10 Best Productivity Apps For Entrepreneurs & Business Owners

10 Best Productivity Apps For Entrepreneurs & Business Owners


Apps may not seem significant enough to make a major impact on your day-to-day operations, but when you find that one app that just solves all the pain points you didn’t even know you had, you can then 10x your productivity and work smarter, not harder, while powering through your day. This article rounds up 10 of the best productivity apps that are essential for entrepreneurs and business owners. If you’re looking for that app that’s going to help you work smarter, you’ve come to the right place.

10 Best Productivity Apps for Entrepreneurs

In our 18 Smartphone Apps to Manage Your Business on the Go article we discussed the best productivity apps to have on your smartphone, but these are the 10 best productivity apps you can download straight to your desktop. Some of these are web apps you can also use from your browser, but we recommend downloading their native Mac or PC apps for full productivity and capabilities.

CloudApp

CloudApp Productivity App

There is no other app like CloudApp that works so efficiently and effectively in all aspects of screen capturing and recording. This is one of the best productivity apps you can use for your business because it will maximize the effectiveness of your team’s communication (or any communication you do with any person you touch base with throughout the day) by tenfold.

CloudApp simplifies visual communication which is essential for teams that need to communicate clearly and quickly with one another. Capture screenshots and make annotations, create screen recordings to share with your team, add notes and comments onto other captures your team has created and download and share straight from the cloud.

This app will boost your productivity by saving you the time and effort of typing out emails or scheduling calls to explain any edits you need to be done to a project by powering you with the tools and sharing capabilities to communicate with videos, recordings, and screenshots. Their pricing models are very accessible, so we suggest trying this app out to see what it can do to optimize your business communication.

Check out CloudApp


ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN Productivty App

The importance of using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) cannot be overstated, and as we discussed in our How to Bulletproof Your Online Business article, it becomes even more imperative when you’re not only dealing with your own information but your customers’ as well.

Using a VPN is essential, and ProtonVPN is the best VPN service we’ve used thus far. As VPN services should, they route your internet traffic through an encrypted VPN tunnel so your confidential information stays safe, but what makes them stand out from other VPN providers is that they’re based in Switzerland which has some of the world’s strongest privacy laws which help protect your data even further and they also offer a free version of their VPN service which is subsidized by the paid users. Their free plan still safeguards your information the exact same way it does for the premium plans, it just lacks some of the premium features.

ProtonVPN is one of the best productivity apps you can use for your ecommerce business because it’s a simple and cost-effective way to take action on protecting sensitive information and data that’s not only your own but your customers’ as well.

Check out ProtonVPN


Bear

Bear Writing App for Productivity

Taking notes, writing documents, creating captions, and jotting to-do lists are still very much a part of entrepreneurs’ day-to-day tasks, and although many of us may not physically be writing every note down with a pen and paper, we continue to make notes digitally. Bear is a note-taking app for iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and although it does take notes, it does so much more than just that and it does it very well.

Bear is a sophisticated note-taking app that gives you the tools to write beautifully on your devices, and it lets you manage your notes your way. Its service is flexible, which makes it ideal for almost every person no matter how, when, where, and why you like to make and take notes.

Use hashtags in Bear to organize your notes, link bodies of work to one another for easy reference, use focus-mode for a no-distractions way to concentrate while you write, and create everything from a simple to-do list to full-blown essays. Not only are the writing capabilities top-notch, but Bear offers beautiful themes and typography options so your notes can match your vision.

Bear is one of the best productivity apps you can use for your business because no matter how you write or how your writing needs to be presented, Bear gives you the tools to make it happen and they make it easy to achieve. They offer a huge list of features that blow other writing tools out of the water, and their pricing model is extremely accessible for entrepreneurs at any price point.

Check out Bear


Product Hunt Toolbar Widget

Product Hunt for Mac Productivity App

As an entrepreneur or ecommerce business owner, part of maximizing your own productivity comes from staying up-to-date with new innovations in the industry, especially when it comes to new products, tools, apps, and services that can help you run your business better. Product Hunt is a service that highlights the best new products, apps, and resources every day, and so their Product Hunt Toolbar Widget is a top recommendation on this list of best productivity apps.

The Product Hunt Toolbar Widget makes it even easier to stay in the know with what the latest products and resources are, and as a business owner who needs to maximize their time, using this toolbar can help you find the best new products every day without taking up too much of your time.

Install the Product Hunt App into your toolbar and start checking out what they curate every day. If you’re anything like us, you’ll find at least one cool new product or resource every day that you want to try out for your business.

Check out the Product Hunt Toolbar Widget


Airtable

Airtable Productivity App

If you’ve read our Content Strategy: The Ultimate Guide to Preparation, Production, Publication & Promotion article, then you’ve already seen us gush about Airtable and why it’s one of the best productivity apps. Essentially, Airtable creates smart spreadsheets, and although that may not sound fun nor interesting, it’s completely changed our business, and our productivity, for the better.

Airtable is the ultimate planning, sharing, scheduling, and collaboration tool and it takes everything that makes spreadsheets boring and inefficient and turns them into works of art.

Airtable spreadsheets include smart features like checkboxes, single and multiple selection options, date and time optimizations, currency functions, URL linking, attachment dropboxes, image storing and so much more. Plus, create multiple tabs in each Airtable base and inter-connect tabs to one another for easy access to information while you navigate.

Airtable also offers calendar views and kanban view functions, plus users can share Airtable bases with others and embed Airtable bases into web pages. The capabilities of Airtable are astonishing, and it’s truly one of the most powerful tools we’ve used and one of those game-changing tools that we don’t know how we worked without.

For a full look into how we manage our content strategy with Airtable and to get a glimpse into the capabilities of Airtable spreadsheets, check out our Ultimate Guide to Content Strategy article.

Check out Airtable


Slack

Slack for Productivity

Slack is another one of the best productivity apps we’ve ever used, not only for its communication functions which help our team connect across continents but also for its integration capabilities which make it so much more useful to us than it just being a team member chat room. We discussed the 7 integrations we use with Slack in our 7 Ways to Use Slack to Manage Your Online Business article, so if you’re interested in learning more about how and why we use integrations in Slack, check out that article.

