free phone apps

Freebies to Use for Your Business: Free Phone Apps For You and Your Biz

In the blog this month, we’ve been looking at freebies (or very inexpensive items) which will help you build your business. They are all things that I’ve used myself and will continue to use in the development of my content and in the content itself.

Again, this all came about when I posted a piece about working with others through the cloud – efficiently and for FREE. It primarily discussed cloud storage apps such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and one I use that not many Americans know about: MEGAupload.

In this post, the freebies we’re looking at are apps. Phone apps and web apps. 

Like most apps, most of these will have a free version and premium version. However, just like the cloud storage apps, you can get by with just the basic version.

 

Applications – Not Just on Your Computer Anymore:

Applications are not all on your computer these days. The days where you’d buy a CD or DVD and install your new program on your hard drive for it to completely work on your computer are, for the most part, long gone. In fact, when I don’t have an internet connection, it’s almost a chore for me to remember which applications I can actually use during that down time.

These days, most apps have an online portion – especially if they have a free tier. How else can they collect your data and emails? That’s essentially what you’re paying when things are “free”. But hey, that’s a pretty small price to pay to get all of this good stuff to help you out, right? 🙂

Anyhow – here’s a list of business apps that you can use mobile and on your pc or Mac.

 

Business Apps:

IFTTT:

If there’s one app that I want you all to know about that I believe will save you a ton of time it’s IFTTT. IFTTT (pronounced like “gift” without the “i”) stands for “if this then that” — is a service that lets you create different recipes for streamlining your online activities. For example, you can create a recipe that saves all the tweets of a particular person and saves them on your Google drive in one spreadsheet. Or, if you want to transition your pics from Instagram to Twitter, you can do that too. Ta-da! Countless squinty-eyed hours saved scouring the Internet.

 

Social Jukebox:

Social media can be a pain in the rear – especially if you’re busy making things! Let Social Jukebox help you out. Just like a music jukebox holds and plays music randomly, it holds a bank of messages you can send out via social media. Its free plan will post to your Twitter up to 4 times a day. And if you subscribe to the premium membership, you’ll get to post to Facebook and LinkedIn as well.

 

Doodle.com:

Scheduling 1 on 1 calls and/or meetings is pretty straight forward with something like calendly.com. But what if you have multiple people you’re looking to get together for a meeting? You can’t use calendly for that (at least I don’t think you can). So what can you do? You could start an email thread and waste half a day tracking replies, or you could use Doodle. Doodle helps you effortlessly set up polls for scheduling. And one big awesome thing to me is that respondents don’t even have to join to answer a poll. Doodle cuts down on needless email and streamlines scheduling big time.

 

Slack & Ryver:

Here’s a couple more tools you can use to remove a ton of the emails that you regularly have to make if you’re part of a team. I’ve used both of these in the past on various projects and I’d say they’re about the same in what they do. And what they do, they do well. If you’re familiar with the old chat rooms that were made popular by AoL, Yahoo, and numerous other sites up until social media came around, then you’ll understand how these tools use channels to contain certain conversations between your team’s members.

 

Personal Development Apps:

Not all apps are geared towards making a business in itself. Sometimes they’re geared in developing you.

I mean, a mechanic can only upgrade his tools so much to do a certain job – because eventually, those tools might go outside of his current ability. In that case, the mechanic needs to get better to keep up with the tools themselves.

There are plenty of apps out there which will help you become a better version of yourself. Here are a few of my favorites:

 

Habitica:

There’s so many habits that we want to develop to make ourselves better in our craft. But the catch is that you have to put in the work to get it done. That’s where Habitica comes into play. It’s a habit building and productivity app that treats your real life like a game. With in-game rewards and punishments to motivate you and a strong social network to inspire you, Habitica can help you achieve your goals to become healthy, hard-working, and happy.

 

Headspace:

If you’re looking to learn how to meditate and the price tag on the Muse is a little out of your reach, then I’d say Headspace might be your next bet. It’s first level is entirely free and includes 10-minute sessions for each day that will help you get into the habit of meditating regularly. There are reminders, and you can choose to focus on aspects like foundation, health, and performance. If you want to go deeper, you can with the premium service.

