Those fortunate among us in the 21st century are happy to enjoy a quality of life that beats out medieval kings and ancient emperors. Sandwiches at the press of a button. Telling Walmart what to prepare for me before I arrive. Telling a robotic butler to turn off my lights. All the conveniences of modern life are there for the taking.
But what about the world of business?
Truth is, most of those time-consuming activities you struggle with are unnecessary. There are solutions out there already crafted for the likes of content managers and freelancers, and your life will only be more efficient if you get to know them. So with that in mind, here are a few of my favorites:
- Office. I know there are plenty of alternatives out there, but considering the ratio of “how much I use this for business” to “price” ratio, the value is actually quite substantial. I also use Excel a lot for budgeting, planning, etc.
- Google Docs. Some clients want to collaborate and share files, and that’s fine by me. Google Docs makes it incredibly easy.
- Scrivener. For the literary folks—it’s sort of a word processor-slash-story-organizer.
Schedulers and Calendars
- Google Calendar. Simple, easy to use, and sync with just about everything. I use this for my “master” calendar.
- CoSchedule. CoSchedule has a ton of features, including managing and scheduling your social media posts, so it’s great if you have absolutely zero online presence at the moment.
- Calendly. This is a nice tool for scheduling phone calls with prospective clients.
- Buffer. I currently use Buffer for social media. It doesn’t let you do a whole lot for free, but it’s enough.
Website Builders and Hosting
- SquareSpace. After years of pulling out my hair and never being quite happy with my website, I bit the bullet and got myself a SquareSpace-based site. I’m pleased with the results thus far.
- GoDaddy. I know the advertising is over the top, but their customer support is very fast, 24-hours-a-day, and built for beginners like me who want someone to explain every last click to them. They do try to upsell you a lot, though. One popular alternative is BlueHost.
File Storage and Sharing
- Dropbox. This is the one I actually use for my personal writing, though I have no problem if clients need to use Google Drive or Docs.
- Google Drive. Because it’s Google. Duh.
Project Management and Dashboards
- Trello. Creates a smooth dashboard for all of your daily work.
- Slack. Good for team-based communication you need to get things done.
- Basecamp. I only have one client who uses this, but I find it easy and intuitive, and hey—most of its functionality is totally free.
Accounting, Invoicing, and Payments
- PayPal. I’m confident that a sole proprietor business can basically make its entire living and never have to venture far from the lands of PayPal.
- FreshBooks. Currently looking into this one, if only to make my life a lot easier and give me the dashboard that PayPal won’t.
- QuickBooks. What’s better, Quick or Fresh? I don’t know, but I see QuickBooks often enough that it belongs on a list like this. They even have a QuickBooks Self-Employed edition.
- KeePass. I used to write down all of my passwords. That was not a pleasant way to do it. KeePass is free and easy to use.
Visual Elements for Posts
- Canva. A great way to create some quick visual elements without being a graphic designer.
- Unsplash. High quality, royalty-free stock images. I’m using some of them on this very site.
- Egg Timer. I use this to create dedicated periods of productivity and keep myself accountable. Set it to anything. One good trick: use the Pomodoro technique for 25 minutes on, 5 minutes of break time.
- Grammarly. You can add this to your browser for easy double-checking on all your content.
- RescueTime. I haven’t used this in a while, but it’s a really fascinating look at your daily productivity. Don’t expect it to change much without your self-discipline changing first.
I expect this list will change over time as I discover new tools and try other ones. Do you have any suggestions? If so, drop them here.