Get the gear

Gotta get the gear! (if you read this in the voice of Fred Armisen, we’re pals.)

Before starting Spruce Rd., I had all sorts of lists, notes, and excel sheets to help anticipate what I was getting into. How much was running this business going to cost? What tools do I need? Software? Contracts? Fonts?

When making any sort of purchase, I research the heck out of all the options and competitors. So, to continue our “studio of one” series (catch part one and part two if you missed it), I’m revealing all the gear that runs my business.

If you’re just starting out, you absolutely don’t need all of these resources, but this is a great roundup to bookmark as you grow! I try to run a pretty minimalist business in terms of unnecessary purchases (um… my desk is a fold up desk in my closet. Yikes.). Instead, I like to invest my business in hiring stellar sub-contractors, services that help me excel like copywriting and photography, as well as software that can reduce my hours worked. You’ll find this reflected in my roundup below!

Freelance Designer Resources | Spruce Rd. | A roundup of tools, software and designer must-haves for running a freelance business.

*I’ve included a few affiliate links to resources I already know and love, as denoted by an asterisk.

Designer must-haves

  • Fonts — Inevitable as a brand designer, but always a fun purchase! Can’t go wrong with a good Hoefler & Co. typeface. I also purchase frequently from MyFonts, and pin fonts I’m lusting after here. (ps: don’t shy away from purchasing typefaces… they elevate your designs tremendously)

  • Contracts* — Gotta protect yourself with clients! Scrap the DIY contract (that probably doesn’t protect you like it should), and invest in a quality contract from Christina Scalera. (I’ve hired her for my biz… she knows what she’s talking about!)

  • Pantone Swatches — Lots of options, but I recommend this set to start with.

  • Sketch Paper — I can’t handle the intimidation that comes with a bound sketchpad, and instead prefer loose leaf semi-transparent paper like this layout bond sketch pad. Great for tracing type and refining logos.

Digital

  • Adobe Creative Cloud — A must have as a designer.

  • Basecamp — My preferred project management software.

  • Gumroad — Great for if you sell digital products. They make it extremely easy and have a nice interface you can embed on your site (even Squarespace!)

  • Quickbooks — Keeps my finances in check. I highly recommend Quickbooks over Freshbooks or any free accounting software. It’s worth it to have a professional bookkeeping software that your accountant will love.

  • 17Hats* — Works wonders when sending clients quotes, contracts, and invoices.

  • Squarespace — My web platform of choice. Great interface and easy adaptability.

  • G-suite — The best for email management on a custom domain (prior to g-suite my emails had issues coming through… now they don’t!).

  • Namecheap — Great for snagging up a domain for that dream project you’re working on.

  • ConvertKit* — My fav. email software. You can make it as simple or complex as needed, and they have stellar customer support too! (psst: need a ConvertKit template, or learn how to create your own for yourself/clients? I’ve got ya covered.)

  • Crowdcast* — Best webinar platform. Ever. Trust me.

Physical

E-courses

  • Teachery* — The best for hosting your online courses, with the absolute best customer support you could ask for. Created by Jason Zook.

  • ScreenFlow — A simple editor for video.

  • Blue Yeti Microphone — Records great audio, simple to use and store.

  • Pop Filter — Gets rid of those crackles when recording.

I hope this helps those of you getting started or even those who are just looking for some new ways to run your biz. What are your favorite business resources? I'd love to hear what you're using!