Evernote Review: freelancers, get organized!

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Evernote Review: freelancers, get organized!

Freelancers need a home base. As a freelancer, you may not have a traditional office. You may not have a dedicated desk. You might be working in a million different places: at home, in a shared workspace, in a coffee shop, on the subway, in your car – you get the point. Freelancers need a home base.

Evernote wants to be your home base – as they put it on their site, they want you to "collect it all in Evernote." On the surface, Evernote is just a note-taking app, but when you look a little closer, you can see that it wants to be much, much more. Whether it’s archiving your invoices or capturing your project notes, recording that big client meeting or making a quick to-do list, Evernote wants to hold everything relating to your business (and your life).

But is Evernote actually going to be the best tool for the way you work? We take a deep dive into all of the things that Evernote does well: organizing projects, enabling you to work anywhere, capturing everything, and integrating with third-party apps. We also explain Evernote’s pricing scheme.

Evernote: the breakdown

Price:

  • Free tier

  • $34.99/year for Plus tier (More storage, some advanced features)

  • $69.99/year for Premium tier (Most storage, all advanced features, best value for most freelancers)

Available on:

Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Web, and more

Key features:

  1. Flexible organizational structure

  2. Apps for every platform, synced through the cloud

  3. Save everything

  4. Third-party integrations

What is Evernote?

Evernote is, simply put, a note-taking app. But it’s not just a single app: Evernote has apps for almost every platform you can imagine, and they’re all synced by Evernote’s cloud service. "Notes" aren’t just old-school text files, either – they can be a webpage, a handwritten note, an image, or have a file attachment. They can be organized into notebooks and by user-created tags. You can even share notes with other Evernote users, who can comment and collaborate on the content.

Evernote is incredibly flexible and can be used for almost any purpose, which is why it’s popular among freelancers. You can also mold it to fit your particular organizational style:

  • Prefer to write everything down by hand, but want an archive of it for later? Evernote can do that.

  • Want to record every big client so you can reference the conversation later? Evernote can do that, too.

  • Need a place to save every site you can find about the universal timezone system for your next freelance article? As you probably guessed, Evernote does it.

What do freelancers love about Evernote?

"Evernote is flexible" is a good top-level explanation of why Evernote is a great app for freelancers, but it doesn’t really explain how it’s flexible or which specific features are great for freelancers. So, without further ado:

Evernote’s notebook and tags system provides a rigid structure when you need it and loosens up when you don’t

We already talked about the main way Evernote stores information: "notes." Notes can be a lot of different things – everything from plain text to digital handwriting to multimedia files – but they don’t mean much if you can’t organize them.

That’s where notebooks and tags come in. Together, notebooks and tags allow you to switch between rigid and loose structures depending on what you need.

An individual note can only belong to one notebook. Many freelancers organize their notes into notebooks based on projects – for example, a freelance writer may keep a notebook for each blog they contract with, or even for each article, if it’s particularly research heavy. A note can only belong to one notebook, so when you open a notebook, you know you’re only going to see notes that relate directly to the project you’re working on.

(You can also organize notebooks into "stacks," which is basically just a visual organization tool that allows you to collect notebooks under one name. This can be especially useful for freelancers who work on multiple projects for one client.)

But a note can have multiple tags – up to 100 per note, in fact. And you can use these tags to create relationships between notes from different notebooks, different projects, and different clients.

For example, if you’re a freelance designer, you might save a lot of articles about graphic design in a general research notebook. Perhaps, over the last few months, you’ve tagged many of these articles "rebrand," for articles about major rebranding efforts. Now let’s say you get hired to work on a company’s major rebrand. Just by taking a look at all of your notes tagged "rebrand," you’ll be able to see all of the relevant articles you’ve saved. Months later, when the client’s rebranding is complete, you’ll have a ton of notes from that specific project also tagged "rebrand." The next time you get hired for a major rebranding project, all of those notes will be available under that tag, despite the fact that they live in different notebooks. Repeat ad nauseum.

Evernote's apps and web platform allow you to work anywhere, on any device

Evernote has an app for just about everyone. Whether you have a Mac or a PC, a Chrome laptop or an Android tablet, an iPhone or a Blackberry, an Apple Watch or an Android Wear, Evernote has an app for you. All of these apps allow you to capture and edit notes on the go or at your desk.

Plus, they’re all synced using Evernote’s cloud service, which also allows you to access all of your notes through a web browser.

Unlike other apps that may only work on Apple products or don’t have web versions, Evernote is completely platform-agnostic. Wherever you already get work done, Evernote is there, whether it’s your phone, tablet, laptop, or smartwatch. And if you’re a paying customer, you can even work offline, with no internet connection whatsoever.

