Our Process, Systems, Organization & Productivity

15 Productivity Tools We Use in Business (HINT: 8 of them are free!)

Owning and operating your own business generally means that you end up wearing lots of hats. You’re not only the director of pushing out and creating all the content, but the one who markets it, organizes getting paid, communicates with clients, and so much more. It can get really overwhelming, but if you put systems in place you can save time, earn more, and work less. Organization and systems will help you focus on what you love, and also let you take care of the necessities. We’ve gathered our top 15 productivity tools *(HINT: 8 of them are free!) and today we’re letting you in on how we use them and how they could be big influencers in your business too.

Owning and operating your own business generally means that you end up wearing lots of hats. You’re not only the director of pushing out and creating all the content, but the one who markets it, organizes getting paid, communicates with clients, and so much more. It can get really overwhelming, but if you put systems in place you can save time, earn more, and work less. Organization and systems will help you focus on what you love, and also let you take care of the necessities. We’ve gathered our top 15 productivity tools *(HINT: 8 of them are free!) and today we’re letting you in on how we use them and how they could be big influencers in your business too.  |  Think Creative Collective

Trello*

You know when you love someone or something so wholeheartedly that you can't even find the right words to describe your infatuation? That's how we feel about Trello. In just hours, we were able to streamline our systems and batch our processes. Hello, productivity! In 8 months, we became a 6-figure business and just 4 months later we were on track for $200k. Trello is totally free — and the program to teach you exactly how to use it and copy ALL our systems is only $29. Get started right now.

Google Hangout* 

This tool is quite possibly our best accountability partner to date. Since we own a business together but work from our own homes, it would be really easy for one of us to get side-tracked or unclear on what we’re currently working on. We have many days throughout the week where we hop on a Hangout for 2, 5, or even 8 hours at a time to get things done.

We can easily screenshare what one of us is working on, talk out our latest blog post schedule or newsletter copy, or just brainstorm. Heck, we’ve even just got on a Hangout to blast some T. Swift as we both cleaned our offices! It can be lonely to work from home sometimes, so even if you don’t have a business partner, consider getting a friend or fellow boss to “Hangout” with you so you can cheer each other on and hold each other accountable.

Considering hosting a webinar? See how you can use utilize Google Hangouts. BONUS, we have a free guide for first timers!

ConvertKit

ConvertKit has become our go-to email service provider. As we outgrew the “free” account on MailChimp, we realized we needed more robust features to handle both our growth and our ever-changing needs. Their incredible customer service, increased open rates and individual subscriber details made the switch to ConvertKit well worth it. For more about ConvertKit and why we left MailChimp, check out this post.

Google Drive*

Google Drive keeps all of our documents in one place. We can easily share blog posts with our VA and editor in Docs, and keep track of influencer and cheerleader contacts in Sheets. And, of course, easily link all these things inside Trello.

Pro Tip: Create only one shared folder then make folders inside it for organization. This way, you don’t have to create a share link for every single thing you work on — just add it to the main folder and anyone who is added to the shared folder can see it!

Dropbox

Dropbox makes it so easy to keep all our files organized and is super handy because of its multi-device functionality. We’ve got Dropbox downloaded on our computers so we can save directly, and also installed on our phones so we can access documents or images on the go. We can keep track of all our blog post graphics, stock photos, slides for webinars, and all the course content we produce.

This may fall under “free” for you if you don’t need the Dropbox business plan like we do, but for only $9.99 a month, you get 1TB of storage and auto backup to the cloud.

Later* 

Personally, we used to be turned off by any and all Instagram posting apps. We are strong believers in posting what’s “instant”. However, when organizing things like giveaways or having two members with access to one account, this tool has saved us! Later makes it super handy to not only be able to schedule posts in advance (hello, time saver), but be able to type your caption on a laptop instead of the tiny, fumbly keyboard on your phone.

Ready to get started on Later? Use this link to sign up for your free account and get 10 extra free posts a month!

