A Freelance Designer’s Favorite Subscription Services

Beau Walsh Freelance Design Tools

As my first year of freelancing is coming to a close in February, I am thinking about the things I was googling my first few days. I am always on the look out for more tools that will become invaluable to my routine. My list is pretty simple right now but as I gain routine with the current applications and expand the financial capacity to bring on more, I will definitely be doing so.

Here are the various subscriptions I am paying for right now, specifically design related and not:


As a freshman freelancer, I’m still getting my bearings on the financial management aspect of the work. I can do the design, strategy and relations, but adding the entire dimension of money to it brings a whole extra ball to juggle. Freshbooks isn’t really for personal budgeting or financing but it has been great as a solo designer. I am able to track my time, create project budgets, invoices, etc. For me, it just adds a little more peace of mind.


During one of my Summer web projects, Chaperone Records, I knew that Futura was the right choice. It fit their quirky yet classy, vintage modern brand. I came across Fonts’ subscription service with their standard $10 a month plan. It includes a decent wide selection at up to 250,000 page views which is a limit I won’t have to worry about much for the time being. Rather than individually digging up each font and paying for them, I just pay the ten bucks and have access to over 20,000. Sounds good to me!


I’ll admit, I was struggling to focus just now on this simple post so I had to take a lumosity break. Strange how a few quick brain puzzles get my focus back onto the task. It might all just be in my head (well, it literally is) but I get some brain endorphins kicking around a bit especially after my favorite game: Pinball Recall. It is beyond satisfying to get up to level 17 and figure out where that ball is going to land. Is it worth the money? Try it for yourself!

Amazon Prime

Who hasn’t been up at 2am wishing they had their very own copy of Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design by Michael Bierut to read? Or 100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design by Steven Heller which I am a click away from ordering. Well with Amazon Prime, you could have it two days from now. Pretty slick, and dangerous. Even more so with their instant video streaming service that comes with it. Parks and Recreation has  been my best waste of time. Vote Knope!


Currently, I’m not paying for Lynda. I go through phases where I get too busy and instead of paying the monthly, I just cancel it until my schedule frees up (whenever that will be). But during downtime or uptime, the extremely vast selection of tutorial videos is fantastic. I always say that a designer should never stop learning. This is where you do that.


(thanks, Ryan!)
This is often one of the things I bring up in a first or second client meeting. Gone are the days of jump drives. Cloud storage makes everything in life easier. What I enjoy about dropbox is not just the ability to store but also share. It’s great for collaborating—creating a shared folder where the client and I can add and remove. It allows all of the latest content to be right there, rather than digging through emails to try to find the newest copy.


(thanks again, Ryan!)
We all have different ways of digging into a load of work, but for most of us, that involves music. Once I signed up for the Spotify premium account, iTunes became a foreign concept to me. Being able to access almost any selection of music at any time is so slick.

Bonus: Coffitivity

In my city, I have started to take on the reputation of “The Coffee Shop Designer.” They literally say “Welcome to your office!” most mornings. But there are cold days and late nights that I can’t go to my beloved Duluth Coffee Company. As weird as it sounds, the quiet murmor of coffitivity is the right white noise I need to keep me from seeking out distractions in my apartment.

So those are just a few that I use. What’s more though, is I really want to hear about the other ones out there that you use. Please leave a comment below!