Web Resources

  • 12 Chrome Extensions To Be More Productive As A Freelancer

    Chrome Extensions

    Ah, Chrome. You came along with your sexy array of Chrome Extensions and saved us from the hell of Internet Explorer. Anyone else develop an eye twitch when meeting someone who is *happily* using Internet Explorer by choice? I’m a terrible browser snob.

    Chrome Extensions are the perfect way to add a little superpower to your browsing experience. And with most of the tools and services we use now being cloud-based, they can save time, stress and even money.

    So, which ones are worth adding without slowing your system? Here are some of my favourites Chrome Extensions to be more productive.

    • Pocket: Tend to get distracted by articles and videos when you should be hitting deadlines? Hit the Pocket extension when you’re browsing and it will save it for you to read later on, offline if you wish. I also use this all the time for collecting links for my weekly newsletter, especially as you can add tags.
    • LastPass: If you work online, you probably have a bunch of logins for various social networks, portals, tools etc. With passwords getting trickier to remember (at least 8 characters, upper and lowercase letters, numbers, characters and a DNA sample), LastPass is a saviour. It’ll remember your passwords (encoded, obv), and suggest new, tricky ones if you want to up your security. Once installed and logged in, it will autocomplete all your passwords, and you can also share these logins with an assistant, without giving them the actual password. You can even install it on iPhone, iPad and Android devices.
    • Wisestamp: Oh hey there sexy email signature! Wisestamp lets you create attractive, interactive signatures to add into your e-mails at the click of a button, with features like importing your latest blog post link or tweets.
    • MixMax: I mentioned MixMax in my post of my favourite Gmail Hacks. It’s essentially caffeine for your Gmail, giving you lots of new options like tracking, dozens of embed options, scheduling and even mail merging.
    • Extensity: Want to toggle your extensions on and off easily? If you find some extensions can clash when doing something specific, this is really handy to quickly turn multiple extensions off. I also tend to use this if my computer is running slow (usually when on Skype or live streaming) to cut down the noise.
    • OneTab: Opened eleventy seven tabs and can’t even see what they’re for anymore? Open one more and install OneTab. This baby collapses all your tabs into one list tab, so you can just reopen the ones that interest you. Or, more likely, not bothering re-opening any of them. It also saves your last few collapsed tabs sessions, so you can re-open something from yesterday or last week easily.
    • Buffer: Buffer has long been my favourite social media tool, and being able to quickly share a link to your queue really helps boost that productivity
    • Awesome Screenshot: One of my more recent favourites, this tool allows you to screen grab or screen record, so if you want to send someone a quick tutorial of what you’re doing, you can with this tool!
    • Quidco: Cashback sites are such an easy way to reduce your outgoings and save money. Essentially, every time you land on a site that offers a cash back discount or special offer, Quidco will pop up and ask if you want it to be applied.
    • EDIT: Due to some rumours that Grammarly can claim copyright for anything it corrects, I’m going to suggest an alternative – After The Deadline. Grammarly: Grammarly casts a critical eye over your writing, and alerts you to any spelling and grammar errors.
    • Rapportive: Rapportive is a networker’s dream extension. Install it, and it will source all sorts of information on the person who has contacted you, including their social media profiles. It’s a great way to do a little research from your inbox in seconds.
    • Colorzilla: Want to find out what colours people are using on their sites (or check your own)? This tool picks up on the colours of a page and lets you know the code.

    Tell me, which Chrome Extensions could you not do without?

  • The best Slack apps for freelancing

    www.freelancelifestyle.co.uk (1)I’ve been using Slack for a while for my business, and it’s revolutionised my freelance communications. If you haven’t used it before, it’s like a collection of chat rooms for businesses, removing a lot of the clutter from your inbox and really improving the speed of communication and decision making. With more and more businesses hiring remote talent, it’s becoming one of the easiest way to check in with everyone.

