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You may be a great writer, a talented designer, or a fantastic developer but that’s not enough to make you a brilliant freelancer. As a freelancer, the buck stops with you, you’re responsible for generating new clients and then keeping them happy. Not to mention managing the mountain of admin involved in creating contracts, sending invoices, and handling taxes and expenses.
Luckily, help is available with a few handy tools to keep you organized and efficient so you can focus on what you’re good at.
Time Tracker — Clockify
Keeping track of your time and managing it efficiently is one of the biggest problems faced by freelancers. Clockify is a free app that can be used by individuals or whole teams to keep track of working hours and productivity. All data is synced online and the app works across all logged-in devices. Hours are tracked by project and logged into a timesheet or a customizable report that you can export in a PDF, CSV, or Excel document.
If you charge by the hour, using Clockify will help track billable hours and create accurate invoices to avoid overcharging customers. Even if you don’t charge by the hour, Clockify lets you see where your time is spent and can help with productivity.
Contracts and Invoices — Bonsai
To make things more automated and take away some of those pesky admin tasks, try Bonsai. Everything you need to produce contracts and invoices is available on the platform.
After creating a business profile and inputting some key facts and figures, such as length of the contract, what you’re going to do, and how much it’ll cost, Bonsai automatically generates a legally-binding and detailed contract. Invoices are created at the same time and you simply tell the platform when it should be sent.
Bonsai offers two different paid plans. The cheaper Plus Plan is more than enough for the majority of freelancers, especially those who work solo. A 14-day free trial lets you try before you buy to see if it’s the right tool for you.
Accounting — Wave Accounting
Going freelance means taking over control of your own day-to-day accounts. It can seem simple at first until you’re faced with unpaid invoices or an unexpected tax bill. Wave Accounting is an easy-to-use app that’s geared towards freelancers and small businesses.
The software allows you to connect bank accounts, sync expenses, and balance the books. Come tax time, you can invite your accountant to view your income, expenses, payments, and invoices. Best of all, Wave Accounting is free unless you use it for credit card payments or payroll.
Project Management — Trello
Every freelancer needs to be organized and a solid project management tool is key. Trello is an easy and flexible way to organize your work. On the surface, it looks a bit like a whiteboard with post-it notes stuck on it.
Users create cards for every task related to a project and can add notes, specify due dates, or assign the task to a team member. Create columns for the different stages of the project and drag and drop the cards around the board as the project progresses.
There are a number of different project management tools on the market but Trello is easy to use and one of the most budget-friendly, in fact, its free version lets you create up to 10 boards and an unlimited number of cards and columns.
Digital Safety & Security — a VPN
Among the most important tool for freelancers is a reliable, paid VPN service. Freelancers can work from anywhere in the world, but this can cause problems accessing websites or content that is geographically restricted. Use a VPN to unblock sites that would otherwise be inaccessible due to your location.
That’s just one aspect of it though, a VPN protects your online privacy and keeps any sensitive client data you may have access to secure, not to mention your own data. This is crucial when you work on unsecured public networks, such as in libraries, city centers, and airports. Always choose a quality paid VPN service as free services are notorious when it comes to selling your data.
Document Organization — Evernote
Keeping documents and rough noted in order can quickly become unmanageable, and that’s where Evernote comes in. Get your admin in check by creating a notebook for each client so all the key information is in one place. Tag each document relating to a particular project, including scanned images and emails.
Freelancers tend to have inspired ideas at the strangest times. Evernote allows you to tag photos, audio clips, or scanned images as story ideas whenever inspiration takes you. One of Evernote’s best features is the web clipper extension that allows you to save a screenshot or snippet of any website when carrying out internet research.
Email Management — Mixmax
As an extension to Google apps, Mixmax turns your Gmail account into super-mail. Mixmax lets you track when emails have been opened by recipients so you know which potential clients to follow up on. It also allows you to set reminders and snoozes on emails, schedule when to send messages, and attach documents directly from Dropbox and Google Drive.
Maximize Your Potential
Smart investment in a few different tools can help keep costs down in the long run, streamline work processes, and help you generate new business. Keeping organized will make you more productive and let you focus on the things you’re best at. Maximize your freelance potential with the tools above and see the difference they can make to both your efficiency and your bank balance.