Here’s a roundup of 10 free apps we use every day to run Pop up Art School. This powerhouse of apps helps us with bookkeeping, storing receipts, slideshows, copy editing and creating graphics for social media. If you own a small business, or just getting started, we hope this helps you.
I’ve been using TurboScan for years. The app allows you to “scan” pictures of receipts with a smart phone. Snap a picture and the app frames the receipt for you. File them in categories such as monthly expenses. This app was so helpful when I had two businesses. For four years I was selling vintage goods on Etsy and helping to run Pop up Art School. Without it I would’ve had a jumble of paper receipts to wrestle with at tax time.
Tip: Before you scan a receipt write the amount in bold numbers at the top. That way you can flip through your receipts without stopping to magnify the amount.
2.Wave Accounting Software
Free with option to upgrade
For the first 6 years of Pop up Art School, we kept track of the money with paper and pencil. It took one appointment with an accountant to realize that we had been very naughty business owners! Yes, we had kept track of everything but it was difficult to reconcile our account. Enter Wave a free accounting software that is essential now that we are an S Corp. Filing as an S Corp. protects your personal assets, but you still need to show the IRS that you are keeping your personal and business finances separate. In the event you’re sued, a lawyer could argue that you are an S Corp. in name only.
From my Etsy days I remembered people recommending Wave on the forums. Wave is free, easy to use, and has made bookkeeping tolerable. We connected our business checking account to Wave, so it funnels transactions to the software. Need to create professional-looking invoices? Wave can do that too! Now that we use Wave, our accountant doesn’t sigh when he sees us coming. At tax time, all we do is reconcile our account and print it out for him.
I’m not sure what we’d do without Google apps. There’s uniformity between the apps which makes for a good user experience. It stores everything you create in the cloud and it saves your work every 5 seconds.You can share photos, slideshows and documents with others. Janell and I both work from our homes and the Google apps allow us to simultaneously work on documents.
In addition, everything you create in Google apps can be converted to a different format. For instance, you can download a Google Doc as a Microsoft Word document or download a Google slideshow as a PowerPoint presentation.
The apps are free and you can download them via the Google play store or iTunes.
3. Google Contacts
Google Contacts allows us to segment our email list into groups. For instance, we group our list of parents by location. That way, we aren’t bothering people who live north of Boston with notifications of workshops south of Boston.
4. Google Calendar
After we’ve reached out to our contacts and we’ve gotten a booking, we put it in our Google Calendar.
5. Google Slides
Our workshops begin with a Google Slides show. For workshops that are inspired by an artist, we show slides of the artist, artwork and the steps of the project.
6. Google Photos
I never worry about losing photos or videos I’ve taken because they’re stored in Google Photos. After our workshops, we send a thank you letter and share a Google photo album of the artwork with the librarian.
7. Google Sheets
There are many uses for Google Sheets but we use it primarily for lists. We keep lists of people who have signed up for our non-library workshops and afterschool classes. Before the class we print out the list, and voila, we have an attendance sheet. It’s also handy for keeping track of our inventory for Pop up Art School T-shirts and magnets.
8. Google Maps
Where would we be without Google Maps? Lost and confused! Seriously, it would take us a lot longer to plan our trips if we had to get out a paper map to figure out where Swansea, MA is (somewhere south of Boston. I don’t know exactly where—I need the app!) The reroute feature is helpful when Janell and I are driving and gabbing too much and we miss the exit. It happens at least 4 times a year!
Bonus round –-the Google apps sync between devices, so we can access anything we need from the road on our smart phone. A must for a mobile art school!
Free with options to upgrade
I didn’t start using ProWritingAid until we were 3 months into blogging once a week. Now, I feel confident publishing a blog post or sending a letter knowing I haven’t made grammatical errors or started four sentences with the same word. It’s simple to use, just paste your text into the app and within seconds it gives you a summary that rates style, grammar, overused words and diction.The cool thing is that I’ve internalized the corrections that the app has made in my writing, so I’m avoiding making mistakes in the 1st place!
When using the free version of the app there’s one drawback. You can only paste 500 words at a time into the app. Since my blog posts aren’t over 750 words, it’s easy for me to cut-and-paste parts of the document so I don’t max out. It takes a little extra time—but, hey, it’s free!
Pop up Art School is in the business of art, so it’s crucial that we have professional looking graphics especially for social media. Fortunately, Janell is a graphic designer and even though she knows her way around Photoshop she still prefers Canva. If you don’t have a graphics person on your team, don’t fret! Canva is newbie-friendly and is optimized for all social media platforms.
What are your go-to apps? Leave a comment below or join us in our Facebook group Freelance Art Teachers in Libraries. The group is for sharing ideas about teaching art and other subjects in public libraries. Whether you are a librarian looking for new ideas or a teacher seeking a profitable AND enjoyable side hustle, we are here to answer questions and support you!