Business Software for Knit Designers
First off, I want to say that if you are an independent designer, you are a business owner. Even if you do it on the side and only release one pattern a year. You are a business owner. You have created value, and you should not undermine that value by saying “it’s just this thing I do.” Below I give you a ton of links to software for knit designers (and crochet designers) to help you run your “thing” like a professional.
About Software for Knit Designers
When you are an independent designer you are the accountant/owner/receptionist/marketer/salesperson/gatekeeper/projectmanager/etc.
That means that you need to learn at least the basics in other areas of business keeping beyond your design and fiber skills. It also means that you will probably need software to keep all of that on track. The right software can save you time and help you manage your operation, all while looking like a pro.
You will most definitely need some sort of bookkeeping software. Sure, you could set up a fancy excel spreadsheet, but ultimately you will be creating more work for yourself when it comes time for taxes or evaluating how your business is doing. (Note: if you are making more than $500 a year on your design work, you are definitely a business, and need to claim that income on your taxes).
I use Zipbooks, which is all kinds of awesome. They have a 100% free version. The best part about using software like this is that it can help you see your profits from Ravelry, Etsy, and that craft show all in one place.
Seeing your expenses and profits organized by software, can also help you make decisions about things like: taking out ads, investing in tools, etc.
Accounting Software to Consider:
There are always things that have to get done, keeping track of all the weekly tasks, big picture projects, and business maintenance tasks can quickly get overwhelming.
I use Asana to manage all of my knit design projects.
Project management software is only useful when you use it. I drop every task, resource I need to read, design idea, blog post topic, etc into Asana as soon as it enters my head. I like that I can put dates on tasks and organize projects by patterns or collections that I am working on.
Make your project management software work for you. It is worth your time to really learn the software in the beginning so you can leverage every single feature to your advantage.
Project Management Software for Knit Designers:
I got caught in a social media marketing trap pretty early on. I would get on to post something and would get distracted with looking at lots of beautiful pictures from some other knit designer. Then I would forget why I was there and log off without actually posting about the new pattern I was working on.
If you struggle with this too, I recommend queuing up your social media posts with a scheduler and only logging on social media to connect with those that are interacting with you.
When choosing a scheduler, the main thing is making sure that it covers all the platforms that you are going to be on. Some have Twitter and Facebook, but no Instagram. Others have practically everything, but not Pintrest. It just depends on what is important to you as a crochet or knit designer.
I use Later.com for my social media. I like that I can schedule Instagram and Facebook at the same time. And they have an app so I can schedule posts on the fly.
The Fun Stuff
Here are some apps/software for knit designers to make your life easier. I use these apps on a regular basis, and can’t imagine running my business without them.
Zapier is an online automation tool. It connects all of your apps together to save you time and mental energy. Zapier describes their service this way: “Zaps are automations created using Triggers and Actions. You can use Zaps to connect any two Zapier-supported apps to each other. ” I use it for lots of things, but one of the big ones is how I manage prospects. Anytime that someone fills out my “Work with me” form that information is automatically imported into Trello with a due date to follow up with them. No more prospects lost to the black hole of an email inbox. Zapier can do so much more than that, you just have to check it out for yourself.
Super pretty forms. It’s pretty easy to use and looks amazing on your website. What I like most about it is that it makes long forms more digestable by limiting the number of questions you can see at one time.
This is what I use for email marketing. I think it is the only truly free platform out there (under 2,000 subscribers). Fun and easy to use, plus they have great documentation and resources if you are new to email marketing.
I like Word and Google Docs as well as anybody, but there is something special about Evernote. It’s got a nice clean writing interface and beautiful fonts. Plus it has an app (surprise). I don’t use it for documents or contracts, just dumping words out of my brain, think: pattern and design notes, blog posts, grocery lists, open letters, etc.
Now that you are completely overwhelmed, take a deep breath. You don’t have to implement these things all at once.
My recommendation is to start with the area of your design business that stress you out the most and get it organized. It takes time to put together effective systems. Unfortunately, there is not one perfect unified software for knit designers to organize everything. But luckily, most online software now is available for free or cheap at an entry level and can be integrated together.
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