When your job is to develop and sell ideas, it can be difficult to manage your time and stay productive without sacrificing the time you need to think and create.
Here are eight indispensable tools to help you organise and showcase your work to its best.
Evernote is a seriously handy website and accompanying app that lets you write (and draw) notes, quickly save articles and contact information and add photos as you go, essentially digitising that growing pit of crumpled notes, scribbles, business cards, etc. that you’ve been squirreling away in the bottom of your bag. Unlike your squirrel-pit, though, Evernote has a powerful search function that means you can actually find stuff again.
Hipchat is a tool for communicating, organising and sharing between teams that is particularly useful if yours is scattered across different locations, involves a lot of freelancers, or needs to involve the client at some stages of the creative process. Functionally, it’s somewhere between an email system and Facebook Messenger: you can tag specific people in each conversation and response, upload files directly to the thread, and maintain multiple conversations with different teams at once. Plus, it costs just $2 per user, and you can grant temporary access on a project-by-project basis to clients.
Toggl is an absolute must-have for anyone who is routinely over-optimistic about how long a task will take and/or needs to bill their clients by the hour. You just add a project, say which bit you’re working on and how much you charge for that activity, then set the timer going and make sure you stop it as soon as you take your next break. Not only does the system calculate how much you need to bill your client for you, it also helps you to focus, keep track of budgets and deadlines, and, crucially for many creative and small business owners, become more realistic about how much time you actually need for each task, and how much you need to charge to make a profit.
WordPress remains one of the best resources out there for small companies and individuals that are looking to build their own website. Its detailed CMS system and range of broad templates are user-friendly and include plenty of options for showcasing portfolio work. Be careful about mixing up WordPress.com and WordPress.org, however: if you need to make significant customisations to a site, you’ll need to use the latter, but it’s a tad daunting for those with no coding experience, or who want their provider to handle all the hosting and general admin.
Squarespace, on the other hand, is a slightly more expensive, but extremely elegant and well-serviced option for creative companies and freelancers that want a beautiful place to show off their work or products. Apart from the gorgeous, customisable templates, what really sets it apart from the competition is the built-in e-commerce platform, which uses super-safe Stripe technology to process payments. When you factor in the free domain names, this means you can get your online store designed and launched without having to faff about with any other sites or providers.
PSD2HTML is geared towards those perfectionists that know exactly how they want their website to look, but don’t have the IT skills to build it themselves. You can create your website design in Photoshop and hand it over to the PSD2HTML team, who turn it into a reality.
Death to Stock offers a lovely alternative to standard stock photography, which often falls into two camps: ridiculously expensive, and a bit rubbish. Instead, this team of talented photographers produce beautiful, arty, royalty-free images that are perfect for online magazines, blogs and top-end websites… and it costs just $10 per month to use them. The image above is a great example of their business-focussed stock photos.
Hootsuite, meanwhile, saves you a ton of time in getting your work and ideas in front of an audience. The website brings together your various social media pages and allows you to post to all of them, simultaneously or scheduled for a time of your choosing. Plus, you can keep tabs of conversations with followers and fans.