Being a freelancer isn’t always easy. For some people, it doesn’t matter if they have two or ten clients: it is always hard to organise projects, manage time effectively and be productive. This article will introduce you to incredible freelance tools that will help you improve your organisation and the way you work.
- Online storage
- Design tools
- Screen recording tools
- Accounting tools
- Productivity tools
- Project Management tools
- Communication tools
- Marketing tools
- Time management tools
- Automation tools
There are a lot of online storage tools out there, which allow their users a chance to access their files from any device, collaborate with their colleagues and never worry about sending themselves emails with attachments again.
The market has responded to this high demand, with storage capabilities increasing and a lot of new services popping up in the last few years. The best part is that many online storage tools can be used for free. Here’s an overview of your best options:
Easily one of the best online storage tools out there, Dropbox has been one of the most popular in the past few years as well. Initially, you only get 2 GB of free storage space, but you can easily increase that by getting referrals from friends, or by contributing to the Dropbox community forum.
There are other ways to increase it for free as well. You also get a public folder which you can share with your friends or colleagues for collaboration. One of Dropbox’s best features is that it keeps past versions of synced files so that you can easily restore any version from the past 30 days.
2) Google Drive
Moving on to another favourite – Google Drive. You start with a lot more free space than on Dropbox, 15 GB, but there’s a slight catch. The storage space is shared with your Gmail account, meaning that extensive usage will reduce your Google Drive capacity. However, you don’t have to bother with referring friends or similar, you get your 15 GB upfront.
The best feature of Google Drive is that it gives you the ability to create excel spreadsheets, text documents and even PDF files. Google Drive doubles up and kind of serves like an Open Office substitute in the cloud.
The next free online storage tool is not that well known, but has a very obvious advantage when compared to the previous two. It offers the lowest-priced cloud storage plans in the industry! It comes with a 60-day free trial, with the monthly price starting at $2.50.
Unfortunately, it is not very user friendly and for users with little to no computer skills that might be a bit off-putting. However, if you’re just looking for a place in the cloud where you can upload your big backup files, ADrive could be the place to go.
If you want to become or are on your way to becoming a graphic designer, you’ll have to familiarise yourself with the tools of the trade. Let’s look at some of the tools you absolutely have to know about as a graphic designer:
Adobe’s Creative Cloud is a collection of 20+ applications and is one of the most powerful tools available at the moment. You can start off with a 7-day trial and then pay the monthly price which starts at US$52.99.
Popular design applications like Photoshop and Illustrator are included in this suite and are programs that many designers swear by.
GIMP is an open source image editing program that almost rivals Adobe Photoshop. It has a pretty small learning curve and is completely free of charge.
However, it does contain limited third-party plugins compared to Adobe Photoshop and does not perform well if you need to edit big images with lots of layers.
Canva is a popular design platform that requires almost no skill or experience to use. The best part about it is that it is free to use and can be used to create a variety of engaging graphic designs. You can also upgrade your account to Canva Pro for access to even more features and premium solutions.
Keep in mind though that Canva does not have local file storage and is not a vector based program, meaning that you cannot create an image or design that will be scalable to any size.
Pixlr is a cloud-based photo editing and design tool that provides designers with everything they need to edit images. It is an efficient alternative to Adobe Photoshop and is completely free.
It is also easy to use and provides users with an intuitive interface that can be accessed on both your computer and your mobile device.
Inkscape is a good, free alternative to Illustrator. It is easy to use, open-sourced, and is available on all major operating systems. Designers tend to pick Inkscape because it offers them a rich set of features and can be used for all sorts of illustrations such as cartoons, clip art, logos, diagramming, flowcharting, etc.
Screen recording tools
Screen recording software are programs which can be utilised to make a video of your own computer screen, providing your clients with a walkthrough which they can pause or replay as many times as they like. This means that you don’t have to spend time spelling out every single action.
Furthermore, you can use the recording for all of your clients, making a screen recorder a must-have for any freelancer who wants to create video tutorials. Here’s a list of the best free screen recording tools out there:
Loom is an essential tool for freelancers and those people working remotely. It allows you to record your screen and your camera at the same time. This gives each video a personal touch, that’s key when working with a remote team or clients in different locations.
Sharing the video is also super easy, as you only need to share a link with the recipient. Loom offers the possibility to react directly to the video with time-stamped comments and emojis (and who doesn’t love those!).
Use personal videos to improve outreach, streamline your onboarding, present a project completed, or give feedback.
Ezvid is, as its name suggests, easy and intuitive to use, allowing you to do almost anything with just a couple of clicks. It has an in-built video recorder, which allows you to split recordings and add text in between actions.
Ezvid is one of the most feature-rich screen recording tools out there, at least among the free ones.
However, there are a few drawbacks. For one, you can’t export the video directly to your computer. You instead have the option to upload it directly onto YouTube. Furthermore, Ezvid actually forces you to use one of their 65 tracks as background music. There is a track named “Silent machine”, but it still gives off a faint sound, which can get a bit annoying!
