10 Online Tools I Need for Survival
Being your own boss can be great. It can also be tough.
Without set work hours, how are you supposed to motivate yourself? Leaving your work at the office? Forget that. It practically sleeps in bed with you. For as long as you're a freelancer or solopreneur, these challenges will continue to stare you down.
Luckily, there's some great technology out there to help you manage all of the madness. I'm letting you in on one of my biggest secrets: the tools I use to maintain and grow my business.
Avoid becoming overwhelmed by day-to-day operations by embracing cloud-based technology. Not only will it help you maximize each facet of your business, but you'll also be better positioned to work on-the-go. Need to drop everything and hop on a flight? Now you can without any last-minute panic attacks.
Of the many (and I mean, many) cloud services and software I've tried, here are a few lifesavers.
I couldn't survive without Google Drive.
I can access my files from anywhere. I love powering up any of my devices and having access to whatever I need, knowing it's all backed up without a single worry. Like insurance, say I spill coffee on my laptop - I can rest easy knowing that all of my work files are safe and sound. Every client file and folder lives on Google Drive, and setting permissions for my contractors is easy. Our company emails are also set up through Google Apps for Work, so my OCD self loves having everything in one place.
I couldn't stay organized without Airtable.
Airtable is recently discovered love of mine. I don't know how I made it this far without it. The templates to start with are phenomenal. It has a working content calendar. And it's much more pretty to keep track of data than in Google Sheets.
I couldn't survive without Evernote.
The brains of the business. I suppose they're actually in my noggin, but some days I wonder. If it would go in a journal or scrapbook, it goes into Evernote. I include phone call logs, account information for clients, clippings and ideas for anything creative. I love the encryption feature, which I use for sensitive client information like passwords.
I couldn't cope without secret boards on Pinterest.
Anything visual I see that I know I'll want to reference later, I pin (secretly). I mostly use two secret boards: one I created, called "On Brand", which houses anything I see that looks and feels very me. The other is called "Resources", which is includes visual references for websites I know I'll use later. And why all of this on Pinterest? Sheer convenience. Although now I've told you about them, so I guess my boards aren't that secret.
I would be swimming in receipts if it wasn't for Bench.
There's good chance you're like me, and handling your own bookkeeping is likely not the best use of your time. Leave it to these pros. This incredible bookkeeping platform continues to exceed my incredibly high standards since I started using it a few years ago. The interface is an absolute dream. The staff are incredibly kind and efficient, and I know that because I visited them recently (when they snapped this shot of me for their Instagram:)
I couldn't invoice (or pay the bills) without ActiveCollab.
Nothing brightens my day quite like an email from ActiveCollab (letting me know a client has paid their invoice). I really love being able to offer clients the option of paying by credit card, and ActiveCollab's partnership with Stripe makes that possible. The interface is clean, user-friendly, and doubles as a project management tool. Gotta love everything in one place.
I couldn't even without Calendly.
Why? Because I'd spend all day scheduling meetings and phone calls instead of doing actual work. I'm a brand strategist, not a secretary. This nifty service syncs with your Google Calendar and lets people choose a meeting time based on your pre-selected availability. It isn't free, but what good thing in life is?
Without UberConference, I wouldn't talk to you.
If you think I'm going to fumble around with call-in numbers and pins, you're dreaming. Streamline that old school silliness with a VOIP line that allows people to easily connect by computer, landline or mobile app. They allow an unlimited amount of conferences (perfect for me because I love talk!), document and screen sharing, HD audio, call recording, and even a mobile application. How wonderful is that?
I couldn't digitally point to things without Skitch.
This is by far one of my most-used applications. It's the easiest way to take a screenshot and add an arrow, box, or highlight something to show a client where something's at. It's so easy to use and it's a brilliant application.
I couldn't animate my screenshots without RecordIt.
Sometimes a screenshot and arrow from Skitch just isn't enough. Instead of recording a long tutorial video, I open up RecordIt and create a small GIF to send to a client for a more personal and descriptive direction. It's free, but their pro version allows you to password protect your GIFs and record at a higher frame rate (12 FPS). A must-have in my application arsenal.
There you have it. I've just revealed everything. Now you can go copy me. What essential business tools are missing from my list? Please comment below. After all this, it's the least you can do.