5 Apps To Improve Your Online Side Hustle

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One thing you have to give 2020 credit for is helping a lot of people discover new career paths. For those of who took lockdown as a time to develop side hustles into full-time gigs, you may have come out of a post-lockdown world wondering where you go next. Embracing your entrepreneurial side can be terrifying. The uncertainty and the hard work are not for the faint-hearted. But if you can stick with it, the payoffs in both financial and emotional returns can be huge.

Once you’ve taken the step to turn a side-hustle into a full-time venture, you also need to take managing your online business seriously. Entrepreneurship is all about solving someone else’s problem. And one of the beautiful things about living in this time is that there are a host of businesses built on solving the problems entrepreneurs face. So, here are five apps that if you aren’t using you need to download today.

Design: Canva

While the app version isn’t nearly as usable as the online version, this little design tool is fantastic. With easy to use templates for social media, business cards, brochures and posters, it’s a great way to get something up and running on the fly.

The templates are all highly customisable, and if you go for the paid version over the free version, you have a few extra perks. With the monthly subscription to Canva, your side-hustle becomes easier with options like animations, social media scheduling and high-quality stock images.

Freemium v Premium Canva

With the Freemium version of Canva you have access to all the templates, a limited range of stock images, and can create teams. You can invite people to collaborate with you, and you can share your designs as editable or view only. However, with the Premium version, Canva really does take things to the next level. A full range of stock images, videos, stickers and animated graphic elements are available with each plan. They also make it easier to organise your designs into folders, create branded style guides with logos, fonts and colors. The visual social media calendar makes it easy to see at a glance what your socials are doing. Canva offers a free trial for a month to test out the Premium version.

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Storage: Google Drive

While there is a range of storage options, Google Drive is by far, my favourite. Not only because it’s perfectly priced (free), but because I can create separate folders for each client I work with. What’s more, is that I can then share that folder, and only that folder, with specific people. With 15GB of storage in the free plan, it will take a while for most people to fill it up.

It also works well on both iPhone and Android and syncs nicely between phone, tablet and desktop. When you add in Docs, Sheets and Slides, it becomes a full mobile office. Always have the documents you need on hand, and take advantage of the time spent waiting for kids to make notes or work.

Freemium v Premium Google Drive

While for most freelancers, mompreneurs or sole traders, the freemium version of Google Drive will be more than enough. If you really want global domination, then investing the full G Suite range of products might be your first step. This version of Google Drive provides unlimited storage, extra security, and a range of backup & sync options. However, if you’re investing in the premium version of G Suite, you might want to compare with Microsoft 360 to see which is going to provide better ROI.

Learning: Blinkist

You’ve likely seen the variations on 7-habits of highly effectïve people”. The idea of being “proactive” often includes ideas like increasing productivity through listening to audiobooks while you commute. Unfortunately, when you’re no longer commuting, setting aside this time can actually decrease productivity.

But what if you only needed 15 minutes? That’s where Blinkist comes in. Founded in 2012 they provide excellent condensed key-points for a range of non-fiction books. Available in audio or text format, the way the company creates the “blinks” means you are the condensed essence.

With some books, this absolutely will not be enough. In which case go buy or download the audiobook from your library and go for a daily walk (Blinkest also has a range of audiobooks). But for developing a greater understanding of the world and improving your general knowledge and empathy, it’s a great resource.

Freemium v Premium Blinkist

With the freemium version of Blinkist, you are given a “daily blink” to listen to. This is perfect for people wanting to use the app to increase general knowledge. The topics are wide-ranging and in-depth.

With the Premium version, you can pick and choose your topics, and listen to as many Blinks as you want. You also have access to additional resources, such as audiobooks.

Clarity: Grammarly

If you’re online, you are unlikely to have missed the Grammarly advertisements. But is it worth the bother? Absolutely. While the freemium version is a little better than your standard spell check, the paid version earns its keep. Not only valuable for writers, but for anyone writing anything for public consumption. It helps improve the clarity of your writing, ensures you’re not using the wrong words and is a massive asset in the war against grammar nazis.

However, one of the beta features that makes it worth its weight in gold is the “tone” checker. Being able to see if you are conveying the friendly tone you are after is vital in business. But some days your head isn’t in the right space to tell. And Grammarly has got your back.

Freemium v Premium Grammarly

With Freemium Grammarly, you get a basic grammar & spellcheck that makes sure you are using the right “your”. The free version also improves your conciseness by suggestion the removal of overused or redundant words – all those extra “just” and “really” words that we add-in. You can use Grammarly as a standalone web check, install it on your phone or tablet, or add one of the many integrations (including Google Docs and Microsoft Word). If you’re only sending quick emails, then this may be sufficient. If you’re writing public-facing documents, you need more.

The premium version takes things further. One of the most useful additions is the readability check. Ensuring that you are not writing exceptionally long and hard to read sentences. You can set your “goals” to your target audience. This picks up if your writing is overly formal, or too informal. If you’re writing essays, articles or reports, then the plagiarism detector is also in the premium version.

Additionally, Grammarly is in the process of beta testing “Grammarly for Business”, which includes team management and company style guides. We’ll let you know how this develops.

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Balance: Calm

This little app has nothing to do directly with productivity. In fact, its most popular function is to help people get to sleep. And for any entrepreneur still learning to shut off their brain, that alone is a boon.

Calm is all about the sleep story. Storys that are calming, yet so interesting that you focus all your attention on them – until you wake up realising that it is now morning and that you have no idea how the story ended.

But beyond the sleep stories, there are timed mediations, nap stories (perfectly timed to leave you refreshed) and music. The app is available in multiple languages – so if you are bilingual or learning a language, you can listen to a sleep story in a different language.

Freemium v Premium Calm

With the freemium version you get the sleep story, “blue gold” read by Stephen Fry about wandering the lavender fields of Provence, France (this varies with different languages). You also get a limited variety of music and access to the first meditation in each series.

While the freemium version is really excellent, the benefit of the premium version goes further. With “nap” stories to help refresh you in the middle of the day, music to soothe or focus, and daily meditations to help improve your mental health, focus and drive. You also get a “daily calm” which is a 10-minute daily meditation to help you focus and stay balanced.

So what side-hustle have you developed? And have you found any apps that you just can’t live without?




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