Hi, I'm Ashlie. Owner and lead designer at Wolf & Willow Design! I'm a 12 year corporate accountant turned full-time designer helping other small-business entrepreneurs chase their dreams. I'm also a wife, #girlmom, and Air Force veteran.
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Today I’m sharing our first business tool round-up! I’m all about systems and business tools that can build flawless client experiences, keep myself and my team on track, and remove as much friction as possible when it comes to managing the day-to-day operations here at Wolf & Willow.
If you’ve done any research, you’ve likely come up with lists of 15-20+ different platforms used for various functions. It can be extremely overwhelming and confusing to look at these blog posts, especially if you’re new to entrepreneurship.
While the business tools you end up choosing are going to ultimately be specific to you and your business’s needs, it never hurts to get specific recommendations from someone who’s exhausted nearly all her options! (Spoil alert: that’s me.)
So, without further ado, here are 5 of the business tools we love to use behind the scenes at W&W!
This probably doesn’t come as a surprise, and you’ve likely already heard of or used Canva. I still felt it deserved a spot in this list anyway because 1) my team and I use it a lot and 2) they are constantly rolling out new features that make the small monthly cost to upgrade to Canva Pro oh-so-worth-it.
Here’s a recent, personal example of how you can use Canva for pretty much any of your design needs:
If you’ve been hangin’ around for a while, you probably know that my hubby and I are avid gamers, but what you may not know is that he is also an aspiring content creator. He works hard to catch clips and works with an editor to create content for TikTok and other platforms. Garrett has heard me talk about Canva since I first discovered it almost 4 years ago, so he’s well aware of what it is and that I can navigate it in my sleep.
This past weekend he showed me a TikTok he found of another content creator using Canva to edit his videos and create some pretty killer sharable go-live graphics.
“Can you do this!?” he asked me. My response was something like:
So, in case you didn’t know, Canva is great for more than just static graphics! It’s even come so far as to be able to host a website on their domain.
They of course have a free version which is great when you’re just starting out, but you’ll quickly find if you’re using Canva for multiple functions in your business, the Pro version will definitely come in handy.
Here’s one you may not have heard about: Hassl. It’s a project management tool that’s not as well-known as some of its direct competitors such as Asana or Clickup.
When it came to deciding on a project manager for handling Wolf & Willow clients and social media, I spent weeks — OK, more like months if I am being honest — researching and testing different tools.
What I found was that most of them were either more complicated than what I needed at the time (Asana and ClickUp), a bit too basic (Trello and Taskade), or just flat out too expensive for where I am in business right now (Basecamp and Monday).
I’ve been a huge fan of a website called AppSumo for a long time being a systems and organization nerd. If you’ve never experienced AppSumo and love tools and systems for entrepreneurs, you’re in for a real treat! Not only does it have TONS of resources for busy entrepreneurs, but in many cases, you can find discounted or even lifetime deals by purchasing through them.
Hassl is a project management tool I stumbled across on AppSumo that was offering a lifetime deal for $59. That’s right. I paid $59 for up to five staff members (guests are unlimited), and I never have to pay anything again unless my team grows and I need to add additional team members.
It’s not as robust as some of the other platforms out there, but it’s got all of the basics in a simple and easy-to-use interface. This was great for my team, especially because we all tend to get caught up in the “bells and whistles” of project management tools. (Seriously, I found myself losing entire days setting up automations for things I didn’t even need yet.) So this was a happy medium where we could customize the space to our needs, but it wasn’t overly complicated or had too many options.
So if you’re looking for something simple enough to get the job done that is easy to understand and use at a price you can afford, I highly recommend checking out Hassl!
There’s certainly no shortage of social media management and scheduling platforms, which is why it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed deciding which one to use.
I’ve dabbled in just about all the social media scheduling platforms you can think of but ultimately landed on Planoly, and I haven’t been disappointed yet. I love how easy it is to navigate their tools (I’ve found that other tools can feel pretty clunky and outdated). Plus, their free version is robust enough for someone just getting started and the entry price into their next level up is very reasonable, landing at around $11/mo.
Planoly also integrates with Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest — making it easy to manage all your social media platforms in just one platform. I especially love that it has a grid view, which helps me visually plan our Instagram content.
Loom is an essential tool here at Wolf & Willow. It’s a screen recording tool similar to Vimeo. It’s a simple-to-use platform that lets you record up to five-minute videos if you have the free version. You can also choose to only record what is showing on your webcam, only your screen, or a combination.
My team and I love using Loom to create a truly collaborative experience with our clients. Since most of our interactions are digital, we love the one-on-one feeling we get when recording Looms back and forth with clients. For example, we like to record walkthrough videos of a design to help the client understand the design decisions that were made and what influenced them as we were designing.
Our clients appreciate the ability to explain how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking with words instead of trying to type it all out. This especially helps to cut down on the need for live calls throughout the project, saving us and the client valuable time.
Mark-Up is how we conduct most of our collaboration on designs with our clients. My team and I love that it’s free, it allows us to upload the direct URL of the web design, and provides the ability for clients to make comments directly on the website. You can also use Mark-Up to collaborate directly on PDFs and videos!
We also love that it makes it super easy to track revisions and eliminates any confusion as to what the client is referring to. It’s kind of like being able to leave sticky notes directly on the page!
Oh, and you can test how the design looks on desktop, mobile, AND tablet!
Did we already mention it’s completely free?!
If you are a designer or have a need to collaborate on assets with clients, Mark-Up is definitely worth looking into.
It’s worth noting that this list is not all-encompassing. There are plenty of other tools we use to keep the gears turning smoothly here at Wolf & Willow. But I hope that this list is at least a start at helping you decide if you were on the fence about any of these capabilities.
Got more questions? Hit us up on the ‘Gram!
Till next time,