• Five more apps for freelancers

    Back in May, I wrote a piece about 20 of the best apps for freelancing. Well, here’s an update with five more!

    1) OnTrees


    OnTrees is an app and website that brings together all of your bank accounts/credit cards and saving accounts in one place, showing you how you spend it and giving you a budget you can customise and receive alerts from. I initially tried it a year or so ago, and was impressed but had some issues adding certain accounts. This seems to have been sorted now, and they’re in the middle of adding lots of other features too. I’ve found it really hard to see how everything is going with personal and business accounts, as well as tracking my credit cards.

    One word of warning though – Rosie from OneManBandAccounting mentioned on Twitter that she’s not worried about their security but doesn’t trust the banks to not blame her if she had fraud etc, so it’s worth considering that.

    boxer app2) Boxer

    Last time, I told you about Mailbox. It seemed like a great mail app, but it gradually became slower for me. Boxer is now my mail app of choice, and is blowing both Mailbox and Apple Mail out of the water. Not only can I quickly check various accounts, but I can also quickly swipe through each message to delete it, add it to a To Do list, archive it, Liking it (which sends the other person a message saying you like it), Label it, stick it in Spam and send a quick response from the list of responses which you can customise.

    3) Haiku Deck

    Haiku Deck is an app Jennifer Begg, my new colleague and old friend, introduced me to. It’s brilliant for creating quick and easy presentations. If you like the Zemanta plugin, which comes up with suggestions based on what you’re typing, you’ll like this app. With Haiku Deck, simplicity is key. Choose an image, text to overlay on top or a graph. Modern presentations don’t need to be really wordy anyway – it usually distracts those watching the presentation.

    Below is an example of what you can do with this tool.

    Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

    Notability4) Notability

    When you’re in a meeting, it can sometimes be tricky to stay on track when things jump around a lot. Which is why I love Notability. This app is brilliant for university students too. Working best on an iPad (although it’s still pretty good on an iPhone), this app records the sound while leaving you free to type out notes, hand draw them or create diagrams.

    Sometimes, I’m dead jealous of how many useful apps students have now at their fingertips.

    5) Concept

    conceptappConcept is a sexy little app for making mind maps or diagrams. I’ve been using it for creating sessions in my day job, but it’s great if you prefer to dump your thoughts in mindmap format.

    What apps do you rate as a freelancer?

  • 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!

  • Five ways to blog daily

    It seems like a post pops up in my Google Reader every week raving about the benefits of posting on your blog every day.  And I completely agree with them. During the 30 Day Blog Challenge (which you can see here), I saw my traffic and subscribers rise substantially.

    But posting every day is hard. I write for eight or nine blogs, and I post on half of them daily. On top of that, I work three days a week as a social media and web co-ordinator, so finding the time to post daily on my own blog tends to slip down on the priority list.

    However, I’ve been working on a few ways to increase my posts on this site, at least to several times a week.

    Build an online scrapbook for ideas

    I often come across a post, image, infographic or video that I’d love to feature on the site…then forget all about it a day later. Now, I use Read It Later (a toolbar addon that allows you to save a page quickly to read later) and Springpad (to grab all sorts of urls and media for later use). This way, I save time and collect lots of potential post material.

    Both of these tools have iPhone apps too, and Springpad also has an iPad app.You can also view your Read It Later items on the personalised magazine app Zite for the iPad, and save items from Flipboard onto RIL.

    Calender for WP:RADIOWP, July 2008
    Image via Wikipedia

    Create a scheduled spreadsheet

    Popping all your posts into a spreadsheet is a bit like unloading your brain into something a little more organised. You can see what you need to publish that day, which gives you goals and targets to work towards. If you’re using WordPress, the WordPress Editorial Calender is brilliant for this. Otherwise, a simple Google Doc/Excel doc will do the job nicely.

    Set themed days

    If you find you’re lost for inspiration sometimes, it’s worth having themed days for your blog posts. For example, every Friday could be the day you do a mini-summary of your recent blog posts/activities, and Silent Sunday is also a popular theme (and quick too!)

    Posts don’t need to be long

    For ages, I’ve been fighting the mindset that a good post has to be a long post.  But some of my most popular posts are simple infographics, videos and images. Variety is key, so a mix of long and short blog posts makes your content look interesting and stops you going a bit mental about the idea of writing a 500-word post every day. You might also want to consider video blogging.

    Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
    Image via CrunchBase

    Write on the go

    Most of us have smart phones now, and with tablets becoming more and more popular, there are more opportunities to write on the go. Even if you don’t have the tech, you can still jot down any ideas or draft posts when you’re on the go. This is one of the few reasons why I like getting the train – it’s the perfect time to write a distraction-free post.

    Do you post every day? Any tips you’d like to share?