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If you have a side hustle (or two), or work as a freelancer, you know how important it is to be productive.
After all, time is money, right?
So, what can freelancers do to save time, be more productive, and in turn make more money?
Check out these 10 tools and apps for the freelancer to use:
1. For Finding Projects
Our first set of websites and apps are for finding all those money-earning gigs and projects.
After all, we need to start work in order to start earning, right?
This great list will get you started:
- Freelancer – Free to send bids, 3% commission fees.
- Upwork – Between 15¢ and 90¢ to bid on projects, plus a sliding fee scale from 20% to 5% commission fees.
- ProBlogger – Free listings, not just for bloggers, but editors, copywriters, technical writers, etc.
- PeoplePerHour – List your services plus bid on projects, for sellers, it’s free to list and 5% on all work billed above €520, for buyers it’s free to list but has “add-ons” for a small fee. Both services have payment/withdrawal processing fees.
- Guru – Free to bid on projects, 4.95% – 8.98% fee charged depending on your membership package.
You can find the odd project or two on Craigslist, your local paper or website, or even create an online website that I’ll discuss next.
2. Online Presence
The job sites I mentioned in #1 is a good way to have an online presence for potential clients, but you can expand your job net by having more profiles out there.
Here are a few more places to create your freelance profile:
- LinkedIn – Create an attractive resume profile for free, apply for jobs, network with companies.
- BlueHost – A great website host to create the perfect portfolio page for your business. (Fees)
- Contently – List all your published articles here for potential clients to view.
- Behance – Create a free designer portfolio for your designs, photographs, and art.
- Dribbble – A free online portfolio website for UX/UI designers.
Don’t forget to market yourself everywhere you go and make your own promotional material to get full bookings.
3. Proposal Writing
Now that you’ve found some projects and jobs you’d like to bid on, now what? A generic cover letter isn’t going to make you shine over the rest.
What you need is a good proposal writing tools:
- Prospero – Lets you create proposals while helping you price out each project.
- DraftSend – Create interactive presentations with PDF and audio.
- Reply – Communicate with your leads and prospects by mass email.
- BidSketch – Offers proposal templates, landing pages, electronic signatures and personal branding.
I know writing letters can sometimes be awkward because you want to sound knowledgeable but also not “overdo” it. You just need to learn how to overcome your writing dilemmas.
4. Project Management
Now that the jobs are coming in, you need a way to manage them all and make sure you’re on track with each one of them.
Check out these great project management websites and apps:
- Trello – Gives you a visual overview of what is being worked on and who is working on it.
- Asana – Bases their system on individual tasks framed into bigger projects.
- Squidhub – Integrates all your files from different platforms and your calendar within.
- Thrive – Keeps an eye on what’s coming in and going out with simple visual metrics.
Accepting one project at a time isn’t feasible and certainly is a profit-killer. The only time this would work is if you work in a field that requires many hours and concentrated attention. If a project is too large for you to take on alone, then it’s time to delegate, which is covered next in #4.
If you had to delegate to a team of freelancers, or are part of a client’s work base, you now need an effective way to communicate, collaborate, and keep track of each other’s projects.
These websites and apps are very effective for doing that.
- Slack – A single place for messaging, tools and files, helping everyone save time and collaborate.
- Quip – Real-time document collaboration and work with less emails and less meetings.
- Twist – An organized hub to discuss ideas, share updates, and build knowledge that everyone can refer back to.
- Basecamp – Combines all the tools teams need in a single, straightforward package.
Now that you have a team, you also need to know how to manage it effectively.
6. Time Tracking
Some clients prefer to pay-per-hour instead of per-project, so the question is how to track our work hours efficiently?
Some of the websites and apps I’ve mentioned earlier have time tracking options included, but many don’t so you’ll need to add one, like these:
- Clockify – Free time tracking software for teams.
- Toggl – Be able to break down your hours by projects, clients and tasks.
- EverHour – Time tracking software equipped with budgeting, resource planning, expenses tracking, visual dashboards and flexible reporting.
- TimeCamp – Time tracker with computer activities and productivity monitoring, attendance tracking, integrations and more.
- Harvest – Fast online invoicing and reporting software. Simplify your employee timesheets and billing.
You just need to explore what each program offers and find one that fits your working style and freelance field. If you’re one of those that prefer not to be tethered to technology, this time tracking log book is ideal.
Of course, you need to have an effective invoicing system to get paid for all your work.
Again, some previously mentioned sites already have an invoicing option included, but here are a few others:
- Due – Quickly create invoices, has a billing timer and has options for taxes, discounts and more.
- Wave – Free invoice tracking and bookkeeping apps.
- Anchor – Be able to send invoices, collect payments online, and automated payment reminders.
- SlickPie – For freelancers who need to invoice in multiple currencies.
Lastly, you can always use PayPal as well. PayPal offers invoicing as well as money transfers and business protection options (for disputed charges).
This is an area that makes many people cringe – accounting and taxes. But it is an important area to pay attention to, not only know exactly what’s happening financially in your business, but to stay legal.
Look at some of these small business accounting sites:
- QuickBooks Self-Employed – For those who file their taxes using TurboTax
- FreshBooks – Best Cloud-based accounting software.
- ZipBooks – Has the option to pass all of your accounting and bookkeeping off to a professional
- Xero – For freelancing companies that have a team of freelancers.
Accounting shouldn’t be a scary endeavor and you can always leave it to a bookkeeper or accountant, another freelancer perhaps? Whichever option you go with, you should still understand the basics of business accounting so you can successfully monitor everything and “stay in the know”.
9. Virtual Secretary
Now, I don’t mean an actual virtual secretary – unless you are that busy and need someone to delegate all the small stuff to. You can still delegate some stuff to useful websites and apps to save time.
Check these ideas out:
- LastPass – With all the various websites and accounts to keep track of, this free app will remember all your passwords for you.
- IFTTT – Stands for “IF This Then That” which is a free way to get your apps and devices working together.
- Pocket – A browser extension that allows you to save any sites automatically for later reading – great for internet research while writing.
- SolidGig – Let this app scour the job boards for you.
- Remember the Milk – A smart to-do app for busy people.
- Buffer – Manage all your social media accounts in one place and automate it.
- FundBox – For those times when clients haven’t paid their invoices and you need money.
There are so many more apps and sites out there to help delegate all the little mundane chores and leave you freer to concentrate on the big tasks.
10. Staying on Task
One of the bonuses and also a drawback of working independently is that there’s no one around to supervise you.
Sometimes we need a little help with our productivity and staying on task. Here are some helpful apps to help you out:
- FocusBooster – Uses the Pomodoro method of working in 25-minute bursts with 5-minute rest.
- OffTime – Locks your smartphone to reduce distractions.
- RescueTime – Provides analytics on your daily habits and productivity.
- Coffitivity – Provides ambient sounds of a bustling coffee shop for a change in audio background.
If you are still having trouble concentrating on a task, maybe this Amazon read will change things.
Freelancing can be a rewarding career, it just takes some work, the right resources and some handy tools to shrink your To-Do list.
If you’re still struggling to find work, check out this Amazon book and find out how to create a blueprint to start your successful freelancing career.
Here are some more FFL articles on freelancing: