Working in the gig economy as a freelancer may afford you more flexibility in terms of scheduling and choosing the types of jobs you’ll take on, but it also demands an entrepreneurial hustle. You’ll need to equip yourself with the tools necessary to manage your operations – everything from your time management and productivity, to project tracking and invoice creation.
In this article, we’ve compiled six applications that every freelancer needs to have on their radar as they build upon their work portfolio:
1. Organize your Projects with Trello
As a freelancer, you very well may be working on multiple projects at once. Trello is a project management tool that organizes your various projects into “boards.” As its website states, “imagine a white board filled with sticky notes, with each note being a specific task.” The boards are further divided into columns: ‘to-do,’ ‘in-progress,’ ‘editing,’ ‘complete,’ among others. Simply place tasks into their proper columns – and move them as you go – to seamlessly track the status and progress of each project you are working on.
Every project gets its own board to help keep you organized if you’re working on more than one at a time. Trello offers a free membership that allows you to employ up to ten project boards at once. More are available at a cost.
2. Build Your Network and Land Gigs with LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great platform for generating connections to build your network and find jobs. Your LinkedIn profile is essentially a digital resume where you can list your relevant work experience and skillsets. As you build your network, you can also share content with your connections to keep people appraised of your professional progress – be it blog posts you’ve written, press you’ve received, social media posts, etc.
LinkedIn’s ProFinder tool allows LinkedIn members to search for qualified freelancers to hire for various projects. Inversely, gig workers can use it to generate leads on potential jobs, bid on projects, and land long-term clients. Here’s how you can set up your LinkedIn ProFinder profile:
- Complete the online application. Log into your LinkedIn account and click the Work tab found at the top of your profile. Click the LinkedIn ProFinder option from the dropdown menu.
- Get accepted. The first ten proposals are free. You can upgrade to Business Premium at $59.99 per month.
- Browse for freelance projects. LinkedIn users can submit project details and give freelancers a chance to bid on the proposal.
- Submit proposals. You can bid your price, provide the details by sending a letter of introduction and/or offering free consultations. After submitting your bid, LinkedIn will inform you whether you’ve won the gig or not.
3. Streamline your Scheduling with Google Calendar
The beauty of Google Calendar is that it allows you to manage multiple calendars in one place. If you’re working on multiple projects at once, they will each have their own timelines for completion, not to mention coinciding events, meetings, deadlines, etc. With Google Calendars, you can create one master calendar, ie. “Work,” and then aggregate a calendar for each individual project within it. This way everything that coincides with project A goes in its own calendar that’s separate from project B and C, and so on. Furthermore, you can customize calendars with colors for added organization.
In the event that you work with a partner or small team, Google Calendar also lets you share your various calendars with other users to keep all parties aligned and on the same page.
Google Calendars is accessible anywhere you have an internet connection. It also syncs up to your phone so you can easily manage your schedule on the go. Other notable features include:
- Event notifications – These are reminders you can set yourself before an important event. You also have the option as to when you’ll receive it – be it 10 minutes before, an hour or a day.
- Event notes – When you add an event to your calendar, you can include the location address, attachments, and virtually any details about the event in a “notes” section. When the event pops up on your calendar, all the information you need about it is right there in once place.
- Email integration – You can share a calendar event via email and it will automatically sync up with the recipient’s calendar if they indicate that they plan to attend.
4. Create Contracts, Invoices, and Other Legal Paperwork with Bonsai
As a freelancer, you’re likely drafting a lot of contracts for the different projects you work on. Bonsai is an all-in-one product suite that allows you to create, review, and revise contracts, and legally e-sign them when you’re ready. The fill-in-the-blank contract templates definitely simplifies the contract creation process.
When it comes to payments, Bonsai is also an invoicing software that enables users to create and send invoices to clients. It integrates with popular finance tools like PayPal and Stripe so you can also receive payments, to keep everything streamlined in one place.
5. Accept Payments with PayPal
Freelancers with clients from other countries know that banks charge steep fees for bank transfers. PayPal provides a way for freelancers to conveniently get paid for their services without the hefty fees. This financing platform is available in more than 200 countries and supports 26 currencies.
Here’s how you can set up a PayPal account:
a) Go to PayPal’s website and click Sign-Up.
b) Select the type of account for you – Personal or Business.
c) Type the necessary information – your name, password, email address.
d) Verify your email address by clicking the link PayPal emailed to you.
6. Better Writing with Hemingway App
If you’re a freelancer writer or editor, the Hemingway App is a free grammar-checking tool that offers useful insights into the content you’ve written for yourself or your client. Hemingway will rate the readability of your content. This includes: highlighting any places where you’ve used a passive voice, indicating any areas of the piece that are hard to read, and suggesting simpler alternatives to overly-complicated sentences.
This tool will be particularly helpful to freelancers who write to make a living, but it can also be useful for proofreading any marketing materials you’ve written for yourself, or if you have a website. The app is super easy to use. You simply paste your written content into the site and scan for readability and edit suggestions.
The Bottom Line
Growing your freelancing career is easier when you’re armed with the best tools for freelancers at your disposal. Figure out what types of tools you need, compare your options, and take your time to set everything up. With these tools, you’ll be able to enjoy freelancing and watch your income grow.