Picture this: You’re tracking down a few overdue invoices from clients A and B for projects completed months ago, receiving an email from client C regarding updates for project X, fielding a phone call from client D requesting an extended scope of work on project Y, working on revisions for client E while wrapping up final ideas for client F on project Z. Sound familiar?
As a freelancer, you’re flying solo. Which means you are the only one wearing all the hats for your business; you do it all. The bottom line is that we all could use a little support to help simplify things in life and business. And in today’s digital world, apps and online tools provide just that solution. Sure there are plenty of things you can do yourself (rather than sourcing out) or do by hand (rather than digitally), but sometimes — who am I kidding, all of the time — it’s in your best interest to work smarter not harder.
From project management and graphic design to time tracking and invoicing, brainstorming and note taking to conference calls and file storage, here are some of my all-time favorite and go-to freelance business tools that help me throughout my journey of solopreneurship. And really they’re not solely for freelancers, but also entrepreneurs and small-business owners. Maybe they’ll be helpful for you, too.
Harvest: A simple, online time-tracking and invoicing software to help ease the process of accounting, project management and workflow.
Canva: Amazingly user-friendly graphic design software that makes creating designs, for web or print, simple for everyone, even if you have zero-to-little graphic design experience or skill.
G Suite: Get Google Gmail, Google Docs, Drive and Calendar for business to help stay organized and up-to-date on all deadlines and meetings, documents and team collaboration.
Evernote: Collect and share ideas or notes across desktop and mobile platforms, keeping track of all your one-off thoughts as you navigate the freelance life in and out of the mobile office.
TapeACall: Record important meeting or interview phone calls for future reference and playback.
Dropbox: An easy system to create, share and collaborate on photos, documents and videos anywhere, anytime while keeping files safe on the cloud.
Mint: Manage your business money and various budgets, while paying your bills and expenses.
Boomerang for Gmail: Schedule an email to be sent later and setup easy email reminders. As a freelancer you may be working odd hours, not the traditional 9 to 5, so if you prefer clients to not see an email come through at 11:45 p.m., Boomerang it for the following morning.
Asana: A simple way to collaborate with a team of freelancers to track all work and progress on client projects.
Although I have not yet tried the following tools, they are quite popular among the freelance crowd and are in my lineup of “tools to try” for the coming year.
Buffer: Schedule, publish and analyze all of your business social media posts in one place, or use for clients’ social media projects.
UberConference: Simple, visually appealing and free to use, you can easily set up a conference call for all team members to join in with document sharing and recording options available.
Shake: Create, sign and send legally binding agreements in just seconds.
There are endless apps and online tools out on the market, and continuing to roll out month after month, so dig into what processes you need help with and then find an app to help support your freelance business. What I do is actually quite simple: Google “Process I need help with” and “app” or “tool” (and sometimes I throw in “freelance” for good measure). Some trial and error may be involved, but that’s to be expected as a business owner. And with readily available free trials, you can test drive premium apps or online tools at your convenience.
Really, it’s quite simple: You have enough on your plate as a freelancer managing every aspect of your business — and clients and projects — yourself. Let the chosen tools do the tough work for you while you focus on other parts of your business. Remember to work smarter, not harder.
Follow Cherise’s journey every month as she navigates the freelance life.
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