Speaking to freelancers day to day, we hear a lot about the challenges of the industry first-hand – however, few people know about the tools and technology available to help tackle those problems. When you set up on your own, there are bound to be some knowledge gaps, so we thought it would be helpful to gather these tools together for those in the freelance business.
It's also worth checking out our guide to designers who are thinking of making the move to freelance, covering everything from personal brand, to boring (but important!) bits about managing admin and finance.
Hours is a very simple, free phone app which allows you to track your time spent on projects – it works like a stopwatch so you can total your project spend easily.
Toggl offers a product that is similar to Hours, but has functionality for multiple members – so if you work as part of a team of collaborators, or need to loop together people working around the world, you can keep an eye on the time spend.
Most agencies benefit from a studio planner or traffic manager – when you’re freelancing, it can be challenging to balance your diary and keep the work flowing in at just the right pace. Cushion is a tool to help forecast your workload, allowing you to input bookings and projects and see when you have space to fill, or need to reorganise.
We all know about WeTransfer, but few people know about the benefits of their premium service. The maximum upload is upped to 20GB, you can store up to 100GB of work, and files can be password-protected. In terms of the benefit to your customers, downloads remain available for much longer, and you can brand the landing page, for a seamless, professional experience.
If you work within a team or outsource elements of your offering, you’ll be well-versed in the task of handing over assets, and making sure they remain consistent and easy to find. Lingo really simplifies this process with their easy to use asset bank, allowing you to upload and order logos, graphics, and colours.
Move over, Skype – Zoom is booming as the new communication tool. Once you set up an account, you can set up conference meetings for as many attendees as you’d like. We’ve found the audio is much better than Skype or Webex, it can handle multiple video calls, and has screen sharing. Even better, you can record your meetings so you can refer back to spoken feedback any time, without having to take notes while talking to your clients.
It can feel like most of your admin time is spent drawing up contracts and proposals, and waiting for them to be returned by email (sometimes still via post) – speed things up and encourage clients with the easiness of the digital signing service, HelloSign.
One of the exciting elements of being a freelancer is receiving challenges from clients who want something a little different. If you need to learn a new skill to answer a left-field brief, head to the Lynda site which is packed full of tutorials, a perfect opportunity to both please your client and broaden your skill set.
The financial aspect of running your own business doesn’t come naturally to everybody, so allow Xero to take some pressure off. It’s an online accounting software which helps your financial setup, from paying your bills to chasing your invoices for you.
A one stop shop for freelancers to manage contracts, proposals, and invoices. The Bonsai online system remembers your clients, auto-generates proposal documents, lines up invoices, and tracks expenses. It even works in loads of different currencies.
We hope this list is helpful – please let us know if you have any other tools you use and would recommend to the freelance community.Email