With Slack, we can get an overview of our business at a glance and see information reported from our integrated apps such as when our content gets shared and mentioned across social platforms, when sales are made across our different businesses, our site status to monitor up and downtime, the ability to view and respond to customer support requests from our help desk software without having to actually log into it, and so much more.

Slack helps us keep tabs on our business easily and in one place, which helps us efficiently recognize when tasks need to be attended to and when situations need to be handled if issues arise. It helps us keep a birds-eye view on our business at all times and, for that reason, it’s one of the best productivity apps on our roster.

Check out Slack


ImageOptim

ImageOptim Productivity Apap

We discussed the importance of optimizing images properly in our Optimizing Images for Web: A Practical Guide article because it directly impacts website speed which can majorly affect overall SEO. Images are one of the best ways you can whittle down your site speed because it’s easy to do and something you can stay on top of by using the right tools.

One of the best tools to use in this case is ImageOptim. It’s made our list of the best productivity apps because it’s one of those services that just works, and it makes reducing your image file sizes simple, even for those of us who aren’t experienced in this field.

To use ImageOptim to reduce your image file sizes, simply drag and drop your image files into the app and it’ll crunch them down into a more efficient file size without reducing any of the image’s actual quality. It’s free to use, so download it for yourself and try it! Your images will look the same but it can make major improvements to your site’s overall speed, so you have nothing to lose.

Check out ImageOptim


Neat

Neat Productivity App

One of the best productivity apps any business owner can use is a digital expense tracking software, and one of the best in the industry is Neat. Your business’ finances are the heartbeat of the company, and keeping a close eye on them is important for the longevity of your business. To keep it from taking up too much of your time, Neat simplifies your bookkeeping so you can focus on other things.

Use Neat to organize receipts and invoices, manage expenses, reduce manual data entry, and get real-time visibility into your business’ spending, sales, and expenses. With Neat’s suite of tools, you can oversee your business’ financial health more clearly and it makes filing and reporting income more efficient as well.

Every business needs some sort of accounting process, and Neat is a productivity app that takes the pressure off your day-to-day financial management systems.

Check out Neat


Todoist

ToDoist for Productivity

To-do lists are one of those tried-and-true productivity methods that never go out of style, simply because they work and they help get the job done. Take your paper to-do lists to the next level with Todoist, and create a more advanced list-management system not only for you but for the people you work with.

Todoist can be used individually or in teams, and it’s designed exclusively to help users get more done. It’s one of the best productivity apps on the market, and one of the best digital to-do list apps around, because of its user-friendly interface and reliable features.

Manage to-do lists with teams, create individual lists for each member, assign reminders and due dates, track daily and weekly progress, manage project to-do lists separately, easily move around and toggle tasks, check tasks off as they’re completed, add notes and links, flag tasks by priority and so much more.

With Todoist you can make sure you never miss a thing and that you stay on top of everything you need to accomplish in the day, week, or month without constantly having to keep everything on your mind. Create smart to-do lists for yourself in Todoist and watch your productivity improve.

Check out Todoist


MacClean

MacClean for Productivity

Being more productive is easier when the space around you is clutter and junk-free, and that applies not only to your physical space but your digital space as well.

Many of us entrepreneurs and business owners use Apple computers to conduct our work online, and so to keep your computer optimized for productive work, we recommend using MacClean. MacClean is a service that helps Apple computer users organize their digital space by cleaning out all the extra files and functions that aren’t needed so you can do more with your Mac.

If you can’t locate files easily on your computer or have to dig through a few folders to find the items that you’re looking for, then this service is for you. This service is also important for business owners to use because it protects your personal data from malicious threats by cleaning up cookies, caches, sessions, history, and saved passwords from your internet browser so your personal and professional details aren’t at risk.

You could take the effort to conduct Mac cleaning manually, but that’s not a productive use of your time. MacClean takes the tediousness out of the process by making it a one-click productivity app to clean, optimize, and protect your computer.

Check out MacClean


Bonus: Web2App

Website App Maker

Since this article is all about apps, turn your own website, or your favorite website, into an app with Web2App. This service turns any website into a native Mac or PC app so you can access frequently used websites or URLs more easily.

Save time searching for and switching between different websites by creating native apps for your favorites. Not only can you turn your own site into an app, but you can do the same for other sites like social media platforms, messenger software, or even for the productivity apps we’ve mentioned in this article! The options are endless, and it’s super quick to do.

Turning your top-used websites into native apps on your desktop can take the hassle out of searching for them manually every time you want to use them, and it makes for a much more efficient experience overall. Check out the sample apps on their homepage to see what their service is capable of.

Check out Web2App


Conclusion

There you have our full roundup of the best productivity apps you can use for your online business. Take the time to browse through these apps and get a sense of how they can make your day-to-day operations more efficient. These apps have changed the way we work for the better, and we’re sure they’ll do the same for you.



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Want a Great Personal Brand? Build Someone Else’s First.

Want a Great Personal Brand? Build Someone Else’s First.


On June 2nd, 2014, Gary Vaynerchuk launched a video entitled “Clouds and Dirt.” 

The release itself was not a big deal. Gary had released 1,000 episodes of his first YouTube show by this point. However, the style of the video changed everything. 

For the first time, Gary showed his daily life. “Clouds and Dirt” set the tone for Gary’s future content. Videos like this one earned him millions of followers, many of which consume Gary’s wisdom every single day.

But Gary Vee isn’t the hero of this story. The man behind the camera is. 

David Rock (known now as “D Rock”) made his debut for Gary with this video. He made a pitch, and then he delivered. Gary hired him on the spot. Without D Rock, you’d probably never hear of Gary Vee.

Sadly, D Rock’s story is often forgotten. We gravitate more to the Gary Vees of the world than we do the D Rocks. For this reason, it’s easy to believe you’re an idiot if you don’t build your own personal brand. 

The problem with this belief is that… well… it’s wrong. 

Here are five reasons to ignore your personal brand and grow someone else’s instead.

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You Actually Become Good at Something (Instead of Faking It)

“The temptation of the age is to look good without being good.” 

