02 December 2019

Top tools for your side hustle

Submitted by Bronwen Dowman

Brent Peters, graphic designer at TopLine Comms, motion graphics designer at TopLine Film.

It’s easy to forget that people can be both entrepreneurs while in a full-time position. Having a side job, or a 'side hustle' is now the norm – it means you can work your usual job while pursuing your entrepreneurial endeavour on the side.

I work full time as a graphic designer at TopLine Comms and motion graphics designer TopLine Film. But that hasn't stopped me working on my freelance design services in the evenings and weekends. Technology has made it easier than ever to manage my side hustle and run my own business, and most of it is easy to install at a reasonable price.

Here are the tools I use that help me manage my side hustle.

General side hustle tools

There are a few tools that anyone can benefit from:


Slack is a simple communication tool that you can use in your team or with your client. It keeps emails to a minimum and helps you work through ideas and complete quick tasks. It integrates with most other software, including Asana, Google Drive, Outlook, and so much more. I find that Slack allows clients to get involved much more than before – you can use it to give them quick updates so meetings may not be needed. Ultimately, I find it gives me more time to design and get the work done.


At TopLine Comms and TopLine Film, we use Asana for all our work, and in my opinion, it's the best task manager available. The free account features are sufficient for managing small to medium freelance design projects, and it gives excellent oversight of task progress and tracking of deadlines in the calendar view. You can customise your projects with the board view feature and organise your tasks in batches. I like that I can separate my daily admin tasks from my creative design tasks, and keep my task list organised.

Google Drive

Google Drive is a simple cloud storage solution, that's already available from your Gmail account. You get 15gb free to get you started, and after that, it's R29 per month for 100gb (which is dirt cheap, in my opinion). It's great for keeping your design files backed up so that you could access them at any time, anywhere. Its simple drag and drop helps you stay organised. And most clients are already on Google, meaning you can quickly and easily start sharing large files with them.

Cloud accounting software

If you're pursuing a side hustle, you need to make sure you take the time to wear your administrative hat. You need to generate quotes and invoices quickly and know how much money you're making and spending. Plus, having your finances in order is another way to show off to your client, as it makes you look professional. I've always felt that keeping your business finances pays off further down the line. 

Creative tools for your side hustle

The creative tools that I use at TopLine Comms and for projects outside of work include:

Adobe Creative Cloud

Many designers think Adobe Creative Cloud is expensive, but as far as I'm concerned, it's a no brainer to set aside some money from your design projects and invest in it. I'd recommend the All apps plan because you get access to 20 creative desktop apps, a free adobe portfolio to showcase your work, 100gb cloud storage and access to fonts from Adobe Typekit. You'll save more money with this one-stop-shop approach rather than downloading a cracked copy. Remember, apps speak to each other – dynamic linking allows you to quickly access a design from Adobe Photoshop and edit an epic video showreel in Adobe Premiere Pro. These apps have been built to suit the needs of the fast-paced design industry and are considered the standard across all marketing and creative fields. Not-having it will make you stand out from the crowd in the wrong way.


When you're so busy building your client's brands, it's easy to forget about your own. But if you want to get your side hustle off the ground, you must promote yourself and your work. Behance is a great platform to get your work showcased amongst other excellent design talents. See it as your CV and give a link people can click to view your work. I've used https://www.behance.net/brentcreates plenty of times to show potential new clients my style. You'll have a great community of designers at your fingertips, so get them to comment and appreciate your work. 

Graphic Burger Mockups 

When showing clients your ideas, presentation is key. Graphic Burger is a royalty-free download resource that allows you to quickly easily mock up your designs into some cool, real-life scenes. It elevates your designs and, in my experience, helps you get quicker responses from clients. It adds that wow factor and creates an experience for your clients.