11) Free Cam
Free Cam is a great option for audiophiles. Even though it is free, it has a large variety of options when it comes to editing the audio of your captured video.
The biggest problem with this program is that you can only export your video as a .wmv file or to YouTube (unless you choose their PRO Version) – and while this isn’t really a huge problem, the exports are limited to a maximum of 15 fps. But as long as you don’t have any hyper-complex animation that would require a high frame rate, this is a great free option.
VLC is a program most of you probably have on your computer anyway. Most likely though, you are not aware of its full functionality. VLC is sometimes described as the Swiss army knife of media players and that’s not without reason.
Apart from being able to read various video formats, it can actually also serve as a screen recorder as well. Go to View -> Advanced Controls, press Ctrl + C, set the capture device to “Desktop” and you’re ready to go.
It will do just fine for the more simple recordings, but its functionality is far from that of specialised screen-recording tools. For example, you will have to record your audio separately and then merge it. What is more, you can only record your entire desktop, while most other programs will allow you to choose a specific part of it.
Join our IT freelancer community today! Create your freelance profile in just 2 minutes.
In case you don’t want to download more programs that just fill up your computer but you use just every once in a while, Screencast-O-Matic might be the perfect solution for you. Not only is it free, it is directly available online as well! It has a very well-designed interface, is simple to use, and allows you to save your videos or post them on YouTube.
But just like everything else, Screencast-O-Matic has its drawbacks too. Videos are limited to 15 minutes, which should be enough in most cases. Using this free software also adds a watermark. Both limitations can be removed by upgrading to a Pro account for $4 a month.
This one may only be a demo, but it’s one of the best out there, provided you don’t mind a watermark. With a full version cost of $344.99, we advise taking advantage of the free tools available.
Camtasia guarantees high quality – up to 4k! It’s also great if you work with a remote team since the program is available to both Mac and PC users. It has a variety of other effects that are also more high-tech and rare in screen recording tools, especially in a free program.
Accounting can be a huge pain and is probably one of the most dreaded tasks that freelancers have to do to manage their business. Luckily, there are a couple of tools that were launched to help!
Wave is your free, all-in-one accounting station . It allows you to create invoices and quotations, send them to your clients, save them in a number of formats including Excel or PDF file. It also has the option of sending reminders for overdue invoices – very handy when it comes to clients who seem to conveniently forget you at the end of the month.
Wave can save you enormous amounts of time since it centralises all your financial activities, like paying bills, checking bank account balances and keeping track of your invoices. It has a very attractive and clean user interface with nice graphical representations of your business financial activities.
FreshBooks has positioned itself as a major contender in accounting for the self-employed. A cloud-based accounting software, FreshBooks also hosts a myriad of other useful features such as setting up payments, time-tracking, and revenue reporting.
Another great plus point? The easy to use interface – newbie freelancers will especially find this useful in managing day to day aspects of their finances. In terms of specific features, these differ based on the plan you currently have.
Corgee is an AI assistant that allows you to sync up your bank, Wise and PayPal accounts. It is a very useful (and free!) app that can help you track your transactions, taxes and financial growth.
Corgee is particularly advertised to self-employed individuals and is based in Barcelona.
Freelancing grants most of us the opportunity to work from almost anywhere, but that also means that planning for projects, time management, marketing and invoicing clients – all of these activities fall squarely on your plate of responsibilities. Let’s have a look at four tools that can make your freelancing life easier:
Every freelancer has at one point had to juggle projects from a number of clients, each one at a different stage of completion. Now Taskboard is just what its name says – a tool to help you keep track of your tasks. Through an easy-to-use clean interface that won’t take you long to get comfortable with, you will be able to easily keep track of tasks and your progress.
Its absolute best feature is that unlike other project management tools that require you to open an account, Taskboard is a free, open-source program that you can download and install. You can also customise colours, add attachments and have access to a full history of your board activities.
19) Google Calendar
Google calendar is free, packed with many great features and a perfect time and task tracking tool. The best part about it is that data can be synced between your phone or tablet and the calendar.
Google calendar also allows you to quickly schedule meetings or events and get reminders about upcoming activities. Learning to use it can help you better manage your time, processes, and workload.
Evernote is a note-taking, task management, and archiving application that is capable of syncing across all of your devices and operating systems. It helps you keep all of your notes, tasks and lists in one place and has a powerful search engine that will allow you to find any file or image you’ve uploaded.
The free version of Evernote allows you to sync up 2 devices and has a 60 MB monthly upload feature. They also have plans for personal use and professional use.
Project management tool
The powerful tools mentioned below will allow you to easily plan and manage your projects online. Let’s take a look:
This tool is great for its design and search system, which allows the user to track deadlines and marks. If you are a visual person and have some budget to invest in a paid tool, you should go for TeamGantt.
One of the key factors of TeamGantt is its collaborative platform. It allows interaction between users, helps you plan, schedule and manage your projects and enables you to store templates and your work history.
GanttPro is great for task and project planning purposes. It lets you track progress and deadlines and allows you to keep notes about tasks and attach files to them.
If you are struggling with keeping track of all of your tasks, GanttPro should be a good choice for you. A nice and intuitive interface makes this tool stand out among similar software.
