedback, you are ready to get started on your new branding or re-branding project.

Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions!

Let's be Insta Friends

The ultimate guide to working with a designer Part 1: Hiring the right graphic designer

I don’t know about you, but working with someone that is an expert in their field is intimidating and can make me feel a little… well… not so smart. The unknown can be scary. Plus there’s that issue of: you don’t know what you don’t know, right?!?

If I don’t know what I need, how do I go about hiring a graphic designer to help me with my new logo or website? How much does it cost to design a logo? Will it be worth it? You may be worried about hiring someone who doesn’t understand your vision, or perhaps you’ve had a bad experience with a designer in the past and you’re scared to invest your hard earned dollars again. I want to help alleviate those fears!

I’m going to walk you through the process of hiring a designer and give you some tips that will help make your working relationship go more smoothly. Because I know you want a brand identity that you are proud to share, represents your business story and most importantly, attracts those dream customers! Many designers offer branding as well as web design, but some focus only on one area or the other. Either way the basic process of what to look for when hiring a graphic designer or a web designer is the same.

 The ultimate guide to working with a graphic designer part 1: hiring the right designer. 6 Steps to hiring the perfect designer for your project

6 steps to hiring the perfect graphic designer for your project

1. What deliverables do you want/need?

Do you need branding/logo, website, social media graphics, photos, supporting graphics, posters, brochures...etc.? Do you need branding strategy? Help with nailing down your mission/purpose/why?  If you are just starting your business and not exactly sure what you need, many designers will offer a package that includes some basic social media graphics in addition to their branding and logo packages. Also, don’t worry if you are working with the designer and you realize you need something else, as long as you add it to the scope of work the designer will usually be able to accomodate additions for an additional fee. If you think you’ll need continual support from a designer be sure to mention that as well because some designers may not offer retainer services, but can refer you to a designer that does.

2. Ask for referrals

Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. Investigate brands you love and see who designed their logo or website and then go look at that designer’s portfolio. Want to work with someone local? Look beyond Google and search Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Search hashtags for someone in your area on Instagram, like for instance I live in Montgomery AL, so I might search #montgomerydesigner or #alabamagraphicdesign. I could also search for other nearby cities/towns. Another place to search and get referrals is in Facebook Groups. Word of caution about asking in FB groups: be very specific in your request because if you’re in a really big group you may get an overwhelming response. I’ve seen hundreds of responses to people looking for graphic designers or web designers and my guess is that you probably don’t want to weed through hundreds of suggestions.

3. What is really important to you?

You may think that it’s all about the designer, but you really need to be honest with yourself and  decide what is most important to you for this working relationship. Do you want someone who will hold your hand and give constant updates throughout the process or do you want someone to go off on their own and then deliver the goods? Are you super laid back and can’t handle people constantly hounding you for information? Or are you more structured? Are you super detail oriented or more big picture? You’ll can learn a lot about a designer just based on how they respond when you first reach out to them and the vibe of their proposal. How does this initial communication feel? Can you see yourself working with this designer?

4. Is there chemistry?

I know, I know… you’re not dating this person, but you are working on something together that is majorly important to you, so you’d better have some good chemistry. You’ll know from interacting with them if it’s there or not. I highly recommend that in the inquiry phase you have at least one phone call or video chat with them. Don’t do all the communication just via email. Do they seem excited about your project too? Or are they distracted and seem uninterested? Does their portfolio style match the style you’re looking for? If you feel like they get you and are in your head, you have chemistry and that’s going to make this working relationship go much smoother.

5. Value vs Price?

Hiring a designer is definitely an investment. And many people understandably don’t feel that they can afford it in the beginning of their business. However, I will tell you that you can. If you are CLEAR on the foundation and the why of your brand then you are ready to invest in a designer to really bring your story to life. Because ultimately they are creating the consistency across your business with the branding that is going to help you bring in more customers. Now, I’m not saying that as soon as you plop that new logo on your site or front door that customers are going to flock on day one, but I am saying that by presenting a professional and consistent presence you will build trust among potential customers which will help to nudge them from being potential to actual customers.

You shouldn’t judge a designer based just on price alone. What they offer in value of their services can easily be worth the higher price point. Different designers offer different deliverables, some that aren’t even tangible. Some blend business strategy with visual identities which can give you a more complete and well rounded brand identity. For instance, I work a lot with new businesses and I love to help them launch their new venture, as well as giving them some social media strategy guidance along with the designs I provide. It’s these un-written bits of communication and education that add value to what you are getting. Make sure you truly understand what each designer is giving you, what deliverables are you getting in the end? Just a logo? A logo and submark and colors and typography? I love to give potential new clients the contact info of some of my recent clients so that they can ask what it’s like to work with me. I find it really helps the potential client understand the value that I offer, beyond just my price tag. Don’t be afraid to ask a designer if you can talk to past clients. If they say no right off the bat, that might be a red flag that you aren’t a good match.

6. Go with your gut

Are you a good match? What is your gut telling you? Remember, both you and the designer will be trying to determine if you are a good fit during the initial emails and phone calls. This is why I HIGHLY recommend doing phone calls or even skype/facetime. You can learn so much more about a person when you can interact with them and see them vs just relying on emails.

Go with your gut. Do you get the sense that the designer “gets” you and can deliver what you want? 99.9999% of the time your gut is right.

What happens if you go through this process and the designer decides that your project isn’t a good fit for them? If they don’t provide recommendations of other designers right away, ask them to recommend another designer that they think might be a good fit for your project.

 6 steps to hiring the perfect graphic designer for your project

To Recap, or if you just skipped to the bottom, here are the 6 Steps to hiring the perfect graphic designer for your project:

  1. Know what you want/need

  2. Ask for referrals

  3. Identify what working style is really important to you

  4. Is there chemistry?

  5. Value doesn’t always equal price

  6. Go with your gut

Next in part 2 of The Ultimate Guide to Working with a Designer I'll discuss the design process. You'll learn the typical process of what it's like working with a designer on your logo or branding project.

come hang with me on Instagram, there is plenty of inspiration, tips + cute baby & pup pics