When you are running your own startup, the end of the year is when you feel the pinch. There are Christmas bonuses to pay out, end of year marketing costs and, of course, making sure you have enough business lined up for the start of a new year.
With the “silly season” about to start, it is hard to find the time to sift through all the apps and tools out there that could ultimately help you get everything done. As a freelancer myself, I realize how helpful these apps can be and have selected a few that I have personally tried and tested for you.
The 10 tools I have selected for this month are as follows:
Our brains work better when we see symbols and icons. It is more memorable and noticeable than plain text. The color, shape and image create a more meaningful experience for the brain to perceive.
Visme is a web-based data visualization tool that helps individuals and teams to translate data into engaging content in the form of presentations and infographics
Not only can we create icons, but also we can visualize our stats and figures to become more engaging with the choices of beautiful, professionally designed templates and ‘ready-made blocks’ which allow us to create our own infographic by mixing and matching pre-designed content blocks from their library.
My favorite element of this App is their Graphs, Charts, and Diagrams. My inner nerd smiles, every time I use these. There are so many graphs and charts to choose from. All you need to do is input your data and then you can have some fun by adding diagrams, flowcharts, and even interactive maps!
Visme transforms the way you create & share engaging Presentations, Infographics and other visual formats and has become one of my favorite Apps to use. It is free and so simple, the only app I use when creating my infographics and graphs. It is such a time saver too as you don’t need any design experience. This is great tool for creatives, marketers, communicators and educators.
Vectary is an online 3D modeling tool with which you can create, share and customize 3D designs. It was built to make 3D modeling easy-to-use for beginners.
This App helps you create 3D content for websites and social media, which is a lot more engaging that 2D and so simple to use. They have pretty much done all the work for you, allowing you to build your visuals in seconds with a simple drag and drop modeling tool.
If I was a beginner at creating 3D images, this would be a definite must have!
Needless to say, I have actually found great use in using this quick and simple app, even as a pro.
Vectary can be a great tool for teaching 3D modeling in schools as well. Students only need to make an account and they can use the same software both in their school labs and their own PCs, this is highly educational.
It also allows you to collaborate with friends and colleagues online, which is helpful when creating and receiving feedback.
Unfortunately you do have to be online to use this app, but it is well worth it.
Spreadsheets are a useful way of grouping relevant information, but they remind me of high school bookkeeping. There is something about it that just seems dull.
And then I found the Stitch App.
The Stitch app aims to provide you with a central hub to store and access information, contact details, showreels and other useful data about your network of freelancers.
It automatically pulls in examples of creative work from portfolio sites and live updates with the most recent information on contacts from across the web.
I found this App to be infinitely more seamless and powerful than your standard spreadsheet.
Stitch has built three features that unify your talent bases across how you organize and keep track of them.
✓ The Blackbook – This offers custom fields allowing you to add unique information about your talent base, searching for skills, tags, rate, location and more.
✓ The Shortlists – Shortlist your talent base for jobs and present them for teams and clients. It’s a great way to round up candidates for a potential job.
✓ Pipelines – This simple and visual pipeline allows you to create steps to keep track of bookings, onboardings, and hires. This enables you to build a unique pipeline for your company, and is easy to use with a drag and drop system
Beyond all these wonderful things Stitch can do, it truly does help you find the right people at the right time. My team and I often hire freelancers when we are overwhelmed with work, and Stitch has organised life into such ease. This App is incredibly useful for big and busy companies.
When I work with my team, it is vital that they are on the same page as me in everything we do, especially hiring potential freelancers to work with us. This App gives us ‘whole team access’, which allows the team to share this knowledge and outsource with each other.
Spirit App is an animation tool for the web that helps designers and developers with creating their animations, real time, in their browser.
Instead of having to code your animations manually, Spirit provides a visual tool, called Spirit Studio, where you can interact live with the animations living on your web page.
No, you don’t have to be a coding genius. With Spirit, anyone can create funky, stylish, and awesome web animations. The “Get Started” section is very helpful with step-by-step explanations and images, so even if you are new or a little confused, there is always help available. However, beginner tutorial videos would be an added bonus. They don’t have this.
Although this App is pricey, it is a great tool for animators, designers and developers.
With Illustrator you can create individual animation frames on layers and then export the image layers into individual frames for use on a website.
If you have created animations in Illustrator, Spirit Animation should be a smooth and easy alternative for you.
I recommend checking this out if you are a creative and looking for Apps and techniques that create ease and flow.
If you are eager to find out more about coding have a look to our WordPress Development Bootcamp
Magnet was created for users like myself, those of us who multitask between various projects and windows simultaneously, jumping between them all.
I often have 5 windows open at a time, each with multiple tabs open.
