Freelancing is a business. Do not let others tell you otherwise.
First-time freelancers often find themselves juggling to manage their schedules, expenditures, workflows and collaborators themselves.
Therefore, like any other money-making outfits, having the right tools can make all the difference to a freelance business and the sanity of the freelancer.
After I decided to liberate myself from my previous creatively-restrictive employer, I set up my own freelance outfit. It was great until I find myself struggling to keep track of my deadlines; I’m always happy to be paid but invoicing was just a nightmare.
It was an arduous journey for me so here I am trying to make your’s a little easier.
Regardless if you are a home-based freelancer (like me!) or a digital nomad, these eight awesome tools will help you boost your freelance business to success.
Table of Contents
If you are a digital nomad or considering to get clients from all over the world, I would highly recommend signing up for PayPal; it is the easiest, fastest and secure method to receive and make payments online.
Not only does it allows me to receive payments, it also enables me to create, send and manage invoices from my account! Believe it or not, I used to use Microsoft Office Excel to create and manage my invoices — it was an absolute nightmare!
Just take note that while the services are free, PayPal does charge a nominal fee for each transaction.
When it comes to cash flow management, I am highly dependent on Mint; there is really no other money management tool that I would use to keep track of my revenue and spending, personally and for the business.
It has a beautiful user interface that is easy to navigate and its arsenal of tools are practical and useful.
Additionally, the Mint blog has excellent content that is not only useful for my personal finances but also a great source for some of my writing projects! Now that is what I call value for money.
One of the best perks of freelancing is the ability to have projects catered to or commissioned by people around the world.
Skype makes this much easier by allowing users communicate with each other without paying ridiculously expensive international calls.
It is also a great tool for conference video calls and share screens that are useful if you have a team of collaborators and clients from different locations — nothing beats going into a meeting in your pajama pants!
Up until recently, I thought everyone had gone digital; imagine how surprised I was when a couple of clients asked me to fax my invoices (does this happens a lot or is it just me in Malaysia?).
I was lucky that I found Etherfax — a paid service that allows users to send faxes without the need to set up a costly fax system in their offices.
From as low as RM19.90/month, I am able to send and receive faxes from and to my email account, Microsoft Office and the etherFAX Console.
It is a great alternative to consider if your freelance business needs it.
The reason why I fell for Trello is because of its kanban-style design that utilises boards, lists and cards — these elements keep projects organised. This is especially great when you’re working on a project with several collaborators.
It is easy to keep track of where your project is currently at and see what are the next steps to be taken and by who because the system allows users, among others, to indicate deadlines, assign cards (or tasks) to a specific member of the team and have discussions on specific cards.
It can be a little confusing for those who are not familiar with the kanban-style project management but it is easy to pick up.
Hubstaff is a great tool to have is you need to keep track of your virtual time — something that is essential when you charge clients hourly rates.
The tool is able to calculate time taken on individual tasks and projects, specific clients and produce time sheets.
This is extremely useful not only when you need to invoice them but also when you need to plan your schedule as you will be able to foresee the time needed to complete the project or task based on historical data.
Monitoring what people say about your client’s (or your) brand online platforms can be a daunting task.
Brand24 takes away your headache by giving you comprehensive analytic insights on sentiments, influencers, mentions and so much more to allow users to keep in touch with current and potential clients and followers.
The simple and clean user interface makes it easy and intuitive to navigate. The only thing that could make this tool better if it is able to curate and publish content on my online platforms for me!
At their very core, even the most perfectionist freelancers are human; they make mistakes that after spending a long time on a project, they might oversee some mistakes.
Therefore, even though my bread and butter is writing, I still use Grammarly to detect mistakes that I have overlooked during writing and proofreading.
The tool is far from perfect but it is one of the easiest grammar checkers there is out there.
I like that the developers included an algorithm that tells users why the tool thinks that their grammar is wrong—it helps when you know why because you can determine if your usage was correct for the situation.
Customise your toolkit
These eight awesome tools have really helped me as a freelance writer and content creator; they have allowed me to work more efficiently and effectively without the need to worry so much about administrative tasks.
While these have worked well for me, it is important that you experiment with them yourself to see if they are right for you — eventually, you would have your own toolkits.
Author: Allan Gaddi is the Digital Marketing Manager for etherFAX.my which provides online fax services across Malaysia. He specializes in content creation and conversion optimization. Allan spends much of his time establishing new relationships with freelancers, small and medium business owners. Allan can be reached on Twitter at @allangaddi.
*This is a sponsored post.