Being a freelancer can be tough, so why not make it easier by streamlining your processes and using great business tools?! I know it can seem daunting to know what business tools to pick AND when to transition to these new fangled tools, so I’ve come up with a list of the best business tools to make your life as a freelancer just that little bit easier!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission if you click them and make a purchase. This is at no cost to you and I only share products that I use and love myself.
I started out super skeptical of all the freelancer business tools out there for two reasons. First, there are so many options to choose from that it can become quite overwhelming when you actually have to narrow it down and pick one. Second, the idea of having to possibly pay for something on a monthly or annual basis scared me. That’s a major commitment and I just wasn’t sure how to move forward.
After being in the business for a few years now, I can tell you that the tools you choose to help you run your business (whether they’re free or paid), can help save you time, allow you to work efficiently, streamline your processes, and appear more professional to your potential customers.
Here’s a quick list of my absolute favorite business tools, along with a brief summary of why they’ll help make life easier for any freelancer. Keep in mind that while many do require a paid account, most offer free trial periods that will allow you to test out the platform and see if it is a good fit for your business. If for some reason the first one that you try doesn’t feel right to you, move on and find another business tool that you love! On to the list…
Likely your most vital communication method, it’s wildly important to pick an email platform that is reliable and an address that is professional (i.e. using your website domain). If your hosting provider offers email for free, I’d suggest you use that, especially if you’re just starting out. However, if you’re hosting provider is a Managed WordPress host (for example, Flywheel or WPEngine), you’ll need to source your own email provider. In that case, I highly recommend Google’s Business email, called GSuite. It’s awesome because it’s got the same look/feel of your typical (free) gmail email account, but you get lots of space, not just for emails but for Google Drive as well.
Speaking of hosting providers, check out my recent blog post all about the important factors of a great web host and how to choose which hosting provider is right for you!
Best email provider options: GSuite or your website hosting provider’s email.
CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT (CRM)
It will be fairly easy to remember all the little details about your first client and maybe even your second, but as your business grows and you start to take on new clients and multiple projects – it’s absolutely vital that you have a system in place to help you management your clients. This will also help ease your mind and allow you to ‘forget’ about things during off hours. I recommend you find a CRM that best suits your needs, but definitely look for one that offers features such as invoicing, contracts, questionnaires, bookkeeping, etc. This have been key to running my business for efficiently!
My favorite CRM option: Dubsado or 17hats. Both are excellent systems that offer many all-inclusive features that go far beyond CRM.
We all know that getting paid is important! It’s pretty much why we work, right? Having a system in place from the beginning will help you not only stay on top of your customer accounts, but allow you to keep your numbers in order for running reports and of course, be ready for tax time! I suggest you go with a program that offers both accounting and bookkeeping options
Best accounting options: Quickbooks and Wave.
Staying on top of your to-do list is super important when you’re a freelancer. Make things a little easier for yourself by employing an incredible project management system. There are so many great (free and paid) options out there that are packed full of tools that will help you grow your business, keep your customers happy and keep you sane!
My favorite project management programs are Asana or Trello (and both offer excellent free options)
Gone are the days of writing everything down in a planner. If your business requires phone calls or in-person meetings, scheduling software can make your life so much easier! Not only does it allow your clients to self-serve by setting up appointments with you, but it will also update your calendar automatically if you’d like – major bonus points! Make sure you choose a program that offers the option to embed a scheduling page right into your website, take online payments, etc.
Once you’ve covered the basic functions of your business, step up your game with these incredible business tools:
- Toggl – Super easy to use time tracking software that has a powerful timesheet calculator.
- Slack – One of the best online collaboration tools for any team to share their work.
- Voxer – A walkie talkie messaging app for your smart phone with live voice, how cool is that?!
- LastPass – The only password keeper you’ll ever need. A total game changer for those who rely on keeping their login credentials secure and their life simple.
Looking for more business resources?? Check out my Resources Page for a list of all the amazing tools I use in my business!
Do you have a business tool that has become absolutely vital to your freelance business, but it isn’t listed here? Tell us about it in the comments! Or maybe you have a need that you can’t find the right solution for… go ahead and ‘Ask Blue!’ Either way, I look forward to hearing from you and wish you all the best when it comes to finding the right business tools that will make your life easy as a freelancer.
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