Top 10 Tech Tools For Freelancers
Being a freelancer means you’re a one-person show and that you're usually doing everything by yourself like completing client work, creating invoices, signing contracts, and marketing your services without any help. Luckily, in this digital age, there are more than enough apps and tech tools made for freelancers. Thanks to these tools, being a freelancer means you can work virtually anywhere in the world with nothing more than a computer and an internet connection. Whether you need to submit a proposal, get paid or track your time, these tech tools can help you get the job done.
Trello is a popular tool for collaborating on a project. It uses visual boards, where users can create to-do items called “cards”. Cards can then be moved around different boards as users work on them. Team members can comment on cards, put a due date, label it with different colors, and insert images and stickers.
Trello’s free plan lets you create unlimited boards, team members and upload unlimited attachments up to 10 MB each. It’s free to connect a cloud storage account like Dropbox and Google Drive, and you can connect one more app with one free “Power-Up”. You don’t need to pay for anything if you just want to use Trello for a small team, but they have paid plans for bigger teams that require more advanced collaboration features, which starts at $9.99/month (paid annually).
The best way to receive payment from anywhere is PayPal. It’s free to sign up, and you can link it to your bank for transferring funds. Most freelancers outside the United States prefer this payment option since it allows them to convert and withdraw money in their local currency.
You can also use PayPal to create invoices and send them to a client. The client can then pay you the amount straight from their PayPal account. This feature is great since you don’t need to use another app for creating an invoice.
3. Google Drive
Freelancing can mean working from home, but sometimes you need to get things done when you’re on the go. This is where Google Drive can help by allowing you to store your files and access them from any web-connected device.
If you already have a Google account, then you can access Drive from your browser, sign in to your Google account and you’re all set. You can upload, share, and organize your files straight from the Drive app and a free Google Drive account lets you upload up to 15 GB. That’s more than enough space to keep your documents with you wherever you go!
Download the free DocuSign smartphone app, upload the document you need to sign, then follow the instructions to insert your signature. The app captures your electronic signature as you “draw” it on your phone’s screen. You only capture your signature once and you can re-use it on as many documents as you want. Move or resize your signature anywhere on the document to make sure it’s in the right place. DocuSign works with Google Drive, Dropbox and Evernote, and you can open documents directly from these apps.
Even though freelancers work remotely, it’s important that they maintain an open line of communication with clients. Skype might be a famous web chat tool for keeping in touch with family, but more freelancers and businesses are using it as a tool to communicate with each other using video or voice calls. With its VoIP technology, you can call anyone in the world as long as you’re connected to the internet.
You can also send files within a chat session, or share your screen during a voice or video call. This makes Skype a great tool for showing or teaching someone how to do things in real time. Skype is available as a desktop and smartphone app and is free to use. If you want to use Skype to call landlines and mobile phones, just purchase Skype credits within the app.
For freelancers who charge by the hour, a time-tracking app is a must-have. Timely is a simple yet powerful app that records your activities during the day and creates a time sheet when you clock out. Once you view your time sheet, you're able to designate your billable hours and charge your client accordingly.
What’s neat about this app is that it can run on different devices such as a Mac, iPhone or the web, and will sync in real time. Timely also works with apps like Trello, Google Calendar and Asana. A free account lets you track up to 5 projects, while an upgrade allows you to add users and unlimited projects.
Every freelancer needs a website where they can showcase their work and attract new clients, and WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems for creating super simple professional looking websites. You don’t have to be a web developer to learn how to build a site with WordPress, because most web hosts offer one-click installs to get WordPress up and running on your site in a matter of minutes!
WordPress is free, and it offers thousands of free themes and plugins you can use to customize your site. If you sell products, you can quickly turn your website into an online store with WooCommerce, a free plugin for building e-commerce sites. For designers, there are dozens of free grid layout themes to create an impressive image gallery sure to catch your customer's eye and if you're writer, WordPress is an excellent tool for blogging, publishing long articles or creating a portfolio.
Receipts, whether they’re digital or physical, are reminders of how freelancers spend money, but are so easy to lose and deteriorate over time. That’s why Shoeboxed makes it super easy for you to scan physical receipts and collect digital ones to store and turn them into data. Data that freelancers need to manage their finances.
Install Shoeboxed on your smartphone and take photos of your receipts, organize them, and consolidate with other receipts. Digital receipts found in your Gmail inbox can also be extracted and added on to your pile. By putting them all together in an organized digital file, you'll be able to create a comprehensive expense report perfect for keeping track of your expenses. And for those of us who're too lazy to track receipts, Shoeboxed can give you prepaid envelopes to stuff all of your receipts in, All you have to do is send them off and you'll receive a digitized report in just a few days.
When it’s time to get paid, freelancers are no strangers to late payments or worse, no payment at all. With Freshbooks, creating professional invoices, tracking time and expenses, and even following up on payments are less stressful tasks. There is no need to spend countless hours designing an invoice from scratch, just pick a template, add your logo, and personalize the thank you email and you’re done.
If you want to save even more time, you can put your invoicing on autopilot by scheduling recurring charges and reminders to ensure you get paid on time. You can even enable invoice tracking, which lets you know when a client receives your invoice. Freshbooks also allows you to let clients pay with a credit card, so there’s virtually no chance that your invoice gets ignored.
One of the challenges of being a freelancer is variable income, and freelance job can last for a week or a month, so there’s not always a steady way of getting paid. While you can’t control your income flow, a brilliant app like Cushion can help you schedule and forecast it. As its website claims, this app will help you “steady your unsteady income”.
So how does it work? First, you need to specify a timeline for how long you’d be working on a project...say one month. After adding a timeline, you can start adding clients, and the projects you’re going to do with each client and how much you expect to get paid. As you add these details, you’re going to see your timeline along with the forecasted income and when you should get it. It is a worrywart’s antidote and Cushion is a great app to help you keep realistic expectations, but be optimistic at the same time!
11. The Smartphone
There should only be 10 items on this list, but what good are apps if you can’t use them on your smartphone? It’s probably the most important tech tool for freelancers.
Almost every app on this list has a mobile version, so expect to use your phone more often for freelancing purposes. As you go about your day, you might find yourself reaching for your phone to take a photo of a receipt or sign a contract.
Being always on the go, whether it's to meet with a client or to your next gig, it's necessary for a freelancer to make a good impression by being on time. One tool that will make your life easier to navigate is Evutec’s AFIX Magnetic System. You can use it as a vent mount in your car to keep your phone securely attached and in view while negotiating traffic, or as a kickstand for your phone while taking notes during a meeting. Keep your precious iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus safe by using one of our protective and compatible AER or AERGO case lines that have a seamless metal insert for ease of use.
Freelancing is a wonderful yet challenging way of making a living. When you’re running your own business solo or with a small team, you’ll need all the help you can get. Thankfully, these awesome tech tools exist to help freelancers do work that matters, achieve income goals, meet deadlines and impress clients. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the problems that come with freelancing, so use this list to help you prioritize your needs and go with the tools you feel will help you the most.