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

1) Xero

Like Quickbooks but better, Xero is cloud-based accounting software with all the time-saving tools you need to grow your business.

Cost: $9-$70/month

2) Wave Accounting

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.

Cost: Free

3) Mint

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.

Cost: Free

Legal stuff

4) Shake

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.

Cost: $0-10

5) Upcounsel

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

6) Bidsketch

Build professional-looking proposals in minutes.

Cost: $29/month

7) Proposify

Cloud-based software for building branded and beautifully designed marketing proposals with ease.

Cost: Free – $100/month

Time management and tracking

8) Timely

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

9) Toggl

With one click, start tracking your time and find out which tasks take up the most time.

Cost: Free

Task and project management

10) Asana

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.

Cost: Free

11) Trello

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.

Cost: Free

12) Wunderlist

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.

Cost: Free

Calendar and scheduling

13) Sunrise

sunrise gif

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.

Cost: Free

Email management

14) Sanebox

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.

Cost: $7-$36/month

15) Sidekick by Hubspot

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).

Cost: Free

16) Streak

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.

Cost: $0-$39/month

Storage

17) Dropbox

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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

18) iCloud

Backup and sync all your Apple devices using your Apple ID and access any asset from all devices.

Cost: Free

Focusing

19) Focus

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.

Cost: Free

20) Coffitivity

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.

Cost: Free

Websites and portfolios

21) Squarespace

Squarespace makes it easy to build a good-looking blog without any programming experience.

Cost: $8/month

22) Branded.me

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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

Reputation management

23) Mention

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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.

Cost: $29-$99/month

Social media management

24) HootSuite

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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.

Cost: Free

25) Buffer

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!

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Shannon Byrne

Shannon Byrne

Content Chief at CloudPeeps
As CloudPeeps' content lead, Shannon crafts words, creates strategies and engages our audience through content contributions, newsletters and more.
  • Niraj Ranjan Rout

    Excellent article, Shannon. Great list. Do check out grexit.com, really good for sharing emails (by just adding labels – no need to forward), and for delegating emails to your team-mates. It also lets you write notes on emails.

  • Sharon Pettis McElwee

    a writing team I work on uses slack to keep in touch. I may start using it with my clients as well

    • Inigo Montoya

      +1 for Slack, it’s becoming indespensible. I’d also suggest invoicegeneratorapp.com for creating ad-hoc quotes, pro-formas and invoices. It’s free and doesn’t even require a login.

  • Meanu Normia

    Add proofhub in your must have list, Its great tool got much advanced features like gantt chart, resource management, Group chat, reporting and many more, Give it a try!

  • Freddy Low

    Shannon, great list! I use by myslef Hootsuite for Social-Media-Marketing. But Mostly I use http://moneypenny.me/. It allows me to handle all the stuff I don’t like in one tab. I can create custom invoices and estimates, track time and receipts (even on the go with the iOS/Android app), contact by tax consultant and manage my team there. Now I can focs myself on my real work as a freelancer and can minimize the effort for all the other stuff. I hope it makes it into your list sometime in the future.

  • I must agree with Freddy Low, Hootsuite is my go to for scheduling Social Media posts. Which is especially helpful when I’m out and about on the go.

    I also like Klout, though it isn’t as user friendly as Hootsuite, it measures social influence, which can translate into traffic and revenue is utilized correctly.

  • I’ll add http://www.noisli.com/ to the Focus section. Provides ambient noise for you as you write in a distraction free environment. Uses markdown. One of my favorite ways to start a first draft for a future blog post.

  • I use several of these. Good list

  • As a freelancer I couldn’t survive without outlook – google calendar sync. That was a real discovery for me.

  • Hi Shannon,

    Winning tools! I love Hootsuite a bunch. And I found this post through TweetDeck 😉 Tools rock if you use them to engage, to make friends, to build bonds and to share value. They save ya time. I spend 10 to 20 minutes 1-2 times daily responding to tweets on Tweetdeck, and Faving folks who RTed my stuff, and following my new followers. I do all 3 tasks in minutes on TD. Whereas it’d take me up to 30 minutes to do these tasks, 1 at a time, on Twitter itself. Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

  • d_anna

    Shannon, thanks for the great list! I’d also recommend https://freeter.io/ for organizing workflows, and https://www.hellobonsai.com/freelancers for sending invoices.

  • Ava Raynott

    Great list! To succeed as a freelancer, you need to be organized when it comes to your work and every other aspect, whether it is a solo project or you are working on a team of 20. I’d also like o add proofhub.com under the task management list. It’s the most feature-rich, very professional and easy to use tool. Worth trying!

  • Brian O

    I would like to add Apptivo into your list. It assists to manage projects and also take care time tracking, team collaboration, Gantt chart and more are available. I can easily handle my team and projects without any work burden. Try to check out.

  • Disha Bhatia

    I love using butter and pocket. I’l also like to suggest proofhub for project management. Its an all in one project management tool/app with great features. Check it out!

  • Sharon Thomson

    Great list. For project management, I’d like to suggest ProofHub. ProofHub brings your projects, remote teams and clients under one roof, empowering you to keep things always under your ultimate control.

  • Eugene

    Also check out simple tool called Deskun for task management and project management. You can find it here https://deskun.com