If you’re just starting out in the virtual world – or about to take the plunge – here is a good place to start in terms of the apps available for working virtually with clients and teams.

I use a LOT of apps doing what I do; these are some of the most useful. I use most of these on a daily basis, and they are invaluable: they basically enable me to do my job.

Note: I’ve included links to the apps below, but these are not affiliate links. Full disclosure: one of the apps is sponsored, and I’ve indicated this with the description.

 

Apps for communication

Slack

What is it?
A communication system for teams.

What I use it for
Communicating with clients who have virtual teams. Slack allows me to send messages to the whole team, or privately to individual team members, and it alerts them when a new message is received. I also use it to add links and attach files. I’ve got the app on my phone app too so I can take it everywhere.

Why it’s awesome
It allows everyone to communicate in one place, send links to files or tasks, and share files and images for approval. You can look back through previous messages and search for keywords to find information from days, weeks or months ago.

Cost
I use the free version, but there are paid packages available from £5.25 a month, which give you more features, such as live video calls.

 

Voxer

What is it?
Basically a walkie-talkie for your phone! Connect with someone else that has the app, hold the button down and speak. If they’re in the app they’ll hear you in real time, or can play the recording next time they open the app. You can also use it for texts.

What I use it for
Urgent communications with clients. I answer emails twice a day, and check things like Asana and Slack intermittently (otherwise I’d spend all my time reading and replying to messages and never get any actual work done!). So Voxer is what my clients and I use when something is super urgent and needs an immediate response.

Why it’s awesome
It effectively means you can have a conversation in real time without having to actually pick up the phone – so if you’re in the middle of a task you don’t have to drop everything for five or ten minutes. You can leave the app open to listen in real time, or close it to listen to your messages when you’re ready.

Cost
Free to start; $3.99 per month will get you more features (such as transcription and integrations).

 

Zoom

What is it?
When I first wrote this list, Zoom needed explaining – since Covid-19, it will no longer need an introduction for most people as it’s become a household name! In a nutshell, it’s video conferencing software.

What I use it for
Client meetings (aka plotting world domination) and team meetings with virtual teams. I’ve also used it with website clients, so we can discuss the website design and organisation while looking at it together. And my clients use Zoom to deliver their online coaching sessions, group coaching and webinars.

Why it’s awesome
All you need is a link to invite someone to take part – no need to download any software or have an account. When using it you can share your screen, so you can show a presentation or demonstrate something. When you’re using your own account you can record the meeting on your computer (on in the cloud if you have a paid subscription). You can also use breakout rooms if your meeting is large or requires multiple conversations to take place at once.

Cost
Free for a basic account, then from £11.99 per month for a paid subscription with more features (such as cloud recording).

 

Apps for organising and sharing files and projects

 

Google Drive

What is it?
Cloud storage and file sharing, linked to your Google account.

What I use it for
Storing and organising my files (docs, spreadsheets, slides, images, videos, audio – everything really) and sharing them with clients and team members.

Why it’s awesome
Drive means I don’t need to keep too much on my hard drive. (Hard drives are SLOW. Did you know that a hard drive saves each of your files across multiple different parts of the drive, so each time you open a file your computer basically has to reassemble it from across multiple locations? And the more files you have, the longer this takes, which is why your computer gets slower with age!). Cloud storage is much faster and more efficient.

  1. I can share files and folders with my clients and team members, decide whether they can view or edit individual files, and revoke access at any time.
  2. We can add comments on the files, track revisions, see who’s done what.
  3. And the best thing? There’s no need to email files back and forth, with endless different versions (my pet peeve). Everything is organised, simple, in one place.

Cost
Free, until you need additional storage. I currently pay about £15 a year for Drive storage.

 

Asana

What is it?
A project management system.

What I use it for
Working with teams on projects with multiple tasks. Asana allows teams to create projects, tasks and subtasks, set deadlines, assign tasks to different team members, create recurring tasks and view a calendar of upcoming events.

Why it’s awesome
Even fairly small projects can become unwieldy when multiple people are involved, especially if they’re in different cities – or different time zones (I have a client with a team that spans 3 time zones!). Asana organises everything, so everyone knows what they have to do and by when – and can also see an overview of the whole project, communicate with other team members, add tags and attach links and files.

Cost
I use the free version, which is all I need, but my clients will sometimes pay for the upgrade to get more functionality. Packages start at £9.49 a month.

 

Airtable

What is it?
A powerful organisational tool for teams.

What I use it for
So far, mainly content planning – but it can be used to organise and manage just about any type of data, from projects to products, event planning to marketing campaigns.

Why it’s awesome
When I first saw Airtable it brought joy to my VA heart! The content planner allows you to plan a whole sequence of emails or social media posts and actually drop the copy right into the spreadsheet, along with tags to show the purpose and CTA of each post. It’s the perfect combination of visual appeal and super-efficient organisation. 

Cost
You can use Airtable for free, then it’s $10 per month when you upgrade to a Plus subscription, giving you more storage space and a longer revision history. There are higher pricing tiers too, with more features.