Spiritual writer Brennan Manning wrote that. Pretty good observation, right? Except Brennan Manning wrote that in 1989. He had no idea just how powerful that temptation would become. 

The best personal brands are built around people who get this are actually good at something. Seth Godin consulted big companies and started his own. Shawn Stevenson trained for years to be able to understand scientific studies on health and nutrition well enough to explain them to the average person. Brene Brown got doctorates and led her own research teams. 

Nobody is famous for being famous, not even the Kardashians.

When you manage someone else’s personal brand, you have to master many areas: copywriting, photography, social media, time management, storytelling. These are all real skills that you pick up much faster when you are learning them for someone else.

You See the Real Results in Person

Usain Bolt captured the hearts and imaginations of track stars around the world by winning three gold medals in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympic Games. He shocked the world and smashed Olympic records along the way

Bolt’s performance (and heroic pose) is unforgettable. What often drifts unseen throughout memories, though, is the performance of the entire Jamaican team. 

Jamaica earned more medals than any other country other than the United States and Kenya over these three Olympic events. Given that over 70 countries compete in the Summer Games, this is no small feat.

running track starting point

How did the rest of the team perform so well?

Simple. They watched greatness in action.

The Jamaican track team did not train against a clock or a coach or a random YouTube video. They ran beside the fastest man in the world day after day. It is one thing to know a great feat can be done in theory. It’s another thing entirely to watch a person perform that feat right before your very eyes. 

When you succeed in growing a personal brand once, it’s much easier to do it again. 

You Can Be More Objective

Writing articles, filming videos, and recording podcasts all require a level of emotional engagement that often blocks you from reviewing your work effectively. You can’t read the label on your own jar.

When you’re watching someone else attempt to build a brand, two things become immediately apparent: what’s working to build the brand and what isn’t. You easily know what to do more of and what to stop entirely. This sort of objectivity is difficult to achieve alone. 

Freed from the agony of emotional attachment, you also help your partner learn more about herself. Together, you can iron out more kinks than either of you could alone. 

You Can Harness the Power of Two

If you are familiar at all with the Star Wars films, the name “George Lucas” means a lot to you. The person who deserves at least as much credit for birthing this science fiction staple is George’s first wife: Marcia Lucas. 

Marcia was an Academy Award-winning editor and George’s secret weapon. Though George had big dreams, Star Wars never would have been the unforgettable movie it is without Marcia. 

Mark Hamill (who played Luke Skywalker) even went so far to say that it was Marcia who was “really the warmth and the heart” of those films.

Great work is almost always done by two people at minimum. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Vincent and Theo Van Gogh. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. All of these pairs are responsible for critical artifacts of the human race. There is no chance any one of them could have made great work alone. 

You Learn That You Can Live Without Credit

woman's back

When I worked a dull office job, I had one goal: Make my boss look good. I didn’t care about padding my resume or impressing anyone. Anything she asked for received all my attention and time. No matter who was really responsible for our success, I gave her all the credit. 

Over time, she gained more sway in the organization. People started seeking her out for projects. She’d show up, nod, smile, and then come back and ask if I’d be able to execute on her vision. 

Nobody cared about me, but I didn’t feel ignored. I felt powerful.

As it turned out, I didn’t need the whole company to know I was doing a good job. I only needed her to know what I could do.

When you show up and simply do the job you came to do without seeking credit, a weird thing happens. You start getting credit anyway. Eventually, people will seek out the team behind a successful person. They ask questions. They poke around. By constructing the castle of another person, you build an empire all your own.

Final Thoughts

We live in an era where many people are driven by the question: “How do I get what I want?” Personal brands seem like the ultimate answer to that. They aren’t. If you build a platform on nothing, you end up with nothing. 

Instead, set your ego aside and ask this question: “How can I help a person I admire win big?” 

David Rock didn’t have an interesting life. But he knew Gary Vaynerchuk did. He saw a gap in Gary’s strategy and offered to fill it. Gary fell in love with the idea and the rest is history. 

Now for the best part: 

Though he barely shows his face on camera, D Rock now has 150,000 followers on Instagram himself. He is known not only among filmmakers but by nearly everyone who follows Gary. In other words, D Rock became a celebrity by making someone else a celebrity.

Don’t get caught up in the false allure of easy fame. Do the work. Then reap the rewards.

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Todd Brison

Todd Brison

Todd Brison is an author. Check out toddbrison.com to learn more.



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Four Ordinary Areas of Focus to Help You Have an Extraordinary Day

Four Ordinary Areas of Focus to Help You Have an Extraordinary Day


I am completely average. Although when I made the bed this morning, my wife said she “only had to fix it a little bit,” so things are looking up.

People write blog posts that say things like, “If I can do it, so can you!” The “it” in question is often an NYT best-selling book, a massive online following, or a TED Talk. Those things often feel out of reach, even if I am reading them from an “ordinary guy.”

I have done a few extraordinary things, but I forget them often. Thank goodness for profile bios and blurbs.

It’s tough to focus on long-term accomplishments. It’s also not very fun. I’d much rather have a single good day. Weeks and months are hard, but I can handle 24 hours.

By sheer dumb luck, the road to accomplishing anything extraordinary is simply a series of good days. Rather than dream of where you could be in months, why not, instead, tackle the only increment of time within your grasp a single day.

My single days are spent focusing on four pillars.

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Faith

Most people hear the word “faith” and think of capital-F “Faith” only. Although this is important, neglecting lowercase “faith” is a mistake. Faith is the sidekick of hope. Both are important to hold on to if you want a chance at having an extraordinary life.

Faith says: “Life can be better than it is right now.” Refusing to believe that leads to a hard life.

Faith without hope is a good thing. It means you will be a wonderful supporter. I have yet to find a person who does not need someone to believe in them. But without faith, it is impossible to have hope. Hope casts a vision. Faith makes it real.

People talk about “having” faith as if you find it on the side of the road. Not true. You can grow your faith. The quickest way to make this happen is to keep tiny commitments to yourself. “Tiny” is the key word here. Say you’re going to get up at 6 A.M. instead of 6:30, and then actually do it. Commit to walking half a mile in the morning, and then make that happen.

