When you start your freelance business, you will quickly find out that you are not only responsible for delivering great results for your clients, but you are also in charge of your own project management, invoicing, taxes, business organisation, and more. Luckily, there are a number of (free) tools out there that help you complete these tasks without the need for an extensive education in accounting or bookkeeping. We have compiled a list with some of the best tools that will help you jumpstart your freelance business—and won’t break your bank account.
What tools do you really need?
Starting out as a freelancer can be quite overwhelming. The initial excitement about being your own boss can quickly succumb to the harsh realisation that this also means you are responsible for all other business aspects as well. No HR department, no finance team. Just you. The fear of not being able to perform all these tasks themselves drives many freelancers to using different tools and softwares to get on top of their responsibilities.
But while tools can make freelance life a lot easier, they can also be a big cost factor, especially if you are just starting out and trying to establish your business. That’s why knowing what you really need and using free software whenever possible can save you a lot of time and money.
We will be looking at free tools that help you with:
Working with tight deadlines is common for many freelancers. In order to not miss a deadline or simply keep track of the time spent on different projects, you should be looking into a few different tools.
Calendars like Google Calendar or Calendly are great ways to organise your time and get a quick overview of your tasks and to do’s for the next week. They also allow you to schedule meetings and create recurring events to manage on-going tasks.
If you want to keep track of the time you spent on a project, you should check out Toggl. The free software allows you to create projects and time how long you work on them. You can even install their browser extension to start timing with just one click.
There are many project management tools out there, but Trello still is a fav for many freelancers. It’s easy-to-use and intuitive interface allows for the quick creation of tasks and lists, while also allowing you to add members to a board, allocate deadlines and save files. And it is completely free!
If you are looking for a way to organise your tasks (and are also using Google Calendar) Google Tasks might be a great solution for you. You can create tasks and subtasks, allocate deadlines and even have the rewarding feeling of ticking something off your to do list.
Finally, Workflowy is another great tool to help you manage different tasks and projects. Simply create different lists with tasks and subtasks and invite your client or other freelancers to collaborate on projects.
You don’t want the stress of saving all your files and documents locally on your computer and then having a heart attack when your laptop crashes. Cloud storage tools save you the effort of copying everything onto a hard drive, while being easy to use when connected to your desktop applications. On top of that, they allow you to collaborate on files and see changes in real-time.
Dropbox is one of the most common cloud storage options, with a free version allowing for limited but still decent cloud space. Google Drive works pretty much the same way, but automatically includes a range of other tools that allow you to quickly create spreadsheets, documents or presentation slides.
Communication with clients is a huge part of every freelancer’s life and while you might think sticking to emails is the way to go, there are some free tools out there that help you be more efficient with your communication.
Slack is commonly used by both freelancers as well as companies to organise their communication and allow for chats to connect people. You can create different channels depending on a topic or project and even have the ability to send direct messages to team members.
If you want to find new prospects and potential clients, you might find hunter.io to be very helpful. The tool enables you to find professional email addresses and connect with people who matter for your business. You get 25 searches per month for free and can upgrade anytime.
Whether it’s presentations, a copy deck or a social media post, the free tool Canva allows you to create unique designs in seconds and even get inspired by hundreds of free and paid templates for all sorts of projects.
If you are more interested in web and app design, Figma will give you all the design freedom you need to create awesome online appearances for yourself and your clients and also collaborate on projects with other people.
Keeping track of your finances, taxes and invoices is a huge part of the life of every freelancer, and probably the most helpful area to use tools and softwares for as well. If you are looking for free software that allows you to create and send invoices and proposals, Wave might be worth a look.
But if you want to make the most out of your business, Lano’s free contractor option may be more up your alley. Lano allows you to not only organise your tasks and projects and create timesheets for them, but also create both invoices and proposals and even send automated payment reminders.
Finally, if you need help with your taxes, Accountable is a free app specifically designed to help freelancers with their taxes and bookkeeping. You can submit tax returns and VAT notices with only a few clicks and automatically organise your expenses. They also have a lot of helpful blog content focused on taxes for freelancers!
Subscribe to our newsletter
Receive our latest blog posts, podcasts and updates from industry experts.
from the newsletter at any time.