The 25 must-have tools for freelancers
Being a freelancer means being a business owner wearing all of the hats. You’re responsible for invoicing, billing, business development, marketing, account management and oh, executing the work itself. But that’s not stopping people from pursuing the life of a freelancer. In fact, by 2020, 40% of the workforce will be freelancers and independent workers. Why are so many people willing to take the leap and bear all of this burden?
Because thanks to technology, it’s really no burden at all. Today, hundreds of tools, resources and services exist to help you streamline, delegate, find and focus on creating the work that brings in the money and keeps your clients happy.
This means you can run your own business while enjoying the flexibility to work with the people you want to work with and do the things you want to do, when you want to do them.
Here are our 25 absolutely must-have tools for freelancers running their own business.
Managing the money
Like Quickbooks but better, Xero is cloud-based accounting software with all the time-saving tools you need to grow your business.
Cloud-based software geared towards freelancers that helps you manage the day-to-day financial operations of your business with reporting and direct links to your bank accounts.
The ultimate budget-tracker for the Type A (or wannabe Type A) personality. Track and be alerted on what exactly you’re spending your money on, create budgets, and more.
A mobile app allowing you to create, sign and send legally binding agreements from their phone — from non-disclosure agreements to freelance agreements, and beyond.
Need real legal advice? Upcounsel is a marketplace connecting you with local attorneys offering reasonable rates to help you with anything from establishing a business, creating a contract, filing a dispute and more.
Cost: Differs depending on attorney hired and needs
Proposals and branded templates
Build professional-looking proposals in minutes.
Cloud-based software for building branded and beautifully designed marketing proposals with ease.
Cost: Free – $100/month
Time management and tracking
Timely allows you to import your calendar and track your hours based on your task list. It makes it easy to find inefficiencies in your workflow and to set up better processes to get more work done in less time.
Cost: Free – $199/month for company plans
With one click, start tracking your time and find out which tasks take up the most time.
Task and project management
Asana is great for collaborative long-term planning and individual task management. We use Asana to share what we’re working on from a team, project and individual perspective. You can break tasks into subtasks, assign deadlines, leave notes and more.
Easily organize any project into visual boards and organize with labels, add teammates, create deadlines and more. I especially love Trello for organizing tasks into weekly or monthly sprints. It can also be used as a handy content calendar.
Among the favorites of to-do lists in the startup crowd, Wunderlist makes it easy to plan, track and get things done! Available on pretty much any Mac or Windows device.
Calendar and scheduling
One calendar to rule them all. I’m obsessed with Sunrise. It syncs with all your Google, Outlook and/or Facebook accounts and more. You can even schedule meetings directly in text messages.
Sanebox applies smart filtering to your email inbox to help you achieve and maintain inbox at zero and focus on the emails that are most important.
I’m a huge fan of Sidekick. You can track who is opening your emails when (so you know if that client saw that invoice), schedule emails for a specific time (because no one needs to know you’re working at 3am) and snooze emails for later (just like Boomerang).
Streak is a CRM system for your inbox. Gmail users can track and manage leads, clients, potential partners, projects and more directly in your inbox.
With Dropbox, you can store any files you’d like in the cloud and access them from any device.
Cost: Free for 2gb of space; $9.99 fro 1tb
Backup and sync all your Apple devices using your Apple ID and access any asset from all devices.
Focus is a Mac app that blocks distracting sites like Facebook and Reddit when it’s time to get work done. An alternative for PC users is Freedom.
Do the ambient sounds of coffeeshops help you focus? Feel like you’re in a coffeeshop in the comfort of your own home with Coffitivity.
Websites and portfolios
Squarespace makes it easy to build a good-looking blog without any programming experience.
Easily and quickly build a beautiful and simple personal website with Branded.me. It’s similar to About.me, but better.
Cost: Free – $7/month
Track what people are saying about you or your clients across the web and social with Mention. It’s like if Google Alerts and HootSuite had a baby who took steroids.
Social media management
Whether you’re managing only your own accounts or accounts for your clients as well, HootSuite makes it easy to manage all social media accounts from one platform. You can even manage feeds from lists or searches.
Buffer allows you to schedule social media posts across accounts for later – so that you don’t have to worry about keeping your accounts fresh throughout the day. They’re analytics also let you see best performing posts and dive into trends among your audience.
Cost: Free – $10/month
With so many options available today, this list could have been infinite, but we wanted to keep it simple by sharing what we think our the must-haves. If you’re a content marketer looking for more, check out our writer’s toolbox with 50+ tools.
Do you have a must-have tool to add to this list? Share it in the comments below!
Latest posts by Shannon Byrne (see all)
- How to overcome the most common challenges as a freelancer - November 8, 2016
- A freelancer’s guide to liability insurance - November 1, 2016
- How to have more fun freelancing - October 4, 2016
- 8 ways to grow your freelance business for the holidays
- How to move from an employee to entrepreneur mindset
- Minimalism for freelancers: letting go to live a life you love
- How to take a vacation as a freelancer (without taking a hit to your bank account!)
- Why over 35s are choosing to freelance
- 8 freelancers reveal how they got their first client
- Why you’re not winning any freelance clients or jobs
- The top 10 books for freelancers
- How to hire an accountant for your freelance business
- How to hire a virtual assistant for your freelance business