If you can’t have faith in anything else, have faith in you.

Fitness

fitness tracker image

You have one sack of bones and organs to get through this life. Why wouldn’t you want to treat it as well as possible?

If you’re like me, you hear the word “fitness” and imagine some ripped dude climbing walls or doing 1,000 pushups in an hour. That was interesting to me at 20. At 30, I’m happy to settle for practical fitness. Luckily, practical fitness is much easier. Anyone can be practically fit.

Practical fitness looks like this: 

  • Breathe deeply through your nose as often as possible. 
  • Take 20 minutes out of your day and walk a mile.
  • Whenever you get a phone call, stand up, and walk around the room.
  • Eat a kiwi (it’s loaded with health benefits and tastes better than a banana).

Although your body takes cues from your brain, the opposite is also true. You don’t have to “treat your body like a temple” in order to be practically fit. If you walk around more than you sit, if you eat more nutritious foods than junk, if you poop once per day, you’re doing great.

Don’t believe what you see in the movies. To do your best work, you’ll have to be in your best shape.

Family

You’ve probably been around your family more than ever this year. Trust me, it’s far better than the opposite.

In 2020, everyone is getting more of what they already had. Those with incredible relationships are thriving from them now. Those who let their marriages and children fall by the wayside in previous years are… well… they’re learning now that was a mistake.

It can be difficult to focus on family relationships. There are no metrics. God knows we don’t need any. Can you imagine walking into your bedroom and saying to your partner: “Hey, if you have 30 minutes, can you fill out this performance review? You’ll be ranking me on my cleanliness, thoughtfulness, and sexual prowess. Starting today, I’ll be giving you one of these per quarter.”

Yuck.

Most people who get divorced aren’t surprised by it. Don’t pretend you can’t feel it when your relationships aren’t clicking full speed. When my wife Kate and I are not on the same page, nothing else goes right.

That’s why I spend most of my day trying to take things off her plate. I do dishes, laundry, and shopping. These are boring, menial tasks. But I’d much rather do them now than go through a not-boring and very stressful divorce later.

Finances

Money shouldn’t drive your life, but it should fuel it.

Do you have to be money hungry? No. Do you have to know how money lives, breathes, and works? Yes.

This sounds backward, but the more financially educated you are, the less you have to make in order to survive. Financial guru Robert Kiyosaki claims to live on “only $100,000” per year and that he isn’t interested in making any more. Kanye West was right: “Money isn’t everything, not having it is.”

For the past three years, I’ve been tracking the amount of money I make per day, not per month or per year. This shift helps me keep a better grasp on where my time is going and where my money is flowing. It’s fun to make $200 in a single day. It’s way more fun to do that when you haven’t done a single minute of work. That’s normally a perk reserved for employees who slave away 50 weeks out of the year so they can “vacation” for two of them.

To tell the truth, I don’t like to think about money much. It’s much easier to learn a little, plan a little, and then stick to that plan. Coordinate with your family and work toward having as much financial freedom as possible.

Final Thoughts

Planning for the long term is a good thing, but in order to execute any long term plans, you need to have a series of good days. As a reminder, all my good days are driven by the following four ordinary areas of focus:

  • Faith
  • Fitness
  • Family
  • Finances

Do I have an extraordinary day every time I work on these four areas? No. Some days I still feel like I’m stuck in the rat race, going nowhere. However, before I made these areas a focal point in my life, the best I could hope to feel like was a rat wandering aimlessly, changing direction every time he smelled some cheese.

Instead of throwing yourself at the mercy of whatever comes next in this crazy world, stay focused, stay balanced, and keep moving. 

After all, you can only live one day at a time.

Discover thousands of products you can start selling online. No commitment, no credit card required.

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Want to Learn More?

Todd Brison

Todd Brison

Todd Brison is an author. Check out toddbrison.com to learn more.



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How to Start a Jewelry Making Business: The Ultimate Guide

How to Start a Jewelry Making Business: The Ultimate Guide


After college, I designed textile necklaces as a side gig to my creativity-sapping day job. Jewelry making was good busy work for idle hands. But when my handcrafted masterpieces started to garner repeated compliments from friends, I wondered, “Could my hobby become a legitimate business?”

Jewelry making is a viable low investment business for hands-on creatives, but crafting skills aren’t required—making jewelry one of the top things to make and sell online. Or, perhaps you’re DIY-stunted but have an incredible online business idea based on an untapped audience.

Whatever your motivation or skill level, starting a jewelry-making business comes with its own set of considerations and complications. For one thing: It’s crowded out there.

In the U.S., alone, the jewelry industry generates a hulking $70 billion dollars yearly in sales, with the lion’s share in fine jewelry. Talk about bling. It’s a saturated market but there’s still wiggle room for newcomers with a new niche or fresh take to an old school craft.

If you want to know how to make jewelry into a profitable business, this post is for you. We’ll explore jewelry making businesses from conception and design to production and marketing. This go-to guide includes advice from the pros, tactical takeaways, and examples from established Shopify stores.

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Table of Contents

Starting a jewelry business: Finding your angle

One of the first questions to ask yourself is: fine or fashion? Or maybe your interest lies somewhere in between. Each category has its own materials, production processes, price points, and customer profiles:

Fashion or costume jewelry is:

  • Trendy
  • Made of inexpensive metals and materials (bead, wire, plated metal, plastic, synthetic gems, etc.)
  • A lower price point, sometimes mass-produced
  • For the everyday or trendsetting customer

Example: ribbon choker with plated silver pendant.

Fine jewelry is:

  • Made with precious and semi-precious metals and gems
  • A higher price point
  • Made with excellent craftsmanship
  • For the luxury/wedding/special occasion customer

Example: diamond engagement ring.

Other/in-between:

  • This category covers everything else from mid-range materials (or high-low mix of textile, metals, gems, wood, 3D printing, acrylic, etc.) to jewelry defined as art (collectible, ooak) or craft (highly skilled craftsmanship)
  • Emphasis on design and uniqueness
  • Price point varies but usually mid-range
  • Occasion/statement, design-savvy/collector/gift-giving customer

Example: structural laser cut acrylic statement necklace.

