f you are reading this article, you're most likely a freelancer. You prefer to either work for different companies at different times rather than being permanently employed by one company, or you've opted to work for yourself providing a service (or services) for others. There's a wide array of freelance jobs; photographer, journalist, you name it. Regardless of what type of freelancer you are, there are many advantages that come with this type of lifestyle, such as having a flexible schedule that you're in control of, and the freedom to choose your own projects and/or customers. However, in due time, being a freelancer can become more of a challenge without the proper tools to stay organized and on top of things. You are likely to need tools and services to make being your own boss easier and simplified. Well, we're here to provide some low-to-no cost must-haves to make being your own boss exponentially easier.
Note: this article may contain affiliate links. If you click through and try any service, thank you for supporting our work here at Six Figure Mavericks.
What It Takes To Work For Yourself
The life of a freelancer can seem nonstop at times - deadlines, meetings, drafting contracts, etc. There are many components to this career style, such as gaining and keeping track of clients, researching and staying up-to-date with your craft, and having good time-management. In reality, however, it goes without saying that nobody's perfect. These are some pretty crucial aspects that can easily get out of hand and become a headache. Maybe you just need a place to store and organize your documents, or maybe you could use some assistance with managing customer emails. Whatever that "thing" is that you need help with, Six Figure Mavericks has your back. Luckily, there are several tools and services that can transform these tedious tasks into manageable and even automated ones. We have gone through so many tools - to save you time from going through trial and error, here are some helpful suggestions.
When it comes to being a freelancer, getting clients determines whether or not you are able to maintain this method of income. In the digital age one of the best venues you can reach people is online. Social media marketing is a tactic every business is starting to partake in because of its effectiveness. However, it is highly recommended by many to have your own website to navigate people to after initial engagement on whichever platform they have discovered you on. Here are our top ranked site creators and web hosts.
If you need a website and you want to attempt to do it yourself, maintain it yourself or looking for a cheaper freelance option then you probably want to use a website builder that allows you to add web pages and elements in blocks rather than in through lines of code.
WordPress has gained a lot of notoriety from being one of the first available easy to use builders during the emergence of the online blogging era. The amount of time WordPress has under its belt gave it an advantage to have many plugins and compatible services developed over the years.
The challenge with WordPress is that as it gained its popularity through bloggers, that’s what works best on this platform - blogs. If you want anything more complex such as an e-commerce website, things start to get a little overly complicated with under whelming results.
The main hang ups are in underperformance which include issues that causes a slower loading website. This can easily mean the difference between landing that conversion and missing that sale. Another issue would be fighting through compatibility issues amongst plugins you may have added to ease your workload and increase functionality.
Unfortunately, these plugins are created by many different people and after a few updates you may find yourself puzzled trying to figure out which one went wrong. However, having this wide assortment of plugins available with a quick search can be beneficial if you’re able to keep it running smoothly.
By now you have probably seen a couple of Wix ads. Wix is becoming the new and approved version of WordPress.They have a modern and more intuitive user interface with everything easier to find and navigate. Wix also offers many templates that serve as a great starting point for even beginners. Their online marketplace of plugins has vastly expanded as the company even adds their own programs to it. Again, not all plugins may work as efficiently as you would like but similar to WordPress, the reviews left for each one are a pretty accurate representation of whether or not to try it out. Wix allows you to even start building and using templates without entering any billing information.
Go test Wix out here. If you like it perhaps, you'll catch their 50% deal they are currently having.
Bookmark is a lesser known web builder that markets to small business owners and entrepreneurs. They feature an "AI" system named AiDA that you can watch generate “…a fully functional ‘and custom’ website for your business in two minutes.” Their most expensive plan is priced at thirty dollars per month for the e-commerce monthly plan and they offer a forever free plan with a bookmark subdomain and Bookmark branding.Their website builder is not as flexible as some in terms of layout customization.However, the builder that is free to try at Bookmark does offer "POWr" add-ons such as; a form builder, pop up, instant chat, multiple different social feeds, even a digital downloader behind a pay wall which saves time researching worthy third-party options for these features.
Start using Bookmark for free here. (No credit card information needed)
Web hosting is a, "...type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to make their website accessible via the World WideWeb." In other words, it is a publishing service that allows access to your site via the internet. Some website builders offer hosting plans, others do not. Here is a list of the web hosts we like the most.
