If you’re a freelancer, you’ll need some essential tools to get your business off the ground and up and running. Some of these are obvious — a reliable computer, high-speed Internet, and a website.
Some tools, though, can be a little less obvious. Or they are things you know you need, but you don’t know how to use them, you can’t afford them, or you don’t know they exist.
If you’ve ever thought “I wish I could do XYZ” or “Why does it have to be so complicated?” or even “Does it really cost that much?” Then this post is for you!
These are the tools that every freelancer needs. Many of them are free, and others have a starter level that is great for many freelancers
Document creation and storage software
It was Microsoft Office which was the file creation software. It costs a lot and needs to be upgraded every few years. Office is still great for the right applications, but these days there are things that are equally fantastic. It is called Google DriveAnd you absolutely need to use it.
Google Drive is Google’s answer to Microsoft Office. It includes several applications — Docs, which is a word processor; Sheets, which does spreadsheets; Slides, which is a slide presentation; Forms, which creates free online forms; And few other apps.
It’s free. It is strong. And the other cool thing is, it’s cloud-based. This means you don’t have to keep all your business documents on your computer, slowing things down and cluttering your desktop. You can free up a lot of memory, avoid using slow, heavy word processor applications, And You can access your files from any computer with an internet connection.
Drive is connected to your Google Account, which makes emailing documents super easy if you use Gmail You can easily share files, organize and save them, and use collaborative tools like comments and tracking changes. If you’re not using Drive, you need to start using it immediately!
Phone, chat and video services
Many freelancers only use their personal phones for business stuff, but if you want to create some separation between your work life and your personal life (which I recommend!) there are some great, free tools to help you.
for registration Google Voice Get a free phone number. You can forward this phone number to any other number you have (like your cell number). You can set up voicemail and also receive texts on that number No one knows it’s just a forwarding service! You can also set how many hours it will forward your calls to your phone, or not forward at all and just take a message. You can also get email notifications every time you call or text, and voicemails are automatically transcribed for you so you can check all your messages right in your inbox. It is a great privacy tool for you. There’s also the option to buy minutes to make calls through Google Voice, which is a much more cost-effective solution than setting up a monthly phone plan if you don’t make a lot of phone calls.
For video conferencing and chatting, skype My favorite. It is mostly free to use (you pay for some phone calls) and is widely used. You’ll need a webcam to use the video features, but many laptops, tablets, and phones already have built-in cameras.
Invoicing, accounting and bookkeeping
When you’re making money, you need to keep track of it all — what’s going out, what’s coming in, and what’s being put into your personal bank account (aka how much you’re paying yourself).
The best online accounting service I have found is Xero. It includes everything you need to finance your business, from invoicing your work to paying your team members. You can use it to create invoices (including recurring invoices), import and reconcile your bank and credit card statements to track your business expenses and schedule payments in one place. You can integrate it with your online store to track inventory, bills and payments. Try it for free. No credit card required.
Project management and collaboration tools
Often when you’re freelancing, you’re working with someone else — whether it’s a client, a team member, or your own VA. Project management tools are really helpful in making sure that all your different goals and to-do items are tracked and organized, so that there are no gaps.
The three big names in project management are Asana, Trello, and Basecamp. They all have collaboration features to make it easy to communicate with others involved in the project. Both Asana and Trello have pretty powerful free versions and a long free trial to make sure it’s right for you before signing up for Basecamp’s relatively low subscription. (You can also pay a small one-time fee for Basecamp Personal. You lose the collaboration elements, but the project management tools are still really helpful if you like their style best.)
There are other collaboration tools you can use as well Slack is a popular messaging tool that’s especially great for groups, and it has an excellent free version.
6 Great Free Freelance Tools
1. Toogl – You simply cannot estimate, or estimate, how much time you are spending at work; Perhaps you are overcharging your clients or undercharging yourself. Not only is it unprofessional to keep track of your time, but not being honest and/or accurate can land your business in questionable ethical, even legal trouble. This free time tracker is a great way to make sure you’re paying for hours worked and being accountable to your clients.
2. Income Tracker – It’s great that you’re getting work, but you still need to make sure you’re getting paid! A must have system that allows you to instantly see when cash arrives in your account! Equally important is calculating any quarterly taxes, saving receipts, tracking expenses, organizing 1099s and W4s, and preparing your year-end income taxes. Google Drive spreadsheets are a good start.
3. last pass Running a business means having lots of accounts with tons of URLs, logins and passwords – and remember – you don’t want to use the same credentials for each of your accounts; That’s an identity thief’s dream come true! LastPass not only keeps all your passwords and account information in one safe place, under two master passwords if you choose, (accessible at any time from any device), but will automatically generate crazy hard-to-crack passwords for you and you Don’t even remember them!
4. Online to-do list – Working from home is a blessing…unless you are constantly distracted by laundry, dishes, dogs, or anything else that keeps you from actually working! Using a to-do list can help you prioritize what needs to be done and keep you motivated with the thrill of checking off your accomplishments! todoist.com works not only as a list, but also as a calendar (with notifications,) accessible from any device and can be shared with others, (hello delegates!).
5. Dedicated email address – Sure, firstname.lastname@example.org was a cool email address in high school, but you’re a pro now! Not only do you want to appear this way to potential clients and customers, but you also want a spam-free, streamlined email address where you can instantly access all things business. Use this email only for business correspondence, job applications, etc Sites like Gmail are free and allow you to create as many email addresses as you want Try to stick with your name and/or your business name for ease of use and a professional look.
6. PayPal – Many people and businesses prefer to pay and receive payments through PayPal, so having that option available to your customers is always a plus. It is free to open an account and comes with lots of great features You can create and send invoices directly from PayPal, and you can transfer money directly from your PayPal account to your bank account with one click. PayPal offers customers lines of credit and credit cards, which they can use to purchase your products and services!
That’s not all!
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many great tools you can use to help your freelance business get and stay strong, but these are the ones that should be at the top of your list.