Today’s smartphones are like a digital swiss army knife. You can use them as a camera, as an exercise tracker, for information gathering, a time tracker and alarm clock, a portable library, or as an entertainment center. And yes, you can even use a smartphone to talk to people!
They can also be a great tool to help you manage your art business. I’ve found that many of the tasks I did exclusively on my laptop can be done just as efficiently on my phone. The key are finding the apps that work for you. Here’s a look as some of my most useful phone apps I use every day.
Todoist- I’ve written about how awesome Todoist is before. The Todoist phone app keeps me in constant contact with my task list. I can view all current and future tasks, check them off as I complete them, and add new tasks. The iPhone iOS also allows me to add tasks directly from other apps. So if there is a website that I want to action as a task to view later or a note from Evernote I want make into a task, I can do that directly from those apps.
One of Todoist’s premium features is the ability to set time-based and location based reminders to your phone. I use the time based reminders to help me manage my Etsy store and social media updates and I use the location based reminders to alert me off all of my errand based tasks. The basic Todoist service is free. To use more advanced features like reminders, labels, and task notes you’ll need to subscribe to the premium service which is $29 per year.
Evernote- One of the most useful apps in my list, Evernote is a note taking and archiving tool. I can update, sync, and retrieve my notes across all of my devices and from the web. I use Evernote to clip excerpts from websites, scan and store receipts, archive important emails, and to capture ideas. I log all of my workouts and menu plans in Evernote. My weekly review notes and marketing plans are also stored in Evernote. I also found that it makes a pretty decent blogging tool as well. New blog post ideas are outlined in individual notes which are later fleshed out into full posts. Once the post is done, I copy and paste directly from Evernote into WordPress. This post for example was written entirely in Evernote!
In addition to text notes, Evernote also allows you to store photo and audio based notes and to embed photos and audio into text notes. The audio note feature is useful for recording ideas directly into your phone when it’s not convenient to type. The photo note feature is great for capturing visual ideas, like sketches, compositions, and color schemes. You can also use the photo feature to scan paper documents like receipts. I can even set reminders on individual notes to help me remember things like a upcoming blog posts on when to review an idea I jotted down. The basic Evernote service is free.
Sunrise Calendar- I’ve really hated the built-in calendar app for the iPhone ever since they switched to the new iOS. So for me Sunrise Calendar is a big step up. You can use Sunrise directly to manage all of your calendar events, or you can connect Sunrise to other calendar services like Google, iCloud, and Microsoft Exchange. If you have to keep track of multiple calendars, say you have a work calendar through Exchange and a personal calendar through Google, Sunrise allows you to see all of the events in one place. You can get alerts to upcoming appointments and events right on your phone.
What I find really cool is that I can also connect Sunrise calendar to a variety of other services like Twitter, Facebook, Todoist, Evernote, Eventbrite, and more. All of your Facebook birthdays and events will show up on your calendar. I’ve connected Evernote and Sunrise and use it to create an editorial calendar to help me plan my blog posting schedule. I’ve also connected Sunrise and Todoist to help me schedule my daily tasks.
Sell On Etsy- If you have an Etsy store or two then this app is a must. I use the Sell On Etsy app to help me re-list items on my two Etsy stores and to manage conversations and new orders as they come in. You can also use the app to make some adjustments to your store appearance, policies, and turn the vacation mode on and off. I haven’t found a service I like that will allow me to pre-schedule new items to my Etsy store, so I simply save new products to my shop as drafts and use the Sell On Etsy app to release those drafts as new items throughout the day. And of course, it’s always great to get the new order alerts directly on your phone!
Google Drive- If you have a Google or Gmail account, you automatically have access to Google Drive, where you can transfer and store files, PDFs, images, text documents and spreadsheets for free. I use the Google Drive app on my phone to retrieve images from Google Drive to my phone and to transfer images from my phone to my Google Drive. I can easily access all of the images of my jewelry without taking up extra space on my phone.
Google Sheets- Evernote is great at storing notes, but sometimes you need to access a good old fashioned spreadsheet or text document. While the Google Drive app will allow you to view your Google spreadsheets, you’ll need the Google Sheets app to make any changes. I use the Google Sheets app to access my annual plan and the spreadsheets I use to help me manage my social media updates and my jewelry inventory all on my phone.
WordSwag- This is a paid app that I use to apply gorgeous typography to images and photos for blog posts and social media. While I am fully skilled in Photoshop, I find using WordSwag much easier and just plain fun to use. Plus, I don’t have to fire up the laptop create eye-catching graphics and I can create them from anywhere. What’s even more cool is that WordSwag connects directly to the Pixabay website where you can download beautiful photos and graphics for free and use them instead of your own photos. The WordSwag app costs about $3.99 to download. You can also unlock additional styles and designs for another $2.99, so it’s about $7 for the full app. But as often as I use it, it’s worth every penny.
PhotoCandy- I just discovered this app last week and quickly became obsessed with it. PhotoCandy is a photo app that helps you make amazing images by layering a variety of filters, shapes, overlays, effects, text, and patterns to your existing photos. It also has some basic photo editing tools built into the app so you can crop and resize your images and make changes to the exposure, contrast, sharpness, and brightness. I’ve used a combination of PhotoCandy and WordSwag to help me create graphics for just about all of my blog posts this year. You can download the basic app for free and do some pretty interesting things with the just basic patterns, shapes, and tools. You can upgrade the app for $5.99 and unlock all of the styles and tools.
Note: Unfortunately for Android users, WordSwag and PhotoCandy appear to be iPhone only apps. If you find any great alternatives for the Android, please share in the comments.
Hootsuite- I have several Twitter accounts, so this app is pretty much essential for me. Hootsuite is a social media management service that you can use to manage multiple social media accounts including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Foursquare, WordPress and more. Since I mostly use the Facebook Pages app to manage my Facebook Pages, I mainly use the Hootsuite phone app to keep an eye on my Twitter accounts, replies, and lists. I also use it to pre-schedule tweets to my two accounts. Hootsuite does have a premium service for $5.99 a month that will give you access to more tools, but I seem to be doing just fine on the free service.
Facebook Pages- In addition to the regular Facebook app, I also use the Facebook Pages app to post updates, check my page stats, respond to comments, and to do general management of the Facebook pages for this blog and my jewelry business.
Kindle- Most of my daily reading these days happen on my iPhone or my iPad because of this app. The Kindle app allows me to access and read my entire Kindle library. I can bookmark pages, highlight passages and attach notes to my Kindle books while I’m reading. The app syncs between my phone and iPad so that I’m always taken to the last page I’ve read no matter which device I’m using.
I can also upload documents and PDFs to my Amazon Kindle account and read them directly in the Kindle app. They’ve recently made an update so that you can connect directly to the Amazon Kindle catalog straight from the app (finally!) where you can browse for new books and download samples to your phone. While I love print books, the Kindle app allows me to carry my entire digital library in my pocket, which allows me to read more than ever.
MailChimp- After years of using Aweber to manage my email list, I finally switched over to MailChimp last year. The MailChimp app is a good way for me to monitor my mailing lists and newsletters while away from my laptop. I also use the app to add new subscribers directly to my mailing list while I’m doing face to face meetings or open houses.
So, there’s my long list of very useful phone apps. Do you use any of the apps on this list? What apps do you love that you can’t do without? Please share by leaving a comment below!