 

Happier:

In AoL session 79 with Barbara Ireland, we talked about how important it was to get rid of your negative thoughts. Part of doing that is to start developing an attitude of gratitude – focusing on what’s good in your life. With the happier app, you can start collecting happy moments throughout the day to add to your mental journal. (I use this because the 5 Minute Journal still hasn’t come to Android yet. If you’re a iPhone user – pick that up here.)

 

Headout:

A lot of us who are in the the creative space work from home. So sometimes we don’t get out and about our own cities like we should. I mean, all work and no play doesn’t make anyone any better, right?

What’s cool about this app is that it features “incredible experiences on demand,” which is a trendy way of saying it has “the best activities, events and tours happening in town.” You can find and book last-minute deals if you’re feeling spontaneous. Paired along with Field Trip, you should always have new things to discover.

 

Reddit Is Fun:

Ok, so this one is kind of a cop out, because it’s a reddit browser. Reddit is the front page of the internet – so that means that pretty much everything that you can find online is on there. However, that said, there are subreddits that you can use to make your life better. Download the app and then check out these subs to get an idea of what I’m talking about: r/stopgaming, r/selfimprovement, , r/entrepreneur, r/getmotivated, r/iwanttolearn, r/lifeprotips, r/productivity, r/zenhabits and r/selfhelp.

 

Action Steps:

Ok, so there you go, guys. Ten apps that I use on a regular basis for my business and to improve it. I recommend checking them all out and seeing which ones fit you. There’s a few other ones that I could have added, but these are the ones that I’ve used the most. 

If I’m missing any that you think should have been on this list because YOU use them all the time, I’d love to hear about it. Drop the name of it below and I’ll check it out!

best free stock photo sites

Freebies to Use For Your Business: Best Free Stock Photo Sites

Last month, I wrote a piece on free cloud services that we can use to host our files. I mentioned that I used three different services because I use them for different tasks.

That triggered a number of questions from various folks asking if I knew of other free services that new online creatives could use while they were growing their business.

Here were the 4 main requests:

  • Free stock images
  • Free music
  • Best free business advice (if they couldn’t afford Fizzle at $35/mo)
  • Free apps I use to make my life easier and more productive.

This week, I’m going to start with discussing free stock images.

I’ll be visiting three vital things to know when you’re dealing with free stock images:

  1. What they actually are.
  2. How to know if you can use them in your project.
  3. And, where you can find them.

 

What Are Stock Images

Stock images are one of those necessary evils that many of us will have to use for our projects one time or another.

Stock images are images that are created by a photographer or illustrators in order for them to be used in commercial content.

Most of the time, they’re available in a huge libraries such as Shutterstock, 123RF, and iStockPhoto.

However, not all images that are used with commercial content are stock. Stock simply means the image is generic and people can use it for pretty much anything.

For example, Pat Flynn opts to use images that are illustrations of the topic, whereas I personally tend to use stills from real life.

types of stock images

Different types of Stock Images used in Blogging and Posts Today

 

In fact, most of the time I’m using images of people doing something. In my mind it makes it more relatable.

Again, don’t confuse images that were created generically with images that were made specifically for a certain purpose.

For example, even though they might look like they’re stock shots, the cover images of the Unmistakable Creative look like generic outlines, but in reality, they play a vital part to their marketing and brand.

How to Know if You Can Use a Stock Image In Your Project

There’s two things you want to consider before using an image for your next project.

  • What kind of license does it have?
  • Does it have a watermark on it?

Licensing:

Licenses for stock images are generally divided into two types:

  • Royalty free
  • Rights-managed

Royalty free means that once someone has purchased a license to an image, they can use the image multiple times without having to pay again to do so. If the image is free (like we’re talking about in this post), then that means that you’ll be able to use it as many times as you’d like.

Rights-managed images are generally restricted in terms of usage – limitations may include industry, geographic location or the duration for which the image can be used.

If you’re going to be paying for a license (which I’m not sure why you’d do that after today’s post) and/or you’re unsure what type of license you’ll need to purchase for a particular image, be sure to contact the company who owns it and ensure you’ll be covered.

 

Watermarks:

The easiest way to identify a stock image is to look for a watermark on the image itself. This watermark will often indicate the source of the image.

Here’s a ridiculous example of watermarking vs what you’ll normally see:

Examples of Watermarks that you might see on the web today.

Neither one you’d want to use in your work. Let me repeat that…

NEVER USE WATERMARKED IMAGES IN YOUR WORK.

It doesn’t matter how small the watermark is. If it’s showing that’s a huge no-no.

That said, it can be difficult to determine if images are stock. One way to check is to use reverse image search platforms like Google Images or TinEye.com. On their native sites, they  allow you to upload the image and search it against billions of others. (If you use Chrome like me, though, there’s a plugin you can use that will allow you to check with a single click.)

If the image doesn’t turn up, chances are it’s original.

Alternatively, if it’s used everywhere, there’s a good chance that it’s royalty-free. It’s up to you to find the source of the image though.

This may sound like a lot of work, but in reality, it all boils down to just a few extra minutes of your time. And with all of the effort you put day in and day out into making your business a success, it’s certainly worth it to ensure you’ll be able to use your new design, hassle-free, for years to come.

 

Where Can You Find Free Stock Images

Ok, now that I got that legalese part out of the way, here’s the meat of this post.

What sites do I use to find my royalty free images?

Here are the top 3 that I use:

Pexels tends to have some of the coolest shots I’ve seen, but have somewhat of a limited selection. If I can find an image there, I’ll often use it.

If I can’t find something at Pexels, I’ll use the other two to find what I’m looking for.

And if that’s not enough sources for you, then here’s a good list provided by Entrepreneur.com:

14 Amazingly Free Stock Photo Websites

One by Bryan Inness over at Who Is Hosting This

Free Stock Photos: 100+ Free (& Nearly Free) Libraries

And another one of “Non-Stock” Photo Sources:

The Free High Quality Non-Stock Photo Sources You’ve Always Wanted

Make sure you give credit if it’s required!

Action Steps:

Ok guys. So there you go. If you’re ever in need of an image again for your content and don’t want to or can’t take a good image yourself, there’s really no reason why you should have to pay for a good one.

In fact, there’s a site that’s all about killing stock photos altogether: Death to the Stock Photo (they’re not exactly 100% free, so I didn’t use them in the list above).

However, if you do find yourself paying for image that you simply must have for your work, then make sure you abide by the rules of the license. You could be slapped with a huge fine if you don’t.

Also, just for bonus – here are some good do’s and don’ts when it comes to finding good images for your next project:

10 Do’s and Don’ts for Using Stock Photos in Your Marketing

free cloud services

Working with Others Online: 3 Free Cloud Services You Can Use to be More Efficient

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of work planning and collaborating with others. Whether it’s my usual recording of the podcast or simply working on docs together, I’ve been using free cloud services to get it done. One type of those I want to discuss in this post are file sharing services.

I’m sure, if you’re an online creative, you’ve probably at least heard of them. And you probably know they come with premium upgrades you can subscribe to get more perks.

If done right, you can use the free versions of these programs to do most of what you want to do.

From moving large files like video and audio to being able to work on documents together at the same time, you can do it all without having to pay a penny to get it done.

 

Reasons to Use Cloud Based File Sharing Services:

Not familiar with cloud based file sharing services? Here are some quick reasons why you might consider using them:

Mobility

Like the idea of having your files available anywhere you go? With these services, all you have to do is upload it to the server on your laptop or desktop, and you’ll have access to it anywhere. That could really be useful if you want to show someone something at an event you might find yourself at.

 

Syncing Abilities

All of the apps I use come with applications that I can install on my computers to allow me to sync whatever I upload from one computer to sync to a folder on another. This is great if you want to get a bit more done on sometime that you were doing on your desktop and needed to pick up again on your laptop.

For me, it might be that I’m working on a podcast and still need to edit parts of it as I’m traveling. Perhaps I need to still work on the cover art or upload it when I have it fully ready. Being able to put incomplete work up on the cloud and sync it among different machines is really useful.

Share Documents Easy

Perhaps you want to collaborate on a document with someone else. Sure, you could email it back and forth, but eventually you might end up with 5 different copies of the same document at different levels of completion.

Why do that when you can just make a document on Google Docs, share it with the other person’s Gmail account, and then work on it via the cloud?

