The best tech tools for video chatting, mileage tracking, social media, and more
It’s 2018: The year you make your side hustle your main hustle. It’s the year you finally put your dreams in motion and turn that small pebble of an idea into a rolling rock of action and purpose. On the way, you’re going to need a little help — help from mentors, from friends and family, and from technology.
You may remember last year’s blog, 5 Apps Freelancers Shouldn’t Leave Home Without. This year, we’re upping the ante to 10 apps, with features ranging from easy shipping and video chat to project management and invoicing. Each of these tech tools offers valuable solutions designed to make your job (and it’s a big one) a little easier.
This year, don’t let fear hold you back from achieving your goals. Don’t limit your potential by ignoring apps that can maximize your efficiency. There are only so many hours in a day, but with apps like these, you might just have time to sit back and toast your success!
AirTable is an organization app perfect for freelancers going at their side hustle alone or with friends. It’s extremely visual, with options to view your lists and groups on AirTable’s interactive grid or gallery. Sort projects by priority. Shift tasks around on AirTable’s easy-to-use calendar. And group contacts or to-do list items by deadline, department, and more. It’s completely customizable and highly collaborative. To see AirTable in action, check out this video.
In many ways, the internet has made the world smaller. A customer in Baltimore can find a carpenter in Tucson and order a custom-designed chair to be made and shipped to their address. Unfortunately, while the internet may have brought people closer together on a virtual landscape, meeting in person isn’t always so easy, particularly when hundreds of miles separate a business owner from their client. Here to make those face-to-face meetings possible is Zoom, a video communications software solution.
Zoom’s plans are highly affordable for small businesses. Their free plan includes unlimited one-on-one meetings and gives groups up to 40 minutes of meeting time, with the ability to host up to 100 participants at once.
Whether your side hustle thrives on sealing the deal over video chat or you’re interested in hosting a few webinars to drum up interest for your business or nonprofit, Zoom is an easy communication solution.
Keeping up with customers is important — not just for managing orders, but for reminding past clients you’re still in business and ready to work. MailChimp makes it easier than ever to stay in touch, by helping you build and manage your mailing list and send professional-looking correspondence. With MailChimp, you can create everything from automated welcome emails to ads and e-newsletters. It’s an essential tool that should be part of every small business owner’s marketing arsenal.
If your side hustle involves shipping out product, you need to sign up for ShipStation. It’s an inventory management and shipping app, designed to make getting your product from A to B quick and easy. Unlike similar apps, ShipStation is available on iOS and Android, making it easy for users to track shipments, no matter what smartphone they own.
ShipStation is also incredibly affordable! Whether you’re shipping 50 packages a month (a $10 subscription) or 500 (just $25 a month), ShipStation gets you the best deals and discounts with USPS, FedEx, and more, and it ensures every package you send is going out at the best possible rate.
It can be a little scary, sending out emails and documents to clients, particularly when correct grammar and punctuation don’t come to you easily. Luckily, the Grammarly plug-in works like your own back-pocket editor. Install it on any device, and reap the rewards of error-free client correspondence.
When you’re getting a side hustle off the ground, you need all the help you can get, and that means saving anywhere you can. For side hustlers with a commute, tracking miles for tax purposes or billing is all part of staying profitable. The tough part of this is remembering to check the odometer before leaving your house or record the miles after a trip is complete. Add in the complications of tracking miles for multiple clients, and it’s easy to see how many professionals aren’t getting an accurate picture of their time on the road.
MileIQ is here to help. With detailed reports that send your recorded miles directly to the cloud, you’ll never have to worry about losing or misplacing your miles. Mark certain destinations in the app to keep customers separate, then let MileIQ run in the background as you make your rounds. Classify which trips are for business and which are personal with a swipe across your screen. It’s as easy as that. Best of all, MileIQ is very affordable, with a free plan for 40 monthly trips or fewer, and monthly and annual paid plans for folks who travel more frequently.
Small business owners, especially, know how important it is to connect with customers regularly over social media. It’s a low-cost alternative to more expensive campaigns like paid ads or mailers. But keeping track of posts across multiple platforms, from Instagram to Facebook to Twitter, can be a time-suck — not to mention, confusing. One solution to that confusion is Hootsuite.
For the self-employed, especially, Hootsuite makes a lot of sense. Their free plan allows you to manage up to three different profiles, which is plenty when you’re just getting your business off the ground. Pay just $20 more a month, however, and Hootsuite offers substantial bang for your buck in the form of real-time analytics, interactive contests and sweepstakes, and the ability to manage up to 10 profiles.
Sometimes the easiest method for keeping track of ideas on-the-fly is to just write a note. If you’re not the type to carry a pen and paper, you likely record your thoughts on your phone or another device. The trouble is, unless all your devices come from the same family, opening up a note on your laptop that you recorded earlier in the week on your phone isn’t really possible. Evernote changes all of that.
With Evernote, it doesn’t matter if you have an Android, an iPad, and a Chromebook. Install the app on all three, and enjoy the ultimate convenience of accessing all your checklists, images, PDFs, and even handwritten notes from anywhere. Evernote syncs across your devices so you never lose your place. Bonus: Since all your records are kept in the cloud, you never have to worry about misplacing an important thought ever again.
TSheets by QuickBooks
Yes, us! Even if you’re thinking, “I’m self-employed. I don’t need a time clock,” we guarantee TSheets can bring some joy and relief to your life. Keep track of deadlines and projects using our scheduling software — also helpful if you’re managing a team or have a partner with their own plans to keep track of.
Create job codes, and track the time you spend on specific projects for each customer. Use TSheets job costing to help determine how much you should be billing for the work you do. When you add up the cost of supplies, labor, and time, and compare that sum to the amount you’re currently charging for a certain product or service, you may find the key to making your endeavor more profitable. Finally, use the data you’ve gathered to create invoices for clients. You can even use TSheets inside QuickBooks Online, and if you’re not …
Whether your side hustle is a small family business or your own inspired nonprofit, you’re likely in need of a software to track expenses and income, create invoices, accept payments, and more.
Independent contractors, especially, can get a lot out of QuickBooks Online for just $10-15 a month. Small businesses with multiple users pay slightly more (starting at $35) but also experience additional perks like bill pay, the option to print checks, and inventory tracking synced with multiple retailers like Etsy, Amazon, and Shopify.
Looking to bring a few employees under your wing? Add enhanced payroll to your account, and give the gift of direct deposit to your new hires. Enhanced payroll also walks you through state and federal taxes and gives you the option to print and file W-2s around tax time.