I get the same few small business questions in my email inbox often. I don't mind, it means I get to feel like an accidental expert in custom rubber stamps and paper stocks (I am not even close). But it also means that it's about time I just shared allllll the info in one post and stuck it on the sidebar (and in my FAQs) so you and I can all save ourselves some email time and just get on to the more exciting parts of small business owning (like ordering business cards and telling Netflix that "YES, I do indeed want to continue watching.") (I'm totally kidding about the Netflix. That was my life...and then I had a kid.)
Below are the online companies I have used and continue to use daily or at least quarterly. I have also linked some tools that help keep this ship running. Many links are affiliate, but all of this stuff (and everything you see on the blog) really does have my stamp of approval. (Speaking of affiliate programs, learn more here.)
Something to note ... some of this stuff was found after tons of searching. Some of this stuff I found immediately and have just stuck with because it works well. I don't doubt there are better processes and better companies out there, but for my size small business (sole proprietor who works out of house) and the amount of inventory I ship (2800 packages last year), I am really pleased with this collection of sources.
Simon Stamp / yes, these are the guys I ordered wholesale from when I sold rubber stamps and they are still the company I use when I want to order custom stamps. You can read more about my custom stamp love affair here.
Sticker Giant / I recently (last year) switched to this company. They make the stickers that go on my packaging (I love that they can print a metallic gold) and they made the stickers I shipped out with the daily goal trackers. The quality is fantastic.
Overnight Prints / I use overnight prints all the time. They make my business cards and thank you cards (which I like because they are 4x6). They have also printed our holiday cards, Ellerie's birth announcements and the MAKE29 print pack. Like their name promises, you can get your order in one day, but you'll pay for that rush. I find that my orders usually take about 10 days and I pay for the cheapest shipping. I get asked a lot what paper stock I use with overnight prints. I always use the general 15pt cardstock and it's a Satin Matte Finish. I rarely get rounded corners but it's an option. There is always a great sale through these guys and I take advantage of that all the time. EDIT from October 2015: I have recently had issues with these guys and was not pleased with my most recent business cards.
Stamps.com / the number one question I get is how I handle shipping. I ship a lot of domestic orders through paypal, but international orders always go through Stamps.com (and are picked up from my front door by the mailman). I have talked about this in detail here.
e.junkie.com / E.junkie is my shopping cart system and I really love what they offer for the price (flat fee each month versus percentage of sales). I do all my own website coding though, so this is part of the reason why it makes sense for me to use them. (More on my shop hosting here.) If you don't code or want to self-host, Etsy, Big Cartel or Shopify are all good options (and probably dozens more).
mailchimp / I use mailchimp to send my newsletter. It's super user-friendly, well-designed and comes with top-notch customer service. However. I am not sure if for my business it's a necessary expense. I have the blog for free promo and I pay $50 a month to send ONE newsletter to 3,354 people who most likely already check in on the blog anyway. Jury is out on this. If you send more emails that I do or have a mailing list that's under 2000, it's a worthwhile investment.
yelp / I use yelp almost daily to find everything from a local letterpress printer to a trademark lawyer. It's shocking how many resources are in your backyard and reading reviews has helped me find some gems.
TOOLS & PROGRAMS
Screenflow / I use a program called screenflow for all the videos you see on the blog that just look like my computer screen. It's not cheap, but it works. These videos are great for both ecourses and for helping promote things like my digital stamps.
iMovie / I do my video editing with iMovie, a free program that comes with Mac.
Canon Rebel Xsi / This is my current camera and 99% of the time I use this lens. I would love to upgrade to a Canon 5D this year. I just need to get up the guts (and the funds) to make that large purchase.
Walcom Tablet / I use this to add handwriting to graphics or to promo pieces like my business cards (or the just start stamp). It took some getting used to, but I love how easy it is to "write" on stuff now.
Canon printer / I partnered with Canon last fall and they sent me three photo printers to use for six sponsored posts. All of the printers I really love (and that is a very non-sponsored comment - if I didn't want to mention it, I wouldn't). My HP printer died the summer before and so I have made this printer my main one for all office printing. It's wireless, which is rad, because I store it across the room and does the job perfectly.
Rotatrim Paper Trimmer / of all the business purchases I have made, this one probably made me feel the most legit. A real, heavy duty, huge paper cutter is a MUST for what I do.
square card reader / on the rare occasion I sell at a craft fair, I use this to process credit card transactions. It plugs into my iPhone headphone jack and connects with an app. It was free (but you do pay CC fees) and is super easy to use.
shipping labels / this is the best price I have found yet.
shipping scale / again, great price. We also use this to weigh our coffee beans. A must for at home shipping.
Any questions? I would love to add to this post and make it a more helpful resource.
And speaking of small business, today on the podcast, I am chatting with Julie of Julie Ann Art about her small business logistics. It's a fun episode and I think I only said "totally" twice this week!! Progress > Perfection, am I right? ;) Please consider subscribing to ELISE GETS CRAFTY in iTunes or stream here.
Other posts you might enjoy:
- q&a on the shop and small business
- three things I know to be true / small business related.
- Confessions of an Entrepreneur
- big small business changes.
- Q & A : general questions.
- BUILDING A BUSINESS / the ebook!
- how my work days roll
- reader question : online shop hosting.
- creative books I always return to.
- how to launch a podcast.