Here's a few useful links, tools and articles which I've found to be extremely helpful since becoming self employed. As a creative, I want to spend as much time creating as I can, and any tool, book or resource that can help me do this I find extremely useful, and possibly so will you.
CreativeBoom, gives inspiration, tips, resources and interviews all revolving around the creative industries. A little while back they had an article entitled ‘How to get your work featured on 45 of the best, art, design and photography blogs’ which I reckon has got be worth a read for most.
Theres a series of books from 99u which is a creative initative from Behance to provide education for creatives. I think you may see these referenced on a few blogs, so far Ive read Manage your Day-to-Day and for those that are self employed, its given me some really valuable advice on time management, and allowing me to focus more effectively. The other books in the series are Make your Mark and Maximise your Potential, Making Ideas Happen, and all are focused on giving business, marketing, and thinking advice for creatives. Their website can be found here
LINKS & SOFTWARE
When looking for new photography equipment, specifically cameras and lenses, my first port of call is Ken Rockwell. With in-depth tests of equipment and comparisons Ken does an excellent job of summing up equipment prior to your purchase. For second opinions, try out Snapsort (good comparisons), and also Shotkit. Shotkit is probably worth a look in itself, as it offers reviews from Professional photographers, and they even do a book allowing you to see what different professional photographers use.
Personally I find it very time consuming keeping up with what's happening on twitter and other social media, although I do still this to an extent i've now started to use Feedly, which is a blog reader. Recently Ive streamlined my emails too by cancelling loads of newsletter subscriptions, and have instead added blogs to my chosen feed reader service.
When I first started my business I made the change from using Photoshop exclusively to manage and edit my photographs. As anyone will know whos used it, it really is an excellent piece of software. But its not in any way workflow centric, which when youre managing many images on a regular basis you really need. I still use Photoshop and Illustrator when creating layouts for website design. But when it comes to photography, particularly as I really would like the images to be naturalistic, Lightroom is really a step forward. Takes a little time to get used, but its definitely worth it. Particularly as photographers who dont need things like Illustrator, only need to pay around £9.00 per month for Photoshop & Illustrator. Many don't like the payment model, but at that price its a bit of bargain really.
I think many small business owners would agree that times becomes very precious, and quite scarce at times. Ive personally found it difficult to keep up with the day to day studio work, whilst also posting to social media. Ive just begun to use Co-Schedule, which if you already use WordPress for your website, is really excellent as it syncs with your website or blog and allows you to use your blog content and push it out to your social media channels. It does this via a user friendly, visual calendar that you can fill up with posts, as you get time to do so. I must say though recently i've struggled to keep with that too, so have switched to IFTTT, which stands for If This Then That. It's a great system that has presets, where it will echo an action you make across, in this case other social media platforms. It's really worth a look for time saving.
I have purchased alot of equipment since starting my business, and i've used Wex Photographic quite extensively. The great thing is they do used equipment too. Photography equipment is not the cheapest thing in the world by any means, and for certain items it doesn't always matter if they're brand new or not.
Certainly if you're wishing to become a professional photographer that's one thing, but if you're wanting to photograph your own products then there's a limit to how much you'd be willing to invest.