As brand and web designers, we’re always preaching to our clients the importance of investing in their businesses. But how often are we investing in ours?
I believe the key to growing your business is to consistently invest in it — whether it’s investing your money, your time, or your energy. There are really endless resources out there for us to utilize to grow in our businesses. They can be paid resources like online courses or subscriptions, or they can be completely free to use, like watching YouTube videos or listening to podcasts.
If you don’t know where to start, I’ve got a few (actually, more than a few) recommendations for resources — many of which have helped me & my business in huge ways! Scroll down to read many of the ways I’ve invested in Studio Alexia this year, and how to use them in your own business. Buckle up… Let’s grow!
If you don’t know Notion, it’s about to become your best friend. Everyone I talk to about Notion has either never heard of it, or they love it and use it for everything. There’s seriously no in-between.
I use Notion for just about everything in my life. I have a template I use for my personal life, a Studio hub for everything Studio Alexia, and I even use it as a collaborative, easy-to-use client portal for my brand and web projects. The best part? It has free plans and affordable subscription plans (plus, students get it free!).
I highly recommend using Notion if you need some organization in your life. It’s the kind of thing that you don’t really know you need until you start using it. If you want some beautiful, multifunctional templates to start off your Notion experience, try use these ones that I got from Instagram user @melieacosta, totally free!
There are a lot of great options for CRM (Client Relationship Management) tools, but Dubsado is all-around the best one I’ve seen. It’s the only CRM I’ve used for my business because it really does it all. Automated emails, lead captures, proposal and contract forms, easy invoicing… It’s even got a time tracker that I use all the time for my hourly rate services. Plus, you can customize your Dubsado to match your branding — to give clients the best experience when they access their portals!
If you’re anything like me, the business side of owning a business can get pretty overwhelming. Instead of completely custom-designing every PDF proposal, contract, and invoice, let Dubsado do the work for you. I couldn’t run my business without it. It takes all the tasks I don’t necessarily love and helps me focus more on the actual project. If you want to sign up for a free trial and get 20% off your Dubsado subscription, you can use my affiliate code “STUDIOALEXIA” to secure that discount, babyyy!
This resource has been a gold mine for my web services — and even moreso for my Showit design clients. ICYMI, I have a Showit package called BYOT — Bring Your Own Template — where my clients can bring me a Showit website template of their choosing and I’ll bring it to life after we’ve finished their branding. Every single time, the first resource I point them to is Tonic — a template shop for beautifully designed, made-to-convert websites. What’s even better — every template is named after a signature cocktail!
These sites include everything: every page you might need with many CTA sections that will get visitors to book with you, already-set-up headers and footers with working links, and beautiful designs that are super easy to customize to your own unique branding. They’re perfect for anyone to use, whether you love designing and customizing templates or you don’t feel like you have a creative bone in your body. (Psst, if you need an experienced web designer to bring your Tonic template to life, I’m your girl!)
My favorite part? Tonic has this really fun, interactive quiz (where my Buzzfeed quiz girlies at?) with a ton of questions about your brand vibe, and they’ll match you with the right Tonic template for you. But before you hit that purchase button, use my code “STUDIOALEXIA15” to get 15% off your dreamy new template!
Y’all already know, this is the brand design course that changed my life. I could say it all here, but I’ve already written a Journal post on it! If you want all the tea on why you need this course in your life as an aspiring brand designer, go ahead and read it here.
For this entry, I’ll just say that this course is seriously the best thing for anyone who wants to be a brand designer but has no clue where to start. Alyssa’s course, Camp Evergreen, was made with the literal goal of taking students through the process of brand design, from brief to delivery. This is the course that helped me launch Studio Alexia, and I believe it can help you reach your dreams of becoming a confident brand and web designer, too.
This infamous Becca Luna course teaches you how to master Showit. Becca has a ton of masterful trainings, most of which are centered around being the best Showit web designer you can be, but this one is especially helpful for beginners of the platform. It comes with in-depth trainings to learn the ropes of the platform, follow-along style videos of Becca designing a website, and even client process tips.