Also, you don’t have to wait until they’re done with the work on their end! You can work on it together at the same time. For many, that’s a game changer in itself!

Keep Your Documents Safe

Another perk about using cloud storage is the simple fact that you might want to make a backup of certain files. Having those files online (whether it’s through the services I’m about to share with you or something like Carbonite) can really give you some piece of mind.

 

My Three Cloud Storage Service Apps of Choice:

Ok, so let’s look at the different ones that I use and what I specifically use them for. Remember, I’m using all of these for free. Also, keep in mind they all have their own sync folders on my computers so I can easily move one file from one service to another.

 

Google Drive

Probably the most versatile of the three services that I use. Not only does it do storage of files like the other two, but it also does remote documents as well.

Personally, I like to use it mainly for documents that I don’t plan on moving for a long time: This includes images and pieces I actually make in Google Docs and Sheets.

I like to write my blog posts on the Docs app before I ever post on WordPress. WordPress has a bad tendency to lose connection when I’m writing at times which, at best, will prevent me from autosaving. At worse, it’ll destroy any post that I might have been making.

Note: Rule of thumb when working with WordPress: Get in, post, and get out as quickly as possible. Don’t have it on all day in the background as you add things to it. That’s just waiting for trouble.

I use Sheets when I’m taking notes of my podcasts. I’ll write the note and time in different cells. Then, after I add the intro and outro of the podcast, I’ll go back and input how long the intro is of the show. I’ll add that to the times of the notes and then have a cell where it gives me the the totals of those two numbers. Sure you could do this in Excel, but it’s great to do on Sheets because again, you don’t have to stay in place to do it all.

 

Dropbox

One of the drawbacks that Google Drive has is that for whatever reason, it has problems syncing on phones (especially Android believe it or not!) and can also be somewhat of a resource hog when you’re uploading and downloading files. Meaning, it will bog down your entire computer if you’re not careful.

Many of the things that I choose to share with Dropbox are files that I need to make sure I have access to right away on my phone. This includes social media images and short videos that I might want to share with friends.

The drawback of Dropbox is the size of storage you get when you sign up for a free account. It pales in comparison to what you get with Google Drive and the next service I’ll be mentioning here shortly – MEGA. That said, you can get more free storage by sharing Dropbox with other people and having them sign up for their own accounts using your link.

If you haven’t gotten your own Dropbox account yet, and would like to have an additional 500MB when you sign up, here’s my “affiliate link” to do that. I’ll get paid with 500MB of more space! Thanks in advance! 🙂

 

MEGA

Based out of New Zealand, this service is the slowest of the three. BUT, having 50GB to use immediately when you sign up for a free account – wow! That’s a ton of space. Especially when not too long ago a student career account at Purdue was 500MB (and I think might only be 5 GB now?)

I tend to use this service when I’m moving media files from one device to another.

It seems that it’s a bit more encrypted than the other two. So if there’s some personal stuff that you want to move, this might be a better option as well.

One drawback that MEGA has is it’s user interface (UI). It’s functional and you can find things, but it’s not the easiest to have guests download items like it is in Dropbox and Google Drive.

Another thing is that when you throw things away, it stays in MEGA’s cache. This comes in handy if you don’t mean to delete several gigs of video with a single key stroke. However, to completely get rid of things, you’ll need to first throw them away on your device. After that, you’d then head onto your MEGA account in Chrome and empty the online “rubbish bin” as well.

 

Action Steps:

So there’s a quick rundown of the free services I use to move files around the web. For me, they all have their uses. But if you’re addicted to spending money or just want more simplicity, you could definitely pay for one of the services. I think you’d probably get more with Google Docs – however, Dropbox is really simple to use.

If you do start using any of these, I’d suggest one more thing. If you’re ever sharing any big files (video and/or audio especially!) with anyone using one of these services, have them sign up for an account and download the service’s syncing app.

This will help you both in two regards. One, you won’t have to wait for them to download the files to their computer directly. And two, if they get the sync app, they won’t have to worry about the download stopping midway if you’re sending a big file. All of the sync apps just move files byte for byte and resume where they leave off.

Anyway, if you have any questions on any of this, let me know. I’ve been using all of these services for several years now.