Webinar Jam

This may fall under the “buy it if ya need it” list for your business, but for us, hosting webinars has had a significant impact on our email subscriber list. Starting at around $35 a month (billed annually), this tool is what we use to host all of our webinars (read more here). It’s an extension to Google Hangouts, so you’ve got rockstar servers with added benefits. Check out more benefits of Webinar Jam in this post.

Carbonite

As two people who have precious product information, custom designs, and memorable photographs, we are paranoid about backing up our files. Carbonite allows a behind-the-scenes automatic backup of all the files on your computer (you can add multiple computers and devices). We also use external hard drives to manually pull files from our computers and backup. Trust us when we say that you do not want to go through a hard drive fail when you haven’t backed anything up in 7 years!  

iCloud*

Ok, we have already harped on about backing up once, but here we are going to do it again. We document on the go constantly, and as two photo fanatics, we would be devastated if we lost our latest snaps. If you have an iPhone, make sure your auto backup to iCloud is on. This could really save you in a pinch!

Calm*

Everyone needs a little peace and quiet. With timed meditations and soothing sounds, this is a great app to use as a break in the middle of the day or right before you drift off to sleep. As creatives, it is so easy to have our wheels spinning with ideas, but sometimes we need help clearing it all out and taking a moment of real silence.

Adobe Creative Cloud

We fell head over heels when Adobe announced their Creative Cloud! To be able to access files from any device at any time is incredible! With their CreativeSync capabilities, all of your files will show your latest version — no matter which device you log in from. Boom.

Google Analytics*

Knowing where to invest your time is so crucial. Getting insight into your real audience, up-to-date statistics, and real time feedback allows you to adapt. By using Google Analytics we always know where on our site people are spending the majority of their time, what our most popular blog posts are, and what things we should consider reworking. If you haven’t already, make sure you set up a free account and get your website linked up today.

Gmail*

It may seem silly to have to mention Gmail, but when we see anyone with any other email provider we can’t help wondering why they haven’t made the switch yet. If you need assistance in making your Gmail Inbox run even better, then be sure to check out our post on the Power of Inbox!

AirDrop* 

This may be one of Apple’s least-known secrets. Have you ever had to take multiple steps in order to get an image from your computer to your phone via email? AirDrop cuts these steps way down. So next time you have that beautiful branded stock photo you can’t wait to share on Instagram, try using AirDrop to get it to your phone faster and with fewer steps. If you want a more step-by-step direction on how to use AirDrop, check out this tutorial.

Pinterest*

We know that adding a few extra minutes to your social media posting routine can get overwhelming, but trust us, the benefits of Pinterest for your business are astounding. If you still don’t believe us, let us fill you in: it’s led to over 65,645+ Impressions every single day and refers thousands of people to our site every month. Whoa.

If you need your own Daily Pinterest Formula and need to (Re)Fall In Love With Your Pinterest, check out these posts! And if you are totally ready to uplevel your Pinterest game, Tailwind is the next step — try it for free for 30-days, you won't regret it.


Having these tools in our back pockets saves us time, keeps up productive and bridges the gap of working apart. Your business is never too small or too chaotic to put systems in place that can make your life easier!

DISCLAIMER: We wholeheartedly LOVE these tools. All opinions expressed here are simply because we do use these tools and find them extremely beneficial. We were not paid or approached in any way to write about these brands, tools or companies. A few of these links are affiliate links.


22 Time Saving Keyboard Shortcuts
 

Ready for even more productivity? We’ve put together our top 22 keyboard shortcuts for Trello and Mac users. What the what?! And we’ve conveniently put it in a PDF so you can print it out and reference it anytime you want. Genius, I know. You can thank us later.


We love to share all our behind the scenes updates over on Instagram!


