Techno wrangling is one of those areas that so many of my clients struggle with. In this techno age, most people running a small business are reliant on various forms of technology. Personally, I have my own love-hate relationship with it. Mainly, I’m a lover, but when things go wrong, the frustration levels can go through the roof pretty quickly. Amazing when it works but when things go awry it can leave your business in a very vulnerable state. Which is exactly what happened to me the other week.
With five events live and open for bookings, the ticketing platform that I’ve been using for many, many years and loving (low fees, great user interface, beautiful design) changed hands. During that transition period the platform went down with no warning and nobody manning their help desks. That meant from my end nobody could buy tickets and I couldn’t do anything about it. Pretty much a disaster for a business relying on ticket sales. It made for a ridiculously stressful week and a good reminder that incorporating technology into our business is a gift, but it’s also a risk that needs to be managed. So it seemed timely to share with you some of my favourite techno platforms and tools that make running a business cheap and easy – when they work!! – and this is an affiliate link free zone so you know it’s genuinely just stuff that works for me!
30% of the internet is run on WordPress. That means there are a lot of people invested in this platform being the best and the most well served. So if you’re pulling together a website it really is very hard to beat WordPress. As it becomes even more popular, there are some excellent looking WordPress themes that are also super easy to self-manage. It’s a platform that can grow with your business with tons of amazing plugin features. (In fact, I now know I can just get a plugin for events so perhaps down the track I’ll go DIY for all my event bookings.) Themes cater to all budgets, with some excellent freebies out there and most hosting packages will help integrate your wordpress for you. Whether you want a web developer on board, plan to outsource or whether you need to manage yourself WordPress is my favourite platform by far.
Now, I am pretty well versed in Photoshop and for years I was an almost daily user. These days, I almost always defer straight to Canva when I’m doing anything that is visual. This platform is so easy to use. Another bonus for me is that it stores all your documents online, so it means you’re not cluttering up your hard drive with huge graphic files. From posters to logos, the versatility of Canva is second to none, and that’s just the free version. If you really want to have an even better user experience, you can pay for Canva and that includes even more stock photos, resizing features, ability to create transparent backgrounds.
I have a degree in film, which means I’ve a very critical eye when it comes to video content. I also studied back when digital video was a new medium and pretty poor quality outside of studio standard cameras. Something I love now is the amazing quality we can get from our phones when it comes to videos and photos. So if creating content feels like a barrier and you’re overwhelmed at the thought of getting in video production crews or professional photographers, start with your phone. It’s an amazing tool to create wonderful marketing materials. I’m also a “notes” addict I use it for everything from insta hashtags to weblinks to do lists. Audio memo is also a favourite. Almost all my new songs start their life as an audio file on my phone, I dictate blogs and newsletters all on that one handy ap. On the ap front, all my high use business platforms including email, banking, accounting, Facebook and Canva live on my phone too for working on the go.
If you are in the early days of building a list and if you’re not doing a full-on, complex online business, then you may never need a high-powered email system. MailChimp is free, to a certain point, and it allows you to send professional and legal emails to your mailing list. It also allows you to create easy opt-ins with automated responses and the templates look good and are easy to use. I’ve been using MailChimp for the whole time I’ve been running my business. Even now that my mailing list is quite large and the fees are creeping up a bit more, I still find MailChimp is ticking the boxes.
To be honest I am a new recruit here so should probably wait a while before officially recommending it! But technology really comes into its own when it comes to your bookkeeping. For most of us this is a pretty uninspiring part of our creative life. But it doesn’t need to be the headache it used to be. Whether you jump onto a free government system (here in Australia the tax office has its own Apps and online programs) or whether you want to go to the next level and start using a programme like Xero, technology is your tax time friend. It’s always worth bearing in mind when you’re using any kind of technical platform that you have with it some kind of tech support. Something I’ve been enormously impressed with Xero has been its help and support department. If their excellent help videos don’t do the trick, real humans are quickly available to talk you through.
Hope some of these techno tools can help make your business day to day easier, cheaper and less time consuming so you can free up more energy for you creative passions!
For techno wrangling to creative living check out my 1 on 1 consulting for creatives.