As time goes on you will start realizing you need additional programs for your business to operate effectively, seamlessly and doesn't require a lot of work on your part. After all, as a freelancer, you already were 95 hats - business owner, bookkeeper, marketer, web designer, etc.
Now, instead of learning over time what you need, take a look below and get ahead of the game! As I mentioned in my blog "You CAN start a business with ZERO dollars", I will be sharing a mix of free & paid services. The paid versions I mention may not be something you need right away, but once you do, you already know the ins and outs to help make an educated decision.
You will need a domain to set up a website, even if it is simply a landing page for now. There are countless sites you can buy a domain from, such as GoDaddy, NameCheap, Hostgator and most website hosts will allow you to purchase a domain directly from them. You want to compare prices as one site may have your domain for hundreds or thousands of dollars, but another has it for under $10. If I recall GoDaddy has Complianceology for HUNDREDS of dollars and I was able to get it with NameCheap for under $15. This is why you want to shop around, don't get discouraged if one site is out of your budget. You WILL find it cheaper on another site.
My domain host & cost:
Complianeology; NameCheap; $12/annually
Urban Consulting, GoDaddy; $8/annually
*Side note: You want to register your business before you buy a domain. If you buy a domain first and then the state does not approve your business name for whatever reason, you will have to change everything.
As soon as you can you need to get a professional email with your domain. (Ex. instead of being email@example.com, I am firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com) This gives clients the impression of a credible business. G Suite prices are as low as $6/month for one-person and one-domain.
Not only does this give you credibility, but G Suite offers countless apps you can integrate for free. From email scheduling to email tracking, mail chimp, e-signatures, etc. I will go over all of the apps I've integrated into our next blog. Other options are Outlook and Yahoo.
G Suite prices start at $6/month. View their prices here.
My domain email provider & cost:
Complianceology & Urban; G Suite; $12/monthly
You can use a free version from a website host, but you won't be able to connect a domain to it and they give you a terrible URL. I use Wix and the URL for a free plan would have been www.complianceology.com/montannalw/wixsite/business - or something ridic like that. That does not give you or your business credibility. I don't think there is a perfect website host, as everyone has their own opinions. As you are comparing hosts, you simply need to make sure it has what YOU need and is within your budget. I pay for two different plans for each of my sites. One doesn't need all of the bells and whistles as the other. Other options include Weebly, SquareSpace and WordPress.
Wix prices start at $13 up to $39. You have the option to pay monthly or annually. View their prices here.
My website host & cost:
Complianceology; Wix; $22/monthly
Urban Consulting; Wix; $14/monthly
You may not need a Project Management/CRM platform, but it helps A LOT. Free versions may suit you well - especially with ClickUp, but paid versions will give you more features, obvs. And, if you have more than one user you will have to have a paid version. These applications have everything in one place for you. To-do lists, client portals, scheduling, time-tracking, some have invoicing, work-flows and so much more. Most all of these platforms have integration capabilities so you don't have to use 15 different programs to get the same results. Other options include Asana and Trello.
ClickUp prices start at $5 up to $9 and for a larger business, you will need to connect with their sales team for them to provide you a customized price. You have the option to pay monthly or annually. View their prices here.
My CRM host & cost:
Both Complainceology & Urban Consulting; ClickUp; $18/month for 2-users
DIY Graphics/Logos/Templates, etc.
Even if your business does not make graphics, templates or anything within that realm, you will need to use a service like this from time-to-time. If that is the case, a free version would work perfectly for you. If you will use those features more often and want to be able to upload your fonts, brand colors, etc you will need a paid version. Even if it's just for a month or so to give you the time to upload your fonts. Once you upload them, they will still be available to you even if you convert back to a free plan. I do sell templates and make graphics so I currently pay for Canva. I may go back to the free-version since I have all of my fonts, brand colors, etc uploaded. That was the main reason I started paying for Canva. Some features Canva has are, graphics, templates of all kinds, logo creations, social media posts/stories/headers/icons, etc, business cards, printing services for anything you can think of, design sharing for member on your team, or clients and so much more I haven't even explored yet. Other options include Easile and Google Open.
Canva prices start at Free up to $9 and for a larger business, you will need to connect with their sales team for them to provide you a customized price. You have the option to pay monthly or annually. View their prices here.
My Graphic Design host & cost:
Both Complianceology & Urban Consulting; Canva; $14/month
Social Media Post Scheduling
I use Planoly to schedule my IG posts. I don't use it often b/c I haven't made time to batch work and have several posts ready to be scheduled every day. So I still use the free version, this allows you to schedule IG & FB posts and write captions, add hashtags, share your location, tag others, plan your IG grid, add multiple accounts, crop & edit photos and of course schedule them to post on any day at any time. The free, desktop version will post on your behalf. The app for whatever reason will not post for you, but it will send you a reminder to post it for the day/time you selected. You will have to use the paid version for it to post to your IG stories. The free version allows you to post 30 times a month - so 1 post a day. Other options include Preview and Later.
Aside from the free plan, paid plans start as low as $6 up to $199. You have the option to pay monthly or annually. View their prices here.
My host & cost:
Both IG & Urban; Planoly, $0
There are a lot of stock image sites to choose from, paid and free. I really like Unsplash because you are not required to credit the photog. Although, it is great if you do anyway. Once you download the image they give you a few different options on how to credit them. To my knowledge, there is not a paid version. Other options include ShutterStock & Pexels.
My host & cost:
Purchase Fonts, Graphics, Website & Social Media Templates, etc
Again, there are countless sites you can use, but I really love Creative Market & Crella. These sites are similar to Etsy and the items are made by a real-life graphic designer. You can pay for a subscription to get extra perks, but it is not necessary as you can buy individual items as you choose. If you sign up for Creative Markets newsletter, every 2-weeks they will send you 6 free downloads - from fonts, graphics, templates, etc. And, Crella has a free section available & a $1 section. I'm a sucker for anything pretty so I download just about every free thing I can, even though I may not use it. I have paid $1 for a few items, maybe 3x times and I paid $25 for Complianceology's main font (only to realize I had a font almost the exact same style I had downloaded for FREE! Ah!!! Oh well...)
Creative Market does not have a subscription per se, but if you put money into your account, based on the amount, they will give you additional monetary credits. View their credit options here.
Crella's subscription starts at $120 billed annually or $29.99 billed monthly. Features include access to exclusive fonts/designs, etc., customer support, UNLIMITED downloads! You could essentially sign up for 1 month at $29.99 and grab a million downloads of whatever you want. I didn't realize this until I wrote this and will most likely do this. You can view their prices here.
My host & cost:
Creative Market & Crella; $0
5 people sitting and talking
Video Conference Calls
As I wrote in the "Does My Business Need a Phone Number", you know that I do not have one for my business, nor have I ever. All of my calls with new and existing clients are scheduled and conducted via Zoom. Some features include multiple callers, private conference call password, call recording, waiting rooms, reminders, syncs with Google Calendar, Outlook & Yahoo to place the meeting on your calendar for you and much more. Prices range from $14.99/month to $19.99/month. Based on the plan you choose and the other programs you use, Zoom can be integrated into several different programs so again everything is in one place. Other options are Skype and Google Hangouts.
Aside from the free plan, paid plans start a $14.99/month to $19.99/month You have the option to pay monthly or annually. View their prices here.
Did I miss anything? Do you have other major go-to's you cannot live without? Would you like personal apps and programs I use? IDK about you, but I LOVE seeing what everyone else does. Lol. LMK in the comments!