International Freelancer Tools for 2019

I made some major changes in my system this year and was inspired by Amanda Mustard's list of helpful tools so I want to share my own list of things that make my life easier as a freelance photojournalist.

After writing this list I decided to add referral links. If you use them they will get you discounts and send rewards to me.

Cell Phone: 200 SIM Card tray eject pins - If Marie Kondo asked me what brings me the most happiness this year it would be this box. Many times when I get to a border I need to switch sim cards and I always lose these SIM eject pins.  Which sometimes means I have to ask a woman with a hijab if I can borrow one of hers.  Now I have spread these pins everywhere around my luggage and I will always be able to find some.

Money: TransferWise (referral link) - I get paid, and pay, in a lot of currencies. With TransferWise I don’t have fees when clients transfer to my account. I also get a good rate and easily convert money between USD, GBP, and EUR. It is almost magic. Revolut (referral link) looks like a better option, but there is a waiting list. 

Planning: Things - An app for Mac and iPhone that allows me to record ToDos fast, brainstorm larger projects, save the steps for recipes, and plan out my day. It’s designed to be part of the Getting Things Done ecosystem and appears to be working for me  

Cell Phone: Google Fi (referral link) - Google Fi is another service that is flexible and predictable around the world. $20 a month plus $10 per GB of data in 200+ countries. Often it is cheaper to buy a local SIM for longterm data.  But, with Google Fi I have one steady number for editors to reach me at and an easy backup wherever I go.  I can't wait until the Fi e-sim works in the new iPhones, then I will be able to seamlessly keep my whole system within iPhone's security.

Invoicing: Hiveage - We all need a system for creating and tracking invoices. Mine used to be a Google Docs template and a spreadsheet, it worked. But I find that once Hiveage is set up it takes a lot less time, and with their iPhone app I can quickly send an invoice while in a cab.  Unfortunately they raised their rates recently.

Toning: Capture One - I have lived in Photoshop since version 5, but I now canceled my Adobe membership and switched to Capture One. Basically because the retouching looks more subtle when I use it. I can't explain why but I prefer the colors and how it hides the halos produced by dodging and burning.

Toning: Wacom Intuos - Toning photos becomes physically painful, especially dodging and burning on a trackpad.  A Wacom makes it slightly less painful, and after a few weeks of fiddling has become an extension of my hand.  Get the bluetooth version so you can lean back.

Backups: Backblaze (referral link)- I finally have an offsite backup system for my 9TB archive for $50 a year.  It took a month to upload everything, but now it is easy to keep it all up to date.  Warning: If you don't plug in a backed up hard drive for a month they will remove it, you can get around this by turning off backups while traveling away from your archive.

Website: Linode (referral link)- I've hosted websites on DreamHost for a long time, but its shared server just wasn't strong enough to handle my koken installation.  So I switched to Linode, it took time and googling to set up, costs a little more, but my website is much faster.

Risk: Risk Map - While working in Egypt and the Middle East I have a deep network of news and contacts that keep me informed.  While traveling in Western Africa I was a neophyte again but Risk Map helped me get an idea of risks on the ground.