My "Must-Have" Platform Collection

Hello Loves!

One of the things I was desperate for when I first started my business was a list of platforms that professionals used everyday. To me that was a huge part of their success and the fact that I was watching these businesses grow, proved to me that their platforms worked and could work for me. Hopefully that same thought carries over to this blog. I could not do any of what I do without these platforms. I have spent countless hours looking into what would work best for my business without breaking my budget and have come these gems below.

|G A L L E R Y & A L B U M S H A R I N G|


This is my go-to platform any time I need to send photos to a client. They have a FREE options in which you can host up to 100 photos while displaying them in a beautiful gallery or paid options which allow you more photos to an album and other features. In addition to the album you get great add ons like options to print (standard sizes and canvases) and also to download albums for free. It is an easy and beautiful way to get photos to your clients the same day you finish them while also displaying your work. If your clients do buy prints, that gives you a credit towards purchasing larger album services.

|D E S I G N|

Adobe Creative Cloud:

Indesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Lightroom

I would literally not know what to do with myself if I didn't have Adobe Creative Suite.

Indesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop are the platforms in which I create all of my graphic design. It is $50 a month for one user and is well worth it to me. The software stays up-to-date and there is really no free-ware to compare (believe me I tried). Really just invest in yourself and pay for good software.

  • Indesign is the most amazing layout design tool if you are looking to render things such as brochures, magazines, multipage documents, and even flyers or business cards.

  • Illustrator is where I create all of my vector graphics such as icons, logos, or illustrations which I will need to compartmentalize for After Effects. It is a vector based software which allows you to create High Res graphics. I love to use this for my flat graphic style designs. In addition to those smaller crisp designs, illustrator is also quite useful for vehicle wraps and other designs in which you use die-cut printing or 3D printing based on design paths.

  • Photoshop is my baby! I fell in love with Graphic Design through Photoshop. It is an amazing tool for creating graphics for letter-heads, business cards, mobile banners, web sliders, and so much more! I also use this to do any photo-manipulation projects. It operates on a layers which allows your to render virtually anything you can imagine. This is a great platform for creating GIF's or doing small scale video editing and cinemagraphs.

  • Lightroom is a photographers best friend. I use this platform to do all my photo editing. Keep in mind this is not manipulation software just editing software. If you want to manipulate, go get on photoshop. What is amazing about Lightroom is that it is a recipe based software. What i mean by that is you can import your photos, change what you want about them, export them and all the while your original JPGs or RAWs are safe an unaltered because Lightroom used edited "recipe's" to create the image look you want! Woot Woot! One of my favorite features of Lightroom is the metadata fields, color isolation, shadows and highlights control, and of course PRESETS! Lightroom has the easiest preset control out of the entire graphic software suite in adobe (to me). I love this because once you establish your look as a photographer you don't want to be making those very specific changes to every single photo to make them all look cohesive. Ain't no-body got time for that! lol. Especially if you're a wedding or event photographer. So you can save your brand presets and then add them to the entire collection of photos while only having to do little tweaks here and there. The best part about this is that if you only want this platform and not the can do that for $10 a month.

|F I N A N C E S|

Square or Paypal Swipe

This is one of the things that I don't usually think about as a helpful platform until one of my followers asks me what payment options I use. To be quite honest this is an unsung hero of platforms. Any time I need to invoice a client or pay for updated equipment i do it through Palpal. It helps me keep my business and persona finances separate from the other. I typically invoice directly form Paypal to design and web clients (it has this feature built in) and is FREE unless you purchase a more extensive business profile. Now for things such as markets or on-location purchases, I use either Square or Paypal (I use paypal because it just keeps all my money in one place but have used square before too. Now you still pay for the payment process no matter what way your money travels (B2B, B2C) you will have to do this no matter where you go and you don't get charged anything unless you have an actual transaction.

|F I L E M A N A G E M E N T|

Office 365

Most people tend to use the free online versions of this because they never dive into the more advanced aspects of the software. I need the full version which is only $99.99 a year for five users with the following features. (There are some smaller packages available but this one happens to be the one I use.

