For every business including freelance businesses, apps and online tools are now essential, especially as the trend is to gradually turn towards working remotely. From time tracking and time management to social media scheduling, or design tools to mind mapping apps, there is an app for everything and everyone from freelance writing professionals to freelance designers.
For freelancers, apps provide a vital support system that makes running a small business on solo much easier. Freelance work is hard. Despite the romantic image of freelancers as people in their pJ's working casually from home, the reality is often very complex. The hours can be long, the workloads difficult, and freelance work can also be stressful without careful attention to health and productivity.
That's why freelancers need to take advantage of all the tools and technology available to them. There are many practical management tools for improving workflows, automating monotonous tasks, building customer loyalty, strengthening a personal brand, and helping you get paid on time.
Here are 8 apps that we think are essential for success in freelance work:
#1 Toggl for time-tracking
When you're a freelancer, the more billable hours you can get into a week, the more you earn, whether you bill by the hour or by the project. Apps for time tracking help you take total control of the time spent by recording, monitoring, and analyzing your day of work. They also give you a hint about how many hours you deserve to be paid for!
You can use your data to find more productive ways to save time by working faster, delegating tasks, and automating processes. For these purposes, we prefer Toggl, which is another Estonian startup.
#2 Trello for project management
Kanban boards are ideal for team members and solo freelancers engaged in project management. They help you visualize your workflow and enable you to include multiple client projects that you may be working on at any given time.
The boards can be used to plan, organize, and complete projects and self-marketing tasks that are all critical to small business owners. Rimuut team uses Trello, and after trying out several dozen of other apps, we fell in love with the design & the power-ups!
#3 Rimuut for invoicing
Your freelance work needs to be paid. You must also request the payment in a way that does not detract from the identity of your brand. This means providing an easy and trouble-free way for your customers to make a payment quickly.
Rimuut lets your customers pay in a matter of seconds directly from our panel using their credit cards or any other preferred payment method. All data for your accounts are recorded and you can track the process of multiple pending payments at a time. Check out our blog post on awaiting payment to learn the ropes of payment collection.
#4 HubSpot for scheduling appointments
Programming appointments is problematic for many freelancers. It can be challenging to find the exact time when both you and your customers are free. A simple solution is to set up a scheduler for appointments where you are predetermining time blocks for meetings and consultations.
Your prospective or existing client then simply selects a suitable time block from the shared calendar, and the meeting is set. It's all automatic and it helps save time for everyone. It is also a focus booster in a way since you can leave your secretariat aside and give your concentration to your actual work.
We use HubSpot's Meeting function, which lets us book calls with our freelancer users and organize video conferences with our business partners.
#5 Intercom for emailing
There are only a few marketing channels as powerful as your carefully grown email list when it comes to marketing your freelance business. Your personal list of subscribers, fans, and customers is yours forever. With this trusted and intimate access to the email inbox, you can keep communicating with your network.
While some of our top-earning freelance business owners prefer Mailchimp, we choose to go with Intercom to manage our emailing efforts. Though a bit pricey, their claim is on point: "Come for our chat. Stay for everything else".
#6 Google Drive for online file storage
The most important thing for a freelance career may be to set up an online file storage system. Keeping all of your documents in cloud storage, including the work you do for customers, keeps your freelance work safe. If your computer is going to die a sudden death or be stolen, you might lose weeks, even months, of important paid work that you just can't get back.
We use several apps serving the same purpose, but the majority of our team prefers to stick with Google docs. Anything goes in this category though: DropBox or Google Drive, they are all great with a different take on file storage.
#7 Buffer for planning and analyzing social media campaigns
Social media platforms are great for a presence where your target customers spend a lot of their time. Unfortunately, the use of social media can be a black hole as well. What was meant to be updating the timeline of your profile for a few minutes can end up being a costly distraction.
Social media tools allow you to write status days and even weeks in advance and then schedule them to go out on set dates automatically. Try Buffer for planning and scheduling your social media campaigns, as well as measuring and reporting your performance.
#8 Slack for collaboration
A freelance career often equals a solo career, but not always. Some freelance services require active cooperation in complementary fields with agencies, clients, and other freelancers.
You need to be familiar with the best collaborative apps when this happens. These secure apps enable you to work with your partners quickly and easily, often in real-time, without the need for long email threads.
We know the freelancers' choice here: Slack. As it is with everything, we were using Whatsapp and with an executive decision, we moved to Slack for everything from scrum meetings to file sharing with our team members.
Did we miss anything? What are your picks on these categories? Let us know!