Disclaimer: I may be an affiliate for some of these companies. All that means is that I receive a small commission whenever someone makes a purchase using my code or link. Most of the time my code will actually have a special discount associated to help save you money! 

As a designer and a sole proprietor, I understand the importance of having reliable and efficient tools to manage various aspects of a small business. Over the years, I've tested numerous software and online tools, and here are my top recommendations for design, accounting, marketing, administrative tasks (and more)!

These tools have been instrumental in managing my business as a small team of one. Whether you're a new small business owner, a beginner entrepreneur, or a fellow designer starting your journey, these recommendations can help streamline your operations and boost your productivity.

Essential Online Tools and Software for Small Businesses: A Designer's Recommendations

My online business tools list to make your life easy.

Business Administrative Tools

They have a free plan!

Need a free and easy to maintain time tracker? I've been using Toggl for years as it's so easy to track and share time so it makes it easy to bill for projects (or give yourself a time audit). Learn about Toggl here and start to get organized with your time tracking.


If you need to transfer large files without having to jam you or your client's inbox, WeTransfer is the answer! All you have to do is simply add the recipient's email, your email, attach the file, click send - and you're good to go! It will even alert you when the recipient has downloaded the file. Zip file that baby and send it off! No account required to use. Learn more about WeTransfer to send files.


Quickbooks stands out as the go-to accounting software for small businesses. Its widespread use means that most accountants and bookkeepers are familiar with it, making it easier to get assistance when needed. QuickBooks streamlines financial management, helping you keep track of expenses, invoices, and payroll efficiently.  

New Customer? I have a Quickbooks discount link for you!


They have a free plan!

I'll admit, I was one of those people that had a secret page of different logins for a long time. I totally regret not getting a password management tool in place earlier! I cannot even think now of living without this awesome online business tool. It will not only save you time trying to locate usernames and passwords, but it also helps make it easier if you need to share a login with someone else. Learn more about Last Pass.


They have a free plan!

Asana is a project management system that offers a free base account and one of my favorite online business tools. Asana has helped me keep track of both client projects and my own business goals so that nothing gets forgotten. Learn more about Asana to manage your tasks.


Formerly known as GSuite, this online software includes a membership into 20+ Google offerings and productivity tools to help run your business. It includes GMail for email, Drive to offer cloud storage support, Analytics, Docs, Sheets, Slides... I could go on! It is definitely worth the money, hands down. Learn more about Google Workspace.

Google Workplace

Social Media Software & Resources

You've spent time and created an awesome reel for your business but it's stuck on the Instagram app. Let it help serve on other platforms by downloading your video with Snapinsta. If you have created a professional looking video for your business, it is the perfect thing to upload to your Google Business Profile


Did you know that you can see any ad on Facebook or Instagram that is currently running? If you're interested in running ads on the Meta platform, exploring this database could provide you with some great insight! Check on competitors and other industry ads to see what's out there. Check out what Meta's Ad Library is all about!

Meta Ad Library

Try Plann's 7-day free plan!

Get yourself organized when it comes to social media- Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, TikTok and LinkedIn- with Plann, a website and app. Plann also connects to Canva to help make it easy to create and post your own custom designs right from your phone. Not sure if it's for you? Try Plann for 7 days for free and see if you like it!


Design Software

This iPad design app ($10) can't replace Adobe Illustrator but it sure offers a ton of awesome capabilities! I love using this tool if I want to do something more hand drawn and have it be digitized. You can export artwork as jpegs, pngs, PDFs.. it's pretty amazing.

Side note: I used Procreate to create artwork for a wine label!


Canva is an online design program that offers an easier way for anyone to create something graphic without having to hire a designer. Canva can't do everything (ex. completely custom logo) but it does allow for you to set-up your brand profile, access hundreds of free or very affordable designs to customize, and even sell your designs to make a little extra passive income. Get discounted pricing on Canva with my link!


Not to age myself but I've been a user of the Adobe Creative Suite since 2005. They have since switched to be "Adobe Creative Cloud" as the software is all available online. Although the subscription is $50/mo., you can have access to Illustrator (vector), Photoshop (photography), InDesign (documents), Premiere (video), and more. If you're thinking about getting into graphic design, the Adobe Creative Cloud is pretty much an industry standard.

Adobe Creative Cloud

Design Resource Shops

Creative Market

Paper Source is usually my go-to place when I need some envelopes for invitations or other paper products. If you have a business and are looking for that extra branding edge amongst your marketing materials, perhaps consider purchasing some paper in your branding color. They have fun gift ideas too! Check out Paper Source's paper stock here. 

