13 Essential tools to start (& grow) your freelance business

There was a time when people could only dream of having a job in which they could pick their own working hours and location.

Today, that’s a reality that millions of people are enjoying across the globe.

This is all possible because of the gig economy in which freelancers can make a living by working on different gigs/projects about website designing, blogging, video editing, etc. rather than a typical full-time job. If you want to become a freelancer yourself, then keep on reading.

How to become a freelancer

To become a freelance worker, then you need to identify your skills first.

What are you good at? Do you have experience in any kind of work? It’s a good idea to start a freelance business in something that you have an innate talent for.

For instance, if you have good written communication skills, then you can become a freelance eBook writer, copywriter, start a blog, etc. On the other hand, if you have good problem-solving skills, then you might be good as a mobile app developer, website developer, etc.

There are many reliable websites where you can create an account to get your business started. These include sites like Fiverr or similar to Upwork. However, to grow your business, you need help from tools like the following:

1. Client Management (CRM): Hectic

When you work for yourself, the relationships with your customers are like gold. They’re how you grow your business, perfect your offering and most importantly, get paid. Hectic’s complete client management system allows you to keep all of your customer information handy so that you can be a professional in every sense of the word.

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From organizing your project deadlines and deliverables to proposals and invoices to ensuring real-time updates and collaboration between you and your clients, and monitoring and calculating your clients’ health (cue calculating lifetime earnings, checking past notes, referencing your contracts,  monitoring time tracked, etc), Hectic has your back every step of the way.

2. Calendar: Google Calendar

There is no dearth of calendar apps on the Internet. However, Google Calendar is easily one of the best calendar apps as chances are you have a Google account already.

Besides, the app offers many useful and interesting features that can help you in your freelance venture. For instance, it allows you to schedule meetings with details, set reminders for key events that can alert you in advance (the exact number of hours or minutes set by you), and create and share notes with others on the fly.

UPDATE: Our new favorite freelancing tool, Hectic is now completely FREE. 🎉 Proposals, CRM, invoicing, calendar, client portal, and lots more. Join for FREE with no catch or hidden fees.

3. Cloud Storage: Google Drive

Cloud storage is becoming more and more common, now that everyone is realizing it’s more secure than they think, and the fact there are many free options as well.

For instance, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, and Google Drive are some of the most reliable and advanced cloud storage services that you can use today. However, due to sheer prevalence and popularity, Google Drive is recommended for most freelancers.

Not only is Google Drive a simple and satisfactory cloud storage solution, it also offers access to important office tools like Docs, Sheets, and Slides that allow you to create and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentation slides, respectively.

The free version of Google Drivers offers up to 15GB of storage which should be enough for most freelancers. However, if you want more storage, then you can also pay for it.

4. Communication: Slack

Slack has become one of the most popular communication tools used by start-ups and even large-size businesses across the globe. This is because it offers a smoother and simpler communication system that’s more suitable for long-term projects than emails in which it’s easier to lose old threads.

Slack is also popular as a communication tool as it can be easily integrated with other tools like Trello and Google Drive.

5. Logo Design: Tailor Brands

Tailor Brands is an online logo maker that can help you create a unique and attractive logo for your freelance business. Whether you want to or not, you need to set yourself apart from other freelancers in order to grow your network and get high-paying projects.

Tailor Brands allows you to create the exact logo you want by understanding your requirements with the help of artificial intelligence technology. However, you also get access to other branding tools like business cards, business presentation slides, social media banners, etc.

Cool, isn’t it?

6. Legal Paperwork: Termsfeed

Most customers don’t bother about the terms and conditions of the websites they visit, which include e-commerce websites and service providers’ websites. However, when you are on the other end of the equation, i.e. when you are a seller, then you have to publish these terms to protect you from legal action from a disgruntled customer or some other entity.

This is where Termsfeed comes in.

