Latest Tools for Startups And Indie Businesses: Email, Writing, Productivity, Self-Development, Finances, & Communication

“There will come a time when it isn't 'They're spying on me through my phone' anymore. Eventually, it will be 'My phone is spying on me'.” ― Philip K. Dick

EMAIL SOFTWARE

 Source: https://github.com/nylas/N1

Source: https://github.com/nylas/N1

https://www.nylas.com/
https://github.com/nylas/N1

Built by developers, for developers... and everyone.

An extensible, open-source email client with some smart features like:

 Source: Nylas N1

Source: Nylas N1

Click Tracking (for tracking clicks on links in your emails), Read Receipts (as shown in this Medieval Reaction's tweet, but way faster...), Send Availability (send your availability for the week ahead by click-and-dragging to select available time slots), Mail Merge (allows to easily send a customizable individual email to many recipients), Quick Replies (templates with a very handy functionality, whereas you can quickly customize your templates before sending, e.g. put the client's name, change rates, language pair, service, or areas of specialization), Unified Inbox (mail from multiple accounts in one folder), Send Later, and Snooze. It comes with PGP Encryption, a must-have encryption functionality for online communication in our era of omnipresent surveillance.

 Source: Nylas N1

Source: Nylas N1

Update: As of November 2016, Nylas team added a bunch of other nice features like: 

  • reminders for sent messages if no one replies (for following up with your clients; pictured) 
  • a multi-language spellchecker
  • social sharing of email threads
  • Salesforce plugin

And new features and plugins are being developed and added by the dev community; here is a public Trello board for tracking the development process.

Because any indie developer can extend Nylas N1's functionality, it can go a long way, just like Google Chrome has become a monster of a browser thanks to apps and extensions added by the community.

A stand-alone desktop or mobile app that used to be free. Currently, those who registered before May 1 will enjoy a one-year free license, others will need to purchase Nylas N1 Pro.

License: Select free and paid licenses, open-source

Free secure and anonymous email with end-to-end encryption from Switzerland. It works in your browser or on iOS/Android.

Paid options are available with more storage and a custom domain.

 Source: https://missiveapp.com/

Source: https://missiveapp.com/

A single application for email and team chats. Currently, it supports Mac only.

License: Free and paid plans are coming

 Source: https://trackbuster.com/

Source: https://trackbuster.com/

A little cloud-based service to protect our privacy. Here is a quick description from the developer's website:

Your emails are being tracked. Automatically untrack them and find out who tracks you. Trackbuster™ prevents stalkers from tracking and monitoring your inbox activity without your permission.

I find this tool very cool, the only thing it didn't get along with Nylas N1. Sorting email didn't work well for me in that letters which were supposed to skip the Gmail inbox and land in a designated folder after being untracked ended up in my inbox anyway. Probably, as the tool matures, this will be fixed.

Currently, being phased out and transitioned to Senders.

License: Free for everyone to use, no nonsense

This is what my Unroll account currently looks like

Having been overflooded with emails for quite some time, now I am a proud owner of an elusive inbox zero.

This is in part thanks to this smarty-pants service. It integrates into your email client and works behind the scenes bundling up certain mail in a daily "roll-up," which appears as a single letter in your inbox. You have full leverage over what mail gets "rolled-up." Of course, the same can be achieved with Gmail labels; however, this tool makes it a less boring experience. 

Available as a folder in your email client, in your browser, or as an iOS app.

License: Free for everyone

Source: https://www.streak.com/

A browser-based tool with some powerful functionality that claims to convert an email client into a full-blown CRM. Allows us to create a database of leads or prospects, converted clients, rejected clients etc.

One possible use I can think of is tracking client acquisition. It makes possible to track which clients we've sent offers to, who's responded, who is yet to respond, and who's accepted our offer and become a paying client.

Freelancers can follow their application process with agency clients: Tracking which agencies you've applied with, agencies you've rejected, tests waiting for results etc. However, I didn't get to use this one yet. In part because I prefer desktop email applications over browser-based ones: They are more responsive/do not lag, the UI is slicker, and this way, there is one open tab fewer in my browser.

License: Free and paid plan

A Chrome extension that works as a global address book for Gmail.

Source: https://mailclark.ai

An email bot-clerk for Slack.

Allows your team to communicate via email as you would do regularly, but without leaving Slack.

When we send a wrong email to a wrong person.

When an agency client sends us a document to sign.

Source: http://writefullapp.com

BETTER WRITING & BLOGGING

If you're running a blog in English, these are the tools you might wanna be using:

This is a light-weight app that gives you an idea how good your writing is by proofing your text against databases of professionally-written texts. From their website:

Writefull uses large language databases to search for the frequency of chunks of text. The three databases used are Google Books, Google Scholar, and Google Web. All you need to do is select a chunk of text (in whatever writing tool you use), activate the Writefull popover, and request the information you need. 

It works in any text-based tool, including MS Word and Gmail. Available in desktop Windows, Linux, and iOS beta versions.

License: Free for everyone

Source: https://reedsy.com/

A cloud-based beautiful tool for writing, editing, and publishing with features like collaborative editing, commenting, track changes, and more.

License: It's free for everyone

A software for writers, bloggers, and the like. Those who are looking to improve their writing will surely find it helpful.

Currently in beta.

One more great tool to make our writing bold and clear.

License: Paid

A smart spell checker that, according to creators of this tool, "can spot 10 more errors than a word processor." It seamlessly works in a browser as we type, as a browser-based text editor, and a Windows desktop application. There is also an MS Office Add-on

License: Free

Collaborative web tool for writers and the like.

