Wednesday, April 2, 2014

There's an App for that

Computers revolutionized the way we do business, and now smart phones and tablets have made running a business in the digital age mobile. I thought I would share a few of my favorite apps that have made it possible to be on the road and still get things done without a computer, a day planner, a notebook, and a knuckle buster. 

For clarity, I'm working with an iPad 2 and an iPhone 4S. I don't know about Androids or any other types of smart phones or tablets, but I'm sure they can run many of the same apps or have a similar app. 


I've been using square for a few years and it has made my life, and many other business owners lives easier. Even my hairdresser is using it now! 

The first year I used it, some customers were leery, others amazed. Now most of have seen one in action or at least seen the commercials for them. But it's so easy to use. Go to the Square website to sign up and get your FREE card reader. Go through the registration process, download the app to your phone and/or tablet, and you can take credit cards anytime anywhere. Without monthly fees for the privilege of a merchant account, without huge per transaction fees. And Square automatically initiates a transfer to your account on file the next business day. 

I cannot tell you how much Square has saved me compared to the inexpensive merchant account I used to have. The bank where my business accounts are kept actually tried to talk me into their version of Square. I read the informational sheet they handed me and laughed. I told the teller no thanks because they still want to charge a monthly merchant account fee plus the per transaction fee was much higher. She said they came up with this to compete with Square. I told her they need to keep trying. 

I know Paypal has their own card reader, and perhaps others do as well. I know nothing about them and recommend research before making a decision for which one you want to use. 


I have one of those all-in-one copier/printer/scanner. But it's slow. And it's in the basement. And it's so darn inconvenient. And sometimes I am at the lake, which has an inexpensive laser printer, but no scanner. One day I needed to email or fax a document, but I was out of town and would have had to go to Kinko's to accomplish this. So I searched for a possible app and found TurboScan. And I have used it for all kinds of things. Yesterday I used it to email my contract for Bead Fest Philly in August. 

Here's the app in the app store. It also shows what the opening screen looks like. Get your document and click on camera.

Set your document on a dark background for best results. Then click the shutter button at the bottom. 

It automatically cuts out the background for you, but you can tweak it if you want to. Then a screen comes up where you can change how dark the writing is. I've always stuck to the darkest setting. 

The next screen gives you the option to change properties and give the document a name (center bottom), email (left bottom), or add another page to the document (right bottom)

Here's the page that comes up if you click on the pen in the center:

And options for distributing your document: 


What I love most about Evernote is you can add something to it, and it updates it across all your devices where you've installed it: phone, computer, and tablet. I've barely begun to scratch the surface of what this app can do, but I love it. 

I'm not very good at carrying around pen and paper. I always have good intentions, but it never happens. Evernote is where I record my business mileage. I have another note where I collect quotes. You can take a photo of something and write notes about it so you aren't wondering later why you took that picture or what you wanted to remember about it. Write lists. Upload your beading patterns or any PDF to it. I love this thing. It's my pen and paper. 

Facebook Pages: 

If you're on Facebook, and you have a Facebook page for your business, you need Pages. It allows you to update your page as your business. You can upload photos you've taken with your phone to your page. Without Pages, you can't really interact with your community to your full potential. And if you have multiple pages, you can easily switch between each page. 


Supposedly people (mainly the younger crowd) are leaving Facebook in droves for places like Instagram. My customers aren't teens, but who knows how long it will be before us older people follow in their footsteps (if at all?). But that's not the only reason I love Instagram. I love photos. And I love sharing photos. Instagram has fun effects AND it's so easy to share these photos to other platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. And I can take a photo of something right out of the kiln, take a photo, edit it, and share it with a few clicks. 


I know, this one comes pre-installed on your phone. But I use it more than any other app and it has saved me SO MUCH TIME in uploading a kazillion photos to the computer, sorting, editing, then sharing the photos. 

In fact, my next blog post (in two weeks) will be some tips on using the camera on your phone to take better photos of your work. 

Until then,

-Jen Cameron


  1. Great post Jen I will definitely look into the scanner, I have been taking photos of my customer tax id information if they don't have copy for me, but it sounds like the scanner features will make it easier to read. I also have Evernote but don't know much about it, will have to explore that further. Glad you are going to beadfest in August I will see you there.

  2. Thank you for sharing so much useful information, I will look into the apps I don't know!

  3. Great resources, Jen. I'll have to try TurboScan. Love Evernote and my Square!

  4. Great information Jen. I'm so behind on all the tech stuff!
    Just want to comment re Instagram (which I don't use). Sue B Zimmerman from the East Coast is an IG expert on how it can be used to leverage your business. Through classes, I've listened to many of her free webinars. I just learned that she will be doing a Creative Live presentation for FREE On June 9-11. The programs that this site offers are stellar covering various business, techie, maker topics and always free during live broadcasts...very worth checking out.

  5. Great post, Jen. I will have to check out a couple of these that I haven't used yet.

  6. Oh my, turboscan and evernote sound awesome (have the rest and use them) - I can't wait to try those out! Thanks for the awesome post! I read someone's comment above about using Instagram for their business - I sell more items via Instagram, Pinterest and FB than I ever have through my Etsy shop. Yep, technology is a fast bullet train for sure!!

  7. I have Evernote on my phone, never really took to it but I'm going to download it to my iPad now and see if I can make use of it. TurboScan looks great, definitely going to take a look at that. I love Square too!!!


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