Read about the tools that will help you manage both day-to-day and long-term work to treat your freelance career like it should be: a growing business.
It’s impossible to think about the rise of freelancing as a career without thinking about all the technologies that made it possible in the past decade. Finally, freelancing is a respected, long-term career path. So much so that according to a study commissioned by Upwork and Freelancers Union: Freelancing income totals almost $1 trillion—or nearly 5% of the US GDP.
What tools and techniques have enabled it and are continuing to make freelance life easier and better? We take a look.
1. Saving Time
Freelancing is not for everyone. If you value routine and find it difficult to stay disciplined without provocation, remote work can be challenging. But here’s where time-saving tools come in.
Apps like RescueTime, Harvest, Stayfocusd help you stop wondering why you have such few hours in the day. They tell you where you’re spending your time across devices, how you’re spending it, and which apps and websites are distracting you the most. Additional features such as how much time you spend looking at email or social media are also built-in.
Freelancing is all about taking control of your time, staying focused and productive so that you can manage multiple projects and clients, and such platforms—with their detailed reports, analyses and suggestions to correct mistakes—help convert every day into a day of meaningful work.
2. Business Development
It’s rarely acknowledged but freelancers are business owners. They run their own businesses and like any other business owner, they must find new clients for their work. And clients want portfolios and plans.
If you’re a designer, video artist, writer or a developer, you can use platforms like Prospero’s content generation and reuse tools to make and shoot out a quick proposal. You can then track if the proposal was opened and even send an invoice using the same platform. And if you belong to SaaS, marketing or financial services, platforms like Proposify and their templates to create proposals, contracts, and agreements can help. Or simply use Draftsend to share interactive pdfs.
3. Legal help and Invoicing
Many times freelance work is based on trust but as countries around the world increasingly recognize freelancing as a profession and bring it under the ambit of labor code, freelancers, too, can up their game by using more sophisticated contracts for their projects. Contract creation and invoicing tools like Bonsai, LegalZoom or AND co make it possible.
4. Project Management
Project management doesn’t need everyone to be huddled in one room peering over plans and charts. Technology ensures that projects are planned and executed quite efficiently without your physical presence. All you need is a platform that organizes everything in one place, keeps track of priorities and deliverables and allows multiple features like sharing files, chatting or simply making a to-do list. Basecamp, Trello, Asana, all support freelancers with that.
Three kinds of scheduling come to mind that are very useful for any freelancer. One is scheduling the day. the other scheduling emails and third, your social media. There are tools for all of that.
Schedule your day
There are many full-timers who can’t function without penciling everything in. Freelancers don’t have to be different. Scheduling platform from Google calendar to Calendly can help fix your meetings and remind you well in advance to get ready for them.
Schedule your emails
It’s easy to drown under a deluge of emails. But if you want to stay one step ahead, use Gmail’s inbuilt feature or an email communication tool like Boomerang to send your responses at a later time. Mailtrack, Streak and a few others can also help you track if your cold email to your dream company was read or not.
Social media scheduling
From Hootsuite, Buffer to SproutSocial there are a range of platforms that help make social media easy. Schedule posts across platforms, run analytics, and then use the learnings to optimize your social media presence completely.
6. Portfolio Building
Freelancers need to demonstrate that they are good for your business repeatedly. This means they need websites or at least some kind of a portfolio hosted online. Use platforms like Canva or InVision to create or modify designs, Contently or WordPress to host your writing, or make an easy website with Wix, SquareSpace or Weebly.
7. Money Saving
Freelancers need finance tools like anyone else. Not just to send or receive money but also to keep track of finances and make accounting easier. Accounting software tools like Freshbooks or Quickbooks can track time, project, invoice and also accept credit card payments. But if you’re more concerned with tracking your expenses and being nudged to save more, apps like Qapital or Moneybox can help with that.
8. Effective Communication
Writing tools are not just for those who work in content marketing. Almost everyone needs to write clearly and effectively as good communication is known to drive sales and conversions. Thankfully, apps like Grammarly or Hemingway can help convert chunky, difficult to understand sentences into simple, easy-to-read ones.
9. Finding More Freelance Work
Multiple online tools have made it easier for freelancers to leave their uninspiring full-time jobs for good. But project-based freelance work can be precarious, and sometimes, even the most dedicated freelancers struggle to find quality work. As the number of people opting for freelance work has risen, so have remote job boards and global companies opening their virtual HQs to remote employees. From Weworkremotely, Flexjobs, to Remote.co, multiple platforms can help you find work that suits your needs. Make sure you can keep an eye out!
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