Termsfeed is a nifty online tool that can generate top-notch templates for T&C, disclaimers, and EULA which you can customize for your business within minutes. This way, you don’t want to spend a lot of time with actual lawyers and pay a huge fee for their services.

7. Finance: Quickbooks

Quickbooks is one of the best freelance invoice apps in the market today. It’s also a nifty accounting tool that can connect with your bank accounts so that you can track the expenses of your business and income.

What’s more, you can also pay quarterly taxes easily rather than wait for the end of the year. Additionally, you can study detailed reports to identify cashflow leakages, and also access the services anywhere since it’s based on cloud technology.

8. Project Management: Trello

When you work on big projects and involve other freelancers, then management can get tricky. That’s why you need a proper project management tool like Trello.

It allows you to divide the various tasks of a project to different people. You can create boards and cards to make tracking projects easier and more engaging. You can even use it for personal work—it’s that good!

9. Productivity: Todoist

As a freelancer, you have to juggle different tasks at the same time. From attending meetings to reverting emails, and from doing actual work to revising previous work, there is a lot that you need to manage on a regular basis.

So, to ensure that you stay on track and deliver the projects on time, you need a productivity app like Todoist. It’s a simple to-do list app that allows you to create a list of tasks that you need to finish every day.

There are many features that make Todoist one of the best apps of its kind. For starters, you can assign priorities to different tasks so that you know which ones do you need to finish first. You can also set select tasks to repeat, assign them to different projects, and even assign them to others.

10. Proposal: Prospero

Sure, you can pick a good proposal app to generate attractive proposals on the fly. However, what if you could create proposals and get the right pricing at the same time? With Prospero, you can do just that!

With Prospero, when you create proposals it asks you questions like your rate, expected duration of the project, kind of work that you will be doing, etc. It uses this information to suggest the ideal pricing that you can provide with your proposals. This way you don’t have to deal with the guesswork of the pricing and create new proposals with ease.

11. Social Media Management: Hootsuite

Hootsuite is easily one of the most popular social media management tools on the Internet. It allows you to manage all your social media campaigns on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. in one place.

Hootsuite provides you detailed analytics of your campaigns so that you know exactly how your posts and content are performing. You can also schedule the posts in advance so that you don’t have to publish them manually every time, and boost the best-performing content from the dashboard itself. There are many other useful tools that it offers to help you take your marketing efforts to the next level.

12. Time Tracking: RescueTime

Admit it—there are moments when you lose track of time checking out your social media profiles or watching YouTube videos when you take a “break” from work. Countless freelancers fail to realize how their 10-minute breaks stretch into 1-hour long entertainment sessions.

For a serious problem like this, RescueTime app offers the perfect solution.

RescueTime is a browser extension and mobile app that tracks the time you spend on the Internet. Depending on which websites you visit and how much time you spend on them, it can tell you how productive you have been. It even provides you simple but informative charts that show the distribution of your time spent online under categories like Design & Composition, Communication & Scheduling, etc.

13. SEO Tool: Yoast SEO

If you’re a freelancer you will need a website, and to promote that website you will need to optimize it for search engines. Introducing: YoastSEO.

This one of the most downloaded WordPress plugins, and for a good reason. It helps you to implement the best SEO practices even when you don’t have an in-depth understanding of the concept. With it, you can add XML sitemaps on the fly, set canonical URLs to prevent duplicate content, create SEO-friendly copy, and adjust title and meta description templates for consistent snippets in search results.

Freelancers may get benefits like flexible work environment and choice in projects, but they do have to face many challenges too. After all, it’s not easy to manage everything—marketing, networking, accounts, services, and more—on your own. So, be sure to check out the tools above and best of luck!

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Millo Articles by Bilal Ibrar

Bilal is part of the team here at Millo. He's a Hubspot certified digital marketing consultant with years of experience working with small and medium businesses. He writes about technology, marketing and social media for aspiring entrepreneurs. You can find him on his Twitter and Website.
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