Learn about essential cloud apps that provide anytime, anywhere access for part-time business owners or budding entrepreneurs. This blog post is part of the Balancing the Part-Time Business While Working a Day Job SERIES.
When I tell people I manage my business while still maintaining a day job, they always ask me how or either look at me like I’m some superwoman. Far from it! When it comes to balance, I have to be honest. There have been plenty of instances I flat out couldn’t keep up with my workload for my business. The good thing is I have learned over the years what systems keep me connected.
If you have not already, invest in a smartphone, tablet and/or laptop for your business. These devices are essential for using cloud-based applications (apps) so you can access files on the go. There could come a time when you need to send a file to a client because they can’t find it. In some cases, if it’s a document that you need to edit, you can do that with many types of cloud apps.
Here are ten essential cloud apps that I use on a regular basis and in some cases daily.
1 | Dropbox
Anytime I can, I keep client files in Dropbox so I can easily share and also so they can access the file again if they need it. Dropbox starts off free at 2GB, but if you use it to backup and share files, investing in the $9.99 a month is worth it. You can’t beat 1Tb of space. This is usually more than enough space unless you are storing a lot of media files like video which can easily eat up storage.
2 | Google Apps
I recently invested in a Chromebook, mainly because I have been a fan of Google for many years. I use many of their products which include Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, and Youtube. Like Dropbox, Google offers inexpensive cloud storage starting at $1.99 for 100 GB. I highly recommend investing in storage if you use Google Drive regularly for editing and storing files too. If you want a more customized service you can also invest in Google Apps for Work. You may find increased storage and the free Google Drive work just fine as your business continues to grow.
3 | Scrivener
When I’m not running my business, I’m writing a book. I purchased Scrivener about a year ago, but never really figured out how to use. This past Spring, after taking the Learn Scrivener Fast course, I discovered this tool was not only great for compiling a book, but also for planning blog posts. In August 2016, Scrivener stepped up their game by finally releasing an iOS version. The app is $19.95, but it has been so worth the price to pull up Scrivener on my iPad or iPhone. The Scrivener files sync very well with Dropbox. You see how all these tools work together!
4 | Trello
I have worked with quite a few project management tools, but Trello’s visual interface and easy drag and drop cards won me over. You can create boards for separate projects. On each board, you can create a list. On each list, cards can be added that provide details or tasks for the project. The cards are packed with a lot of extras that include adding due dates, attachments, and checklists. If you want to connect Trello with your calendar or use with other apps like Dropbox, Google Drive, etc, you can use Power-Ups. Unlimited Power-Ups are included in Trello Business Class. I’m a Trello Gold user which allows for one Power-Up per board.
5 | Evernote
I have been an Evernote user since I started writing my fiction books. Evernote works like an electronic binder or notebook where you can save web pages. I’ve mainly used this tool for gathering research in the past. Now I also use it to gather ideas for blog posts. I even have a notebook that I keep content from online courses or webinar since sometimes those downloads get lost in your email.
6 | Pocket
When I have an online resource I want to save for awhile, I use Evernote. Pocket works more as a “Read for Later” or “Share this Later” type tool for me. If I find articles or blog posts that I want to consume later, I will add them to Pocket. This app serves as a temporary place for me to store content that I want to schedule and share on my social media platforms too.
7 | Mailchimp
Email marketing is very important. Mailchimp’s Forever Free is a great starter plan that allows up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. It’s very easy to create a list and schedule a campaign. If your business requires autoresponders, then you will need to upgrade to be able to use the automation workflows. To ensure growth of your mailing list the use of automation is going to be required to build even the simplest sales funnel. For now, I like Mailchimp’s setup. It’s been easy and intuitive for me.
8 | Buffer
As my central social media management tool, Buffer allows me to share blog posts and other valuable content via a set queue or a scheduled day/time. On my phone, I often read articles that I have saved in Pocket (see above). If I read an article worth sharing, I will add the article to my Buffer queue schedule. The only downside is if you want to schedule content for several social media profiles, you will need to invest in at least the Awesome plan, which I have for a few years.
As a note, I also use other tools like Hootsuite (manage my Facebook Groups) and Social Jukebox (great for consistently sharing evergreen content).
9 | Canva
This has become one of my favorite online tools. I have found in the past year when it comes to making graphics for my blogs and social media, hands-down Canva is worth pulling up in the browser versus opening desktop software like Adobe Photoshop. In fact I love Canva so much I pay for the Canva for Work version. Being able to (1) make various social media sizes on the fly from one design and (2) keep your brand colors easily in one place made this cloud app worth the investment. Also Canva offers cool apps on the iPad and iPhone too. You can certainly do fine with the free version.
10 | WordPress
What are your favorite apps?
When I started this article I was planning to share my top five apps, but then I couldn’t choose the top five. I’m sure there are more apps that I didn’t mention, but these ten are definitely my essential apps.
Let me know if you use any of these apps or what apps are your favorites!