my 5 favorite business apps

1. quickbooks self employed– if I could just paint and create all day, Id be happy. but like it or not, running a business has other facets and finance is one of the trickiest (and most important). quickbooks self employed has been a HUGE asset to my business. it has an incredibly affordable monthly fee and makes it SO easy to: – manage/categorize my expenses and income
– invoice customers
– track mileage
– run financial reports.
when it comes time for tax season, I can give my accountant access to everything and she can take it from there.

2. planoly– my go to app for scheduling my Instagram content.

 have a love/hate relationship with instagram. but using Planoly has made it 10x easier to stay on top of posting and creating a visually appealing feed. simply upload your photos into the app, arrange to create your perfect grid and then schedule posts to automatically post at your prime posting time (for me on the east coast, I find 9am, 12pm, 6pm and 9pm to be my best. 9pm is usually my go to time). the app also lets you create premade lists of hashtags to easily insert into your post. game changer

3. pinterest + tailwind – my current obsession for growing traffic to my site and sharing things I really love!

I’ve always loved pinterest, but until recently I wasn’t using it to its fullest potential. pinterest is an amazing tool when used consistently (and with the right mindset). I will be sharing a full post on how I use pinterest in the coming weeks – but for a real quick snapshot —

I have started using tailwind app to schedule my pins throughout the week. pinning consistently and at the right time (when users are active) is key. in ONE MONTH of using tailwind, I have gone from 7k monthly viewers to 85k monthly viewers.

I devote about 1 hour on Mondays to schedule out all my pins for the week. yay batch working!

4. unfold– my favorite app for creating unique layouts for Instagram stories.

I love posting a daily quote to my story and unfold has the best fonts and formats for the job. you can also create a series of story posts and save them to easily post to your instagram story. I have used this when I have an instagram sale – I can put together all the items in unfold, save the whole thing and upload in all together.

One of my morning quotes, typed for my IG story using the Unfold app

5. lightroom CC + snapseed – my go to photo editing apps!

I HIGHLY recommend the CFL Presets for lightroom. A quick and easy natural filter to keep a consistent feed. I like to use snapseed along with lightroom for additional edits – I especially love the “healing” tool to edit out any imperfections in the photo.

Below, before and after, using the “warm skin tone” present from ChalkfullOfLove.

which apps and programs are your go-to? have you tried any of these? 

comment or shoot me an email if you have any questions! katie.sweetlou@gmail.com

the origins of sweet lou designs

For way too long, I’ve talked about blogging. I’ve brainstormed lists of topics and titles and content. But somehow it always gets moved the bottom of the list. I’ll say it’s because I don’t have time but I think it’s also a lot of fear. Will anyone read it? Does anyone care? What do I have to share that’s not already out there?…. and on and on with the self-sabotage! But I’ve decided March is the month. This month is one for new routines, new habits and for this new adventure! 

Everyone has something unique and important to share. 
(I know this to be true + have to keep reminding myself daily). 

For my inaugural blog post, I thought I’d share how sweet lou came to be + how it has grown over the years. Sweet Lou started when I was in college (studying culinary arts + restaurant management) as a sort of catering/cake baking business. I made little business cards, made a few cakes and then it fizzled out. The name? Sweet, like cakes. And Lou, because my childhood nickname was (still is?) Katie Lou. So, ta da! Sweet Lou.

Fast forward a few years, to the summer of 2015. I was looking for a hobby and stumbled upon hand lettering on Pinterest. I’d always loved crafting and creating – grew up hoarding art supplies, making birthday cards and collages and letting my imagination run wild. And there I was, a lost 25 year old looking for a creative outlet (coupled with a nudge to start an etsy shop from a sweet friend and frequent recipient of my handmade cards).

So, I did a little research and opened up shop in September 2015! My first sale was a set of three hand lettered cards with Harry Potter quotes.​

That first year or so, I sold some wood slice signs, a few more cards and a random assortment of goods. I didn’t have much strategy or consistency, I was doing this here and there and really just didn’t have a clue! I know this was all part of the process, but this is one of my biggest regrets, not taking it more serious from the start. 

There were lots ups and downs in the months and years to come and it all sort of blurs together. I sort of posted regularly on instagram and orders popped up randomly, but I didn’t buckle down until early spring of 2017 — following a yoga retreat in Mexico when I realized how unhappy I was in my “career” (aka working in customer service… not a career persay, mostly just an income) and needed to make a change. 

first market! mothers day 2017

​I hustled that year! After that first market, I did 3 more that year. I created new products, improved my craft, and dreamed of the day I could run Sweet Lou full time. (Also started yoga teacher training that fall, so it was a busy one). After much discussion with my then boyfriend now husband, I finally made the big move and quit my desk job in November! FREEDOM! 

very first campfire mug design!

As I write this now, it’s been a year and a few months since I’ve been my own boss. And it’s been simultaneously the best and most challenging year of my life. I’m not even sure how to put it into words! There have been the slowest months, where I thought I was insane for doing this and wasn’t sure how much longer I could do it. There were the days and months of triumph – teaching my first workshops, building wholesale relationships and seeing my products in a store (3 stores!), meeting sales goals and knowing I. Did. This. And I’m going to continue doing it even though some days I think I’m crazy and that I have no idea what I’m doing, because this is the best and hardest and most fulfilling career and life I could possibly imagine. I can’t wait to see where it goes.

More to come on all the lessons I’ve learned the hard way and all that good stuff about life and entrepreneurship. I hope you’ll stick with me on the journey.

xo, katie

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