Anytime I get a new tablet or phone, it provides an opportunity for a fresh clean start. Over the years, my mobile desktop has become cluttered with critical applications installed on purpose and not-so-critical applications that were installed on a whim. There are several applications that are critical to running my business and others that are more of a distraction than a useful utility. For freelance writers, bloggers and authors, I’ve identified a set of must-have applications for any mobile device. I also included some other useful applications from that other writers use.
My Top 5 Best Mobile Apps for Writers, Bloggers and Authors
With the demise of Google Reader, Feedly (http://www.feedly.com) has become my go-to resource for reading the latest news and key blog content from popular sites in my niche. As a freelance writer, I’m often looking for new ideas, different angles and inspiration for new articles for my own blog or my clients’ content marketing campaigns.
Feedly helps keep every news article organized and is an excellent way to follow different blogs across different niches. You can add your own RSS feeds or simply search for popular websites in the Feedly directory and add them to your account. Feedly supports a magazine view and a easy to consume list view of all the articles in your account.
The real power with Feedly is its ability to send the article to numerous sources. With one click, I can Facebook share, Google Plus, Buffer, email, bookmark and share content across my social network or archive for future reading.
Feedly is the first tool in my market research arsenal and I use it consistently to keep up with news and events in the market. You can also view your Feedly news stream on the desktop but I find myself reading, sharing and archiving more on my smartphone.
The next tool is Pocket (http://www.getpocket.com). The Pocket app is an excellent “Save For Later” tool for offline viewing that is accessible view phone, tablet or computer. If I find a relevant article in Feedly that I want to read but don’t have the time, I simply put it in my Pocket account. It takes one click and the article is instantly saved.
Pocket also supports tagging and archiving stored content. I also will use the Pocket bookmarklet stored on my browser for both smartphone, tablet and laptop platforms.
The one-click bookmarklet lets me “pocket” an entire web page for future reading. I use Pocket as a temporary placeholder for relevant market and niche information. If I think the article is worth storing in my archive for a writing project, I’ll send the article to Evernote. By reviewing the information in my Pocket and consuming the offline content, I can quickly sort out the relevant and nice-to-read articles for future writing inspiration.
The third must-have application is Evernote (http://www.evernote.com). I like to use Evernote as my master notebook for every writing idea, future blog post outlines and future entrepreneurial endeavors. I have Evernote installed on my smartphone so I can record audio or text notes while travelling or waiting in line. Since Evernote syncs with the cloud, when I get back home to my laptop, I can access the notes via the desktop version of Evernote.
The real power of Evernote is in the email integration with the Evernote notebooks and tagging system. Using the email functions in any mobile app, I can save the email or webpage by simply emailing my Evernote account and including a relevant notebook name and hashtag in the subject line. One of my notebooks is a Kindle notebook used to store future Kindle book ideas. If I send an email to my Evernote address and use the following subject line, the note will appear in my Kindle notebook and be tagged with the #newidea hashtag:
Subject line: @Kindle #newidea
Feedly’s free service does not directly integrated with Evernote so I prefer to save the information to my Pocket application. You can send a Feedly article to Evernote using Feedly’s email function and use your Evernote email address. Pocket directly integrates with Evernote so if you want to permanently store that article using Evernote, you are only a single click away.
I need to give Ed Dale and his 30 Day Challenge credit for the workflow using Feedly, Pocket and Evernote. He uses this same approach to keep up to date with his various markets and finds it helpful to curate, promote and share content using these applications. If you ever have writers block, you can use this market research approach to generate a lot of new ideas for future books and blog posts.
The next app in my mobile arsenal is Mindjet MindMaps (http://www.mindjet.com). Mindjet is one of the market leaders in mind mapping tools. Once I have an idea for a book or lengthy blog post, I’ll use Mindjet to develop an outline of the book or article. Mind mapping is a fantastic technique to organize your thoughts as you put your words to paper. The Mindjet app is free although if you want to use their cloud based service or their desktop software, there is a significant commercial fee.
The power of the mind map is the visual approach to outlining ideas and reorganizing topics and subtopics into larger chapters and book outlines. There are other mind mapping solutions for mobile devices including SimpleMind, MindMeister and iMindMap, but I’ve found Mindjet to be the best mind mapping tool for both mobile and laptop/PC computing platforms. I also use Scrivener to write my books and Mindjet easily generates an OPML file that automatically creates the desired notecards in Scrivener.
Trello (http://www.trello.com) is a free project management application that allows you to collaborate and organize anything using their simply card and list based task management system. For the freelance writer, I find Trello an indispensable tool for tracking my writing ideas, active writing projects, article promotion, invoicing and client management. With Trello, I setup a simple workflow that allows me to generate new ideas for articles, assign them to a writing queue and then track their submission and payment status as clients publish the articles on their blogs and magazines.
Active freelance writers need to manage the business side of their writing as well as the creative writing process. With Trello, I can track progress of every assignment and ensure I stay on top of invoicing and promotion for my professional and personal writing projects.
Additional Apps to Consider
I also reached out to my fellow authors to find out what mobile tools they use to support their writing business. Thanks to Dee Ankary, Steve Scott, Kristina Challita and Bernard Clive who shared their favorite apps for this article.
Lift (https://www.lift.do/) is an awesome application that has become quite habit forming. The purpose of Lift is to help you form better habits. Lift allows you to create a new habit or select from a community of habits with thousands of people trying to accomplish the same goal – go to the gym, write for 30 minutes per day, do a good deed, etc.
Every day, Lift will remind you to do one of your habits and it tracks your progress. Writers can use Lift to help them write each day and working their various projects. Lift becomes quite habit forming because when you miss a day, you feel like you’re broken the trend of accomplishing these small daily habits. You can also add your friends to Lift and comment on each other’s progress as you use the “buddy system” to achieve each of your goals.
Below are my habits that I’m looking to form on a daily basis. Although, I’ll admit I need to click the “Go to gym” habit more often.
PlainText (http://www.hogbaysoftware.com/products/plaintext) is another mobile application for writing on the go. PlainText is a minimalist text editor for your iOS device that integrates with your Dropbox account. If you find yourself mobile and without your laptop, you can use PlainText to draft a quick note, outline a future draft or develop an entire blog post. If you use Scrivener to write your eBooks, you can use PlainText to write while mobile, sync the files to DropBox and copy and paste the content into Scrivener without any messy formatting issues.
Any Timer Application
- Identify the desired task
- Set the timer for 25 minutes
- Work on the task until the timer rings
- Take a short 3-5 minute break
- Repeat the cycle taking a longer break 15-30 minute break after every four 25 minute sessions.
Most smartphones have a timer application in their clock application, however, there are many apps on the market that are customized for the Pomodoro technique. I’ve found the technique helps establish focus on your writing because you only have 25 minutes to complete the task.
What are your favorite mobile apps for writers?
If you haven’t used any mobile apps to improve or help your writing, you now have 8 applications you can consider and try. If you have a favorite app, please comment on the blog below and I’ll add it to the list for future writers to review.