Just as an expert builder needs a proper toolkit to ply their trade, a top freelancer needs good software and resources to get things done efficiently and to the highest standard. If you’re a freelancer, or you’re looking to become one, you’ll find that building, maintaining and using a list of your favorite tools will make your professional life so much easier.
To get you started, and introduce you to some powerful and convenient tools you may have overlooked or missed entirely, I’m going to tell you some my personal favorite freelancer tools. Shall we get started? Here are 25 fantastic tools for freelancers to get familiar with:
When you have a variety of projects to manage, you need somewhere to store everything in a sensible way. Basecamp is a great option for this kind of project management. Create a section for each project, complete with a task list and a group discussion area, and easily invite clients to participate. It isn’t free, but it isn’t all that expensive — give it a try to see if it’s worth it for you.
Free for up to 15 people, Asana is a user-friendly and attractive project collaboration tool perfect for the freelancer on a limited budget. Toggle specific project notifications to make sure that everyone participating gets updated in an appropriate fashion, and move up to the paid tiers if you want to get even more out of the system.
Trello takes a slightly different approach to project management, splitting projects and their internal features into rich cards that can be shuffled and adjusted at your leisure. Since all comments and updates get tied into the cards, it’s really easy to keep track of what everyone is doing without having to dig through different views. Use the free version, or try a premium tier.
When life gets hectic, keeping track of everything you need to get done on any given day becomes a vital commitment. You could use sticky notes, or give Wunderlist a try. Synching across all platforms and allowing you to assign tasks to specific people (so you can delegate when you get snowed under), it’s a great hub for your daily routine, and it starts free.
Got a ton of tasks but finding it hard to pick out the most important ones? Remember The Milk is all about ease of use, allowing you to add tasks extremely succinctly and create smart lists that prioritise in accordance with your set parameters. Take a look at your list, and you’ll see what needs to be done right now, and what can wait until tomorrow.
Want to keep using sticky notes? Evernote gives you virtual sticky notes that sync automatically so you won’t miss anything. Log ideas, notes, receipts, orders, feedback… pretty much anything that proves helpful for your freelancing work.
What’s the point in gathering a huge range of useful tools if you can’t get them to work together efficiently? You could spend all day going back and forth between different pieces of software. IFTTT (If This Then That) is all about getting your apps and devices to communicate, sharing information and toggling functions. You’re sure to find ways to make your life easier.
When you think about the sweet freedom of being a freelancer, it’s easy to forget that being a sole trader makes you the designated accountant. FreeAgent is a bookkeeping and invoicing application that makes it as easy as possible to get through your accounting needs, letting you get back to your regular work.
Wave is free. It’s entirely 100% free. Check the pricing page if you don’t believe me. That means you can track your expenses, create invoices in any currency, and even scan receipts directly from your phone, all for free. And if you’d like to upgrade your plan, well, you can’t. It’s just free.
You may know exactly where your apostrophes need to go, but the grind of a long day’s work can squeeze typos from even the most erudite wordsmith. Grammarly is a safety net for your writing. Install the Chrome extension, watch out for that tell-tale red underline, and never look a fool in an email exchange again.
When you’re writing long-form content for a pitch or a client update, you can be tempted to waffle on a bit. The Hemingway app is all about fixing up your style and tone to be as clear as possible. Throw in your paragraphs for some easy-to-follow suggestions, and cut your content down to size.
The more success you have as a freelancer, the more receipts you gather. Receipt Bank is a platform for tracking all of them, and it will work with most popular accountancy packages, so you can swap your bookkeeping software without losing your receipt records.
Toggl is a tool for logging all the time you spend on different business tasks. In fact, I’m using it right now to track the time I’m spending writing this sentence. While it can be tough at first to be confronted with the cold hard reality of where your time is going, understanding your distribution of effort will help you become more efficient.
Got an iPhone? The Hours app might be just what you need to build up a granular breakdown of where all the hours in your day are going. Easily start and stop tasks as you go, then review them afterwards to see where you’re losing time.
OfficeTime isn’t as slick as other time tracking tools, but it is more comprehensive. Set everything up and get an easy view of how much money you’re making every hour, then use that information to figure out which clients to keep and which ones to avoid.
Daily consistency is key for freelancer productivity, or else you’ll start watching a YouTube video and look up to realise you’ve done nothing useful for a full week. Pacemaker tracks your word output every day and lets you create goals for yourself.
Freelancing requires professional agility, not least because clients can be extremely capricious and hard to please. Use Balsamiq to build UI mockups and concepts, then share them with your current (or prospective) clients for convenient real-time feedback.
Instead of bringing possible clients to your presentations, why not send your presentations to your possible clients? Create a slideshow or similar presentation and upload it to SlideShare for easy distribution — you can even share it with the world to get some handy comments.
Most businesses want to be wooed during project pitches, and that means in-depth project proposals. You could spend hours and hours putting a proposal together, knowing perfectly well that it could easily be rejected, or you could throw something together using a BidSketch template and get a polished and professional presentation in very little time.
When you’re a solo operative, you must address the very concerning truth that losing all your files and data would completely sink your business. IDrive is a highly-regarded backup solution that can draw all the data from all your devices and keep it safe so all won’t be lost if your laptop fails unexpectedly.
If you’re a dedicated Apple user, iCloud is a tremendously convenient backup option, allowing you to backup and sync all your Apple devices using your Apple ID. It even has a downloadable Windows option in case you need to work on non-Apple devices.
You can set up Dropbox to function as a local folder on your computer, then store all your important files in that folder. If your computer crashes, fails, or outright explodes, simply set up your account on another computer and redownload all your files.
Do you know your schedule for the week? I don’t know mine, but Google Calendar does. Add in meetings, events, and deadlines, and invite people along — then set notifications to keep you fully aware of what’s happening.
The clue is in the name for this one. It’s fairly hard to miss a meeting, but it’s deceptively easy to forget to follow up with someone you’ve already met. Use FollowUp to create a template and schedule it to go out under certain conditions, then sit back and relax.
Networking is a big deal for freelancers — you need to get your name out there and start drumming up some new business. Camcard lets you scan business cards and save them to your phone, parsing the information to make it easy to sort and share. Don’t take a handful of cards and forget about them. Just scan them and carry on.
Whew! There you go, 25 excellent tools that freelancers can use to get things done, save time, and generally make their lives a lot simpler and easier. Anything in particular catch your eye? Give it a try. Finding a tool that works perfectly for you is a great feeling.