10 Lifesaving Tools For Freelancers Who Are Just Starting Out
Change is a scary thing. One of the most common fears that people have about leaving their full-time jobs to become a freelancer is, in fact, the biggest appeal about freelancing itself — independence.
This is because freelancing also means that you no longer have access to resources and systems that would otherwise be provided in a standard corporation. You become your own HR, Finance, and Project Management team. And for those who are not accustomed to organised routines and self-discipline outside of the workplace, this bodes a bigger struggle, especially during the first few months of freelancing!
Fortunately, following the rapid rise of telecommuting and the freelance workforce, there are plenty of sophisticated and uber user-friendly digital tools that can help you kickstart your independent chapter and cover your essential organisational needs — from contracts and invoices to time-logging and task management. Below are 10 (mostly free) programs that our Gigple Experts have tried and tested!
Contracts & Invoicing
And.Co is a cloud-based service suitable for freelancers and small businesses for creating contracts, invoices, time tracking, and project management. It also enables online payment through PayPal and all major credit cards (different countries are subject to different regulations, however).
Acquired by Fiverr in 2018, the platform has also partnered with the Freelancers Union to create an advance contract that ensures secure and mutual relationships with clients, which complies with the union’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act. It even has a clause to protect you from sexual harassment. And.Co payment plans start from US$18/month; however, they do offer a free account that gives you access to its features, although this limits you to one project at a time.
Similar to And.Co but more comprehensive, Hello Bonsai is an all-in-one freelancing solution that helps you manage your proposals, contracts, invoicing, payments, time tracking, reporting, and more. Designed with the freelancer in mind, the software will tailor your contracts specific to the project you have at hand (it automatically generates and fills all your documents) and has an excellent client on-boarding, contract and invoice system. Hello Bonsai plans start from US$16/month. They also offer a free version that lets you run one project at a time.
On a tight starter budget and just need the basics? Invoice Ninja is more generous with the features included in their free account. The service is 100% open-source and focused on creating a solid, useful app for freelancers and small businesses to manage their invoicing, proposal, and payment system.
If you want a more sophisticated time tracker to calculate and schedule your hours (and hourly costs), Timely is a simple interface that gives you the ability to proactively schedule the flow of your work day. You can quickly compare logged time with forecasted time to make sure your project is on track.
The app also integrates popular calendars such as Apple Calendar and Google Calendar so you can sync your schedule to your timesheets. Timely has a 14-day free trial; their pricing plans start from US$7 per month.
If you just want a simplified time tracker, consider Toggl. While it does also offer detailed reports, invoice generation and project management features for paid plans, its (free) timer uses a one-click tracking system that allows you to effectively track time without all that fuss. Once your tracking is done, you can export a basic report to Excel, CSV, or PDF format to share with your client.
Project or Task Management
If you are a fan of lists and checking things off lists but bored stiff by keeping a spreadsheet — Trello is the ultimate treat for your inner organiser! Trello is a free and visual list builder that allows you to intuitively and creatively use boards, lists, and cards to organise and prioritise your project tasks. You can do it solo or even use it to collaborate with your team.
This powerful project management tool is great if you manage teams for your projects. Asana may be intimidating to get to know at first, but once you learn how to use it, it’s actually a flexible and effective productivity tool that helps you prioritise tasks and still focus on the big picture, especially for projects that have multiple tasks and deadlines. But Asana is also great to use on your own, which makes its basic (and free) version perfect to start with!
Managing larger projects or remote collaborators, and ready for a more comprehensive, all-in-one digital workspace that lets you store notes, organise documents, keep spreadsheets and database, and organise tasks and projects? Notion is a user-friendly, customisable platform that has a clean, fun-to-use, drag-and-drop interface that lets you effectively manage your business, projects, teams, and productivity. The even better news? You can start free and upgrade to a paid plan anytime, from as low as US$4/month.
Tired of changing your password every time you get bumped out of your account and forget your login details? Ever wished you could just forget all of your passwords and be able to absolutely trust someone (or something) to handle the mental load? LastPass is a secure service that automatically stores your login details through your internet browser (you can also enter them manually) and remembers all your passwords so that you don’t have to… except for your LastPass password, of course!
Want to go lean yet sexy with your branding identity and want to create beautiful social media images or documents, but lack the funding to hire a designer right now? Canva is a graphic-design tool website that you can use even if you haven't touced a single design sofware in your life. It can be used by both non-professionals and professionals. Canva features a drag-and-drop format and provides access to over a million (free and paid) photographs, templates, graphics, and fonts. All designs can be downloaded in JPEG, PNG, or PDF — that you can print, share, or publish.
Now that you have some helpful tools to be free to choose where, when and how you work — let’s make that vision a reality! Gigple is matching qualified professionals with leading employers that are hiring for flexible and remote positions. Create a free profile on Gigple to get access to available flex jobs and get noticed by companies seeking expertise in finance, business and strategy, sales and marketing, branding (UI/UX), and technology.