    Slack have just announced their app directory, full of bots and apps you can integrate with your Slack channel. App integration isn’t entirely new, I’ve had Asana integrated into my Slack for a while thanks to my VA Jo Shock, but it does make it a lot easier to search for and add new ones.

    Here are a few of my favourites so far for freelancers.

    • Growbot – If you’re working in a team, this is a nice app to measure acknowledgements and ‘wins’, boosting team morale
    • Birdly – I’m still testing this one, but in theory you upload your expenses (either a screengrab or pdf) and it will process it for you
    • Trello – If you’re a big fan of the project management tool, you can now import it into Slack so you’ll get updates in there every time you update it.
    • Asana – As I mentioned, this is one I already use. Every time an item is added or ticked off my Asana list, a notification pops up in Slack
    • Wunderlist – Although I use Asana for some of my project management, Wunderlist is my go-to for quick lists. The Wunderlist app will now update Slack with your progress
    • 99designs task – I know quite a few freelancers use 99designs to outsource small design jobs, and this app will update you with the progress of each task within your chosen Slack channel.
    • Google+ Hangouts – Yup! You can start a Hangout from within Slack!
    • CatFacts – Just for fun (and because cats power the internet)

    You can find all the above in the Slack App Directory (lots more to come apparently).

    P.S If you use Slack, you might also like the Slack Hacks at SlackStacks, and this tutorial for importing your Google Analytics into Slack.

    Are you a Slack user? Which apps do you rate? Let me know in the comments below!

  • Disorganised online? How to use Springpad to get digitally organised

    I’m an organisation junkie. That doesn’t mean I’m super-organised. Oh HELL no. But I love nothing more than indulging in a browse of organisation blogs, pinning organisation tips on Pinterest and reading books designed to overhaul my disorganised ways. I dream of a day when my kitchen shelves are organised with colour coding and tidy drawers, and my filing system is…well, basically having a filing system at all would be a joy.

    Staying organised offline is hard enough, but staying organised online is when it gets tricky. How many social media accounts do you have? Bookmarks saved here and there? Photos and snippets pinned to your Pinterest board? It’s hard to keep track of all the bits you’ve saved!

    This is why Springpad appeals to me. Springpad is a tool full of notebooks you can personalise and fill with all your favourite links, images, recipes (I particularly love this feature) checklists and reminders that you want. I’ve got a Chrome extension that means I can grab a link while on the page. You can use it on the go on your mobile through the app, which means you can clip an article while surfing, snap a photo, scan a product barcode, record a voice memo, or save a place nearby. It’s one of those tools that you constantly find uses for. They’re collaborative too, which means if you’re working on a project with someone you can just drop in ideas, links, images and suggestions.

    This is Skittles. She’ll probably pop up here quite often now. Well, she is ridiculously cute.

    For me, I’ve found it most useful for organising my wedding and house hunting last year. Last year, I could save the details in a notebook, add my thoughts afterwards in the notes section, add photos, a map and a checklist of things to check. All on the way home from a house viewing. Pretty amazing, huh?

    I have a bunch of different notebooks on there. Ones for my clients, so I can save potential topics or things to write about. Notebooks full of ideas for our home. All my Delicious bookmarks. Blogging and WordPress ‘how to’ posts. A notebook filled with recipes. I’ve even got one filled with info on cats and kittens (for those that don’t follow me on Twitter, I recently adopted this beautiful little girl on the left).

    I’m not saying I only use Springpad. I tend to still use Pinterest for images and ideas, and I use the Read It Later (now known as Pocket) app to save time and read content in one go. But when it comes to projects, I find Springpad an essential tool.

    How do you stay organised online? 

  • Share your 7BillionIdeas – The Ideas Social Network

    Ever had one of those amazing ideas that you just had to scribble down? Or just an observation about how someone could do something smarter, more efficiently or just a whole lot better? If you’ve got an eye for an opportunity and an idea of how you can solve a problem, chances are you’ve had quite a few moments like that. In fact, a lot of entrepreneurs, freelancers and bloggers I know often speak about the dozen or so ideas like this they get a day.