Bluehost is a fan favorite for freelancers and entrepreneurs. Their servers ensure fast loading times for your web pages and they offer it at a price difficult to match. Their current $3.95 per month subscription covers a domain name for the first year, SSL certification, 24/7 support, and one click WordPress installation. (You are not required to use WordPress) This basic subscription also gets you 50 GB SSD storage, unmetered bandwidth, five parked domains and 25 subdomains which is probably all you need, especially if you’re just starting out. Parked domains are domain names you buy but do not associate directly with any web services. You could be saving this domain to be used later or using it as redirect to an active domain. A sub domain is a section or “child” domain of your main one. For example, with: sub.maindomain.com, “sub” is the sub domain separates with a "dot” And placed in front of your main domain. All Bluehost plans include marketing credit for advertisements and Google My Business verification.
You can try Bluehost’s 30-day free trial here.
Godaddy is another company which has invested in many advertisements over the years to increase their exposure. Their main features include domain purchase, web hosting, a website builder, and some marketing tools. They also offer services through third parties including a mailing system through Microsoft and web site maintenance and creation through WordPress. Godaddy offers a design service for them to build your website for you. However, this service may be overpriced for the quality.
Billing and Accounting
One of the most stressful parts of being a freelancer can be in the billing and accounting department. Having a tool to streamline this process will definitely save you some headache.
FreshBooks is advertised as an all-in-one cloud-based accounting system. With their nine key features, they manage to create a seamless hub containing everything a freelancer needs for billing and accounting purposes. They offer easy to follow tutorials on how to master each feature. FreshBooks offers:
Invoicing & Proposals – create custom professional invoices, set up late fees, deposits, and much more
TimeTracking – for calculating and documenting hourly work
Projects – Manage a team, collaborate with contractors, share important files, and more
Expenses – Track and categorize expenses with the added feature of uploading receipts, and more
Estimates – Plugin customizable estimate templates that can be instantly converted into invoices
Business Reports – Sales TaxSummaries, Expense Reports, and more
Online payments – Allow clients to pay with credit card or bank transfer via an emailed invoice, and more
Accounting – Granting free access to your accountant if you have one, a balance sheet, ledger, and more
Mobile App – Grants the ability to use all desktop features on the go
Test out all of FreshBooks features for 30 days free here. (No credit card information needed)
Bonsai is a sleek and professional online platform that turns managing your own business into simpler organized tasks. The eight main features this all-in-one platform offers are:
Proposals– build proposals with drag and drop sections, insert up sells, and more
Contracts– Send your clients vetted professional plugin contracts, ask for e-signatures, and more
Projects and Client CRM –Manage clients, add in collaborators, organize messages and files, and more
Invoicing – Get paid through; Credit/Debit,PayPal, Bank Transfer, Wire Transfer, charge late fees, and more
TimeTracking – Download the app on IOS, Android, Mac, and Chrome to track your time worked and on which projects, create timesheets and more
Tasks – Bonsai allows you to create tasks to help navigate your workflow and organize your projects, due dates, clients, and more
Accounting & Taxes– Track and automate your expenses, monitor your profit and loss, get tax reminders, and more
Forms – Collect and organize data by creating effective questionnaires such as project-ending surveys, client intake forms.
If you sign up for Bonsai here you’ll receive a free 2 weeks trial for whichever plan you choose.
With Tispr, your user experience is completely customizable, which to a freelancer is everything. You have the option to subscribe to what you need, and only to what you need, whether that means a tool that caters to contracts, invoices, proposals, or much more. Let's say all you really need is to improve your time-tracking skills when it comes to getting work done. You can subscribe specifically to Tispr's "TimeTracker" tool for only five dollars per month. What about if you don't really need assistance with your freelancing agenda? Tispr offers their own online storage system so you can maintain your schedule and stay organized. For five dollars a month, they provide 500 GB of space, with no file size limit, which is incredibly valuable when freelancing (i.e. you can upload large-sized mock-ups or designs for a client). If you feel that the majority of Tispr's tools are pertinent to your overall productivity, you have the ability to purchase the "Pro Bundle", which puts all the power at your finger-tips for sixteen dollars per month, which is a great value. To add even more icing to the cake, Tispr has a mobile app for both the IOS App Store and the Google Play Store, allowing you to be completely in control and on top of your agenda, even when you're on the move. Here are the services they provide:
Invoicing – Branded plug-in templates, monitor the status, and more
TimeTracking – Track time worked, create notated time sheets, and more
Proposals – Drag and drop branded proposal builder that allows e-signatures, and more
Contracts– Plug-in lawyer-vetted template contracts, status monitoring, and more
Online Payments – Get payed via Stripe, PayPal, Zelle, Wire transfer, or mailed check
Chat – searchable chat that allows you to communicate directly with your clients via their e-mail
Drive – Securely organize any file type, share with collaborators and clients who do not have a Tispr account, and more
Try Tispr’s forever free plan and or get all tools for $16/month here. (No credit card information needed)
Freelancing and Outsourcing Platforms
Without a reliable platform to extend your services to the public, being a freelancer can still become more of a chore than an occupation. Maybe that's not the issue. Perhaps you have completed your business's website, but just need a writer for the blog. No need to worry, we assembled a list of the best platforms you can get started with to put you and your services on the market, or receive highly skilled assistance should you need it.
