It can feel really overwhelming starting your own business. There are so many tools, resources, and information that it’s sometimes hard to know where to begin. When I was setting up my business it was a case of trial and error. In fact, lots of errors! It’s been a really slow process but I now have lots of tools in place that I love and couldn’t imagine running my business without. So, I’ve created a list of my top business tools for my surface pattern design business.
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means I earn a small commission if you decide to purchase the product. Rest assured, I only recommend products that I love and adore and which have positively impacted my business. I will never recommend something that I don’t truly believe or use myself.
I use Siteground for my web hosting and I couldn’t recommend them highly enough. I’m not a tech head so I won’t go into the technical details of what they offer but I can give you a few reasons why I love and recommend them.
Firstly, they make it so easy to set up a WordPress site (which is what I’m using). You can easily download WordPress directly from the Siteground site which made it really easy for a non-tech person like me to set up.
They also have lots of security in place for your website which makes me feel a lot safer uploading content to my website. They also happily helped set up some of my security settings.
What I love the most about using Siteground though is the customer service. It really is second to none. Whenever I’ve had an issue, I’ve been able to immediately reach someone on live chat who has in every case sorted the problem out for me. If they didn’t have this service I would have been in a world of trouble and pain setting up my website. If you don’t have the technical know how having support is really essential.
I decided to create my website on WordPress and ended up going with the Divi theme by Elegant Themes. Even though creating a website was a steep learning curve for me (I’ve done the whole thing by myself) and has taken many, many hours, I’ve really enjoyed and have been happy with the result of the Divi theme. It’s intuitive and very customisable and any changes are immediately updated to your site. My favourite feature of the Divi theme is how easy it is to make your website mobile responsive. You can check how your website looks on a desktop vs tablet vs mobile with a click of a button. It’s such a handy feature!
The most conversions I’ve had to my website have been through Pinterest. When I first started my business I did Melyssa Griffins’ Pinfinite Growth course and without it there is no way I would have the traffic or subscribers that I do today. She taught me how to use Pinterest to bring traffic to my website and much more. I highly recommend her course to anyone wanting to learn the ins and outs of using Pinterest as a way to grow your audience.
The Pinfinite Growth course also introduced me to Boardbooster which has been an amazing tool. It connects to your Pinterest account and allows you to schedule and repin your Pinterest pins. It’s such a time saver as you can batch pin to secret boards and then you can set Boardbooster to release the pins to your public boards. I now only spend half an hour or so each week batch pinning to my secret boards and let Boardbooster take care of the rest.
I couldn’t design without my Wacom tablet. Being a textile designer means doing lots of drawing and I’ve never been able to manage with a regular mouse. Using the Wacom pen, you can draw straight on to the tablet and therefore onto your computer screen. It’s just like drawing on to paper. It gives me so much more control over my designs. It’s an absolute must have for me!
I use ScreenFlow to record all of my instructional videos on my Mac. It allows me to record my voice while sharing my computer screen. It’s so easy to use and edit, I really love it!
Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are essential tools for a surface pattern designer. Even if you prefer to create most of your designs by hand, Illustrator and Photoshop will allow you to clean up and put your designs into technical repeats easily and efficiently. Most design studios will use these programs. You will need some time and patience learning to use them, but with a bit of practice, you will find both Illustrator and Photoshop essential tools for your surface pattern designs. I use the latest Adobe CC versions of both.
Want my Top 25 Photoshop and Top 25 Illustrator shortcut keys. Here you go!
In order to use your hand drawn sketches within your designs, you need a good scanner. I use the Canon Lide220 which I have found has worked well for me. It’s A4 size and is USB powered which I love (fewer power cables!). It doesn’t take up too much room on my desk and produces good quality scans for what I need.
Creative Market is the place to go for beautiful fonts, website themes, graphics, photos and much more. It showcases work from independent creatives so you’ll find really interesting and beautiful work here. If you’re looking for a unique point of difference for your website e.g. a perfect font, this is the place to look.
Grammarly is such a handy tool! It proofreads and checks your spelling, grammar and punctuation. It makes proof reading and checking my blog posts so much quicker.
A Pantone fan deck or fabric swatches are a must for any surface pattern designer. It allows you to select a colour from the fan deck and then quote that colour to your manufacturer. They are then able to match the colours in your designs exactly. The most common Pantone swatches quoted for textile, fashion and surface design are TPX (fan deck) or TCX (cotton swatch) numbers.
It’s such an important tool that is well used within the textile and surface pattern design industry. It takes the guess work out and allows you to be confident that the colours in your design will be accurate.
What are your favourite tools for your business?
To find out some of my favourite resources I use for my business e.g. blogs/websites and books that I love, check out my blog post here.
Pattern Design Secrets is a guide for lovers of art, craft and design who are wanting to learn the secrets to creating successful pattern designs