Creative designers, whether designing for print media, websites, computer applications, or in other fields, have a distinct set of skills and tool needs that sets them apart from most of their professional counterparts. In addition to more powerful computer hardware and more specialized software than most professionals require, there are a number of creative-only tools that are required for continued success in the field, regardless of whether the work is salaried or freelance. The following tools are the most necessary to keep in mind.

Job/Career Boards

Career posting boards like Indeed and Monster have been around for a long time, but a few are pointed directly at high level creative workers (and similarly skilled professionals); for freelancers and telecommuting creatives, the ability to post and find remote work jobs is a necessity in today’s economy. A notable example is the Coroflot job posting system, a reliable, legitimate resource for creatives across the country.

Industry Newsfeeds

Keeping informed is a major part of any career, and especially important for those who rely on ever-changing technology and physical tools. Depending on one’s specific field, it might be important to keep tabs on more than one kind of field’s daily news. A general professional creative news blog like Creative Bloq can keep most creatives informed on anything from basic design news to trade discounts on tools like Adobe Creative Cloud, while those who work in specialized technical fields might need to also follow news sites like ComputerWorld and ZDNet.

Professional Organizations

In general, most non entertainment-based creatives have no true union representation, but guilds and other organizations still exist. These groups can be very beneficial for their members, especially with group discounts with both professional and personal resources. Additionally, group-based conventions, presentations and social hours can allow for not only inspiration, but positive networking experiences. Depending on one’s specific field, there may be more than one professional organization one can join. For overall design, the AIGA offers a number of member benefits, as well as an ethical pricing resource. For graphic illustrators, the Graphic Artists Guild offers similar resources.

Non-Creative Productivity Software

Most creative designers have some sort of organizing system for their own work, whether using physical or virtual notebooks or other tools. However, the biggest need for most people is team-based planners and organizers. There are a number of online systems with reasonable rates, such as Milanote or ClickUp; the best practice would be to research options until you find what works best for you and your team, as each team’s needs and budgets are different.

Online Portfolios

Lastly, all creative designers need a place to show their online work, as well as their process. While an online personal site and portfolio should be readily available, having one’s portfolio available on other platforms allows for higher visibility. Platforms like Behance feature a wide variety of creative artwork, Coroflot and Dribbble all offer free options for creative designers and other artists.