Whether you’re just starting out, or have been playing the freelance long game – the more tools you have in your arsenal, the better! As technology progresses, so do the available advantages. As a freelancer, you’re a one-man/woman-band and it can be hard to keep up with everything. You’re the book-keeper, the social media manager, the receptionist, the HR manager and the business director all in one.
Savvy freelancers have got it sussed. We’ve picked their brains and put together this list of must-have tools for maximising your potential, your spare time and, crucially, your profits!
Sorting your finances when you’re self-employed is a real snore-fest. Sending out invoices can be a drag, and a real time suck when you’ve got actual work to do. Invoice-Generator.com is free and allows you to store all your invoices once you’ve made an account. You simply input your company logo, address, invoice number, dates and the number of hours worked for a certain rate. Click download when you’re done and a fancy PDF will land on your desktop. What’s best about it is that when you’ve entered a company’s details once, you can simply go back and edit the date and works charged for – without creating the invoice all over again! Piece of cake.
For slightly more complicated accounts, Xero is your right-hand friend. After a free trail, Xero is around $19 a month. Xero keeps track of invoicing, sends invoices, helps you keep up to date with your expenses and gives you tax alerts – plus, it’s got an app! So, staying on top of your cashflow can happen absolutely anywhere.
If your work is time-critical or charged at an hourly rate, Harvest has got your back. Timers can be assigned to different projects and subtasks of that project to create a breakdown of hours worked, and therefore, chargable! Learning how long you take to produce things can help you better manage your workload, quote for new works and pitch yourself to new clients. Harvest is free for a single user with 2 projects, but for just $12 you can record unlimited projects. You can even add another user and a timesheet function if you’re working collaboratively.
As business owners, we know that social media is so important- but it’s just another thing to add to the never-ending to do list. Canva makes creating beautiful, size optimised and high-quality social media posts a complete doddle. Mostly free, Canva offers stock images, graphics, shapes and fonts, plus the ability to add your own images to a canvas. You can even create stunning PDFs for leaflets or postcards – all super intuitive and time-saving!
Speaking of the bug-bare that is social media… what if you didn’t have to post at all? Planoly does it for you. Dump a load of images into the uploader and drag and drop them onto your social calendar, creating captions and hashtags as you go. You can rearrange posts and even see how your Instagram grid is looking (or going to look). Schedule posts for weeks in advance, saving you time and ensuring your presence is felt, whilst you’re busy pulling in the big bucks. If it’s just you and one social account, Planoly is completely free. For two accounts and two users, you’re looking at $15.
All hail the perfectly formatted e-shot! MailChimp takes the blood, sweat and tears out of e-campaigns. No matter what you freelance in, professional looking e-templates are a must! But they needn’t be stressful. MailChimp’s drag and drop design platform allows you to put together interactive and engaging e-shots in minutes. You can segment your email lists, check your open rate and run campaigns seamlessly, through the slick MailChimp dashboard. If you’re solo and you won’t be emailing more than 2000 a people a month, MailChimp is free! Plans increase dependant on the sizes of your contact lists and the number of e-shots you send.
With these clever tools you can look like an awesome designer, an efficient organiser, an exceptional accountant and a social media whizz… all for just a few Direct Debits. Out-sourcing to apps and programs is only way to get ahead in freelancing when time is precious and you don’t get to clock off.
Stick by the motto: Work smarter… not harder!