How I use my smartphone as a freelancer
Disclaimer: I'm writing this blog post from my iPhone while sitting in the bath.
I get a lot of ideas while sitting in a bathtub with candles all around. It's pretty much my Thinking Chair. (And now that I'm thinking about it, I weirdly do a lot of work from my bathtub... Hm.)
But I also will pull my phone out if I'm waiting in line at the grocery store or if I take a sudden trip to the coffee shop or on car rides (as the passenger, of course!) And because I'm a pretty on-the-go kind of gal and there are so many different apps now to help, I've learned how to pretty much run my freelancing business (and my blog, etc.) from my phone. Which is kind of cool, honestly.
So if you're a busy little bee, like myself, then here are some things to helpfully get you started as well.
1. BRAINSTORMING, WRITING & EDITING BLOG POSTS
I have a really long list on my phone with all kinds of blog post ideas. Some are just loose ideas I want to write on, some are half finished articles and some are fully written, just waiting on proofing and visuals. But since the apps I use sync on all of my devices, it makes it really easy for me to keep track of all content ideas and in progress stuff in one place. So if I'm waiting in the doctor's office, I can easily pull out my phone and write OR if I'm in my bathtub and I get a really cool idea for a blog post, I won't forget it by the time I get back to my computer.
I've tried dozens and dozens of apps, etc. for keeping track of these and so far, my top favorites are Trello, the Squarespace Blog app and the generic Notes app that comes with an iPhone.
Trello: is pretty rad for the slightly more visual side of my brain that needs to be able to physically move lists and posts from one board to another. This one is also great if you want to keep track of brands you're working with (and the subsequent requirements of those partnerships) AND the various stages of an article all in one place. I'm honestly kind of underselling how awesome this app is.
Squarespace Blog: I mainly like this one because it's the platform I use to host my blog and it makes the editing process way easier. I mean, if I'm writing the blog post directly in the app, I can either finish the blog post and all the SEO junk right there and then schedule it OR I can really easily open my computer later and finish it all. Either way, if the platform your blog is hosted on has an app, I recommend giving it a try.
Notes: This one usually holds only quick lists or quick ideas that I haven't had time to sort anywhere else. I regularly go through and delete old notes and file the relevant info or writings where they need to go. But it's great in a pinch.
2. SCHEDULING & KEEPING UP WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
This one is kind of a duh on the social media department, I think. BUT it has to be written here.
My favorite apps to use for keeping up with social media: Instagram (to generate sales, share behind the scenes snippets from my business), Twitter (to start conversations with my readers, potential clients & other brands), and Facebook Groups (to network with babes with similar interests or find potential clients.)
My favorite apps to plan or schedule my social media:
I only use two, but they're pretty amazing. For Twitter & Pinterest, I use Buffer. It's easy to use and simple. I'm not one for needing / wanting a lot of extra bells and whistles for Twitter or Pinterest, simply because my party is over on Instagram, mainly. So Buffer just works for me.
For scheduling / planning my Instagram, I use Planoly (formerly Plano.gram) and for me, this is the end all be all for Instagram planning. I've tried quite a few of the others available out there, but the second I tried Planoly, it was love. You can drag and drop your images and schedule them out, then you can reply to IG comments right in the app and you can check analytics, etc. Obviously, since my party is on Instagram, I'm really into all the bells and whistles here ;)
3. KEEPING UP WITH CURRENT CLIENTS & PROJECTS
This section is a pretty big deal, mainly because I think we all know how to be social on our phones, etc. but for me, the client and project aspect was the trickiest part to learn how to do.
Communication: I'll be honest, I've still not found a communication system that I 100% love. Mainly, I use Inbox for email (though, I'm currently testing out Notion & I'll update you with how I feel about it soon!) and Inbox isn't bad. I do like that you're able to snooze emails as needed and can group them in various ways. So for instance, currently, I have all clients and projects I'm working on grouped into a "current" bundle. I also have that bundle "pinned" so it's what I see first when I open my email. And since I get dozens and dozens of emails daily, it's vital that my clients don't get lost in that shuffle.
I think it's important to note that there are sooo many options for those of you who want to remove the email process all together. Personally, I just like keeping all my correspondence in one place (for the most part).
That being said, if I'm going to hop on a call or want to chat quickly with a client, I use Skype.
I typically recommend you don't give anyone your personal cell number, simply because that can tend to blur the lines of when you're available and when you're not. So, 99.9% of the time, I use Skype. You can still use it to "call" vs. face to face talking, but you have to specifically open the app and schedule time to meet there. Which keeps things in better balance.
Task Management: This one is pretty much all Trello, again. I have a "clients" board which is then broken down into things like "possible leads, current but haven't started, in progress, need testimonial + final payment and finished " This helps me keep track of everything that goes into each project AND what stage that project is in. I use this on all of my devices, so if I'm ever in that "wait, what am I supposed to do today?" haze, I can easily pull up Trello on my phone and know what I'm working on.
