I’ve been freelancing for 4 years now with clients all over the globe, 2 years of that full-time.. Here are the tools I would call essential for any freelancer (or at least, one that works like me)…
1. Tools to Get Paid
This really should be the first thing you do.
I set up my business so I can accept payment in whatever form my clients want to pay.
The first thing I did was to get a separate business checking account. I have mine through my local credit union. Once I had this, I could accept cash or traditional checks from customers and clients. I’ve found the bigger the company, the more likely they are to want to “cut a check” after I send my invoice.
Both are free. PayPal lets me accept payment from anyone all over the globe. Plus it has an invoicing tool built in.
Wave Apps is also free and also has a built-in invoicing tool. That one lets me accept credit or debit cards from clients. Money is then transferred to my bank account within two business days.
Between PayPal, Wave, and my business checking account, I’m set up toaccept payment however my clients want to give it to me.
2. Tools to Communicate/Collaborate
Second, communicating is essential. I use G Suite, which (for $5/month), gives me a hosted Gmail account, tons of cloud storage space in Google Drive, plus Docs and Sheets, which I use often.
Gmail is my default communication tool. In Docs and Sheets, I often use the commenting feature as well to collaborate with clients as we’re working on a client.
3. Tools to Track Your Time
Third, track your time. Do it even for projects you’re not charging as hourly. That way you can track your profitability as well as you effort. You’ll find there are some clients who eat up way more time than others. When I see that trend, I try to replace the needy clients for better ones. But I’d never know to do that if I wasn’t tracking my time.
Toggl is a straightforward “turn it on, turn it off” timer. Gmail Time Tracker is made by a company I work often with and respect a great deal. It’s fully automated and works in the background of my email. It tracks how long I spend reading and writing emails to each individual client:
4. Tools of Your Trade
Finally, get the best tools of your trade that you can. For me, since I’m a writer, it’s tools like:
You may have different tools, depending on what you do as a freelancer. But my recommendation is to get the best ones you can. This is your work we’re talking about. To me, if there are tools out there to make my work quicker, better, and faster, they’re worth it.