Biko's Jewelry
Biko‘s jewelry sits somewhere in between costume and fine, selling high-quality designs made for everyday wear.

Once you’ve narrowed down the broad category for your jewelry business, it’s time to carve out a niche for your products. Start by defining your ideal customer (classic, trendsetter, brides, socially conscious consumers, etc.), and decide whether your products are occasion-specific (wedding, party, everyday, etc.) This will determine how you market them to your audience.

Trends

Researching trends is one way to determine (and validate) your chosen direction. Read fashion and jewelry blogs daily to stay on top of trends for each upcoming season.

The Cut London
The Cut London has a blog that supports their ecommerce site, where they talk about trends and highlight influential designers and experts.

From Google Trends, you can see broad global search for a particular term. Here’s one good example of a current upward trend in jewelry:

Alternately, you might offer a customizable experience (engraving, etc.), take an ethical stance, or cash in on memes or pop culture references.

Erica Weiner's heart necklaces
One of Erica Weiner’s most popular products, customers can personalize the engraved messages on one or both sides of these heart necklaces.

But you don’t have to just follow trends; you could also use your jewelry business to start them. That’s what Biko founder and designer Corrine Anestopoulos did, launching her collection based on personal style. “Somehow I felt like just by fluke I found a market for something new without meaning to, but it was just my taste,” she says.

“In the beginning, I was doing a brassy finish. Nobody else was doing that,” Anestopoulos says, noting that shiny silver was the trend at the time. Now, her collections evolve with trends in the industry every year, though the common thread is a recognizable look that defines her brand, and secures repeat business.

“I call my aesthetic ‘modern nostalgic.’ I used to work with a lot of vintage found pieces, mostly pendants that were from places in Africa or somewhere in India—old pieces that had a story to share,” says Anestopoulous. “I still try to stay true to that when I’m designing, but lately I’m leaning more towards a few more modern minimal pieces. That’s also what’s trending, but at the same time, I like to think I’m doing it in my way.”

Learn More: How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis for Your Business

Finding design inspiration

Success as a newbie in any facet of the fashion industry depends on strong aesthetic, unique design/product, and consistent branding. Before working with a designer to develop your branding and before designing individual pieces, run through a few exercises to define your overall signature.

Camille Enrico bold aesthetic bracelet
Camille Enrico jewelry is known for its unique, bold aesthetic—giving each piece instant recognizability and cohesiveness with the rest of the designs.

Depending on how you like to get inspired, you may set up Pinterest boards, design your own digital mood boards, or even assemble inspiration physically on a bulletin board or in a sketchbook.

Clip ideas from fashion and jewelry blogs. Collect images, colors, and textures from nature, architecture, fashion, or travel, and then identify themes that emerge. Never stop being inspired, says Anestopoulous. “I’m always drawing inspiration, collecting inspirational images, no matter where I am.”

DCW design blog
Art director/designer Daniel C. Wiggins maintains the DCW Design blog, where you can check out his own collection of vision boards to use as a starting point.

Branding

Once you’ve established your products’ aesthetic and nailed your customer profile, it should be easier to identify an overall look that will define your brand.

On the low-cost end, you can set up a basic Shopify store with a free theme and develop the logo yourself using a free online logo-maker. Keep in mind that you’ll still want to reserve budget for professional product photos. We’ll discuss the importance of photography for jewelry later in this post.

For larger budgets, work with a designer to translate your vision into a full branding package for your business—from the logo and website to packaging and marketing materials. Peruse the portfolios of Shopify Design Experts to find a designer whose work resonates with your tastes.

The Loop, a site where designers like Olivia King can post their portfolios for potential clients to browse.
Check out The Loop, a site where designers like Olivia King (pictured here) can post their portfolios for potential clients to browse.

Remember, branding is more than just the look of your brand. It also encompasses your voice, vision, and your brand story. Fashion purchases are often emotional, and emerging brands can win customers by connecting on a personal level. Tell your story through your about page, inject yourself into your social media posts, and share the process and inspiration behind your designs.

Jewelry brand Claurette's step-by-step design process
Jewelry brand Claurete has a page on their site dedicated to sharing the step-by-step process of how their designs come to life.

For Cred Jewellery, ethical practices and materials are at the core of the brand. The copy on the site repeats this message consistently. Phrases like “fairtrade,” “lab-grown,” and “ethical” are sprinkled throughout.

Cred Jewelry's page about sustainability and the Peruvian mining community they support
Cred Jewellery shares its dedication to sustainability throughout their site, as well as with a prominent featuring about the Peruvian mining community they support on the company about page.

Product design

Accurate sketches or 3D renderings of your designs are necessary if you’re hiring assembly staff or outsourcing to a manufacturer. There are several options, depending on your skill level and budget:

3DM Jewelry Design Studio's coaching and courses to learn to design your own jewelry
3DM Jewelry Design Studio has coaching and courses you can use to learn how to design your own jewelry.

Production and materials

How you’ll develop your products—by hand or in a factory, at home, or outsourced—depends on the complexity of the design, price point, materials, and skill level. Let’s break it down into three core categories:

  1. Fine/art jewelry
  2. Fashion/costume jewelry
  3. Outsourcing jewelry production

Production: fine/art jewelry (handcrafted, custom, and one-of-a-kind)

Handcrafting jewelry can be one of the most involved yet personal and versatile of the production methods. Depending on materials and design, some methods of jewelry production require specialized training/certification and expensive equipment. These methods include:

  • Soldering
  • Silver/goldsmithing
  • Casting
  • 3D printing
  • Laser cutting
  • Leather tooling
  • Weaving
  • Gemstone setting.

If you’re not sure the route you want to go, consider starting with free online classes. Once you know which area you want to study, you can invest in a paid option to further your skillset. We’ll list a few great options in a bit.

Production: fashion/costume

Handmade costume jewelry often involves the assembly of existing elements—chain, wire, beads, cast pendants, etc.—and doesn’t require special training or equipment beyond pliers, jewelry hammers, glue, and wire cutters.

This type of business is easier to scale, as you can purchase elements in bulk and templatize assembly to outsource it to interns or staff.

