Information and Resources for Solopreneurs

5 Free Tools You’ll Use Every Day

Written By: Amy Biddle in How To Build an E-Business | December 15, 2014

5 Free Tools You'll Use Every Day

Those of us who run online businesses are always looking for new and fun ways to get stuff done. Here are my Top 5 free favorite tools so you can get more stuff done in your online business, and in your life!

evernote

Evernote

I can’t say enough good about Evernote. I keep my daily to do lists (with checkboxes so I can tick off tasks when I complete them!), I draft articles, I keep web page clippings, my shopping list is there, I have my own recipe book, I keep meeting notes… In other words, if I need to be able to find information again, it goes in Evernote.

My old system was a pen and a bound composition book. Every thought I ever wanted to keep went into those books. I had stacks of the things.

Trouble was, if I wanted to find an idea again, I had to remember what scribbles were on the page, or what approximate date I had the idea, or even what notebook the idea might be in.

I’ve heard the same issues from other Evernote users. We like to write ideas down, and we’d like to find them again.

Evernote notes are searchable in a variety of ways (words inside of the notes, notes inside of notebooks, and tags). The free version of Evernote makes all of this possible. Upgrade to Premium if you find you need more upload capability, but I found the free version to have all I wanted for a very long time.

Want to learn more about Evernote? Check out another relevant article on How to Collect and Organize Your Business Ideas With Evernote.

genius

Genius Scan

May 2015 Update : I’ve since moved to an app that works with Evernote, and it works better than Genius Scan. It’s called Scannable. It’s also free (at least so far).

 

I live in my RV, so space is at a premium. I prefer my papers to be digitized. While I do find Genius Scan to be a little bunky (it’s not the most elegant interface), it’s adequate. I can scan paper documents using the camera on my phone, and then email them or file them as PDFs.

Once a document is saved as a PDF I can mark it up on my Mac with built-in mark-up tools (including signing and initialing documents, or adding text anywhere I want to add text) and then send it off wherever I want.

Genius Scan free version is sufficient and I don’t mind the in-app ads to be able to use it. Super handy app.

amazon-kindle-logo

Kindle Reading app

Just like my documents, I prefer to measure my book collection in kilobytes rather than in feet of shelf space. Kindle Reading app for my computer and smartphone takes care of that issue for me.

I read daily, and being able to switch between my phone and my computer is fantastic. I can keep highlights and notes in the books, which then transfer between devices. I can search my notes, or find all of the highlights in a book. I can search for a word or phrase I think I read in the book so I can go back to a section I want to re-read.

It’s also cool that I can carry my book collection with me. No longer do I go to dinner in a restaurant with the wrong book in hand (because I have them all with me)!

skype

Skype

I don’t love talking on the phone, but staying in touch with people is essential. The good news is that Skype is free, it’s on my laptop and my phone, I can instant message with a group and we can turn the chat into a call if chat isn’t moving quickly enough to get the job done. Choose between voice and video call options. Skype has paid calling features, which I have used exactly once in the past 5 years (so obviously, the free services are enough for me). In app ads are minimal, and call quality is fine most of the time.

There can be issues with large groups. Call quality can degrade with a large group, but I haven’t figured out what that number is. I haven’t been in a Skype audio meeting with more than 10 people. Skype claims you can have a group call with up to 25 people.

human

Human

With all of this virtual brain work, it’s really important to remember to move. Human keeps track of all of my movements in a day, and encourages me to move more. For serious workout tracking I’ve used MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, and Strava. These apps have to be turned on and off (which is fine). But Human counts even those little trips to the kitchen (to get another cup of coffee — yeah, not the best), so on those days that I don’t hike or run I don’t have to turn any apps on. Human just tells me how much I’ve moved.

So there you have it — my top 5 tips for “must have” apps. Nothing crazy, all easy, all free, and each one will support your virtual lifestyle in just the right way.

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Amy Biddle
Amy Biddle is Director of the Advisor Team for SiteSell. Amy lives in and works in a small RV, and explores marketing frontiers as well as the frontiers in the lower 48 states of the US.

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