There’s no two ways about it: freelancing is a business. But it’s a business that can be started on a shoestring budget. Because freelancing is so easy to start, we often forget that, like any business, we need to invest in the right tools for our freelance business to grow.
In this post, we will see 10 of these tools, which provide a wide variety of assistance to make it easier for you to focus on your tasks rather than meddle with repetitive ones that can be easily automated.
Whether you are going at your freelance business solo or with a small group of collaborators, these tools (and some suggestions of similar apps) are going to fit right at home with the rest of the team and ensure you have all the help you need to propel your freelance business to success.
Wave is a Cloud-based invoicing, accounting, payroll, payments and personal finance app for freelancers, contractors and entrepreneurs. Specifically, it’s for people running businesses with nine employees or fewer.
They explain it best themselves:
Most "small business software" isn’t actually built for small businesses. It’s really meant for medium-sized businesses with dozens and sometimes hundreds of employees. (Just look at how complicated and expensive they are…!) But there’s a world of difference between the needs of a 5-person company and a 55-person company. So we build Wave for businesses with 9 employees or less, including all those one-person shops out there. And that makes for a much better fit between our products and your needs.
Trello is a free, online collaboration tool that’s organized by boards, lists and cards. Think of a Trello board as a whiteboard with the name of your project as its title. A ‘card’ is an item on your lits and every entry is treated as a “card” that you can drag around and do a bunch of cool stuff with. These cards can be organized under any list like ‘to-do’, ‘doing’ and ‘done’.
You can also attach files, images etc. to each card and add as many people as you want on board for collaboration. Changes appear in real-time. So if your team’s working on a project together at the same time, the changes will appear without you having to refresh your page.
Email newsletter marketing is one of the best ways to get the word out about your business. It helps keep your clients and customers updated about news related to your business, gives you a platform to reach out to them whenever you want and gives you an opportunity to show them your expertise.
Mailchimp is one of the best newsletter services out there. Not only does it have an awesome free plan, it also has a friendly user interface.
- Great for: Upload and share presentations online
- Alternative: Prezi
Freelancers need to show what they do and how they can help their clients achieve the results they want. The better a freelancer can explain how he can help his clients; the easier it is to find work. Presentations are a great way to do that.
Also, SlideShare gets 60 million unique visitors a month. Even a small fraction of those visitors equal to a lot of eyeballs on your work. You can even embed the presentation on your website and include it in your online marketing efforts.
In business, the more you know about your customer or client, the better and more personal your service is. Falcon helps you find out those small details that make a difference when closing a deal.
Falcon is a browser app that gets you to contact profiles right inside your email or social networks by hovering over the person’s name.
For freelancers, client relationships are everything. Contactually helps you keep those relationships alive. It is by far the most meaningful contact management tool that I’ve come across.
Falcon manages your contacts and prompts you to take action and tracks your progress. It also provides context like social media updates and your previous interactions with them to help you personalize your contact with them.
And even though it’s not a free tool, it’s worth every penny if you’re serious about growing your business.
- Great for: Clean up your email inbox
- Alternative: Sanebox
Email – it’s the bane of every webpreneur’s online existence. Mailstrom helps you clean up your Inbox in just a few clicks. Not only does it help you unsubscribe from unnecessary email newsletters, but it also shows you whose emails you ignore the most.
It also shows you what time you get your most emails, which social networks clutter your Inbox the most etc.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re struggling with email, try it out. It’s free.
- Great for: Social media management
- Alternative: Tweetdeck
Hootsuite lets you connect every major social network under a single account. You can send status updates to more than one social network at a time and even schedule them to automatically post at a scheduled date and time.
Their free plan is great for beginners, so don’t hesitate to try it out!
- Great for: Create project proposal in minutes
- Alternative: Proposable
Sending project proposals is one of the core activities of any freelance business. Creating one can take up a lot of time though – time you aren’t paid for.
BidSketch helps you create beautiful, well-organized project proposals in half the time it usually takes you. They offer pre-built templates and landing pages, electronic signatures and personal branding.
While BidSketch isn’t a free tool, it is reasonably priced for the freelancer who sends out a lot of project proposals to clients.
- Great for: Credentials managements
- Alternative: 1Password
Using the above services means that at any given time, you’ll have 16 usernames and passwords to keep track of – at least. Dashlane is a password manager, autofill and e-wallet all rolled into one.
What makes them so unique is that they don’t store your master password. You’re the only one who has the password to their account.
Of course, it also means that if you lose your Dashlane password, there’s no way they can recover it for you. Eek!
Related: 15 Best Password Managers
No matter how good the tools you use are, they won’t do you much good unless you utilize them properly. Take the time to research the tools you use before you pay for them or start using them. Take advantage of the free trial most tools offer to find out if the 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 clients at the same time.
Which tools have helped you propel your freelance business to success?