In my previous blog entry, I enumerated the gadgets I use for my work as a freelance writer and entrepreneur. However, this only included tangible tech.

I felt that it was also important to include the virtual tools I find helpful. To me, using these tools corresponds to a measurable increase in productivity.

WordPress

Wordpress logo
WordPress logo

Ah, the ever-reliable WordPress. I’ve been using it for blogging (on and off) since 2008.

Though I’ve tested other blogging platforms, I always find myself running back to WordPress.

Why? It’s cost-effective in the long run, and contains a vast set of plug-ins which can help you accomplish objectives (e.g. controlling spam) or add functionality (e.g. a resumé, or an online store) to your site.

It’s also easy to install on a self-hosted site via Softaculous on Cpanel.

As far as website appearance goes, WordPress offers a wide selection of themes and templates you can use for your site’s look and layout. On top of that, many themes also allow you to change aspects of your site’s appearance, including color scheme.

Given, if you’d like to be able to tweak more specific aspects of your site, you’d have to be familiar with PHP and CSS. Alternatively, you can purchase a premium theme to have more control over your site’s elements.

Canva

Creating is simple on Canva!

I’ve never seen a popular image editor as flexible and full of content as Canva! With Canva, creating aesthetic graphics for any conceivable purpose is as simple as a few clicks. It offers an extensive selection of pre-made templates that are super easy to tweak to your liking. The process is almost completely automatic.

I have to admit, I was at first hesitant to try Canva because I thought the images produced would be way too simple or generic, but this turned out not to be the case. I ultimately converted when I realized how difficult it was to create numerous business graphics from scratch.

Trello

Sample Trello board

I first discovered Trello through a client who hired me to work on their social media. Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes projects into boards. According to the description on their website: “In one glance, Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process.”

Its concept is simple — much like a bulletin board where you get to post “cards” corresponding to a topic.

It’s easy to use, but find it still lacks a few features. For instance, I would like a detailed Gantt chart to help me track business processes.

Clockify.me

Clockify homepage

Clockify is a time tracker and timesheet app that lets you track work hours across projects. It works across devices so your data can be synced. Starting an account on Clockify is also free, so I don’t have to add it to my list of subscriptions (which is growing longer by the day).

Clockify is free to use, but additional functionality is also available for purchase.

I really like that Clockify is simple and straightforward. It’s not so full of features I don’t need.

I just need to click a button to start timing my work, and the timer will run even if I minimize the app or accidentally close it. I can even label each timer so I would know which project it corresponds to.

It appears that only one instance of the timer can run at one time, but I don’t see that as a disadvantage since I don’t really multitask too well, and avoid doing so if I can.

Wix.com

The Wix.com logo

Although I’ve established that I’m a WordPress fan, I’ll still add Wix to my list of useful tools. It has an intuitive website builder which allows even an absolute beginner to design a clean and professional-looking website. Before starting my website with self-hosted WordPress, I actually drafted my layout on Wix.

One downside to Wix (which ultimately kept me away from the platform) is that it’s expensive to maintain, and doesn’t have as much potential in the way of functionality as WordPress does.

Websites created through their free plan are, sadly, not very attractive. A banner with text that reads: “This site was designed with the Wix.com website builder. Create your website today” is displayed by default. In order to remove this, you will have to purchase a paid subscription.

Here is a table with their available subscriptions:

Their most basic plan is the “Connect Domain,” which costs US$4.50 a month, or roughly 230 PHP — the cost of a week’s mobile data. You’d think with this plan, the unattractive white banner would already be gone, but apparently that is not the case.

To remove that banner, you will have to purchase the “Combo” plan, which supposedly costs US$8.50 a month. But wait! That only applies when you agree to be billed yearly. That corresponds to a one-time payment of US$102, or 5,123 PHP.

For a US citizen, this might not be a big deal — but for a typical Filipino freelancer, this could be a lot! Possibly even half a month’s income.

If you choose to be billed monthly instead, your cost will go up to US$12 per month. That’s a whole US$3.50 increase. In total, you pay US$114, which is US$42 more! Imagine, your payment goes up from 5,123 PHP to 7,231 PHP. That a whole 2,108 PHP increase! Almost equivalent to your Internet or mobile bill!

Ultimately, the cost of purchasing a dot-com domain on GoDaddy (at the time, they had a promo price of 986.82 PHP for two years) and linking it to my existing Namecheap shared hosting account (US$18.96 a year, or roughly 952.44 PHP) won. Total cost: 1,939.26 (almost 2,000) PHP.

And There You Have It!

This is just a short list of the tools I find most useful in my career as a freelance writer and entrepreneur. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

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