3.10.2014

A Freelancer's Software

As a designer, there's a ton of software you can use to get your work done, from creative software to invoicing options. It's a lot to choose from, and quite frankly there's not always a clear choice. However, I always enjoyed seeing what folks were using and why, so I compiled a list of programs I use daily, along with the cost, whether it be billed monthly or a one time purchase.


Adobe Creative Cloud | $50/mo

Love it or hate it, Adobe's software is a must-have at this point. I'm in photoshop and illustrator all day, every day, so this was a much needed subscription. I'm looking forward to the day where this whole deal isn't necessary, but it is at the moment. I know I sound grumpy, but Adobe's customer service and business model is firmly planted in the old world. If they improve their services and give us a better tool for interactive design than Photoshop, I could be a believer. Maybe.

Sublime Text 3 | $70

I have to admit, I call myself a visual designer before even thinking about touting any developer skills I may have. I know html, and my CSS skills are definitely improving, but I'm not a heavy lifter. That being said, I love Sublime Text 3. I was a Textmate guy for years, but after so many people recommended Sublime Text, I had to try it out. I'm glad I did.

Sketch App | $79

I've been using Sketch since December of 2013, and I have to admit, it's pretty great. It's new software made by a tiny team, so it's definitely buggy and things act wonky from time to time. That being said: It's the first program built from the ground up completely focused on interactive design. Everything is vectors, the exports have a @2x option for retina, and the pages for multiple screens/layouts work smoothly. I can't wait until this is more of an industry standard.

Anvil | Free

Anvil is dead simple: This tiny app is what I use to make local dev environments. It's a terrific little app that's been super helpful.

Skype | $3/mo

I've been using Skype for years, and pay $3/mo for the unlimited USA and Canada calling. Well worth it for video chats and phone calls.

Rdio | $5/mo

For my tunes, I listen to Rdio. I love the product and don't think any other streaming service comes close in music discovery or product quality. I only pay for the desktop plan, and use my own music library when I'm out and about.

Github | Free

As I said before, I'm a designer, not a developer. I'm using the free Github account for my personal site and a few small projects. I have to admit, I've gotten rusty on this whole setup in general, so I'm getting more acquainted with Git as I start doing my own thing.

Alfred | Free

This app is one I use so often it's become a sub-conscious part of my workflow. It's an app launcher, calculator, file-finder, you name it. Get this app.

Airmail | $2

This mail app far surpasses Apple Mail. I enjoy having a standalone mail experience beyond a tab in my browser, so Airmail was really great for me to find. Labeling and organizing is great, the product looks awesome, and it even receives email before gmail in my browser does. Rad.

Dropbox Pro | $10/mo

After looking up cloud storage options, it was pretty clear that Dropbox was the most mature and trustworthy option out there. Sure, your price-per-gig is a bit high, but it's super fast and reliable. I'll probably plan to ramp up the storage I'm using as I go.

Harvest | $12/mo

I needed an app for time tracking and invoicing, and Harvest won this battle for me. I'd used it in the past and had gotten used to the slick interface. Freshbooks was another solid contender, but I ended up going with Harvest since I was familiar. I'm not sure that you could go wrong between the two, they offer lots of great features.

Transmit | $34

I use Transmit for all my FTP bidness. Again, when it comes to development I'm only maintaining my personal site along with a few small projects, but Transmit has always been awesome. The folks at Panic know how to make a terrific product, and this is well worth the purchase.

Total Cost | $185 + $80/mo

Again, I hope this was beneficial for you to see. I'm still figuring out my tools, so this list is bound to flex a little as I make discoveries. If there's something you'd like to know more about, or think there's a better option than something I'm using, let me know.