Freelancing is a business that can be started on a shoestring budget. Since it is easy to start, you often forget that like in any other business, you need to invest in the right tools for your freelance business to grow.
Freelancers have more tools than ever to stay connected, engaged and on task. Whether you are going at your freelance business solo or with a small group of collaborators, the following nine tools will ensure that you have all the help you need to propel your freelance business to success.
1. WorkflowMax: It is an invoicing software, which helps you control each aspect of your invoice, from how it looks to what information is displayed.
For example: You can create an invoice with only the basic information about the project. Little details like adding a line for each task, or a highly detailed invoice can be made. Multi-job invoices can also be created with ease. In fact, you can calculate the invoice according to actual / estimated time and costs, percentage of quoted value and progress amount / deposit.
Hence, WorkflowMax is a project management CRM tool built to manage all your business management needs, including time sheets, reporting, project tracking, job monitoring, and other aspects in between.
2. SkyDrive / OneDrive: SkyDrive, now known as OneDrive, fills the gap of every cash strapped freelancer for having a free plan that offers 7GB of space. OneDrive could be upgraded like other cloud storages. Unlike DropBox and Google Drive, OneDrive has three storage plans:
- $10 a year for 20GB, making a total space of 27GB
- $25 a year for 50GB, making a total space of 57GB
- $50 a year for 100GB, making a total space of 107GB
OneDrive has their own app for Windows Phone and is available on iOS and android as well.
3. Timely: With Timely, you can plan out and schedule your weeks ahead so you have a better idea of how much time you’ll have to complete a new project. It’s also a great way to track how much time you’ve spent on a project billing and invoicing purposes. You can even assign an hourly rate to a project so it will automatically calculate the invoice change.
Different responsibilities can be color coordinated so you can juggle multiple projects at once. This app also works across platforms, so it’s accessible on browsers, mobile devices and smart watches too.
4. Trello: Trello is a free, online collaboration tool that’s organized by boards, lists and cards. A Trello board is like a whiteboard with the name of your project title. A ‘card’ is an item on your lists and every entry is treated as a “card” that you drag around and do a bunch of cool stuff with. These can also be organized under any list like to-do, doing and done.
You can attach files, images, etc. to each card and add as many people as you want on board for collaboration. The changes appear without you having to refresh the page.
5. Invisionapp: This app helps collaborate and share designs virtually. Invisionapp helps you to get feedback in real time, rather than juggling back and forth over emails. You can launch this service in any browser, host meetings, present designs and even create tours. Other users can also edit and leave comments.
6. HootSuite: In the IT industry you need to have some type of social presence, whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, so that clients find you easily and contact your services. But managing several profiles might fall to the bottom of your list when you’re the sole person taking care of the daily business. You can even schedule the updates to ‘automatically post’ at an anticipated time and date. HootSuite gives you the freedom to manage all of your social brands in one dashboard.
Hence, you can fire off a tweet, post a Facebook update, check your Instagram comments and interact with your LinkedIn groups all within one app. Along with this; it delivers analytics, so that you achieve a better sense of your audience engagement. This helps in identifying what channels are bringing in clients.
7. Falcon: Falcon is a browser app that provides you contact profiles right inside your email or social networks by hovering over a person’s name. It helps you find out small details about your customer or client which makes a great difference when closing a deal.
8. Toggl: If you charge by the hour or often wonder how long it takes you to do a certain task, Toggl will help you keep a track. With once click, you can start tracking your time and find out which tasks take up the most time. It’s particularly helpful in tracking hours spent on client work.
Toggl works offline too. Even if you disconnect the net, Toggl would track your time. It’ll synchronize itself once it is reconnected to the internet.
9. Dashlane: Using the above tools mean that at one point of time, you’ll have several usernames and passwords to keep track of. Dashlane is a password manager, autofill and e-wallet all in one. What makes it so unique is that they don’t store your master password. You are the only one who has the password to their account.
Hence, it means that if you lose your Dashlane password, there is no way to recover it.
No matter how good the above mentioned tools are, they won’t do you much good unless you utilize them in a proper manner. Take your time to research the tools you use before you pay for them or start using them. Take the advantage of ‘free trials’ that most tools offer to find out which tool will be a good fit.
And once you start using them, stick to them and create a system that’ll help you save time and impress your clients at the same time.