It can get messy.
Magnet helps you organize your workspace and declutters your screen by snapping windows into organized tiles.
Using customizable keyboard shortcuts or by dragging the windows to the top, bottom, left, or right, each option will snap your windows into a specific order (depending on your liking).
Like a home or your room/office space, if it is clean, your mind is clean and not cluttered. It is the same on your PC, if your screen is clean, you are likely to work a lot more productively than in a messy space.
Here is a link to view how the Magnet App can be applied.
Youtube, Magnet App:
Font Viewer is a simple App and self-explanatory. At the click of a button you can download a large number of fonts.
The fonts are installed and seen in a scrollable grid view that gives you options to change the size, color, background-color and displayed text.
Creators and designers are in constant need of new fonts, and in all honesty we start drooling when we see really gorgeous ones. This app is great as it puts all fonts in an easy to view grid with loads to choose from.
Font Viewer will always be a useful tool to have, even if it just for the sake of your Word documents.
So you are in the marketing business but you are not an animator or a video editor, and can barely get your Microsoft Paint or Microsoft PowerPoint to create the colours and visuals that you are imagining when you make a poster with your images.
Offeo is a phenomenal App that covers all bases. Easy to figure out and user friendly, this app is stylish and trendy. It allows your designs to look professional, right from the start.
From beautiful templates for Logo Animations, Product Catalogues, Social Videos, Promotion/Sales, Announcements, to Festive Greetings and Launches, you can create a video for all your marketing needs.
I thoroughly enjoyed the effort Offeo has put into their customization.
You can customize just about everything, from screen time movement, to color, size, position and more.
For those less inclined to animate their work, Offeo offers a hassle-free animation function.
Worried about spending hours searching for the right royalty free music? Worry not. Offeo has hundreds of soundtracks for every occasion, of all styles, readily available on their site.
Don’t have your own images? Offeo has you covered with millions of stock videos and images. Your designs are limitless!
All in all, this is a winner. Especially when I am in a rush and on the go, and I don’t have time to personally animate objects and Photoshop lines and color or search around for the right music.
If you are anything like me, we love to figure things out on our own.
Sometimes, we need a little help.
When I first started freelancing my rates were always changing as I was trying to break even and eventually make a profit, but my lifestyle changes and traveling would affect the rates I would charge.
I eventually got the hang of it, and wish I had found this site sooner!
Usepastel.com is ridiculously simple to use and effective. In short, they help you figure out how much to charge your clients on an hourly rate, based on your personal lifestyle.
On the home page you are given a set a questions broken up into three sections.
Section one will calculate your annual business costs, section two will calculate your annual personal costs, section three will calculate your billable hours of work per week and section four looks at your profit and taxes.
Once you have completed the 5-minute questionnaire, your results for ideal rates and break-even rates per hour are shown.
So how accurate are they, really?
I wouldn’t be wasting my time writing this if it wasn’t worth looking at. They were rather accurate in the rate I charge, and the questions they asked were relevant in relation to figuring out how to bill my clients.
However, they don’t take into account your skill factor; this makes a difference as to what you charge.
Imagine: You have a great idea or product, so you ask our friends and family what they think. They are bias and always love it. So how do you test these ideas to get maximum results?
Scoops App has created an online panel that answers your question, to test whether or not people take the bait.
You can’t know your target audience before you know if people actually have the problem you are trying to solve. Only when you know this, can you narrow down your audience for your product. Problem first, demographics after.
Scoops is easy to use and yields extremely effective results. First, you create a question (to see if the problem you are trying to solve exists. Second, you get answers (You see if people actually like your idea. Only then do you move on to demographics), and third, you dig deeper, by asking follow up questions, interviewing people based on their response.
As a designer I am constantly creating websites and various other sites for myself and clients, and a huge factor are my users. What are they enjoying? Where do they click the most? What are they drawn to? What don’t they like on the site?
Initially I was using various different tools to analyze the users on my site, trying to see the more popular clicks and interests, but with the Hotjar app, I get everything in one bundle. Hotjar is an analytics tools designed to help marketers better understand their users.
With Hotjar you get instant visual feedback, you can see how people are using your site, and you can make the right changes accordingly. From recordings, form analysis, and feedback polls to surveys and recruit user testers, all bases are covered.
The highlight for me personally is their heatmap.
The heatmap visually represents the users clicks, taps, and scrolling behaviour that ideally reveals everything you want to see as the designer/coder, and where to improve.Their video tutorials are a great help in the beginning to get the maximum understanding and use out of what they offer and how to use it.
That’s it for the last of this year’s top ten roundups! If any this months selection of tech tools for startups, creatives and savvy users have helped you, we would love to hear about it. Send us your feedback and let us know what you think.