 

Milanote

What is it?
A tool for organising projects.

What I use it for
Working with clients on smaller, one-off projects – such as designing and building a landing page.

Why it’s awesome
The interface is nice and simple, with handy drag-and-drop icons to add written notes, links, images, files and to-do lists to a board that you can then share with others. You can choose to grant either view or edit access. A phone app allows you to add quick notes to your Milanote account to access later.

Cost
You can use Milanote for free (allowing you a certain number of notes, links and to-do lists), then it’s $9.99 per month when you upgrade to a Pro subscription, giving you unlimited notes, images, links and file uploads, and the ability to search your boards and content.

Transparency: Milanote have gifted me a free Pro subscription in return for including their app in this list (thank you Milanote!). I was already using and enjoying the free version, so this is very much a genuine review. The link above is not an affiliate link, so I won’t be compensated if you click.

Canva

What is it?
Online design software.

What I use it for
Creating blog post headers, social media memes/images, video covers etc. – and sharing my designs with clients or other team members.

Why it’s awesome
Some people (designers!) make fun of Canva, but I think it has its place. It offers lots of free, adaptable templates, allowing you to create specific sized designs (such as a Facebook cover image or Instagram post) in the correct proportions. One great feature is that within any single design you can create multiple pages and download them individually – so, for example, a range of different blog post headers for one client can be saved as one file.

Cost
Free to start, though I pay £10.99 a month for Canva Pro, which includes additional features such as the ability to save your own branding colours and upload your own fonts (and save different branding sets for different projects).

 

Random apps for specific tasks

 

Rev

What is it?
Not really an app, more of a service, Rev.com is my go-to for transcriptions and video captions.  

What I use it for
When clients send me video or audio files to be repurposed as blog posts or newsletters, or for online course or membership site materials, Rev sends them back to me as Word files. I would also use Rev for captions for videos for social media (over 80% of video on Facebook, for example, is watched with the sound turned off).

Why it’s awesome
Quick turnaround – most files are returned within a couple of hours, shorter recordings often within 30 minutes. These sorts of jobs would take me HOURS… so I leave it to the experts, saving me time and my clients money.

Cost
$1.25 per minute of video or audio recording

 

Loom

What is it?
Loom is a free extension for Google Chrome – basically a video recorder that allows you to record your screen and your microphone, and gives the option of adding a video window of yourself talking.

What I use it for
Recording walkthrough videos of process or progress. So, for example, if a client wants an SOP (standard operating procedure) for a particular task – useful if I’m unavailable or if the client’s team expands – or if I need to record a video walkthrough of a website I’m building.

Why it’s awesome
No need to load a programme or fiddle with screen size – Loom is built in to your browser, so all you need to do is click the button, confirm the settings and you’re away. You can even pause and resume your recording as you go. It saves the recordings in the cloud, and you can either download them or send someone direct link. Also integrates with Slack (see above).

Cost
Free to start; then $4 per month for Loom Pro (you get things like call-to-action buttons, the ability to know who’s watched your video, and custom video thumbnails). Team and Company versions are in the pipeline, with even more features.

 

Facebook Sharing Debugger

What is it?
Ever shared your blog post on Facebook and found that the image or title (or both!) are wrong? You go back to your blog and fix it, then try posting again… only to see the exact same image. Annoying? Yep. Well, the Facebook Sharing Debugger fixes it.

What I use it for
See above!

Why it’s awesome
It allows you to fix mistakes and make sure your blog posts look as they should when they are posted to Facebook.

Cost
Free

Also see:
LinkedIn Post Inspector – this does the same thing, but for LinkedIn.

 

Apps for organising your own work and time

 

Evernote

What is it?
Perhaps my favourite app of all time, this handy little tool allows you to save notes, clip web pages, create tables, record audio notes and attach files.

What I use it for
EVERYTHING! I use Evernote for a whole host of work and personal stuff.
Example #1: saving the hex codes and RGBs for the brand colours of every client I work with, so I can easily find them – whether the project I’m doing is in WordPress, Photoshop or Word. Example #2: recording my thoughts for my blog posts when I’m driving!

Why it’s awesome
Everything you need to remember is all in one place! And you can organise your notes in folders, and with tags, so everything’s easy to find and the whole thing is searchable. And as I’ve got the app on my desktop and my iPhone I can carry all that useful info everywhere I go.

Cost
Free to start, but I pay £4.99 a month for a premium account. There’s also a package for teams priced at £10.99 per month.

 

Toggl

What is it?
A time tracker.

What I use it for
Recording the time I spend on different tasks for different clients. When I’m working at an hourly rate I use it to bill my clients and show them how I’ve spent my time. When I’m working on a project it allows me to track how long things are taking, helping me organise my time, prioritise and price work appropriately.

Why it’s awesome
Not only does it keep track of things for you, it allows complete transparency between client and contractor. Oh, and there’s an app for your phone, so you can even use it for meetings away from your place of work.

Cost
Free to start – I still use the free version – but there are paid packages with extra features (such as calculating billable time) starting from $9 a month.