RescueTime (free, $9/month, or $72/yr, for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android ) can help you stay focused by reminding you of where your time went throughout the day. It tracks everything you do on your computer—every software you open, every website you visit—and automatically categorizes them by whether they're productive tools or not. You can get reminders if you're distracted more than a set time per day. And with paid plans, you can use it to block distracting apps and websites manually or on a schedule.
Wave offers an incredible suite of accounting tools for free. You can sync transactions with your bank or import them from bank statements, track sales and purchases, send invoices to customers, and more for free. It makes money on additional services, including helping you accept payments, find a bookkeeper, purchase insurance, and manage your employee payroll, but the core accounting and invoicing tools are fully free. Most accounting tools (including QuickBooks and Xero) don't offer a free plan, which makes Wave a great option if you're looking for something free to start.
Kirby is a more geeky option—but also the easiest to customize, and easier than most other CMS to install on your own hosting (huge plus: You don't have to set up or manage a database). It's a flat file CMS where you write posts in Markdown-formatted text files, save them to a folder, and Kirby automatically turns them into blog posts on your server. If your site's on a VPS, you can install Dropbox CLI then write blog posts and save them to Dropbox to automatically publish them. It's a neat alternative to more feature-filled content management systems.
Then, for either self-hosting or a managed site, WordPress and Ghost are both good options. With either one, you could start your site with their hosted options with a subscription, or could run their software on your own server (and easily migrate from the hosted to self-hosted and vise versa if you want to switch). WordPress is older and more feature-filled; it's best if you want a full site including static pages and even things like forms and eCommerce features. Ghost is focused on the writing and publishing process, much more like Medium, and so is likely better if you want an easy place to write.
By far the worst customer support experience I've had is with eBay, as a seller. Long hold times, and after waiting and getting transferred it's almost impossible to actually get a resolution to your issue. eBay (in many ways understandably) sides with customers by default, offers few ways to help sellers, and if there's a dispute, calling eBay to try to get help won't help. And if you have issues with the software itself, odds are it'll be difficult to resolve as eBay's software is complex and works differently (sometimes with entirely different UI designs) depending on where you click and what you're doing.
eBay's key selling point is that it has a large audience, so you'll sell stuff there faster. But don't expect a great experience in doing so.
You can't fully disable Slack's formatting options, but you can hide the Slack formatting toolbar. Click the
Aa button in the lower right of Slack's chat box, and Slack will hide the toolbar. You can still use keyboard shortcuts to add formatting, or select text to see a hover toolbar with formatting options, but that'll at least save space and keep Slack looking a bit more like it used to.
With a global team, sometimes you think of something to tell someone else—but you don't want to disturb them if they're in a different timezone and sleeping, and yet know that you'll forget to send the message later if you don't write it now.
It'd be awesome if Slack had a way to let you enter messages as normal but set them to only actually send to the person mentioned at 8AM their time (or whatever time you set). That'd also be handy for scheduled announcements and such, as Buffer offers for social media or Mailchimp and other email newsletters offer for email announcements...
Basecamp years ago had a free plan with limited features, and later offered a single project plan for $25 per project. And now, the Basecamp team recently announced an even better Basecamp Personal plan that's free, and enough for smaller startups to manage projects. You get all of Basecamp's core project management tools for free for a team of up to 20, with up to 3 projects.
It's marketed as being Basecamp for personal tasks in small, non-business teams, but can also work perfect as a way to start using Basecamp to manage tasks and to-do lists, chat about projects, discuss ideas, and share files (up to 1Gb) for free. You don't get all of Basecamp's business features, though, as there's no option to invite clients, make project templates, or get priority support. If you need those, you can always upgrade to a paid plan later.
To signup for Basecamp Personal, go to basecamp.com/signup#free, click the Sign up for Basecamp Personal button, and sign up. Do not that the default signup button on the top of the page will have you sign up for the paid Basecamp plan.
It's hard to imagine email without Gmail's innovations. When it launched in 2004, its generous gigabytes of free storage, email tagging, and lightening-fast web app felt revolutionary. And over time,
@gmail.com email addresses and G Suite-powered business emails became the new standard.
And for a free default app, it's pretty great. It's still fast, still built around email tagging, and still has enough free storage that you can archive all your emails without worrying about running out of space. Gmail includes handy features like recognizing dates in ticket emails and appointment invites, adding them to your calendar so you won't forget. It can smartly sort your inbox to prioritize personal emails, and move newsletters and promotions away for later.
It's the app that defines email today. Even if you use a 3rd party email app, many of the most popular (including Superhuman and Spark, and the now-defunct Sparrow) are built around Gmail's service.
You do need to take time to learn, though, to get the most out of Gmail. It includes a wide variety of settings and optional features that can make Gmail more productive, but you need to enable them first. Gmail has keyboard shortcuts for almost action, but you'd need to take time to memorize them. And when many of us use Gmail in 3rd party apps, it's easy to miss out on the good things in Gmail's web app even while relying on its web service.
