This will be part one of three articles giving you my “review” of the tools I use to remain on top of my business. It’s with these three tools that I keep a modicum of professionalism alive in my business along with relative sanity.
It’s been a long road for this “old” brain of mine. When I got my first computer – over 25 years ago – it had one of the earliest versions of Windows. It required using a lot of “F” keys – function keys. I had a map beside me to remind me what combination of keys I needed to use to do almost everything. It wasn’t fun, but it was promising as the operating systems for Windows and Mac got increasingly sophisticated and easier to use.
It’s rarely “fun” today, but in recent years, and as recently as early last year, I have settled into this trio of tools and a rhythm that has changed everything I do online. You may be able to use the free versions forever. However, for pennies-a-day, some of these become super powerful time-savers.
I can’t help myself – I have to share!
Disclaimer: I may or may not have a way to get some payback (sometimes for both of us) if I directly refer you to sign up for some things. As is common these days, if you click on a link, sometimes there is an affiliation going on. But as you must know after all these hundreds of posts, I am really trying to help you grow your businesses. If I do have a specific link, you might as well use it though. But free is free and I don’t get anything when you sign up for free. Well, other than the satisfaction that I am helping you.
Meanwhile, since I have gone through the learning curve, you don’t need to do it on your own. So reach out to me and let me know if anything I ever recommend needs some helpful hints or tips.
# ONE – Evernote
The most valuable tool in my everyday world is definitely Evernote. Evernote is a deceptively clever cross-platform app designed for note taking, organizing, and archiving. It’s been around for a while and has a big base of growing supporters. I am among them!
I must admit that I have had an on-again-off-again relationship with this powerful tool for quite a few years. I used the free version for a long time. Well, I sometimes used it. I went off and tried other “systems”, but I would keep coming back to my Evernote account. Finally, I decided to upgrade to the Plus Account. At ten cents a day, it paid for itself instantly.
I went off and tried other systems, but I would keep coming back to my #Evernote account. http://bit.ly/ENnowlink Click To Tweet
But when I finally upgraded months later (only nineteen cents a day) to the Premium account, it’s now my daily tool. I use it on my desktop as well as on the go. But even Plus gives you amazing tools. It unleashed the ability to automatically “file” my emails directly into specific areas on Evernote. For only 10 cents a day! You can learn more here. (Yes..that is a link and this is a good example of what I get “paid”. LOL, if 10 people actually BUY a plan, I get $5.00. I am definitely not in this for the paycheck!)
I found everything I needed in Plus except that I have a lot of photos sent to me from clients. And I snap a lot of photos – my receipts, business cards, notes from meetings, etc. Videos are increasingly part of my consulting sessions, too. Despite my active uploading,I rarely use up more than a third of the allowance of 10GB of storage every month. However Plus is only 1 GB. As I keep finding more and better reasons to store my world in Evernote everyday, it’s nice to know I still have lots of space to use if I need the full 10 GB.
Photos worth their weight in gold.
I have photos of all my “refillable” items like water filters and ink cartridges. For many of us, we have stood in front of ink refills and realized (once again) that we are not sure which serial number works for our printer and can’t remember the printer model either. And they are having a sale that ends today. I open my Evernote app on my phone, put Epson into the search and it shows me the picture of my product box. With the Premium account it actually READS the print on photographs and PDF’s. It almost doesn’t matter where I decide to put that photo in the system on Evernote. It will retrieve anything with the word Epson in it.
It will retrieve any word used and bring all your files to you. Recipes? Snap a picture of the recipe (found a great one in a magazine at a Dr.’s office recently) and add it to Evernote. Put in an ingredient in the Evernote search bar and you now can shop for your next home-made soup ingredients at the grocery store.
I have even gone online and captured specific “How To” instructions for various machines in my life using the “Evernote Web Clipper”. Don’t get me started on the “how to’s” and “what you can do’s” – it just plain amazing.
I use the web clipper feature constantly. Honestly, this feature is one of the smartest tools EVER! It’s really beyond useful, it’s a way to store stuff from anywhere online – in a very personalized way. With a browser icon ready to go to work, in a click, you can capture and store anything you want from your online searches. And no, this is not just another “bookmarking” system. This is very robust “saving” technology:
I could easily write a series of blog posts on just this one cool tool in Evernote, but suffice it to say, it’s very clever and I wish all my online experiences were as useful and simple to use as the Evernote platform. Oh… and did I mention you can annotate your clipping before you send it off to your files? This is so powerful.
How can ARTISTS use this?
I would recommend it for gathering and archiving information about upcoming art shows and calls for artists. You can even use the reminder feature to make sure you get your applications in on time. If you are getting email notices from a site like ArtFairCalendar.com you can easily send the entire email directly into your Evernote account and then sort everything with a tag like, “Calls for Artists” and set a reminder to revisit the email later.
At a live event, you can use the free app called Scannable and take snaps of business cards and actually have it sent into your choice of notes. It will automatically break out the contact info including live links to email them. Yes, I do want to add people to my email marketing list in Constant Contact and I do that, of course. But finally a business card has a life-long usefulness. No more piles in drawers or the bottom of my purse. I tag the scanned card with a few worthy reference points and off it goes.
This really changes communications. When I have one-on-one communications, being able to send all the emails directly to Evernote is awesome. I can keep a running diary of conversations. I can add notations about conversations on the phone and maybe pics of their art, sections of their website they want me to fix. I can annotate the snapshots. I can store the video reviews I have done for them. Keeping my active clients – and my engagements with them – outside of my bulging and busy regular email inbox keeps me better organized and much saner. And of course, I can set reminders for follow-up so I will not let them fall to far through the cracks.
You can do the same with your collectors. Pics of them with the art. Pics of your art in their home. Keep a reminder of what they also showed interest in or archive emails you have sent. Or if you have work in a gallery, you can document when, where, etc., each piece is being shown. How great would it be to be able to quickly see the exact artwork a client purchased and have all the pricing, size, etc. ready to view in a few clicks. By tagging each piece of art by name and or date, you can instantly access it.
Keeping my active clients – and my engagements with them – outside of my bulging and busy regular email inbox keeps me better organized and much saner. It’s not a full-featured CRM System (Client Relationship Management) but it is some ways, I find it better.
The number one trick to really making Evernote effective is to get into the habit of using it. The more you use it, the more you see additional ways to use it. There are many dozens of “How to use Evernote” tutorials. But the key really is to just use it. It’s forever free, so…
Anyone out there a user already? Got any tips you want to share?
Next up: Canva!
Keep an eye on your inbox. In my next article, I will share my favorite “fun” tool. For anyone trying to create graphics for advertising and marketing, this is my number one favorite. Actually, I don’t know of anything that comes close to this easy to use tool! Need a poster? New business card? Pinterest posting? This is da bomb! Stay tuned!