6 Tools I Couldn’t Live Without For Running My Own Business

Woman working at a desk. straw hat to the side. stationary and planner nearby

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Being self-employed and having my own business has been a dream of mine for a long time now.

It’s partly because I want to build my own future and be in control of what I do with my life.

I see so many people on social media saying how much they hate Mondays and that they can’t stand having to go into work – that’s not what I want from life. 

But on top of that is an even bigger reason; I’m sick of being discriminated against. 

Now I know that, technically, companies aren’t allowed to discriminate against you on the grounds of mental or physical health condition, but let’s face it – it doesn’t stop them doing it. 

[Related: 5 Things I Wish People Understood About Autism]

I won’t name the company, but I was once told that they didn’t take “my kind” when I told them in an interview that I was autistic. 

Such lovely people. 

iPad Pro. Magnetic Keyboard. AirPods. Plants. Reusable Starbucks Travel Cup
Photo by Daniel Korpai on Unsplash

Even though I know running my own business won’t be easy (quite the opposite actually) I still feel it’s the best option for me.

I won’t have to deal with a manager who thinks mental health is just made up and an excuse for being lazy (yes I’ve actually had that said to me!) or being given tasks I can’t complete because of my anxiety. 

I’ve been working on, setting up and growing my own business for the past three months now, in preparation for going onto my Entrepreneurship Masters this September.

It’s been a tough time but I’ve really enjoyed planning out my future, where I want to take my business and how I plan on doing it. 

Business Essential #1: Self-hosting

I made the switch over to self-hosted back in January 2017, and it’s honestly the best decision I’ve ever made.

I use *Siteground as my hosting provider and, even though it’s not cheap, the perks being self-hosted offers you are worth it.

Having my own domain has helped me feel a lot more professional, given me a DA that I can quote when I want to work with brands, and means I can style my website however I want.

[Related: What Is A DA Score And How Can You Improve Yours]

I also have access to a lot more widgets and plugins now I’m self-hosted, some of which I can’t imagine having ever lived without! 

As a digital business, my website is one of the most important things I can invest in so I’m willing to pay a little extra as I think it’s worth it.

Plus I can claim my hosting and theme back as a business expense!

#2: Canva

Canva is what I use to create the pinnable images I have at the bottom of every post, which I then share on Pinterest to promote my post. 

Pinterest has been my biggest source of traffic for my blog this year – regularly bringing in over 100 views a day.

Creating visually appealing pinnable images has been a big part of this happening; I just created a template and edit it each time I create a new post.

6 Tools I Couldn't Live Without For Running My Own Business

Not only does this make my life a million times quicker and easier, but it creates a consistent brand image that people can instantly recognise as mine. 

Kind of like what I do with my blog photos. 

#3: Trello 

This is a wonderful time management/organisation tool that I came across while doing my Managing Creative Practices project at university.

I’d never heard of it before (or anything like it is I’m being honest) but after seeing other people on my team use it, I quickly became addicted. 

I used it a lot during university to keep track of tasks I needed to complete for each project, and I started using it to keep track of blog posts and ideas. 

I created a list for each month and then one at the beginning called “post ideas”; whenever I have an idea for a post I create a card under the post ideas section.

Once that post is live, I drag it to the appropriate month and put it at the bottom of the list, so it stays in the order that I’ve posted. 

minimalistic wooden desk and white chair, with plant and mac on top, and a wall calendar behind
Photo by Roman Bozhko on Unsplash

I also use different labels to mark the card, so it can show if they contain PR products or if it’s sponsored.

It helps me keep track of how many posts I’ve created each month, and makes sure I don’t do too many PR/Sponsored posts too close to each other. 

It’s also a good way to informally back up my blog; I copy the text for each post and post it in the comment section of the card and then upload any images I’ve used too.

That way even if the worst does happen and I lose my blog and my backup, I theoretically have a back up of every post I’ve made this year. 

Although it would be a real pain to try and re-upload every single post again!

#4: Stationery

I’m a self-confessed stationery addict; I love nothing more than fancy pens, fresh notebooks, coloured pens and as much washi tape as I can stuff in my many pencil cases! 

Yes, I’m aware how sad that probably sounds.

Honestly, I swear my ideal collaboration would be with someone like Paperchase, I’m in heaven whenever I go in there.

Unfortunately, my bank account doesn’t agree with me on that one…

Even though I use Trello to keep on top of a lot of things, I also love having physical items to help keep me organised.

I have a collection of notebooks that I like to write ideas and plans in (plus an endless amount of lists) and then decorate with washi tape, highlighters and stickers to make it look nice. 

The prettier my notes are, the more motivated I feel…

Woman working at a desk. straw hat to the side. stationary and planner nearby
Photo by STIL on Unsplash

#5: WooCommerce 

This is something that is still quite new to me, as I only started using it last week, but so far I’m luckily finding it quite easy to use. 