Gmail has downsides. It's a web app and doesn't work offline except in Chrome. You can't view multiple email accounts together, without importing everything into one account. And while it's still fast, it's not as fast as many native email apps, especially if your internet's slow. But Gmail recently added better multi-account features to its mobile apps, and if your internet is fast its search still feels faster and more accurate than most others.
Gmail is the email app that's best for most people. Power users may need something more, but there's a lot right in Gmail for almost everyone.
IFTTT—which stands for If This Then That—works for the most part exactly like its name. When something happens in one app, IFTTT then does something in another app. You can use it to automate tasks in apps such as automatically sharing new blog posts from an RSS feed to Twitter, or automatically sending an email to new contacts in a Google Sheets spreadsheet. But IFTTT’s best use cases come from its Internet of Things device integrations.
IFTTT works with popular IoT devices including Philips Hue lights, Ring doorbells, HP and Canon printers, GE and Samsung appliances, WeMo switches, and more. That way, you could have your lights blink when the doorbell rings, set your thermostat based on the outside weather, turn lights on or off based on the time of day, and much more. IFTTT helps you find great ways to use automations with its recipes that can be turned on in seconds. It also includes iOS and Android apps that can automate things from your phone and with voice assistants. And, perhaps best of all, IFTTT is free for users, paid for by the app and device manufacturers that integrate with IFTTT.
Zapier, on the other hand, is a professional automation tool designed to run complete workflows automatically. It has a free plan, but most people will need a paid plan to use it productively. Zapier starts similarly: You have Zapier monitor one app for new or updated items (and only software works here, as Zapier supports almost no IoT devices). Then, you can have Zapier do as many other things as you want.
Zapier includes multiple steps, so you can add extra app actions to your workflows to accomplish more things (say, to add new customers to an email newsletter, and send them a welcome email, and add them to a CRM, and more). You can filter data to only run Zaps (what Zapier calls workflows) when specific things come in (say, when a customer buys a particular product), or use Paths to do one thing if something happens, another thing if a different thing happens.
Zapier’s thus great for automating detailed business workflows. IFTTT’s better for doing simpler, individual tasks, especially for personal apps and devices.
If you send emails from HubSpot's CRM and marketing apps' built-in email tool, HubSpot automatically tracks if people open your emails and click on the links. Open that contact's profile, and you can see when they opened the email and how many times the email has been opened, among other contact details. It's automatically enabled—you don't have to turn it on, but there's also no way to turn it off.
If you've installed HubSpot's browser add-on to get HubSpot features inside Chrome, or its Outlook add-on for the same features, then HubSpot includes an option to track emails. Check the Track box in HubSpot's toolbar inside Gmail or Outlook when sending an email track opens and clicks; leave it unchecked to not track the email.
A cardboard sign and chartered plane doesn’t make an airlines, nor a video and signup form an app. But neither does a full-fledged airlines—complete with check-in counters, planes, pilots, and safety videos—guarantee success, nor the most polished app in the App Store.
“Ideas are worth nothing…
When Google launched their online office suite with Docs and Sheets in 2006, feature parity with Microsoft Office wasn't the focus. Neither was a price tag of free, or cross-platform support by virtue of being a web app. Instead, Google focused on the pain of emailing documents back and forth to…
Software’s not all that expensive when you buy one app for one person. It saves time and makes you money, and all’s well.
Then your team grows, and by the time you pay for G Suite, Slack, GitHub, and all your other work tools, software’s not such an innocent expense anymore. Pay $75 per person for…
Slack took over modern office communications partly because it's free to start. Any team can sign up for Slack and use all of its core features for free. That's how it slowly got adopted in companies from the bottom up, as smaller teams joined Slack, then got their wider division to start using it…
It starts with a shiny new app in beta, free while you try it out. It sticks, and its paid plans make sense. You happily upgrade and bring your team onboard.
Then one day you get an email about amazing new features and their associated rise in price, or add another team member and notice the price…
HubSpot starts out cheap—or free, if you use its CRM. But what would your team pay each month if you rolled it out across your company and used its marketing tools extensively?
Capiche is on a mission to make software prices more transparent, to help you know what software really costs other teams…
Email seems impossible to tame. It’s everything: your online address, the bit of identifiable data you use to sign up for apps, apply for jobs, work with clients and colleagues, message friends, follow newsletters, and on and on the list goes. And as such, your inbox isn’t just a list of unread…
The best time to get software discounts is when you first start your business—and to get those discounts, you need to sign up with the best deal. $1,000 off AWS or 30% off HubSpot might sound great, until you realize you could get $100,000 in AWS credit or 90% off your first year of HubSpot with the…
Free is a hard genie to put back in the bottle.
When Microsoft charged $999 for Office in 1990, little did they dream that 16 years later, their greatest competitor would be a free office suite from Google—along with dozens of small, often free apps that individually did many of the same tasks as…
When software escaped big box retailers, site-wide licensing, and IT department approval, suddenly all you needed to get a new tool was a credit card and a few dollars to spare. The rise of web apps turned software into a service, something you pay for every month instead of in one lump sum.