    So, what do you do with all those ideas? Write it in a notebook that no one else will read? Share it with a few friends (who may or may not be truthful about the potential for it)? Plop it into a witty tweet? Great…but not exactly pro-active.

    Instead, why not pop your idea up on 7BillionIdeas?

    7BillionIdeas is a forum where you can share your ideas with thousands of others, and read their honest feedback. It might be something as simple as a new way to recycle a household basic, or an innovative new approach to a problem that millions of people struggle with. They describe themselves as “an innovative social media platform to share the everyday fun, thoughtful or creative idea”

    The idea came from five friends chatting, and has developed into a platform that aims to collect seven billion ideas. At the moment they’re in the early stages, but there is the opportunity in the future to potentially develop some of these ideas. So it’s worth jumping on board now.

    The ideas on there now aren’t ridiculously advanced. They’re simple, lifestyle-related easy tweaks. Like putting more basket stations in the supermarket, or adding a section in your driving theory test about the dangers of drinking and driving (and how many units you’re allowed). But with more and more companies becoming social, it makes sense to have a place where those ideas can be published, voted on and potentially discussed with businesses.

    So, what would be your idea? Something simple to do with everyday life? Or a real game changer?

  • Online Organisation: How to automatically filter your emails into folders in Gmail

    When you get up in the morning and check your emails, is your inbox full of dozens of daily deal site newsletters, LinkedIn group summaries and community updates? Mine was. Sad thing is, I only tended to read most of the sale emails on payday, so the rest of the time they end up unread in my trash folder. And the LinkedIn emails got quickly deleted because I needed to focus on the other emails.

    Since last year, I’ve had a folder filtering system in place in gmail, so that all the regular stuff lands in sub folders so I can focus more on the new and urgent emails. For example, I have a ‘sales’ folder where all the shopping emails go (especially great around Christmas/sale season), a LinkedIn folder for all alerts from LinkedIn, a Daily Deals folder for everything from Groupon and the like and a Google Alerts folder.

    I tend to check these folders three or four times a day (for instance, for connection invitations in the LinkedIn folder). They’re easy to set up and make life just a little bit easier.

    Want to give it a try? Here’s a quick guide (there are a few methods):

    Method 1

    Step 1: Go to your gmail account online, and look for the little cog in the top right hand corner. Click on it, and go to ‘Settings’

     

    Once you’re in settings, go to the Filter section. As you can see from the image below, I already have filters set up – but yours should be empty. There is a button at the bottom that says “Create a New Filter”. Click on it.

    Now you can create a filter!

    You can do it by addresses/search terms/subjects etc (see the example below for Twitter)

    This will filter in anything that uses Twitter in the Subject, so you might want to check it periodically for press releases if you work in the media.

    To complete the filter, click on ‘Create filter with this search’ and then choose the folder you want it to filter through to. You can also choose whether to always mark it as important, add a label or forward it to another address (handy if you have an assistant or deal with multiple accounts)

    There you go, one filter done!

    Method 2

    Go into your main inbox and do a search for the term you want to filter into a different sub folder. This will give you an idea of what kind of content might be filtered.

    Once you’ve got that search, click on ‘More’ above the emails and ‘create filter.’ Follow the same process as above in choose your filter method (folder/label/forwarding) and you’re done.

    Method 3

    The final method is one I tend to use when I’m adding new emails to other filtered folders.

    Go into the email you want to start filtering, and click on the More button at the top. Click on Filter Messages Like this.

    Then fill it the form as you would in Method 1 or 2. This method is great too if you just want to filter from one person and not on a topic.

    So, how do you keep your email organised? Any tips to share?

    p.s Have you signed up for my monthly newsletter yet (in the sidebar)?  I’ll be sending something out next week with some exclusive content you won’t find on the blog!

    p.p.s I’m on Facebook! Why not come say hello?

