Top tools for freelancers

1st June 2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Articles

With National Freelancers’ Day fast approaching (Thursday 8 June), we thought it would be a good time to share some of our favourite tools for freelancers. We live in the age of the gig economy where working for oneself is all the rage, which is great in many ways, but it does mean that the world of freelancing is more competitive than ever. The following tips will help you work smarter and stay ahead of the pack!

Calendar apps

Being a successful freelancer requires excellent organisation skills. As your business grows, it gets increasingly difficult to manage your time effectively, and if you’re not careful, sooner or later you will forget a client meeting or forget about a project deadline. Fortunately, there are apps for that, which make life immeasurably easier for freelancers and small business owners, and our personal favourite is Business Calendar by Appgenix. With seemingly endless customisation options, this invaluable tool allows you to view your agenda from a widget on your phone, and it syncs effortlessly with other calendars such as Google Calendar and Outlook. Never miss another deadline again – unless you lose your phone, that is!

Blogging / website software

There was a time when designing a website for your freelance business was a daunting task (unless you were a freelance web designer!). You’d either have to pay someone a lot of money to make one for you, or you could learn some coding and try and design one yourself. Fortunately, it is much easier for anyone to create a website these days, thanks to sites like WordPress, Weebly and WIX. WordPress is the most flexible platform of the lot, and by far the most popular. You no longer need to learn HTML – simply install WordPress on your site, install a theme (either a free one or a paid one) and then customise it to your heart’s content. You can add new pages and blog posts easily, and there’s even a WordPress mobile app allowing you to edit your site on the go. In short, there’s really no excuse for not having a website and/or blog for your freelance business!

Cloud storage / file transfer

Whatever freelance business you run, chances are you could benefit from cloud storage. Gone are the days when you’d have to store all your work on a hard disk and email or even courier it to a client. With cloud storage sites like Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive, you get a huge space in ‘the cloud’ where you can save your files and access them from securely and conveniently from anywhere in the world. It’s also a great way to back up your important files, in case your hard drive decides to pack up one day!

Invoicing software

When starting out, a lot of freelancers just use an Excel template for their invoices, and why not? It’s relatively easy to create and send an invoice this way, and of course it doesn’t cost anything. However, once you’ve tried a low-cost online invoicing software package (we recommend QuickBooks, although there are many others), you’ll see that it’s well worth the monthly subscription fee. User-friendly and accessible on the go, online invoicing can save you time and enables you to send professional-looking quotations wherever you are, potentially securing you more work. Of course, it also tracks your earnings and spending, making tax returns a doddle (well, maybe not a doddle, but it certainly takes away some of the pain!).

Social Media apps

To make it as a freelancer, you need to invest time and money in marketing yourself. Thanks to social media, this doesn’t have to be expensive these days, as many small business owners can attract new customers via Twitter, Facebook et al. if they’re using them effectively. With so many social networks available, however, it can be very time-consuming to post on all of them several times a day, which is where social media apps like Hootsuite come in. Hootsuite allows you to manage all your social media ‘streams’ in one place, saving you the hassle of logging into each one separately, which would get incredibly tedious very quickly! Hootsuite can also find content relevant to your business and it can automatically post it optimum times of the day for you – freeing up more of your time for doing actual work. Genius!

That was just a few of our favourite tools for freelancers, and we’ve only just scratched the surface of what’s available. If you have any other apps or programs you love using, let us know in the comments below!