5 Free Apps that Every Freelancer and Entrepreneur Should be Using
This post was sponsored by Intuit.
In business, you shouldn’t necessarily work harder if working smarter can do the job. Part of the key to doing this is by using the right software that will fit your needs. There are 5 particular apps that I use and love, and I think you’d like them too.
Google Calendar is indispensable for me because it truly is what dictates how my day goes and my life can’t seem to function without it. Google Calendar is hands-down my most used app ever, outside of email. Everything I do ends up on there, including my travel details, meetings, dates to remember. EVERYTHING.
I have 7 sub-calendars that are color-coded and one glance at my GCal lets me know what I need for the day. Plus, I get daily digest emails from GCal that tells me what appointments and meetings I have. Anything that does not end up there ends up missed.
My favorite features are recurring events, and the joint meetings with invitations. As a self-employed person with multiple things being juggled at once, reminders that I set in GCal are my life-savers.
Because it is a Google product, we do get certain things forced on us. One of those is the new Birthday calendar where it syncs the birthdays of those in our Google+ circles. DO NOT WANT. I found a fix though so check out How to Delete the Birthdays Calendar.
“Are you available on Monday at 2pm?”
“No, what about Tuesday at 3:30pm?”
“That won’t work for me.”
Tying to set up meeting times can be frustrating, especially when the two people have conflicting schedules. Or as a consultant, people might need to book trainings with you. ScheduleOnce is an app that allows you to avoid the back and forth.
You create an account and sync it with your Google Calendar (or iCal) and people can go on your ScheduleOnce page to see when you’re available. Then, they can schedule themselves for a meeting with you by giving 2 or more possible times that works for them. You get an email with those choices and then you pick the one (out of 2 or 3) that works best for you.
It’s great because the times that you’re busy with something else are blocked out.
Now when people email me about having a phone call or a meeting, I just sent them to my ScheduleOnce page and tell them to book a time that works for both of us. Efficient, cuts down on steps/emails and then gets something concrete on your calendar.
ScheduleOnce is freemium (meaning there’s a free version and paid plans). I use the free version because it has enough of the features I need. Plus, the paid version comes in handy when you’re more than a team of 1, and if you have multiple calendars that you need to sync.
Doodle does this too but I prefer the interface of ScheduleOnce. Doodle is also best when you’re trying to wrangle like 5 or 6 people. But for everyday business life as an entrepreneur, ScheduleOnce is my preference.
Update: ScheduleOnce is now only allowing free trials for new users, and us old users are the only ones allowed to have the free plan. The app starts at $5 a month. Free alternative: Doodle.
As a freelancer, consultant and entrepreneur, signing contracts and sending W9s are big parts of doing and getting work. It is a hassle to get a contract, print it, sign it and then scan it back. Honestly, many of us don’t even have printers anymore in our home offices (or those printers ran out of ink ages ago and our printers are just there for lazy decoration).
EchoSign allows you to sign documents digitally, and have them be legally binding. It is an Adobe product and you can upload documents, fill out PDF, and send to both parties who need to put their signature on it straight from the platform. Echosign even has W9s in their document library so you can send to whoever is requiring it and get paid without having to print, scan and attach to an email.
It is truly a life and timesaver. Echosign is free to use, and allows you 5 documents to get signed every month. You can earn 5 more documents a month by tweeting about the software. If you have more than 10 documents to sign every month, then you can inquire about their enterprise prices.
Update: Correction to my post. EchoSign has been turned into a paid-only app. It is now $14.95 a month to start. It seems that us old users have been grandfathered into the free plan. Sooo new signups are paid henceforth. HelloSign is a free alternative to EchoSign. It allows you up to 3 documents a month.
To-do lists are the only reasons I get things done because when I write down all my tasks, I can conquer them in those pieces. The times when I do not work off a to-do list are the times when I’m scatterbrained and jump from one thing to another, finishing 10% of 10 things. Not good.
There are many productivity apps out there but Wunderlist is probably my favorite. First, the interface is really nice and easy to work with. The creators of this app really thought user experience through. It’s simple, but still very attractive, with nice backgrounds that your list is placed on.
You can create multiple lists for different projects that you work on, you can have recurring tasks that are set to appear on your list automatically every day (or Tuesday or however regularly that you do it). My favorite is that when you put tasks in Wunderlist and dates for them, the app creates a “Today” list automatically with any thing you’ve placed in there that is due on that day. I go to my “today” list first.
And the cool thing is Wunderlist will sync across ALL your devices. I can be on my laptop, my iPad Mini or even on my phone (Samsung Galaxy) and everything is synced.
We’re the generation of 25 browser tabs open at once. We figure we’ll leave tabs open of things we need to review and read later. What ends up happening is one week later, the same tabs are still open and we’ve added 15 more. Evernote is feature-rich but it’s most known for allowing you to save things for later reading. You can save entire articles or excerpts and add tags to them to categorize what they are. You can create “notebooks” to also group things. The possibilities are endless.
Evernote also lets you take notes and write lists and whatnots for yourself to reference later. It’s basically a mobile notepad. And since it syncs everything across the cloud, it syncs it on your devices. That way, you’re never without the most important notes you have. If you get ideas on the go, open up Evernote, drop them in there quickly and come back to them later.
Also, everything is searchable so even if you lose a note in the huge pile, you can find it using some words that you know are in it. Evernote is like the pensieve from Harry Potter, allowing you to extract your thoughts and see it to de-clutter your headspace.
All these apps are free for what most of us need them for. You can always go with a paid version but I haven’t had to.
What are some apps that you cannot do without?
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This post was sponsored by Intuit, but as always, all thoughts and opinions expressed here are mine.
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