I spend a lot of time on my phone. Like, a lot. I’m too scared to use one of those apps that tells you how much time you spend and on what social medias, because I’m sure I’ll learn I have some problems. Despite the complete time suck, I adore my phone. Partly, because of all the artistic & business opportunities it affords me on a daily basis.
The smart phone I use is an iPhone 7 (I’m very fortunate my day job helps cover some of the cost, and I had a timely upgrade when my iPhone 6 died during holiday sales). I have all of the apps on my phone organized into three pages; the first is my “daily life” apps like those for news, weather, my work calendar and email, Facebook, Fitbit, and more. The middle page is where I have all of my creative business & artistic apps, and the last is for random things like games or grocery store apps I only break out on occasion. You can scroll to the bottom of the post to see how I have organized my work-related apps on my phone, but let's talk about what they are and why I like them!
10 Business & Art Apps for Free or Cheap
Trello: This is my favorite way to make to-do lists as well as list out goals, timelines, and brainstorm blog post ideas. Sometimes I alternate between handwriting on a notepad and using Trello, just to change it up. Trello is so versatile, though, I just keep coming back to it. (Cost: Free, next step up is $9.99/month. Available: Apple & Android)
Notes: Of course, there are a LOT of options for note-taking on devices such as Evernote and OneNote. I've tried different ones over the years, and I've found I'm almost always near a computer and don't need something very robust on my devices. The Notes app comes standard on all iPhones, and for a few basic purposes it meets my needs. Scroll down for a photo of how I save hashtags to paste into Instagram comments using the Notes app. (Cost: Free, standard on iPhones. Available: Apple)
Dropbox: I love Dropbox for a cloud service. It's affordable, easy to use, and I can sync it to everything. I've never had an single issue with their service, and saving all of that room on my hard drive is a must! If you work with Photoshop, Illustrator, or other large files a lot, a cloud-based storage service will eventually become necessary. (Cost: $8.25 per month for an individual, more for a team. Available: Apple & Android)
Buffer: I just started using Buffer about a month ago, and can't imagine going back. After years of getting into a good social media groove and then dropping it when I've felt overwhelmed, Buffer has changed the way I work with Instagram and Pinterest in particular. I'm able to schedule out posts in advance, but still have the flexibility to post things as a go, so it's a good mix. For example, if I've just taken several watercolor process videos and edited them, while I have them right up on my computer I can load them onto Buffer and set them up to post a couple of them a week. No more forgetting where I saved the file, getting busy and then realizing it's been two weeks since I've posted, etc. I've also heard of ViralWoot; has anyone tried both? Do you have a preference? Let me know in the comments, please! (Cost: Free for one social media account per platform, next step up is $10/month. I have two Instagrams, so bumped up to the $10 a month level and it has been great. Available: Apple & Android)
Asana: This is an app I only occasionally use, but when you're managing large projects or collaborating with others, it is just so handy! Asana allows you to break down all of the steps to completing a goal or project, and has calendar views as well as list views. You can set timelines and easily collaborate with others all in one app. I've also heard great things about CoSchedule, especially if you happen to use Wordpress for a website. (Cost: Free for a basic version, next step up is $9.99/month. Available: Apple & Android)
MailChimp: There are a lot of good reasons to offer a newsletter to your fans and followers, and while I don't currently provide one (hopefully soon!), in the past I have used MailChimp and it has been great. MailChimp syncs with almost all social media and eCommerce platforms so you can easily access content, and it can pull information from a list of subcribers, such as from Google Drive, so you don't have to stress over importing information constantly. (Cost: Free, next step up is $10/month. Available: Apple & Android)
Google Analytics: If you have any sort of website or blog (and if you're running a creative business of any sort, you should) Google Analytics is the best and most comprehensive way to track just about everything. You can find out what (and when) content is the most popular for your viewers through page clicks and views, where your traffic is coming from, and even what search engine phrases are leading people to your site. It can even offer demographic information about your viewers, which can help you make marketing decisions too. (Cost: Free. Available: Apple & Android)
Squarespace Blog & Analytics: If your website is through Squarespace, these are part of the app suite that goes along with your account. Likr Squarespace Analytics isn't as robust as Google's, it's easy to use and understand. It can't hurt to get information from different sources. The Squarespace Blog app is convenient to have installed on all of your devices so you can respond to comments, update blog posts, and more all while being away from your computer. Personally, I think it can feel clunky to write blog posts or do significant work within the Blog app, so I stick to the web version for most things whenever possible. (Cost: Apps are free, a Squarespace account depends on your use. Available on Apple, but they have a separate app developed for Android)
Google Drive: Even with a great website service such as Wordpress or Squarespace and an cloud storage such as Dropbox, it can be convenient to keep a Google Drive account. Google Drive is so widely available, when you need to share files with others who may not use iCloud or Dropbox, you can; almost everyone has a Google account. Newsletter services such as Mailchimp use Google Drive to access your list of subscribers, so having that information synced from your website to Google Drive means you not having to do a lot of work to track things. (Cost: Free for 15GB, $1.99/month to go up to 100GB. Available: Apple & Android)
Sell On Etsy: If you have an Etsy shop related to your business, Sell On Etsy makes it possible to respond to customer questions, update listings, and more all while on the go. I would recommend sticking with the regular website for actually setting up the shop or adding new or multiple listings, but the app version means not having to panic when you realize you forgot an address and you're standing at the post-office, or realize an item is no longer available and want to remove the listing right away. (Cost: App is Free, selling on Etsy has fees. Available: Apple & Android)
Bonus 11th app! Bitly: If you frequently post web links, especially on Twitter where you're limited in how many characters you can use, Bitly can make those long, intimidating links so much more reasonable. It's nice that it is free, and is available on both web and app. I've heard BudURL is a good alternative if you're concerned about cookies and tracking which I've heard is a concern about Bitly for some users. (Cost: Free. Available: Apple & Android)
For even more app-recommendation-goodness, you can check out my 8 favorite photo & video editing apps!
Are there other ways you use technology to be more efficient and get business done while out and about? Any other app suggestions? Please share, I’d love to update this post with reader suggestions!