Production: outsourcing & fulfillment

Rather than making the jewelry with your own hands, you can have your designs manufactured by someone else. This isn’t ideal for fine, custom, or OOAK jewelry, but it can be cost-effective for fashion jewelry produced in larger quantities. There are two main options for outsourcing:

The most hands-off production method involves sending your designs with Oberlo or Modalyst, or a print-on-demand app, Printful. Your original designs are recreated in stainless steel, wood, plastic, gold, and silver and shipped directly to your customers.

Equipment and tools

There are several online resources for wholesale jewelry making equipment, tools, and supplies including precious gemstones and raw metals.

Get started here:

Gillian Johnson of Hawkly jewelry relies heavily on word-of-mouth when it comes to her wholesale suppliers. “Don’t be afraid to ask other designers where they find their supplies,” she says.

She also attends trade shows and industry events to continue to expand her network and discover new materials. “My favorite place to source the newest stones and silver findings is the Tucson Gem and Jewelry Show,” Johnson says. “There are thousands of vendors from all over the world.”

Education resources

If you elect to learn how to make jewelry via a specialized skill like gem setting, there are plenty of jewelry education resources, including formal classes and online tutorials. Look for local workshops and programs, or start with these online resources:

Workspace and team

If you elect to make the jewelry in-house, you’ll need a workshop space for you and your team. When setting up this space, consider the following:

  • Maneuverability. Consider the flow of the space, especially if the assembly has multiple steps—do you move from one station to the next in a logical sequence?
  • Safety. Some chemicals or tools involved in jewelry making require proper ventilation and safety precautions.
  • Storage. Well-organized multi-compartment storage is essential for small parts.

“A jeweler’s bench, a flex shaft, and your safety would be the most important considerations,” Johnson says. “The flex shaft is a wonderful and versatile tool that you can use for drilling, finishing, and polishing your pieces.” She also advises using a face mask and safety goggles—and for those with long hair pull it back so it doesn’t get caught.

If your production team is larger or your requirements are a little more complex—as with metal work or silversmithing workshops—consider commercial space outside of the home. If it’s out of your budget at launch, look into co-op studio space or share the costs of space and equipment with other creatives. Johnson splits her studio with two other businesses.

Space sharing also helps combat entrepreneur isolation, something Anestopoulos is familiar with herself. “After doing Biko full-time for a while, I ended up working at American Apparel once a week just to not be lonely at home in my studio, to meet people and get out in the world.”

Hiring

Anestopoulos now has a rotating team of part-time interns and assembly staff. As you scale your jewelry business, determine the parts of the operation you enjoy most and tap into your own strengths. Hire around those to fill in the gaps.

Anestopoulos reaches out to local universities with renowned fashion communication programs to find her interns. “I don’t ever look for anyone who’s interested in design; what I need is someone to help me free up my time so that I can be designing more,” she says. “I always look for people interested in the management side of running a fashion business.”

Not ready to make a full-on hire? Start by using a virtual assistant service to alleviate some of the mundane aspects of the business.

Product photography for jewelry

We’ve said it many times before: Product photography can make or break your online store. In many cases, with a very simple lighting setup, you can achieve great DIY on-white photos of your products, even with your smartphone.

Jewelry, however, can be a little more challenging due to its tiny details and reflective surfaces.

“Don’t skimp on photography,” Anestopoulos says, even if you’re on a budget. A professional photographer is skilled at making models feel comfortable and setting up complicated lighting. Other additions to your photoshoot team include stylists, makeup artists, and assistants. While working with skilled people will yield better results, it doesn’t have to blow your budget.

Working with professionals includes the models in the shots too. Even if you have a friend who you think fits the bill, it’s better to hire someone with experience. “People who are pretty in real life are not necessarily photogenic,” says Anestopoulos. “Find a model who’s actually a model.”

“Real” models don’t have to break the bank either. “There are always people who are looking to build their book or willing to work for product,” she says. “It’s not about taking advantage of people—you’re all new to the game. If you get a group together, join forces, you can create magic together.”

When shooting your photos, it’s also important to offer two different views and angles of your products:

  • On white. Minimizes distraction and highlights the details and different angles of the piece; offers a clean, consistent look on collection pages. (Note “white” can also mean another solid color or minimal pattern, like the marble in the example below).
  • Lifestyle. Shows scale on the body and suggests styling ideas to customers (often great for upselling—you can nudge customers to combine multiple pieces into one look). These shots can work on product pages or in a lookbook, and are generally better for social media posts.
Wolf & Moon's combination of product photography with and without models
Wolf & Moon uses a combination of white background photography without models, and contextual shots featuring the jewelry on humans.

Looking for more ways to cut costs? Partner with complementary apparel brands to reduce photography expenses, or lend your pieces to fashion editors for photoshoots in return for product photos and exposure.

Additional reading:

Building your online storefront

Now that you have your products, branding, and photography nailed down, let’s put it all together. In a matter of hours, you can set up a functioning ecommerce store on Shopify.

Consult Shopify resources to help with initial basic setup of your store. But first, sign up for a free trial:

 

Choose a theme that complements jewelry, putting the photography first. A Shopify Design Expert can help you tweak any theme, customizing it to your specific needs. Here are a few theme suggestions for jewelry businesses:

The Birds N Bones design emphasizes big visuals and clean, simple design
The Birds N Bones design, which makes use of the Pipeline theme, emphasizes big visuals and clean, simple design.

There are several add-ons in the Shopify App Store to improve the customer experience, reduce returns, and increase conversions. Here are a couple examples for jewelry businesses:

  • Jewelfie. Allow customers to “try on” jewelry by uploading photos of themselves.
  • Loox – Photo Reviews. Collect and add customer photos reviews to your site.

When it comes to the words on the page, you’ll want to make sure it complements the visual aesthetic you’ve created with your design and product photos. Product descriptions should reflect your brand story and include details like sizing, materials (important for metal allergies), and, if applicable, material sources.

Walker's Jewelers
Walker’s Jewelers has a comprehensive ring sizing guide so customers can purchase the right fit. This also helps reduce returns and exchanges for improperly fitting rings.