For freelancers, this kind of flexibility and freedom is key to being able to work anywhere you want (or anywhere you can). You don’t have to be tied down to a desk or a power outlet – if you work best on your tablet in the middle of a park, you totally can with Evernote.

With Evernote, you can capture and save almost anything

Think of a traditional paper notebook. A paper notebook can be filled with almost anything: writing, doodles, sketches, Polaroid pictures, newspaper clippings, pressed leaves. Evernote is much the same way, but with the added benefit of being able to save digital work. With Evernote, you can save a webpage or a video or a PDF file, along with almost anything you can put in a paper notebook, too.

For freelancers across a variety of mediums, the ability to save almost anything can be huge for productivity. A freelance writer, for example, can save articles from the web along with PDFs of old books into a research notebook for their next big piece. A freelance designer can save inspiration from anywhere on the web or anywhere in real life just by taking a picture on their phone. Freelance fashion consultants can save photos of every piece of clothing in their client’s closet to get a full picture of the outfits they can create.

If you love writing things out by hand instead of typing, you may enjoy Evernote’s own Penultimate app. Evernote can even use artificial intelligence to recognize and translate your digital handwriting into text. The same is true for your real life scribbles – Evernote has its own line of Moleskine notebooks, and you can take pictures of the pages using the Evernote app. The app then enhances those pages into a digital format that is entirely searchable. You can even organize your Moleskine notes automatically using Evernote smart stickers.

Evernote can use its artificial intelligence to recognize words in almost anything – Post-It Notes, photographs, and some PDF files. All of these images then become searchable – if you take a picture of a cafe menu, for example, it’ll show up if you search for "coffee" within Evernote.

Evernote works with many useful third-party apps

Do you use Google Drive? What about Outlook or FileThis or Zapier? Or DocuSign or Scanner Pro or IFTTT? There are many apps that integrate with Evernote, either by allowing you to embed files (like Google Drive), save emails to your notebooks (like Outlook and other email clients), or by using Evernote as a database for their service (like FileThis).

There’s an entire ecosystem of Evernote-integrated apps that freelancers can use to take control of their business. Services like FileThis may be especially helpful when trying to keep track of invoices or receipts. You can view all of the apps with Evernote integrations in the Evernote App Center.

Evernote: Free v.s. Plus v.s. Premium

There are currently three levels of Evernote’s service: Free, Plus, and Premium. As you can guess, Free is the free tier of Evernote’s service, while Plus and Premium will cost you a fee every year. Plus is $34.99 per year and Premium costs $69.99 per year.

Let’s start with what you get on the Free tier. First of all, you’re limited to 60 MB of uploads per month, which means you won’t be able to upload a lot of photos or files. You’re also limited to syncing on two devices.

If you upgrade to the Plus tier, you’ll be able to upload 1 GB per month and sync across all of your devices. You’ll also be able to access notebooks offline, forward your emails into Evernote, and get access to customer support via email. While 1 GB may seem like more than enough storage, you can easily hit this limit if you save a lot of large, image-heavy PDF files, office documents, or scans of receipts and invoices.

Now let’s take a look at Evernote’s Premium tier. With premium, you can upload 10 GB per month into Evernote and sync across all of your devices. In addition to the Plus features we outlined above, you also get customer support via live chat, the ability to search for text in PDFs and Microsoft Office documents (saving you valuable time), the ability to scan and digitize business cards (saving your butt during a crucial meeting), see related notes and content (letting you make connections on the fly), and many other useful features that make Evernote a stronger tool for those who love organization and intelligent search as much as we do..

For most people, we believe that Evernote’s Premium tier is the best value. While some may believe that Plus is a good middle ground, especially since it gives you extra storage to archive your files, you need the Premium tier features in order to truly take advantage of Evernote’s powerful organizational tools.

You can learn more about the differences between Evernote’s three tiers on their website.

Is Evernote right for you?

Evernote is a flexible organizational tool that is perfect for full-time freelancers in some key ways, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. For starters, you need to commit to using Evernote as your main workspace, collecting all of your thoughts and important files in the service, in order to take full advantage of the features. This may be hard if you prefer other programs for writing or saving information. It can also be hard for part-time freelancers who need to work with a different system – for example, a company that primarily uses Google Drive and Trello. Part-time freelancers may find themselves struggling to juggle two separate workspaces.

As a full-time freelancer, however, you get to decide what your main workspace is going to be, and which apps you’re going to use to control your business. If you can commit to using Evernote for every project and every client, you’ll build up an archive of resources that you can use to inform projects well into the future. For freelancers who are just starting out in their career, adopting Evernote at the start can help put an organizational structure in place that will benefit you for years to come.