This is a free plugin for WordPress, that I use to run the online store on my blog. Setting it up was pretty straight forward as they have a setup wizard that does most of it for you, all you need to do is create your product pages. 

Since all my products are currently digital download only, I can simply tick the box that indicates this and upload the PDF file; ready for anyone that buys it to download on their end. 

I did originally plan on starting up a shop on Etsy, but I didn’t like the thought that someone else would have control over my store.

I’ve seen more than enough horror stories about them randomly shutting your store down for no apparent reason; plus you have to pay them fees ever time you list and sell an item. 

Using WooCommerce means I have complete control over my store, and the only fees I have to pay are the transaction fees that PayPal deduct for using their services. 

#6: Google Drive 

I used to be all for using Dropbox when I first started out, but I’m now completely converted to Google Drive. 

Not only do you get a hell of a lot more free storage (15g!) but you can also create documents directly within it.

So when I’m out and about with my iPad, I can create new word documents, spreadsheets and powerpoints whenever I need to.

macbook, notebook and plant on a white minimalistic desk
Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash

Well, providing I have access to the internet. I’m starting to regret not paying more for the 3g version… 

I use Google Drive to backup everything I’m working on for my store, my oracle deck and all the resources I have to do with blogging and being self-employed.

This means I have everything I might need in one place, which is easy to access at all times; especially when I’m away from my main laptop. 

What tools couldn’t you live without for running your blog/businesses?

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  • Magickbox says:

    This is honestly so helpful Jade, thank you! Would you mind if I asked you a question about self-hosting? I can message you privately if you would prefer?

  • Kelly says:

    It’s absolutely disgusting that someone once told you they don’t hire ‘your kind’. You dodged a bullet with those if that’s the kind of people who work there!

    Great post – thanks for sharing! Canva is definitely one that I couldn’t live without now as a blogger. I think one of the best things about it is how many free options they have, which is so important if you’re on a budget. It’s my favourite tool to use.

  • I definitely have to look up Trello. That sounds so useful! I already use canva and I agree with you about having siteground hosting, they have made everything so much nicer about running my own blog! Thanks for sharing!

  • I love Canva too. I’m going to take a look at woocommerce now, thanks for the tip.

  • mrw1112 says:

    Great post! I really like canva

  • Not heard of Trello before looks great! Glad you are living your dream job! Hoping to follow in your footsteps one day!

  • I never heard of Trello before, I’ll have to look into it. Where do you purchase your Washi tape it’s pretty?

  • I’ve also never heard of Trello!! I love when blog posts are actually original & useful, thank you!!! you rock – xoxo

  • totally agree with ALL of these!!

  • Dziedzom says:

    The tools you list are awesome. I am a Canva, Trello and Google Drive lover. They make working remotely really easy and they provide great features that enable you to keep track of your work and create beautiful graphics. Way to go. !

  • Grammarly is definitely a tool I use for my blog. I like that it highlights errors in my post as I’m typing them. I’ve heard of Trello before, but haven’t used it. Thanks for sharing!

  • Good for you on the business! Companies definitely do discriminate and I cannot believe they said that “your kind” comment to you in an interview. How disgusting!!!

    Canva is an amazing tool, I use it almost every day so that would definitely be in my list too!

    Good luck with everything! You deserve it and all the success you’re bound to have xx

    Laura ✰ laurahasablog.co.uk

  • Great post. I’m already using Canva but I junk I might have a look at Woocommerce. Thanks ☺️

  • Amy says:

    This was a really interesting post! It’s great to learn about the tools others use. I am especially interested in Trello, it isn’t something that I have heard of previously.

    I use Picmonkey for my images and Grammarly helps with those unintended typos.


  • Dani says:

    Thanks for posting I found it really interesting- about to check out trello

  • While I don’t run a business, I think some of these are great for everyday. I’ve never heard of Trello but I’ll definitely check it out. I agree with what you say about Canva! Their templates are great for posting across social media.

    Sarah x

  • Kate says:

    I loveeee canva. Couldn’t be without it – I use it for everything!! Where is your fave place to buy washi tape? x

    Kate | https://paintingoctober.blogspot.com

  • Loren says:

    I love Canva! There are so many templates and free pictures that you can personalize it.
    Loren | Plaidandsugar.blogspot.ca

  • It’s awful that companies still discriminate against certain groups of people. I’ve applied for a few jobs recently and mentioned my anxiety on the application – jobs that I am 100% qualified for (I.e a LIBRARY) and I didn’t even get an interview and I always wonder whether that’s the case too. I use Canva for some blog photos, it’s such a good site but goes SO slow on my laptop! xxx

  • Alieshia says:

    Would you consider making a “how I use Trello” post with pictures please? I love the idea of the app but need some inspiration on how to use it best 😊 thank you!

  • Jade Marie says:

    Of course I will 🙂 thats a really great post idea, thank you for suggesting it!

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