License: Free

SELF-DEVELOPMENT

For every professional self-development should be a non-stop endeavor. By reading advice from veteran freelancers, we get practical guidance and learn first-hand how to improve in our solo careers.

A platform devised by Brooklyn-based creatives with "step-by-step guides to help freelancers get stuff done, written by people who have been there and done it."

Besides the wealth of advice, there is a helper Dominode for guidance and Domino Fast Track for innovative tracking and invoicing.

License: Free

Freelancer community with forums, videos, podcasts, a blog, and more.

Free and pro options

Multilingual is a great resource, and it's free with a promo code. Regularly, it costs $29.

Follow these steps to get your free 1-year digital subscription: Go to this page, hit the black Subscribe Now button, pick the Digital Only radio button, and enter this code: UOFFER. Finish the subscription process. In addition to all issues dating back to 2006, you will receive new issues in your inbox during the next year as they get published.

Following blogs and reading articles is easier with these tools:

Web page sharing across devices. A very useful tool for freelancers hopping from home to a coffee shop and back on a daily basis. Allows us to share websites or articles we want to look at later on another computer/device. Other features include sending files, text messaging, and viewing phone notifications. 

A desktop application, a browser extension, and a mobile app.

License: Free and Pro

Sending a glossary to my iPad with Infinit

PRODUCTIVITY

File sharing between multiple devices made easy and nice by developers from Paris. 

Most email clients have file size limitations. This desktop application and mobile app doesn't, it allows us to send large files via email

From their website:

Because Infinit is a file transfer app built for sending anything, we don’t discriminate on file size or file type. You can send large files without ever experiencing the regular frustrations of email attachments.

Also, with Infinit making screenshots is a breeze. It literally takes a couple of seconds, and a share link is instantly ready to paste anywhere.

And if you own a domain, you can share links containing your domain name, instead of unprofessionally-looking links.

License: Free and Pro options

Using CloudApp to record sending a glossary to my iPad with Infinit

Whereas a picture is worth a thousand words, an animated picture (a gif) is worth a thousand still pictures.

Technical issues with our software happen all the time, and often it's crucial that we find a solution quickly. When we run into a problem, it's a lot easier to show a picture than to put what happened into words.

This Windows app allows making gifs and short HD videos. A share link is instantly ready in the clipboard waiting to be pasted somewhere. 

This app supports file sharing between devices and boasts such fancy functionality as scheduled self-destruction of shared files.

License: Free and Pro options

While CloudApp looks certainly very attractive, I've found that this unshowy little tool makes gifs of much better quality. Thus, the former will be suitable for quick sharing, and the latter for making visuals for your blog post. If you know other similar tools, feel free to leave a comment below.

 Source: http://gifox.io/

Source: http://gifox.io/

A beautifully-designed menu bar app that records your screen into animated gifs. It has some advanced options for recording, and sharing options are coming soon.

Only Mac is supported. 

License: Free

A time-tracking tool with a nice interface. It works as a desktop or mobile app. Plus, if you are a Pomodoro convert, they've recently added a Pomodoro timer add-on.

License: Free with basic features and Pro

A clipboard that works across devices.

This will be useful to those who work simultaneously on two PCs and do not use two screens.

A great text expander software which I (ab)use daily now on iOS and Android. It syncs all text snippets between your Windows PCs and your apps. Apple Mac OSX client will be added soon. The newest beta version is available for download here and an Android app here.

License: Free and Pro options

These are just a few of many Chrome browser extensions that deal with the "too-many-tabs-open-browser-crashed-lost-them-all" problem. I find such little helpers indispensable for every passionate web-surfer.

A Chrome extension that makes searching Google even faster.

When nothing works. This app claims to help solve our every predicament.

License: Free for everyone

FINANCIAL

While PayPal is not available in many countries for payments, one can still use it for invoicing. Setting up an account is plain simple and takes less than a minute, no credit card is necessary.

It doesn't cost a penny (a kopeck, a shilling...).

 Source: https://digit.co/

Source: https://digit.co/

A digital piggy bank for mindless... saving. An SMS bot that monitors your bank account, learns about your spending habits, and sets aside some little money if you can afford it.

Digit currently supports over 2,500 banks and credit unions within the United States.

License: Free for everyone who can use it

Finally, a freelancer can get paid instantly after the project completion. Sounds too good to be true? Well, in reality, it is a tad trickier, but still this web service lives up to that loud statement. This service allows us to get around Net 30 and receive an advance payment for an outstanding invoice.

Source: https://app.zipbooks.com

Modern invoicing platform utilizing some latest technology. Also, similar to Fundbox, it pays your invoices when you want it (for a fee, and if you're a US business).

Bye, Net 30 and your bigger friends.

License: It's free :)

 

Here are a few more smarty-pants financial apps:

Free invoicing software for those who can host it on their own domain/CMS.

An app for donating spare change from credit card purchases to a charity of your choice.

Get a few pennies for your data on social networks when it gets used.

ALTERNATIVE TEAM COMMUNICATION

These will be of interest to you if you have a remote team.

 Source: https://wire.com/

Source: https://wire.com/

A beautiful UI and Swiss privacy: End-to-end encrypted calls, video calls, and group chats. It works on all modern devices, on any modern platform.

License: Free

Free Windows/Mac desktop software and iPhone/Android app with a nice UI for team communication.

Developed by Wantedly, a Tokyo-based startup.

License: Free

There are many others, Slack included.


Or check out my portfolio: