Even though I’ve been freelancing as a writer, editor and marketing consultant off and on for a few years now, I think this is the year where I’ve finally hit my stride. I’ve found a schedule that works for me, I’ve narrowed down the types of work I like best and that I’m best at, and I’m finally starting to grow my client list.
While getting clients and making time to do the work can be difficult when you’re starting as a freelancer there are a number of great free tools I use to help me manage the other parts of being a freelancer. From accounting to time tracking, here are four of my favourite free tools for freelancers.
Boomerang is an optional add-on for Gmail that lets you schedule emails and lets you choose to “boomerang” certain emails back into your inbox for when you’ll actually have time to deal with them. I like to use Boomerang to schedule emails I write in the wee hours of the morning so that they appear to have been sent at a reasonable time. This helps me keep the appearance of working normal hours, even when I can’t, and helps me keep good work/life boundaries with my clients.
The basic version of Boomerang is free, but there are paid options for heavy users.
While some of the work I do is charged on a per word or project basis, some clients prefer to pay me hourly. Toggl is a free time tracking application that allows me to track time across multiple projects simultaneously and provides me with comprehensive reports that can be broken down by date, project, client, etc. It even allows for time tracking across teams of up to 5 people and has integration with project management programs like Asana and Basecamp.
While the basic version of Toggl is free, there are paid options with more features.
Wave Accounting is a business and personal accounting program that syncs directly with your bank accounts for up to the minute bookeeping. It also has an invoicing feature with lots of options, including the ability to accept payment by credit card. I love the ability to switch quickly between my personal and my business accounts as I run them both out of the same bank account and the bank integration makes reconciling expenses a breeze. You can even use it for payroll.
This one probably won’t be a surprise to many of you, but Google Drive is an absolute life saver for the fledgling freelancer. Cloud storage, every office tool you can think of and instant document collaboration make this free tool ubiquitous for me. I love that I can use it on my phone or my PC, I can share and edit documents with clients in real time and I can use in online or offline as I need. No more shelling out for expensive Office software suites. Google Drive is a freelance lifesaver.