Our Process, Photography, Branding

Designing for Two: How to Blend Styles When Branding

Branding is the glue that holds your company together. It is what gives you a recognizable look, voice, tone and charm. It has the power to persuade or even turn someone away. Your brand should not just appeal to your ideal client, but attract them in every way. It should leave trails so imprinted that anyone would know you have been there! Your brand sells for you even when you aren’t around. It shows off your expertise and it encompasses your passion, purpose and personality.

When creating a brand someone should instantly be able to find out all your best qualities, understanding who you are, what you do and why they should care. When Emylee and I sought out to create our own company we knew this couldn’t just be a rebrand, it needed to be new, fresh and different, as we weren’t just merging two identities, but creating something that had never been done before.

Our branding process and a look into meshing two distinct styles into one brand.  |  Designing for Two: How to Blend Styles When Branding  |  Think Creative Collective

Our goals, dreams and passions, although very similar, our aesthetic, taste and styles were quite different. We had to blend Abagail’s vibrant and cheerful preferences with Emylee’s earthy and natural predisposition. The result was a mix of pops of color, dark wood tones and heavy geometric influences. We are so excited to share with you the experience we went through and how a new brand or rebrand made just for you goes through the same process. 

Before any project begins Emylee and I want to get to know you. We schedule a brief discovery call to learn about your passions, goals and challenges you are facing. From there depending on where you are located and what your immediate needs are Emylee or I will schedule an in person meeting or a Skype call. During this session we will go over a plan to tackle your immediate needs, walk you through our detailed and personal process and give you an overview of how we believe we can help you in the long term.

The Branding Process

A Creative Brief

For every branding project we start with the same couple of steps. We will begin by presenting you with a Creative Brief where we will nail down your ideal client, go over details of your needs, wants and desires and hash out some specifics. The Creative Brief allows us to capture your goals, your needs and lays a roadmap for the tone and voice of your brand.

Developing an Inspiration Board

Simultaneously we will provide you with access to a private Pinterest board. Here is where we ask you to pin things that appeal to your personality, evoke the qualities you want your brand to portray and speak to your ideal client or customer. From here I will compare the voice you captured in your Creative Brief and contrast it with the visual aesthetic you portrayed on the Pinterest Board. This allows me to create a more refined inspiration brand board that will serve as a graphic dictionary from which we will judge all further designs.

Think Creative Collective Inspiration Board

For more on exactly how the inspiration board process works check out this blog post.

Creating A Style Guide

Armed with all the right information it is now an easy breezy process to begin diving into your logo design, font choices, color palette and visual elements. These components come together in a consistent style and become an easy reference guide for you going forward.

Think Creative Collective Style Guide

Capturing Your Voice

While these visual parts and pieces are being created we also work to capture your voice in a more concrete way - in your website copy. We understand it is not always easy to even know where to start and that is why we offer the complete package. We comb through everything you have written about yourself to this point and redirect it slightly to make sure it will completely appeal to your ideal client or customer. We want your copy to speak to them, to call them in and to make them feel at home. Your website is your digital welcome mat and we want to make sure we create an inviting place for them to hang out.

Photography that works for you

This is where Emylee becomes a completely unique asset to the team. Not only does she bring years of knowledge and business advice with her, but she is a talented photographer waiting to capture your personality, expert knowledge and process in a completely transparent way. Sure, you can have a beautiful website without photography, but these documentary style images add a relatable quality that would otherwise be lost. Emylee picks out the details, showcases all your best qualities and sifts through what would otherwise be chaos. She captures images in real time, in natural light to ensure you come across as genuine and your products or services are highlighted in such a way that they aren’t just beautiful, but they work for you!

We bring all these elements together to design you a brand and website that aren’t just beautiful, but actually work to get your business up and running. Our goal is to help you start selling, seeing profits, connecting with clients (or customers) sooner rather than later. This isn’t just a pretty face for your business, but a strategic approach to build you a foundation for success. 

WE WOULD LOVE TO WORK WITH YOU NEXT!


We cannot wait to hear from you!! 
Contact us today to schedule a FREE Discovery Call.


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