Productivity tools for freelancers
We have mentioned earlier that being a freelancer is like running a successful business. This means that besides being a subject matter expert who executes client projects, a freelancer needs to manage multiple business verticals like marketing, accounting and administrative functions, all of which are highly time-consuming. In the absence of a team, technology becomes the backbone of all streamlined business processes. We have developed a list of tools that can help free up hours of precious time, and the best part is that many of these tools are available for free! If you haven’t already started using multiple productivity tools, it’s time to start now.
Invoicing and Accounting
Wave is the ideal accounting and invoicing software for freelancers with little experience managing multiple invoices and accounts. It is designed especially for small business owners (think freelancers!) and is entirely free with no hidden costs. Some exceptional features of the tool are professional invoice templates, the ability to sync all invoice payments automatically, and recurring invoice identification. If you struggle with managing invoices at the end of every month, we suggest giving Wave a chance.
How often do you find yourself losing track of time when working on an intense project? Too often is our guess; naturally, this comes with the freelancing territory. Toggl helps you track how long you have worked on projects and converts entries into invoices. This is a great way to assess how long specific projects take and helps deliver accurate budget proposals. Additionally, freelancers who prefer working with the ‘time-based’ pricing method can quickly get fair prices with accurate hours clocked in. Toggle also delivers periodic reminders to take timely breaks as per a set schedule which is very helpful for balanced mental health. The tool comes in a free and premium version.
Tired of scheduling meetings across time zones and going back and forth with clients on email to decide a preferable time slot? Here ends your misery. Calendly integrates with your personal work calendar to find available slots. Simply share a link with a client and they can book a slot that is available for both you and them. How’s that for all the calendar drama? This tool also help clients get a sense of how you manage your meetings and is far more professional than multiple emails.
We do not recommend freelancers waste time writing down 10-page documents for multiple projects. Using a project management tool hosted online is far more efficient. Trello is one such tool that helps manage multiple projects at the ease of a slide button. The interactive visual element of Trello proves to be more effective in managing multiple projects, from scoping to final delivery. By grouping tasks under buckets, you can prioritise each task with colour coding, add due dates and keep team members (if you have help) involved in their action items for the project plan. Moreover, the great thing is that it syncs across devices, which means all project details are available at a moment’s notice, even if you aren’t on your work system.
Note Takers/ Planners
Todoist is an elevated version of the regular to-do list. It helps manage daily/monthly/weekly/yearly tasks much more efficiently by organising and prioritising tasks. You can create separate sections in the same account for both personal and work projects without missing important deadlines. From listing client requirements to work meetings for the next big project, all data is saved and stored neatly, making access to vital information quicker.
Evernote is great for taking quick notes while working. These notes can be audio and video files, images, web clips, or web pages with the feature to share these notes and access them from any device. Additional features include setting reminders, drawing diagrams, charts, and arrows, to make written notes more concise. There is also an option to integrate Evernote with Trello so that every note made and saved is published as a card in the project management tool. For freelancers who are always on the go, this is possibly the best option to save project and client notes for future reference.
Developing a winning proposal is one thing; designing one is another. Many freelancers struggle with creating consistent templates or designs for proposals. A shabby proposal can cost a freelancer their next big project, no matter how good the content is. Clients are looking for subject matter experts who can also dazzle them with style. This is where Proposify comes in. This tool has a large inventory of proposal templates ranging from consulting to construction, with varied designs that can be customised as per the project requirement. The best part is that for a single user, it’s completely free.
Another free designing software is Canva. The platform has a template for every design requirement, from PowerPoint presentations or proposal documents to social media posts. For freelancers who are slightly more developed in their designing skills, there is also the feature to create files from scratch.
We tend to underestimate the power of Google Drive. When correctly used Google Drive is an excellent way to store documents of all formats in one place. Since it synchronises through all devices, freelancers never need to worry about not having access to essential documents while on the go. It makes it easy to share and edit an array of files and share notes within a document, making it easy to collaborate with clients.