Being a ‘freelancer’ can mean a lot of different things in 2014.
Whether you’re a freelance writer, editor, web designer, or even a sandblaster, one thing is certain: you need help. I don’t mean you need a hand with your work, and I don’t mean that you should see a therapist (who am I to judge?). What I do mean is that without the help of some very handy tools, you will likely find yourself between a rock and a hard place.
So, why not make things easier on yourself? There’s no good reason not to.
What kind of tools are we talking about here? All kinds. Think big picture stuff. Accounting tools, project management tools, website building tools and the like. You may be thinking, “But, I can’t afford all this stuff on my freelance salary!” Don’t fret. Many of the tools I’m about to mention are not only cheap or very reasonable, but some are flat out FREE.
If you want to put the ‘free’ back into freelancer (see what I did there?) read on and let’s explore our options.
5 Online Tools to Make Freelance Life Easier
- Web Design Templates: From designers to niche copywriters, having a space where your contact info and the best examples of your work can live online is pretty much where it’s at. IM Creator has some incredible website templates to choose from, and they make designing a website as simple as a few clicks of your mouse. What’s even better? Their templates are free!
- Project Management Software: Here’s where it gets a little complicated. You have 5 different clients who want 12 different tasks done within the next week. Go ahead. Try simply writing it down and see where that gets you. Or, try Podio. This handy project management service lets you not only organize your tasks, but, in the event you need to hire an extra contractor (or two) to help you, it houses each project’s information and allows you to share it within the robust platform.
- Accounting Solutions: Most freelancers start out loving their independence, but they soon realize that one of the many constraints that will leave them reeling is a lack of organization, especially when it comes to invoicing. FreshBooks offers a simple (and cheap!) solution for many accounting needs.
- Google Docs (duh): If you haven’t heard of Google Docs, you might want to leave that cave you’ve been hiding in the last few years and hop online to see the world as it’s now known. Google Docs is literally a freelancer’s best friend. Share documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more with your clients. You can even work on editing them simultaneously.
- EchoSign: It’s amazing what you can do these days without a printer. Luckily, EchoSign is on board and they make it even easier to live your life without that seemingly obsolete hunk of junk collecting dust on your desk. Need a signature for that contract you’ve just entered into? Don’t hit print! You can e-sign it (and so can your client) for the exact same effect.
Taking Web Tools to the Next Level
Once you’ve started making a name for yourself and you’ve gathered up a good client/potential client base (something that might take years to do, so be patient!), you’ll likely start thinking about how to take your marketing presence to the next level. After all, if you’re bogged down doing all the day-to-day work for your current clients, how will you find time to go after new ones (something most freelancers must constantly do)?
This is something that many freelancers struggle with. Dividing time between going after new business and taking care of everyday tasks can seem mind-boggling. Well, relax! There are plenty of good ways to go about it. One of them is to employ an all-star email marketing strategy.
Depending on what kind of website you have or what kind of email provider you use, you’ll want to carefully plan out any mass email undertaking.
For example: Gmail has limits put in place regarding the amount of people you can forward any email to, and you can risk losing your Gmail account if you use it to send too many mass emails.
But, there are plenty of ways around this. MailChimp and Constant Contact are two services that not only provide convenient email marketing services, they’ll also give you data on how successful your emails are with respect to open rates, click-through rates and more.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Lachlan Donald.