How to market your online jewelry business

Fashion and jewelry are heavily saturated industries—how will customers hear your voice above the noise? Where to spend your marketing dollars will depend on your product, audience, and budget, and may require some trial and error.

Anestopoulos put her money on PR and won. Noticing heightened competition in 2011, she invested in a rebrand and then hired a PR firm to get the word out about Biko. “It’s expensive to work with PR but really, really valuable,” she says. “It led to the best press I had to date. I sold $5,000 of one particular bracelet after it was featured.”

Anestopoulous has also had success with Instagram influencers, bartering product for a dedicated post. Before reaching out, she says, be sure your Instagram curation is strong, so that influencers can see if your brand aligns with their own. “Creating a lifestyle around what you do is worth more than anything,” she says.

If you’re not sure how to do that with your Instagram curation, Anestopoulous has some advice. “I recommend posting inspirational images,” she says. “After awhile, you’ll realize that you’re inspired by a similar stream of things and it tells its own story.”

Tip: Try marketing apps like FourSixty‘s Shoppable Instagram & UGC to supercharge your Instagram account, and Kit to simplify Facebook, Instagram, and email marketing.

Pop-up retail and artisan shows

Anestopoulous’s career began when she was invited to share a booth at a local clothing show to sell her creations. At the time, it was simply a hobby. She sold out on day 1 of a 2-day show, validating her designs and helping to turn her hobby into a business.

Small craft shows and pop-ups are not only a great way for emerging brands to gain exposure to built-in audiences and validate an idea—they’re also important for established online businesses, she says.

“I do the One of a Kind Show twice a year, which is a good chance to get out and see customers in person, and get feedback directly,” she says. “Sample sales are fun too; they’re a good way to liquidate older merchandise and also invite people into your space and process.”

Biko uses pop-ups and events to generate buzz
Biko uses pop-ups and event selling for a number of reasons: to move aging stock, build buzz, generate brand awareness, and to simply have fun.

Anestopoulous also grew her business initially through consignment and wholesale agreements, which she gained by approaching local retailers in person. Cold calling has a high rejection risk, but you just need one “yes” to get started.

Wholesale still accounts for approximately 65% of Biko’s overall business, and she now works with large retailers like Nordstrom, Simons, and Hudson’s Bay Company. 

The silver lining

“Jewelry is a very saturated market but I think the best way to stand out is to be authentic, trust your design instincts, and listen to your customers,” says Gillian Johnson of Hawkly.

That said, many successful jewelry designers and merchants made their debut as a side gig. Small-scale production means you can get designing from your kitchen table. Go for gold!


Ready to create your own jewelry business? Start your free 14-day trial of Shopify—no credit card required.





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Finding Happiness and Success Your Own Way

Finding Happiness and Success Your Own Way


We hear about happiness and success everywhere we look.

These themes are in movies, TV shows, books – you name it. We start hearing the messages when we’re just kids. We get all sorts of tips about life and the things we should and shouldn’t do.

And it never really goes away.

We all want to be happy and successful. To look back on our lives when we’re old and gray, and think to ourselves, “Dang. I totally nailed it. I have zero regrets.”

But the problem is that most of us aren’t sure what these words actually mean or how to get there. Some of us are already there and don’t even know it yet!

So what can we do to make sure we’re fitting the pursuit of happiness and success into our daily lives? How can we know for sure that we’re working toward goals that never really feel tangible?

That’s what I’m here to dissect with you.

Let’s look at 7 tips about life that you can use to help find your perfect blend.

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It’s Not Happiness vs. Success – It’s a Balance

balance between happiness and success

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There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there that pits the two against each other. Tips to live a happy life can directly contradict tips to be successful in life.

For example, you might hear a lot of talk about #hustleandgrind. You have to try as hard as you can all the time or you’ll never achieve your goals.

On the flip side, you hear about how important self-care is and how you need to work “smarter not harder” so you can still have time to yourself.

It’s hard to reconcile everything.

Should you push the bounds of exhaustion and misery to find business success? Or should you sacrifice business success (and accept being broke) so you can spend more time doing what you truly love?

The hard part is that there’s no clear answer. And all of this advice holds some truth and value.

But you need to find the right balance for you – not just what some millionaire self-help guru tells you.

With all this in mind, let’s get into tips and life hacks that can help you strike that balance.

1. Define What Happiness and Success Mean to You

Before you get stuck in a vortex of other people’s tips about life, take some time to reflect on your own goals, desires, needs, and values.

Do some fantasizing. What is it that you really want? Think about your wildest dreams as well as your mildest ones.

  • Do you want fame and extravagant fortune?
  • Do you want just enough money to pay your bills while being able to have some vacations and nice things along the way? 
  • Do you want esteem and respect from your peers?
  • Is your main focus not on money at all, but on your virtue and relationships?
  • What keeps you awake at night?
  • What makes your heart race with excitement?

Ask yourself these big questions and work your way down to smaller ones, like the things that make you feel the most joy in your day-to-day life, and one thing that you could change if you had the opportunity.

This kind of reflection might seem obvious, but it’s not something that most of us take the time to really dig into. (I know I didn’t for a long time… and the questions were hard to answer!)

You might find that your goals and values don’t really align with the people you’ve been surrounding yourself with or the things you thought you’ve always wanted.

And that’s totally okay. Dare I say it’s surprisingly normal.

Once you have some revelations – or just confirm where you thought you were all along – you can focus on the life tips and tricks that will help get you there.

2. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Maybe this wasn’t what you were expecting as the first tip. But hear me out. This is incredibly important.

There’s a huge amount of research that shows the physical and mental health benefits of gratitude.

According to Glenn Fox, neuroscientist and gratitude expert at the University of Southern California:

Benefits associated with gratitude include better sleep, more exercise, reduced symptoms of physical pain, lower levels of inflammation, lower blood pressure and a host of other things we associate with better health.

This is one of those secret tips to live a happy life: take some time every day to reflect on what’s already good. When you do this regularly, you’re shifting your mindset at a core level.

This sets you up to be more positive and motivated – and more resilient when things don’t go the way you planned. You might also find that there’s already a lot of happiness and success in your life that you never gave credit to.