Heflo is a BPM software that allows you to create diagrams and flowcharts easily. Even the free version of this tool is effective –it can help you organise your workflow and improve the way you deal with clients. This app can also help you see which tasks make you unproductive.
Small companies love this app. You can download it onto your desktop or get this app for free on your Android phone or iPhone. This is a simple task manager – and the best part is that you can take it anywhere!
💡 Discover how you can use Trello as a freelancer in order to organise your life and your business.
25) Kanban Tool
Kanban Tool is a visual project management tool that gives users a perfect overview of their current work status. This is particularly useful to freelancers who have to work with clients or other team members as this tool allows you to collaborate easily in real-time.
Kanban tool offers a free plan as well as plans for teams and enterprises, starting at $5 per user / month.
Slack is a collaboration tool that has grown in popularity over the past couple of years. Its goal is to combine almost everything you would use for communication and sharing. Sending documents, short messages, longer mail-like reports etc., Slack does it all.
It also integrates perfectly with a lot of other tools, like Google Hangouts, Dropbox and even Twitter. Slack´s aim is to break down everything, so you not only have an archive of your internal communication, but also don´t struggle to find something when searching in the right channel. The Lite version of Slack comes for free, too, which is a good incentive for any team to check it out.
Everybody knows what Skype is, but we couldn’t just skip it, as it is probably one of the most used collaboration tools. It is a chat service that doubles up as a phone, making it pretty useful for any type of work. Group calls are actually now free for up to 10 people as well.
A simple word of warning though – using your personal Skype for work can be quite distracting, so it is recommended that you make a separate account if you decide to use it as your go-to communication tool.
28) Google Meet
Google Meet is a video communication service that can host up to a 100 participants in a single meeting. Additional benefits include:
- Adjustable layouts and settings
- Screen sharing with participants
- Live captioning
Buffer lets you share posts and updates at scheduled intervals on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. It’s pretty simple to use – all you have to do is add what you want to share to your Buffer queue and it will be shared at intervals throughout the day. You also have the option of setting your own custom schedule times or using Buffer to get the optimal sharing times for you.
TapClicks, formerly known as AdStage, is a cloud-based marketing tool that allows users to analyse, visualise, optimise and report ad performance. It helps marketers in general understand the business impact of their campaigns. It should be noted that TapClicks is free only for 14 days.
Mailchimp is an American marketing platform that allows its users to manage and talk to your clients, customers, and other interested parties.
MailChimp is free to use though it does have various plans, depending on what your needs as a marketer are.
Time management tools
Being a freelancer means you have at one point in time or another struggled to manage your time. Here are a few time management tools that may help you:
32) Time doctor
Time Doctor is an accurate time tracking and time management software that helps you get a lot more done each day. It is a web-based solution that provides time tracking, computer work session monitoring, reminders, screenshot recording, invoicing, reporting tools, integrations and so much more.
Time Doctor can help freelancers achieve a better work life balance by facilitating work from home, and remote working arrangements; make the most of the time spent working while on the computer (reducing time spent on non-work related distractions); organise their tasks and priorities, as well as manage their schedule; reduce work related stress through effective organisation and more importantly, can help quickly and effectively scale their business.
33) Rescue Time
RescueTime is another brilliant time-management tool that provides intelligent insights into how you spend your days. The app shows you exactly how much time you’ve spent on websites, apps, and projects and how productive you’re being.
RescueTime offers a 2-week free trial and then their plans start at $6.50 a month.
Hubstaff is a time tracking and workforce management platform that offers features like screenshots, activity monitoring, automatic payroll, and more.The platform has a free plan with basic time and activity tracking features for individual users.
Its main products include:
- Hubstaff Time
- Hubstaff Desk, and;
- Hubstaff Field
💡 Having trouble managing your time as a freelancer? Check out this article for tips!
Setting up automated processes for recurring scenarios is the best way to save time. Automation eliminates repetitive work time, and that’s how it can increase a freelancer’s profit. It will also help minimise mistakes. No more sending emails to the wrong person or forgetting to do something when it’s all part of your automated system.
Here are the two most-used tools for automating freelancer businesses:
Zapier is the top solution when it comes to automating your business. They work with over a 1,000 apps, including stuff we all use: Dropbox, Gmail, Slack and more. With Zapier, a zap sets up an interaction between those apps.
Let’s say you get an email with an attachment – you can have a zap set up that automatically downloads all attachments and directly puts them into a predetermined Dropbox folder.
There is a free plan for Zapier, which will allow up to two zaps to be run simultaneously and 100 tasks per month. Premium plans start at 20 USD per month and higher prices depend on how heavy of a user you are.
IFTTT stands for “If This Then That” and does exactly what the name suggests – it connects your apps and devices with powerful automations. It is, however, less professional and a bit less user-friendly, but still a great tool to automate.
The best part about IFTTT has to be the amazing community. It is always hard at work creating some awesome recipes (that’s what automating solutions are called).
How many of these tools do you use to increase and optimize your productivity ? Tell us in the comments below!