  • Desktop versions of Office 2016 applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook, plus Access and Publisher for PC only

  • Install on up to 5 PCs or Macs

  • Optimized Office experience on up to 5 tablets and 5 phones

  • 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage per user, for up to 5 users

  • Applications are always up to date

  • Microsoft support via chat or phone at no extra cost

  • With Skype, make calls to mobile phones and landlines, 60 minutes per month per user, for up to 5 users

| C O D I N G|

Dreamweaver & Sublime

There are only two programs I use to code. I've found that while I have learned to enjoy coding (very much), I don't love always coding the mundane portions of a site. In addition to that, things like Jquery and PHP coding require a more intimate knowledge of web-building. One of my "workflow secrets" is that I build up a "portfolio" of chunks of code that I like, such as, sliders, about strips, galleries, contact forms, etc, and I save them so that when I am building a new website I can just pop them in and "fill in" the code rather than creating it from scratch. The biggest reason I do this, however, is because there are very few small businesses that have the money to pay you to code a site from scratch. Small businesses are my target market so I need to make sure I can still deliver a quality product without losing a profit or spending so much time on it that its no longer cost effective. If you are looking to familiarize yourself with coding tags W3schools is another helpful sour

  • Sublime is where I code from scratch and it is FREE. It is not flashy and doesn't have any fancy features except that is a coding platform. This is a platform that I encourage more experienced coders to use or professionals that are looking to focus full-time on web site development.

  • Dreamweaver is my "glue" platform and part of the adobe suite. This makes website building a much more visual experience and not just mental mapping like coding typically is. The program itself has features to build certain website functions in at the click of a button instead of having to code it all from scratch. I use the "split" feature which allows you to see what your project looks like live on the left and what your code looks like on the right. It's not as simple as just picking where you want things to go, you still need some knowledge of code, but it does make a web designers life much simpler.

|C O N T A C T |

Through Host, Gmail, Google Voice

When I first started out I really underestimated the purpose of a contact platform. Somehow I thought it was the least important part of my business. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your clients are your lifeline in business. Your success is directly proportioned to how many healthy relationships you have with your clients and how easy you make it for them to get to you and your products.

  • Contact platforms through your host are usually email campaign related, and a very helpful tool when building up a successful clientele. They are typically provided through however hosts your website. This is the primary way in which I contact my clients as a whole. I send updates about promotions, new products, tips, and anything else that I need to communicate to the BRIMdesign community.

  • Gmail is my primary email platform. I currently use the FREE version but will soon be upgrading to the business gmail ($5 per email address). Like most emails, this allows you to make a custom signature. Mine includes my name, contact info, logo, and links to social pages. However, most website platforms will also host your email for a similar cost if you chose to go that way.

  • I am a die hard Google supporter so it should come as no surprise that I tend to gravitate towards their other platforms aside from gmail. Google Voice is an amazing tool for those of you that don't have a physical address but would love to have a business phone number. You sign up using your existing phone number and it assigns you a secondary number with which you have online access to text, voicemail, calling, and more. There is also an app you can download that interact with your phone like regular messenger apps. In the event that you have trouble with a caller, you can block them and it will keep your personal contact information safe and away form people you don't have a personal relationship with.

|P O S T I N G & S C H E D U L I N G|

Planoly & Facebook Scheduler

This year has been a whirlwind of growth for BRIMdesign. I don't think i could have kept up with it mentally or digitally if I hadn't had these two little helpers. I learned that I am not good at coming up with posts and content the day of, so I started scheduling everything into categories and then putting weeks at a time into the scheduler app/pages so that I only had to take a couple hours to plan the entire week instead of killing myself over it everyday. I tend not to use a lot of social media platforms currently but there are other platforms that will let you schedule for Twitter, Pinterest, and others media sites.

  • Planoly is my scheduler for Instagram. Not only is it FREE for one user but it allows you to preview your grid aesthetic before officially publishing, this is hugely important if your IG itself is like a brand. If you get more successful with it, you man purchase additional features which you will select based on your professional needs.

  • Facebook scheduler is build into the business page. It is as simple as going to post but selecting "schedule" instead and then choosing the day and time that you want your post to go live. It is also FREE and really intuitive to use.

So as you can see there is a lot that goes into getting BRIMdesign through the day. I hope this helps you guys. And remember...don't be afraid to test out new platforms that may work best for you.

Have fun exploring these gems!

Billy Rae