Two years ago I was undecided about my full time career and wanted to earn some money on the side before making the leap to full time freelancer (I still haven't but am happy where I am). After testing some ideas, I realized I loved website development but knew nothing about it. Zero. I thought everything was written in HTML (I had no idea what PHP, Apache or MySQL were).
To learn about web development and actually make money doing it, I had to maximize my limited time. If you want to do the same, you have to be extremely rigid with your time and maximize every minute.
Here are 3 tools to help you maximize your time and make some extra money:
Evernote is an online site that allows you to "remember everything". It's an online notebook book that allows you to post your notes to your account and access them anywhere there is connectivity. With your mobile phone, you can take photos, videos, voice notes, or actually write notes and post them to your account.
Why will Evernote help you make money? Two ways - when you are starting out, finding clients is all about relationships, referrals are the easiest way to get new business. With Evernote, you can track your projects, clients and progress and access the data anywhere. On my lunch hours, I check my freelance email account and respond to client emails. Having my notes accessible makes it insanely easy to manage all projects and keep up to speed with clients.
Additionally, if I have to meet a client for a meeting immediately after my full time job, especially a new client, reviewing my Evernote notes on the client helps me create a rapport. I remember exactly what we discussed previously and recall small details that distinguish me from other freelancers.
Spoon.net is an amazing site that allows you to run opensource (free) software without actually having to install the software. The possibilities are limitless this one because Spoon.net has so many available applications but here are some uses I've found:
- I only have Adobe Reader at work and can't highlight / make notes in a PDF. With Spoon, I can open up Foxit Reader (a pdf editor) and highlight / make notes. Couple this with Evernote and I can maximize my lunch hour learning new things while keeping track of my thoughts.
- When trying to learn the programming language Java, I needed a Java specific program, an IDE. Spoon allowed me to use the opensource Dr.Java and while reading about the concepts, I could actually try out the examples in the book (I've realized I learn best when working through examples / tutorials).
- When developing a website, cross browser testing is hugely important. Spoon lets me test Opera, FireFox, Chrome, etc. without having to install the browsers!
There's plenty more uses (i.e., skype) but that's what I've used it for so far...
Dropbox.com is a cool website that provides you with virtual hard drive space to store your files. This is awesome when you are working on files at different workstations or having to share files with clients / other people on your project. You can simply download the file, make any updates / changes, then re-upload. Even cooler is that Dropbox.com has a desktop application which provides you with a Dropbox drive when browsing "My Computer". All you have to do is drag and drop files into it, no need for the website interface.
I've used it when reading through PDF's at lunch. Every time I finish up, I can drag the PDF with my new highlights / notes into Dropbox and have it at home if I want to keep reading. There's no reason not to use it.
In addition to these tools, it's important to continually ask yourself, I am making the best use of my time. These tools should help you do that but if they don't, forget using them.
I'm sure there are plenty more tools/tips/tricks to help you make the most of your time and earn some extra money. If you have them, share them in the comments!