resources for designers

5 Best Design Resources for Non Designers

This is a semi-followup from last week's post on slowing down. Many of our clients work with us for branding and web to get their brand off the ground. Then armed with their brand guide and some consulting, they are able to handle most of the day to day marketing stuff in house. (Go team!) Then we get to work with them again on bigger projects like line sheets, annual reports and bigger marketing efforts. It's been a really nice flow for us!

Here's a few of the resources I find myself recommending time and time again:

Free Stock Photo Sites

Images are everything. At some point you will want your own branded photography, but for now you might be able to get away with free stock photos. There are some wonderful stock photo sites out there, and this article, Stock Photos That Don't Suck, has a bunch. Our personal favorites are Unsplash and Death to Stock


Canva is an online graphic design tool. It can be a little testy, but it's perfect for putting text over an image for a social post or resizing/reformatting images. They have templates for all sorts of different items. We have several clients using it for those small day to day items!! 


I have used Skillshare to learn so much! Lots of hand lettering, but also how to optimize my Etsy, and a course on Email Marketing. 

If you find yourself doing the same thing over and over, why not search Skillshare and find a class that may teach you how to do it better/faster? I recently made myself a mini chart of new short codes to learn for Illustrator. My thinking is - when you run your own business, lessons come to you. Why not seek some learning out and get ahead? Haha.  


Hands down, Mailchimp is the easiest and most beautiful email marketing software. (Bonus points for being located right here in Atlanta!) (And they just launched free automation for everyone! Yay!)


If you don't have a site yet, or are considering switching, we recommend Squarespace. It's a template site builder, but miles above Wix and the other guys. Their customer service is top notch. (To me that is such a huge selling point.) It also has Gmail and domains built right in. They have so many gorgeous templates to choose from. (This chart can help you spot the differences.) Then you can change out photos and text and reorder pages. Later down the line if you want something more custom, you can team up with a designer.

These have really helped us and our clients grow in marketing and design.

If you feel good about your ability to create what you need, but want help with a game plan - we now offer personalized consulting sessions! We can talk through anything from branding, company naming, web layout, how to tell your brand story, products and customer experience. If that sounds fun, hit us up for a free intro call!

P.S. If you want even more resources, check out this post! It's a mega post!

Top photo of the most amazing pair of boots you will ever wear from The Root Collective / Photo taken by Molly Stillman

The Toolbox: An Ever-Updating List of Resources for Makers + Designers

List of tools and resources for makers and designers. The Toolbox from Mad & Dusty.

Finding the right tools for your small business can be tough! Dusty and I have come across some great resources as we build our business. Welcome to our toolbox! This is a list of tools that have made our lives as makers and designers a whole lot easier! Consider us your encouraging wingwoman/wingman as you break into the freelance dance. We will be constantly updating as we find new things, so check back soon!

(Are we missing the best thing ever? Have a suggestion? Leave a comment below!)

Graphic Design

Email Marketing

  • Mailchimp for intelligent email marketing and easy to design newsletters.

Websites + Portfolios

Writing and Blogging

  • Hemingway Editor for keeping your writing clear and kicking passive voice to the curb. Unless, that's your thing.
  • Headline Analyzer for writing better, clickable headlines.

Social Media

Project Management 

  • Trello for managing a small to medium workload.
  • Asana for when you have a large or heavy workflow.
  • Google Calendar for giving yourself time to work and time to not. 


  • Etsy for small batch makers looking to be part of a community. 
  • Squarespace for when you need simple, beautiful ecommerce.
  • Shopify for when you need both POS and ecommerce. They get a high five for allowing you to sell on Facebook and Pinterest too!

Accounting + Money Management 

  • Freshbooks for time tracking, invoicing and accounting all in one. 
  • Tax Jar for painless sales tax reporting & filing for online retailers. 

Emotional Support and Avoiding Burn Out

So what do you think?! Were you using any of these? Do you know of better versions?