10 Tools Every Freelancer Needs
A life of freelancing differs greatly from that of a regular 9-5. There are positives to a freelance lifestyle—positives I’d be hesitant to give up—but they’re not enough to outweigh a few of the negatives associated with the freelance lifestyle.
For example, the freedom afforded to me as a freelance writer is a breath of fresh air after my 9-5, 5 days a week job. However, unlike that 9-5 job, I don’t have anyone giving me the tools for success and making sure I’m doing things right. I’m my own boss, and this can be extremely stressful.
I mentioned being handed tools for success as a perk of a regular job. What if I told you that this isn’t exclusive to regular jobs/careers? There are dozens of tools out there designed to help us freelancers and digital nomads. But what are they?
10 Tools to Consider
With me, you don’t need to ask what they are. Here, I’ve listed 10 tools I use on a weekly basis at the minimum—tools I wouldn’t be able to do my work without. I can’t guarantee that every single one of these tools will be useful to you, but I’m sure you can find use in at least a couple of these tools.
The first tool I want to talk about is Clockify, software dedicated to helping you keep track of time spent on a project.
Freelance sites like Upwork have their own built-in time trackers, but once you move away from these sites and start working with clients through your own avenues, you’ll need to find a way to ensure you’re giving billing your clients for the correct amount—this means tracking how much time you spent working on the project.
Clockify is one of my most trusted apps for this very reason. It’s simple to use and 100% reliable.
While we’re on the topic of projects, let’s talk about how to manage them. When you start out as a freelancer, you probably won’t be dealing with many projects—at least not at once. Once you gain a following, however, you’ll want some sort of organization or hub to help you keep track of your current and past projects.
There is a plethora of software that allows you to manage projects, but I recommend Trello above all others. Trello uses a card-based system to manage projects, and you can create, edit, and delete these cards in seconds.
It’s a simplistic tool, so if you need a more in-depth tool, look at apps like Asana. Otherwise, Trello is the perfect tool for project organization.
Earlier, I mentioned clients. Clients are the blood of freelancers everywhere. Without them, we have no projects, and without projects, we have no income. This is why it’s important to keep in touch with clients and have a constant form of communication between you and said clients.
Slack is, in simple terms, a mix between project management apps and communication apps. You can use Slack to manage projects and keep up-to-date with them, but its primary use is to communicate with coworkers, teams, and, of course, clients.
4. A VPN
But let’s move away from the topic of productivity for just a second and talk about security. Without it, we’re left to the mercy of hackers and cybercriminals. And as a freelancer, someone who may prefer working in public spaces and using public networks, you’re at a high risk of having your information stolen.
One way to combat this lack of security is with a VPN, a virtual private network. A VPN actively encrypts your data, meaning that all that data becomes unreadable to any cybercriminal who happens to be scanning the network while you work.
They cost a few dollars per month, but they’re more than worth it.
Continuing our discussion on security is Malwarebytes, another solution to the problem of cybersecurity. We need to worry about more than just the random cybercriminal here and there in the coffee shop—we need to worry about the multitude of malware littering the Internet.
Your laptop may be infected with malware right now, and you just don’t know it! To make sure this doesn’t happen, I recommend using Malwarebytes, a scanner dedicated to finding malware on your device.
Its deep-scanning technology means it’ll rummage through all of your files, so no piece of malware will be able to avoid it.
Let’s wrap up our security discussion by talking about LastPass, the industry-leading password manager.
If you’re wondering what a password manager is, it’s a piece of software (or browser extension) that stores all of your passwords in one convenient area, hence the nickname “password locker”.
Password managers store your passwords only by hash, meaning that if someone were to try to intercept your password through a network, they’d find themselves at a loss.
Plus, password managers are just convenient. No more having to write down every password I have and hope I remember all of them.
Todoist is one of the more…simple programs on this list, though I don’t say that as an insult. On the contrary, I believe Todoist to be the reason I can keep a consistent workflow.
Todoist takes the function of a regular to-do list, expect this time, you don’t have to waste paper! Of course, there are more features than that. With Todoist, you’re able to easily manage your schedule for the day, moving things around, editing preexisting to-dos, and having multiple lists open.
Todoist may not seem that useful, since you can easily use a piece of paper to accomplish the same thing, but having all of your to-do lists easily accessible on your devices is a convenience that can’t be beat.
8. Google Drive
Who out there has lost hours of work due to something completely out of your control? You know, times like when your essay was lost due to a random power outage. Don’t worry—it’s happened to all of us at one point or another.
Using Google Drive as a cloud storage solution keeps these situations from arising. Plus, you get the added bonus of having Google Sheets, Google Docs, and Google Slides—all of them free.
One minor tool you’ll want in your arsenal is HelloSign, software that allows you to digitally sign documents.
There’s not much to say here—its description is self-explanatory. Many clients expect you to be able to sign documents, NDAs, and contracts at a moment’s noticing, meaning you need something like HelloSign at hand.
Wrapping this list up, we have Hootsuite, a program dedicated to making managing social media a breeze.
Social media represents an important platform to many freelancers and remote workers. With it, we can reach clients, garner more clients, and keep up-to-date with the latest news.
However, managing all of them can get quite painful, which is why Hootsuite exists. With Hootsuite, you’re able to manage multiple social media accounts at once. Along with this quality of life improvement, you’re also able to schedule tweets and posts, making it so you don’t even need to be present to stay active on social media!
Note of Cowork7/24 :
all apps mentioned here are the personal recommendation of the guest blogger Julie Hughes, from TurnOnVPN, and are not an endorsement from Cowork7/24.