Welcome to week 5 of our #SummerScaleUp series. This week, Tracey Johnson, a creative and digital industries specialist shares her favourite digital tools that could help your creative business.

When people think of business they often think of stuffy word documents, financial reports and general dullness. It doesn’t have to be like that! Find tools you can work with to communicate your ideas, plans and purpose – both online and offline and it will be far easier to get customers on board your creative business bus and keeps it interesting for you too.

Here are a few of my favourite digital tools to get those creative ideas flowing

1.    Prezi & Keynote 

If the linear motion of PowerPoint leaves you bored, then Prezi is your go-to tool for everything from planning events, communicating ideas and even business planning. Prezi enables you to present an engaging and visual journey with everything from mind maps to photos and videos. Its interface is easy to use and it’s a great way to capture imaginations and bring your thoughts to life. Check out some examples on their website www.prezi.com

Alternatively, for Macbook users, Keynote is a powerful tool and although on face value seems like Apple’s version of Powerpoint, the flexibility offers will make it your go to programme. In Keynote, you can create animations, moving visuals, demo videos and much more. Put it this way, every one of Apple’s big public announcements is produced in Keynote. Take a look here and be inspired.

2.    Google’s suite of products

With a range of tools, it is worthwhile spending an afternoon exploring the suite of products Google kindly offers, most of which are free. The more obvious ones such as Google Analytics and Google Maps can be powerful insights and used to remodel your business. Google Adsense can be a generous digital tool, allowing you to monetize from your website. Google Adwords and Google Alerts give you information that gives you a better understanding your business. The list of Google products goes on, the deeper you get into the tools available, the more data you have at your fingertips ready for you to use to target more of your customers. Some hidden gems include Google TrendsGoogle Correlate and Think with Google.

3.    Trello

Trello is the simplest project management tool I’ve ever used. Based around a 3 column list – titled ‘To Do’, ‘Doing’ and ‘Done’ you simply type all of your tasks into it and then click and drag them between the lists. List titles are customisable, you can cluster lists by topic or project and tasks are editable, can have files attached to them, sub-lists and reminders. Better still, if you add the app to your device you can get reminders and work on Trello whilst on the go. You can share lists and ‘boards’ with other users to ease the workload. Genius. It’s also free.

4.    WeTransfer

This is a file sending service. Whereas other services keep the files like a folder in the sky,WeTransfer is time-limited and that, in my opinion, makes it feel more secure. Plus if you deal with any public sector agencies, there are very few who will permit using tools like Dropbox and Google Drive but WeTransfer seems to go down ok. Take it from one who knows.

Bonus tip: How are any of these tools producing revenue? 

The tools suggested are useful, worth investing time in and ultimately help your business make money. There are other useful tools if you sell goods or services face to face and are focused on immediate cashflow. You can now receive card payments on the go. PayPal have a device that connects to your phone or tablet and integrates with your account, so if you’re already using PayPal it’s a natural expansion. I also heartily recommend taking a look at iZettle as it is easy to set up and simple to use making it a fantastic tool. By connecting to your mobile device via Bluetooth, the iZettle allows you to take card payments wherever you have a mobile or wifi signal. Brilliant for craft fairs, design shows, galleries and shops. You pay a fairly small amount for the device and then a fee per transaction which is around 3% or often less. Again, iZettle will often have offers where your first transactions are free.

Tracey Johnson
Tracey Johnson is a creative and digital industries specialist with a broad knowledge and experience base across the different sectors based in Yorkshire. She supports businesses to start and grow and helps to create the environments and programmes that can accelerate their success. She co-founded MADE NORTH, a project to promote and support design and craft from the north of England.