It's also extremely helpful to keep track of EVERY detail of those projects. Because, like I said, I keep most of my communication between clients in my email. So instead of having to continually scroll through each email chain looking for the most current info, I have it all in the project notes on Trello. So it's pretty awesome. (If you want me to go more in depth about this or any of the topics I touch briefly on in this post, let me know! I just don't want to overwhelm you with too much info in one post ;)
For writing eBooks & bigger projects: This kind of stuff is done with Evernote. Sure, I could just as easily use Trello here again, but I find that Evernote works best for me to keep anything and everything to do with my Big Projects. So for instance, I currently am in various stages of writing / creating two ebooks, a new online class, a couple in-person classes and I've got three novels or children's books in there. And they each have so many various components to them. Notes on ideas, tasks I need to complete, images I'm creating and then obviously the writings. So Evernote helps me keep all of those various working parts collected and uncluttered from anything else.
4. CREATING AND EDITING VISUALS & FINDING AND STORING INSPIRATION
For inspiration: I always have my phone with me. What I don't always have is my sketchbook. So if I'm out shopping and I see a pattern on a dress that really inspires me for a logo for a client, I'll snap a picture of it. Same with if I find colors or anything that really strikes me as something I'd love to use in some way for a current or future project. I could simply leave these snapshots in my camera roll folder on my iPhone, but I prefer to once or twice a week either upload them to private Pinterest boards (if applicable) or to my Dropbox folder. That way, I can keep my phone mostly clear of clutter, but still have those images to look back on later.
Similarly, if I get an idea but don't have a piece of paper or my sketchbook, I can always roughly sketch out an idea on my phone. For this, I typically just use the Notes app that comes with the phone OR if I need more details or want to capture the colors, etc., I'll use Adobe Photoshop Sketch. My favorite part about the Adobe app is I can then send that file to my iPad OR my desktop if I want to finish that sketch later. I dig that.
To create visuals for social media or my blog: I could go on and on about this (I mean I wrote an ebook talking all about this kind of stuff ;) but my top favorite ways to use my phone for this are taking the actual image (as it stands, I don't really have a professional camera so 99.9% of my photos I use anywhere are taken on my iPhone), using WordSwag to add text to my images and PicsArt to make collages or lay my handwriting (or quotes, etc.) over the top of images. But I have an entire folder on my phone dedicated to nothing but visuals / images, so let me know if you want me to do a more in-depth look at that or snag the Instagram eBook for step-by-step ideas and a video tutorial for you.
5. GETTING & KEEPING TRACK OF DA MONIES
For requesting money / invoices: Yup, you can get paid anytime and anywhere. For client invoicing, I go back and forth between Wave Invoices app and good old PayPal. This is one area that I need to learn to be more consistent on, but I'll admit I'm not. There's honestly no rhyme or reason as to why I would create an invoice in one vs. the other, but aesthetically and practically, Wave is much more professional and gives me more control. It also lets me easily send reminders, etc. for payments which is really nice, especially if you're not the best at bookkeeping (cough-me-cough). On the flip side, PayPal is sooooo simple. Either way, they're my favorites I've tried so far and on both, you can set up an invoice template either on the phone or on your desktop and then just keep the money rolling in. BOOM.
or everything else: Online banking is AMAZING. Like how did we survive as a species before we could pull up our banks on our phones? No idea. However, I do think that having your bank's app downloaded & checking in regularly is VITAL if you're running a freelancing business. Why? Because you need to know at all times what your financial situation is. I don't care if you're bringing in six figures a year or if you're bringing much, much less. You need to know where the money is coming from, how much is where (so savings vs. checking, etc.) and where it's going.
For me, I use Simple as my bank. If you haven't heard of it, I highly, highly recommend researching it. It's an online bank only and that means it cuts all extra (and costly) fees completely out. They've also got THE BEST customer service I've ever seen, ever. Like when you call, a HUMAN answers the phone. Or you can just "text" them from the app. Like what.
More importantly, though, this one allows me to create "goals" so that I can either save up or set aside money in the same way other banks might have different accounts. Nice thing is though, you don't get charged for these and there's not a cap on how many you can have. For me, I have ones like "bills, food, gas, savings, new camera, taxes, etc." that help me make sure I'm always within my budget and never accidentally taking bill money and using it to eat out. (Did I mention that I'm garbage at budgets and book keeping? So anything that does it for me is GOLD.) They also make it so, so easy to handle the taxes portion of running a freelance business. Obviously I dig my bank and could go on and on ;)
To keep track of my bills, I use Mint Bills. It's not my favorite app, I'll be honest. But it works. I'm kind of in the market for another app like this, but so far, none really compare. Especially when Mint Bills allows you to actually link accounts so it updates if the price on a bill or the date on a bill changes. For instance, my Comcast bill fluctuates (annoying and hateful company), so it's nice that Mint Bills is always on top of that -ish, so I don't have to panic.
That's a lot. But I could go on and on about this stuff, so do let me know in the comments if you want me to go in depth detail on any of these specific things, etc.! Or if you have a question on something I didn't cover, let me know that as well! Otherwise, I would love to know how YOU use your phone to help you run your empire!