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 most important part of design is not design

Personify Shop 's new branding on their product tag!

Personify Shop's new branding on their product tag!

I run into this in my own work daily. I do my best to create wonderful designs that keep audiences engaged. Designs that spark connection and inspire action. 

But - the most important part of my job is not my design.

It's what that the design does.

When we design a logo, the most important thing is getting that logo on a business card / on your website / on your sales sheet / on your email header / on your product tag so you can go do the work with confidence.

When we design a line sheet, the most important thing is getting that line sheet printed, packed in a box with samples and in the mail to your retail stores.

When we design an annual report, the most important thing is getting that annual report into your donor's hands to show them how their money made an impact.

We could spend hours agonizing over the smallest things together, but that font/kerning/color/layout/extra revision is not the most important thing. 

Good designers facilitate forward momentum, while easing doubt and uncertainty. 

Hitting send, mailing it out, passing it along - those are the most important things. Don't forget that! 


Best Creative Business Books of 2016

I am a big, big reader. Dusty prefers skipping the page turning and hearing what I’m learning over dinner. Haha. Even though I love books, I have cracked open a “best selling” business book and found it extremely discouraging. Probably because the way we do business is changing. The people starting businesses are changing. I’ve found the best business books for me are the ones that have heart and soul as the foundation. I’m not one for loads of statistics and graphs. I care more about the why and how. How much and the likelihood of getting your way in business are not at the top of my list. Here are some of our favorite resources that have helped us grow our business in unexpected ways.



Do Purpose - Why brands with a purpose do better and matter more
David Hieatt

(if you struggle with staying inspired)

This book was given to me in a swag bag at a Plywood Retreat. I love opening it up to any page and finding a small piece of encouraging wisdom. It’s a great book if you like to read in small bursts. I could also see it working well if you wanted to go through it as a team. Some great little nuggets in there!



In the Company of Women
Grace Bonney

(if you struggle with feeling alone in your struggle)

YES! All the yes! This book has such a diverse group of women business owners. I love learning about how other women are navigating this lifestyle. Being an entrepreneur seems to have both super glamorous and unglamorous moments. I love that Grace Bonney has collected BOTH experiences and shared them in this beautiful book.

Present Over Perfect


Present over Perfect
Shauna Niequist

(if you struggle with burnout)

I read this book in a period of despair. Is despair to strong a word? I’m not sure. Dusty and I had to navigate some interesting business situations and take a hard look at our process. I was becoming overworked and not really seeing the light at the end. (Have you been there, too?) This was a great book to help me recenter.



Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Greg McKeown

(if you struggle with saying no)

I read this book around the same time I read present over perfect. I feel like this might be the Present Over Perfect for men? I loved the solid evidence that focus can bring greater rewards even if it’s hard to say no to seemingly great opportunities.



How to Style Your Brand
Fiona Humberstone

(if you struggle with staying on brand)

This book helped Dusty and I tighten up our logo and branding design process. It’s full of gorgeous photos and if perfect for a small business owner wanting to learn more about alignment and branding.

What books have you enjoyed lately? Anything I should add to this list?