Paper Source

For me, Creative Market is like a blend of DesignCuts and Etsy. There is a larger market of design offerings, but it doesn't feel as well curated as Design Cuts. As a designer and/or creative, this is a great site to either purchase designs for your project or create your own store to sell your own designs. Creative Market will also give away designs on occasion to their email list.

I shop on this website often when I'm looking for a new font for a project, pre-created imagery or even for just some inspiration. Design Cuts has these amazing, affordable bundle deals they offer from time to time to get some amazing discounts on their products. If you belong to their email list, you will learn of any temporary freebies that they are offering, including free fonts, filters, graphics, and design classes.

Design Cuts

Online Print Shops

Mingo Press

For those of you who are looking for something a bit more substantial when it comes to paper, look no further! THikit online printer has an amazing selection of thick paper stock and also offers fun details like hand painted edging for that extra pop in design. They also offer free shipping and printing with white ink!


If I have a custom print project that needs some extra TLC, I head over to Mingo Press to handle my print order. This Tulsa, Oklahoma, printer has reasonable prices, super responsive and helpful staff, and my orders are always completed with peace of mind on my end. 

If I have a "low budget" print project (postcards, general business cards, flyers, etc.), I head on over to GotPrint.com. I find that their interface is easy to use and I like that I can find their templates quickly. Also as a designer, they have a broker program so I can get access to wholesale pricing along with free blind drop shipping. In particular, I love their 16pt matte business card option- it is very popular amongst many of my clients!


Software to Build Your Website

If your business is a retail store or has a lot of products to sell, Shopify is going to be the platform you want to use. It's very existence is to provide strong e-commerce functionality and has many integrations with other software to make online selling a breeze. Looking to sell a few products? You can embed Shopify Lite into your website to have the ecommerce capability with your current website (works great for digital downloads).

Note: if you already have a great Wordpress website, you can add WooCommerce to add a shop functionality to your website.


Showit continues to impress me on it's ability to pair design and website development so nicely together. It's almost like using Adobe Illustrator to create your website. There is a slight learning curve to understand how the platform works, but overall, it is much easier to customize and launch yourself. This website is built on the Showit platform! You can also integrate a WordPress blog to your website so you can get the best of both worlds. They also have great customer service. Very impressed!

Showit is great for photographers, designers, coaches, podcasters, event coordinators, etc.

Get a free month with Showit with my promo code!


WordPress continues to be the lead in websites due to its open source platform and content management system. There are so many different themes and plugins as well as the opportunity to do your own custom coding that the sky is the limit! On the other hand, WordPress isn't easy for the novice user and one will often need a designer or developer to help get your site launched.

Note: I recommend adding WordPress to your hosting account and not sign-up directly with WordPress through its website. I recommend WPEngine as a hosting provider and a website builder such as Divi or Elementor to build your site.


Website Developer Resources

Resize your images quickly with Red Ketchup! Images are super important on your website, but it is often a pain to resize them, especially if you have a lot! This online tool is not only free to use but it has several different options to not only resize your images in bulk but convert them to a different file type and more. Load speeds do make a difference for your website!

Red Ketchup

I was a long-time GoDaddy user until I tried out WPEngine. Sure, it might seem a little more expensive but knowing that they already include the SSL certificate, it is TOTALLY WORTH the extra money to have peace of mind when it comes to your website hosting. (Have you ever had your website go down and had no idea what to do? #theworst.) They have a "staging" area where you can easily work on updates to your website, test, and deploy with only one-click. They also have great customer service as you can literally ask them for help in the chat box.

Get a HUGE discount on WPEngine hosting plans here!

"Hosting" refers to where your website is stored.


DNS Checker - If you're looking to see if your domain has updated it's DNS setting, this DNS Checker is an easy way to find out!

Search and Replace WP Plugin - Sometimes website migrations can cause a few wrinkles. Find those old domains or references with this free plugin.

Mangools SERP Simulator - Trying to figure out how your webpage shows up on Google? I love using this free SERP Simulator by Mangools.

Google Search Console - Learn what search inquiries customers are using to find your website. You can also submit your sitemap, learn if Google has indexed your website, plus much more!

General Website Developer Handy Links

Hi, I'm Jessica

As a longtime designer and creative entrepreneur, I am sharing my talents and skills I've learned to help other business owners market their local business. 

Online Business Coach