Being a freelance is a confusing, complicated world where you are your own boss. While everyone has had a bad boss or two in their life, the biggest thing that they help with is organization. When you’re in charge of organizing yourself, you immediately become your own secretary, accountant, marketing team, and so on. This can be daunting at first, but incredibly rewarding. The only issue is; how do I keep everything I’m doing organized? Fortunately for us we live in a time where there is an app for everything. Learning how to utilize your skills in the digital world in order to keep you and your business running smoothly is key. When good work flow means the difference between paid, and not paid, things start to become a little clearer. Because a freelancer’s life (myself included) never really has a start or stopping point, I’ve created a system in order to handle the constant, unyielding flow of information and data thrown my way. This helps me keep my editors happy, my schedule in order, my clients satisfied, my travel plans clear, all the while reminding me when my next doctors appointment is. So please, do yourself a favor and take a look at how I’ve structured my top five apps that are absolutely critical to being the best freelance you can be.
1. To store your notes and ideas
A good general note-taking app with powerful capabilities of sharing information across multiple teams.
Price: Evernote for business premium $69.99/yearly
If you had an older iPhone when the App Store was really starting off, you’ll remember Evernote. With its green elephant logo, its matured from its past self and has now settled as an incredibly powerful tool in keeping collaborators collaborating. I love being able to make separate ‘spaces’ where I can keep all the clutter of one team, one idea, or one project localized. The ability to have Evernote across all platforms also makes it ideal for traveling or quick mobile updates. This is also what I use to organize my blog content.
2. Calendar and to schedule
Price: $6.99 for a one time fee. Sometimes goes on sale.
I am always a little shocked to still see people using a paper planner for scheduling. Yes its a great analog format of keeping your schedule, but handwriting, changing, moving dates, and all the chaos in the day to day gives me anxiety just thinking about how much ink I would waste. Because I am constantly getting information about schedule changes, new shoots, meetings, and personal events, I have to be no more than 30 seconds away from being able to change it, or else I’m at risk of forgetting it. Forgetting or missing a deadline or meeting is certain death amongst freelancers, and you can basically kiss the project goodbye. For most people, their phone is only an arms reach away, and Calendar 5 is fast, easy to read, and quick to edit. The only issue is that it is Apple only, but there may be an update in the future. With enough digital fidgeting you can link it to other accounts. I have an iphone and Daniel runs on Android. We were able to sync our calendars. Just let me know if you need help.
3. To-do list
While a good calendar will tell you when you need to do a certain task, Any Do locks your focus on exactly what you need to be doing in-the-moment. It helps you see important tasks for your day, your week, your month, and it allows you to keep groups. The quickest way to lose track of something is to allow all of your projects, emails, meetings, etc to clump together. Much like the song by The Offspring, you-gotta-keep-em-separated. Any Do lets you manage all of your tasks in their own little homes, so that you can sleep easy at night, trusting your priorities are in order. Some of my lists are broken up into: to edit, groceriess, blog to-do’s, finance, personal, and etc.
4. For invoicing and preparing for your taxes
price: $10/ month for basic $17/ month for bundle
Quickbooks is an app that is as old as the computer itself. Chances are your parents used some version of this (Quicken anyone?), and there is good reason its still around. Quickbooks self employed helps you do everything that has to do with your money. It links to your bank account to let you see your net worth, and watches your spending so that you can keep your budget on track. It also allows you to send out invoices that can be paid with credit card, and even though they do take a small percentage of the transaction, some clients are out of reach for a cheque or cash. The simple bundle allows you to make budgets, tag your expenses as business or personal, and can even auto track your car milage for your end of year taxes. The bundle program auto links to TurboTax and allows you to file your taxes for the year (or quarter) with the click of literally three buttons, using the data from your account. Bonus: There’s a feature that allows my accountant to have access to quickly file any tax infos.
5. To re-learn the idea of money and keep track of your budget
YNAB (You Need A Budget)
Where Quickbooks falls short, this app fills in the blanks. While getting money is a hassle in and of itself, keeping that money from leaving your pockets is another big issue for freelancers. YNAB (You Need A Budget) helps you keep your budget in ways you’ve never known before. The developers are understanding of every financial situation, and aim to educate as well as save. YNAP actively teaches you how to save, when to spend, and exactly where the flow of your money is going. Where high school never taught us, YNAB is aiming to set things right.
Apps aren’t just for gaming or letting you know when your dentist appointment is. They are a tool that I believe we will look back on and recognize how much power they have in making us successful. Just like a mechanic needs a good, organized toolbox in order to keep his job simple and efficient, every freelancer needs their toolbox filled with at least these five apps. If you have any recommendations please leave a comment below.