Keeping a physical gratitude journal is a great way to make sure you’re making this a daily practice. All you have to do is write down one thing you’re grateful for every day.

It doesn’t have to be a big or poetic thing either. You can say your dog, your computer, your weird-but-fun boss, your friends, your favorite pair of shoes… you get it.

tips about life

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3. Be More Mindful and Self-Aware

Do you ever feel hijacked by your thoughts or emotions to the point where it ruins your day?

Maybe your pitch got rejected or you were blasted by an unhappy customer or you had a fight with your partner. Then you try to focus on all the other million things you need to do, and you just can’t be productive.

It feels like your day is wasted. You’re upset because you’re upset.

It’s a vicious cycle and it’s more common than you might think.

But what if you could stop a bad day in its tracks? What if you could self-soothe and deal with the overload upfront instead of letting it take over?

That’s what a mindfulness and self-awareness practice can help you achieve. Here are some life tips for making that happen, based on Mayo Clinic:

  • Pay more attention. Pause to take in the sights, sounds, and sensations. What does your body feel like? What does your food taste like? What do you see and hear right now?
  • Do breathing exercises. Focus on your breath when you’re feeling worked up. Are you breathing fast? Try to slow it down and feel the air coming in and out for a few minutes.
  • Meditate. Sitting, standing, walking – any meditation is fair game. If you’re not sure where to start, check out my favorite app Ten Percent Happier (they call it “meditation for skeptics,” which feels spot-on for me).
  • Send a thank you note. Write someone a thank you note for something they’ve given you or helped you with. You can even thank your best friend for being awesome. Send your notes as a proper letter or a quick text or email.

4. Use “Habit Stacking” to Build Good Habits

This is one of my favorite tips on how to be successful in life. 

When people struggle with achieving their goals, they’re often having trouble sticking with the habits they want to adopt.

When you’re busy af, it can even feel like too much to add a small goal like meditating for 5 minutes a day, doing 10 pushups, reading 15 pages of a book, or taking 20 minutes to plan your schedule for the day.

Habit stacking is a one of those life hacking tips that tricks your brain into being more productive.

To habit stack, group together whatever small habits you want to add to your daily routine. That way, they become one habit instead of a bunch of small ones.

The key here is to start with just one or two new habits, then build onto it later with more habits once the routine has become a solid part of your day.

habit stacking tips about life

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To learn more about habit stacking and apply it to your own awesome life tips, check out this helpful article from Develop Good Habits.

5. Start With the Smallest Doable Step

Sometimes, we have such big, lofty goals – that require so much work and dedication – that we intimidate ourselves into never starting.

Maybe it’s just too much to handle. Maybe we’re scared of failing. Maybe we just flat out don’t feel like doing all the hard stuff.

The good news is that learning how to be successful in your life starts with baby steps. Look at a big goal and break into steps. If those steps still feel too big, break it into even smaller steps.

Still too big? Go on… make them smaller. 

Then commit to doing just one right now and see where it goes.

This is one of those life changing tips for me. You can apply it to pretty much anything:

  • Want to start a dropshipping business but you’re overwhelmed by all the information? Start today by signing up for a free Shopify and Oberlo account. You can think about what to sell tomorrow.
  • Want to be a marathon runner but feel exhausted after work? Commit to putting on your sneakers and walking just one block. Maybe you’ll get momentum to run a mile. Maybe you won’t.

productive vs unproductive list

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6. Don’t Fall into the Trap of “I’ll be happy when…”

Have you ever made your happiness or success dependent on something that doesn’t exist yet? Things like:

  • I’ll be happy when my business makes $100,000.
  • I’ll be happy when I can buy my dream house.
  • I’ll be happy when I get that promotion.
  • I’ll be happy when this project is over.

While this if/when mindset can be seen as perfectly healthy goal-setting, it can also have a dark underbelly.

There’s the obvious risk of the long-term or more audacious goals never happening. But there’s also the more insidious risk: you might be so focused on reaching a certain goal that you never stop to enjoy and celebrate the little wins. 

And if you do hit those milestones, you’re likely to just set a higher one instead of stopping to enjoy what you’ve accomplished.

This is part of our “never enough” culture – it can be wildly rewarding, but it can also set us up to never really enjoy our lives and what we have right now.

It can also add a whole lot of extra stress and feelings of inadequacy to our days.

Pay attention to these kinds of thoughts and try to make sure they’re counter-balanced. Gratitude is a great way to do that.

easy life tips

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7. Go Easy on Yourself During the Hard Times

When your to-do list is a mile long, it’s common to fall short. Sometimes you’re in a rut and fall short for days, weeks, or even months at a time.

This is completely normal. What’s also completely normal is the tendency to beat yourself up when it happens.

But there’s a lot of research that shows that people who show themselves more compassion are more likely to succeed in the long run.

Here’s what The University of California, Berkeley says:

Research shows that when people treat themselves kindly, rather than critically, they are more likely to believe they can improve, correct mistakes, and re-engage with goals after veering off course. In contrast, self-criticism is linked to procrastination, stress, and rumination—none of which motivates people to continue pursuing a goal.

Simply put: self-compassion sets you up for more happiness and success in life.

Instead of beating yourself up every time you don’t meet your goals, give yourself some credit for the hard work you’re putting in, and accept that some days just aren’t going to be amazing.

self compassion

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In a world where you’re constantly doing too much and not enough at the same time, you’re the only person who can define your own happiness and success.

While some people think that success is what makes happiness, I think that you need to cultivate your own happiness as a springboard into success.

When you can get yourself into the right mindset, that’s where you can unleash the power of human potential and do absolutely incredible things.

But to do this, you’ll need to take in the bad with the good. To accept your failures just as you accept your victories. To make sure you’re taking care of your mental and physical health while you hustle and grind on your financial health.

When you strike this delicate-but-powerful balance, there’s no stopping you.

Discover thousands of products you can start selling online. No commitment, no credit card required.

Get Oberlo Now. It’s Free.

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Amanda Gaid

Amanda Gaid

Amanda Gaid is a digital marketer and copywriter who helps brands create awesome content that drives engagement and better business. As a seasoned digital nomad, her trusty laptop is her best friend.





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