I started this course because I felt limited to only designing off of templates (shoutout to Tonic again) which I loved doing, but I knew I wanted to go even further by designing my clients’ sites from scratch, and even hopefully opening up my own website template shop one day. CEO of Showit was the perfect starting point for me!
I had already felt pretty familiar with Showit before taking the course, but I decided to be thorough and go through every module anyway, just to see if there was anything I missed. Becca taught me more than I was expecting — so many tips and tricks that will boost my design efficiency! Plus, the opportunity to watch her design in real-time and explain her every move, along with the client process… You really can’t beat it. I just finished the course recently and I already feel soooo much more aligned in my web service offerings.
You know what else you can’t beat? Getting 15% off the investment of CEO of Showit with my link and becoming a master of web design instantly!
Foxtrot Branding’s course The Squarespace Design Framework is made for any web designer who needs to streamline their web project process, from set-up to hand-off. I’m a visual learner, and this course was perfect for me because Cassidy takes you through her design process for a fake client with video trainings. I also have a hard time with the client side of things, like gathering content and delivering the website, but I felt really capable after finishing the course.
I was feeling really flustered when I had my first Squarespace web design client this summer, but Foxtrot literally dropped this course the same week I started my project. I think I finished the trainings in just two days, which set me up for success in my project and I handed the website off with no sweat. I’m really grateful to this course for making my first Squarespace client such a good experience. I highly recommend this to anyone who knows web design already but needs a little extra support with the client process!
Where are my podcast girlies at? I have to admit, I’m not a huge podcast-listener, but I do rely on them from time to time. There are a few podcasts I listened to when I first started getting clients and marketing myself, and they gave me expert advice and boosted my confidence a ton, so I didn’t have to walk into my business feeling like an absolute amateur.
The first one is another resource from my fave gal Alyssa, called The Design Diaries Podcast. Alyssa is beautifully candid in this podcast, sharing not only business tips, but her own experiences as a freelancer. This podcast was (and still is) my jam because the episodes are typically 15-20 minutes long, which is the perfect length for my attention span. I got a lot of great advice from Alyssa in these episodes, like how to decide my prices, ideas for passive income streams, and honestly the realization that I don’t have to feel so alone as an entrepreneur. I highly recommend this one to any brand designer, regardless of experience!
And what is, in my opinion, the holy grail of designer podcasts: Off Air Pod by Katie Proctor and Abi Connick, both experienced brand designers with a heart for educating their audiences. This podcast is on the lengthier side, with hour-long episodes on average, but they are filled to the brim with helpful tips and tricks. They cover a large variety of topics, like mastering Instagram, how to find clients, and even an episode going over the basics of brand strategy. They bring on a ton of guests in the industry, so you’re getting to hear advice from not just one designer, but a bunch of freelancers with their own unique experiences. This podcast was all I listened to during my first month of launching Studio Alexia and it really set me up for success.
Another great free resource is watching YouTube videos of designers going through their own processes and teaching you tips and tricks! There are plenty of talented designers and educators out there — it’s really just a matter of finding who you can learn best from. Some of my favorites are Abi Connick, Paola Kassa, Kel Lauren, and watching Adobe Lives of designers around the world. Whenever you have some spare time, head to YouTube and search something you’ve been wanting to learn or master. The amount of free education we can get is crazy!
Okay wow, we finally made it! Hopefully by now, you’re eyeballing one or two of these resources to invest in — whether with your money or your time — and you’re feeling confident to level-up some aspect of your business. If that’s the case, I’m so excited for you! I know I’m better because of these resources, and so is Studio Alexia.
If you end up using any of these resources, please let me know! I’d love to cheer you on and give you a virtual hug for taking the step to nurture your business.
PS — Some of these are affiliate links, which I want to be totally transparent about. It helps me greatly when people utilize them, so thank you if you do!
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