     

  • Flipboard finally arrives on the iPhone

    This morning, I woke up, checked my emails and then opened the Flipboard app on my iPad to catch up on my favourite online spots. If you’re not familiar with Flipboard, it’s an app that brings together all the updates from your Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Tumblr, Instagram, Google Reader and from all your chosen websites and RSS feeds. Aside from being really useful, saving time and giving me a quick overview of everything at once, it’s also beautiful to view and use. As the name would suggest, you can ‘flip’ through pages, making it perfect for the iPad’s large screen. From within the app you can share content on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or various other accounts, email it to a friend, save it to read later and comment on a blog post or status without leaving the app. You can even post a status from within the app to your favourite sites. Additionally, viewing your Instagram feed is a joy in this app.

    Flipboard comes to the iPhone

    Have I sold you on it yet? Excellent, then you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s finally launched on the iPhone too. It’s been reworked for the small screen, so you ‘flip’ downwards rather than across. Most of the same features are there though – sharing, commenting and reading. The only think I can’t seem to do now is send a standalone tweet through it, but I tend to use Hootsuite for that anyway. This app syncs with the iPad version if you have it too, so you won’t find yourself re-reading old content.

    If you struggle to keep up with your Google Reader, I’d urge you to download this app as it makes it so much cleaner and easier – especially in terms of commenting (particularly with truncated feeds).

    I’ve put together a little gallery below of how various parts of it look, but it’s worth downloading it from the iTunes store (it’s free!) to try it first-hand.

    Are you a Flipboard fan?

    p.s Don’t forget you’ve still got a chance to win a gift from the Fairy Hobmother!

  • OnlyWire: Posting to multiple social services in one click

    The great thing about Twitter, is that you can often find out some pretty interesting stuff from events that you can’t attend yourself. Yesterday, BlogCamp took place and I followed the hashtag #blogcamp with interest. One of the most interesting tweets for me was this one:

    Sharing content to multiple social bookmarking and networking sites is a time-consuming task. Login, submit, login, submit, login, submit….you get the picture. I’ll be honest, I’ve neglected Delicious, Digg and Reddit over the last year, but Sally’s tweet has given me a kick up the backside.

    One way of saving time with submitting links, is to use a service like OnlyWire.

    OnlyWire lets you send one link, with a title, overview and tags, to all your social networking sites. You’ll need to set it up first by creating a (free) account and logging into all your chosen accounts. Thankfully, you’ll only need to do this once. Once you’re set up, you can submit a link on the website, and it’s distributed to your chosen sites. You can also set up several submissions at once, which is handy if you write for several sites.

    You can also download a bookmarklet and WordPress Plugin too. If you scroll down this post, you’ll be able to use the button just above the Sexy Bookmarks.

    I’d suggest using something like this on a daily basis if you blog regularly, or a weekly basis if you prefer to do a batch at once.

    One thing to remember though. Sites like Delicious, Stumbleupon and Reddit frown upon multiple submissions from the same site, so try to make sure you spend a little time each week sharing other content too. Most of the sites have mobile apps, so you can do it while waiting for the bus/waiting for your dinner to cook/waiting in the playground.

    How do you share your content? 

  • Create your own infographic

    I love a good infographic. It’s such an easy way to view a whole lot of information in one glance. And if you have the skills and knowledge to create your own infographic, it can be a wonderful way to get lots of traffic and awareness of your brand out there (especially if you get featured on sites like Mashable or Social Media Today).

    I don’t have the design skills to create my own, but a new site – http://visual.ly – hopes to give everyone a chance to create their own infographic.

    They’ve got a section where you can enter your own Twitter name to create an infographic (which can also pitch you against another Twitter user). It looks like we’ll be able to make our own infographics based on other topics too soon.

    Here’s mine:

    If you’re more of a work geek, you might prefer Wordle. Add your favourite words, URL or Delicious username and it’ll create a fabulous word jumble like the below (based on my blog url).

    Wordle

    Do you know of any other tools for creating infographics?