Earlier this year, I snowballed into the world of writing. As much as I knew I wanted to chase a career as a freelance writer, I was starting everything from scratch.
Up until that point, I’d spent most of my adult life working in sports governance. I had a massive network in football, but I didn’t know any other freelancers.
Without that ready-made network, I spent a fair amount of time stumbling around in the dark trying to find the light switch. For much of the last four months, I’ve been ‘winging it’.
I’m not new to ‘winging it’, and thankfully I’m inquisitive, and I have a desire to learn. As my freelance network begins to grow, I’m comforted to know that I’m not the only one stumbling around in the dark.
Thanks to both my growing network and my curious mind, over the last few months, I’ve been introduced to several apps, which have, quite frankly, been a hero in disguise.
Not only do they make my business look, feel, and sound more professional, they’re also saving me time, and guess what? They haven’t cost me a penny.
Ahh, my best friend. I love Canva. For those who haven’t heard of it before, Canva is an app for designing templates. Whether you’re looking for a template to use for social media, a flyer or a brochure, or even a template for a presentation, Canva has you covered. I use Canva for many of my clients, especially those who would like to use quotes on their social media or testimonials. Whilst I use a free version of Canva, there is an option to upgrade to a paid version, which gives you access to more templates and designs. I keep telling myself that if more of my work requires me to access the paid content, I’ll upgrade, but so far, it hasn’t been necessary. Whether you’re a natural designer or not, Canva’s brilliant for designing templates, whether you prefer to make your own from scratch or use one of the hundreds of ready-made templates for you to download and use.
I’d tried a couple of different social media planners before stumbling across Later, but I love the simplicity of this app. The only downside is you can only manage one set of accounts on it, even with the paid version. Later has saved me so much time. When I first started to manage clients social media accounts, I was trying to remember to post content at a set time, and I was writing content off the cuff. Later allows the user to schedule social media posts in advance. I now get to write content when I’m in the right headspace rather than forcing myself to write content because I have to get a post out there. To use the app, you have to have an Instagram account, and if you want to use the auto-publish function, you must also have a Facebook account.
As with the other apps I’ve covered, there is also a paid version available. But for someone who posts 3/5 times per week, the free version works perfectly. If you’re a huge company that wants to post multiple times a day, you’re probably going to need the paid version.
Call me old school, but I love writing with an actual pen and paper. At the beginning of the year, as I started to get myself organised, I treated myself to a hardback diary. I loved that I could see what I had coming up, and I even colour co-ordinated it by highlighting meetings in one colour and highlighting my to-do jobs in a different colour. Then, one of my clients introduced me to Trello. Like me, she loves a notebook and loves to write things down, but as we both needed access to the same to-do lists, we decided to give Trello a go. Trello is a virtual to-do list that you can share with others. The app allows you to share ‘boards’, so there’s no need for everyone to repeat the same to-do list. You can add who is responsible for completing each task, as well as managing deadlines. You can even tick things off once they are complete. The other part of Trello I love is that if you forget to check your to-do list, it sends you automatic reminders to your email address, reminding you when a deadline is looming. I have to admit I’m not quite ready to wave goodbye to my hardback diary. But Trello is brilliant for keeping tabs on re-occurring tasks such as deadlines for newsletters and project planning.
As with Canva, there is a paid plan available, but I haven’t needed to use this so far and continue to use the free version.
Grammarly has been another game-changer for me. You could argue that as a writer, I shouldn’t need an app that makes my writing sound more professional. But being a writer doesn’t mean we’re perfect. We make mistakes. Sometimes even the most talented writer has a mental block and might place a comma in the wrong place or forget to use an apostrophe. Mistakes happen. Mistakes don’t make us awful writers. But by downloading Grammarly, you can wave goodbye to grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. The app even lets you know when you’ve overused fillers such as actually, just and really.
If you pay for the premium version, it also gives you suggestions for more appropriate words and sentences to use. Even with the free version, Grammarly highlights sentences that are too long and underlines questionable word choices. The paid version tells you what you can replace these words with, whereas the free version highlights that an alternative word might be better but doesn’t tell you what that word might be. However, with a little bit of playing around, you can usually work out the problem, even with the free version.
#5. Email Marketing Apps
Ok, so I know I’m cheating a little bit with this one, as I clearly haven’t listed a specific app. However, I couldn’t leave email marketing tools out of this as both MailChimp and Mailerlite, the two apps I’ve been using for clients, have been brilliant. I’ve been using the free plan for both, and for what my clients need, they work perfectly.
Did you know that according to TechPixies, your organic social media posts only get seen by 3-10% of your organic audience? Yet emails get opened 20-40% of the time. Email marketing is therefore essential for businesses.
There is a high demand for newsletters at the moment. Without MailChimp and Mailerlite, my job would be so much more difficult.
Again, both have paid plans, but unless you’re circulating your newsletter to tens of thousands of customers, you’re probably ok using the free version.
So there you have it, these are just a handful of apps that are currently making my life easier, whilst also making sure that not just my content, but my clients content too, is professional in every way possible.
I’d love to hear which apps you use to help make life easier. Even if you’re not a freelancer, I’d love to hear from you, so why not let me know in the comments below, what you think of my suggestions, and which apps you use which save you time and make your lives easier?