With a strong community and an easy-to-use interface, it comes as no surprise that Fiverr is at the top of our list. It can be beneficial to those seeking freelance jobs, those who need help via outsourcing, and/or can even be of help to those looking to learn a particular skill such as web design. With this platform, you have the ability to hire people to do a multitude of jobs. These jobs can range anywhere from logo design all the way to relationship advice - the possibilities are endless. Another reason people tend to gravitate towards Fiverr is the simple fact that you can display your work (or finished projects) as a thumbnail for your service(s),which can make it easier to land that job.
Creating their name from the two words "top" and "talent", Toptal takes pride in their three percent acceptance rate. This means that out of the countless amounts of applications they see, they only accept the top three percent of applicants. It should also be noted that each applicant must go through a two to five weeks screening process that was created to exhibit one's communication skills, professionalism, and overall proficiency. Those looking to outsource will be given a survey to ensure that you are getting the talent, or person, best tailored to you and your needs.
Aquent is yet another productivity-targeted platform. A major identifying attribute about this site is its overall setup; the talents and features they offer are purposed for people looking to have the job done professionally, and thorough. The staffing process utilized by Aquent award-winning, and consistent. Over the many years this staffing firm has been around, 1986-current day, Aquent has seen well over 9 million clients, some of which are large companies such as AARP and USAA.
This platform is minimalistic in regards to features and project biographies. Its "straight-to-the-point" layout allows you to search for exactly what it is you're looking for, and receive spot-on results quickly. Similar to Indeed, you can simply enter a job title and location to see listings that match your criteria.
Flexjobs is one of the rare sites that you would need to purchase a subscription for. Why is it in the list then? Well, upon purchase, you get to view individually, hand-screened job listings best suited to your needs. This system guarantees that you'll routinely have reliable results. A special advantage of this platform is that every job listing offers flexibility, hence the name Flexjobs. The job flexibility can be mean: remote work, flexible hours, freelance, part-time, etc.
Whether you are looking to outsource for that "perfect" logo, or freelance and earn income by making someone else's "perfect" logo, 99Designs is ideal. Choosing 99Designs will provide you with an unique experience. There are two routes you can take when getting a design: the first is working one on one with a designer found on the site, while the second is actually hosting a contest allowing a community of designers to submit ideas, and you choose your favorite. For freelancers, the procedure to getting started is fairly simple. The only requirements are that you build your profile, fill in your professional background, display some samples, and undergo a week-long waiting period.
As you may have been able to guess from the platform's name, Designhill is another design-concentrated site. They capitalize in an immense spectrum of designs, and earned the reputation of a "one stop shop" sort of a platform. They offer blog design, logo creation, even custom designed shirts for your company or yourself, should you need it. Another highlight that helps Designhill's stand above others is the level of positive interaction and customer service that you receive. Within seven days, whether you purchased a car-wrap design, a book design, or a custom made Facebook header for your business's page, Designhill will send you 70+ designs to choose from at your heart's content. Suppose you just aren't a fan of any of the designs presented to you. Designhill provides 24/7 customer service, a 100% money-back guarantee, and the ability to choose from 70,000 different designers in the event that you want try someone else's designs.
As a freelancer, always being prepared to jump into a project is embedded in the nature of the job. Being known as available and reliable never hurts your reputation. In these times, being able to edit and update a project from wherever you are on the go, has become just as crucial as being available to accept the job in the first place. Say you've decided to treat yourself to lunch, but right as the waiter leaves to put in your order, your client contacts you about a minor flaw in a design, or just a couple of small details they would like to have adjusted. The project is due in a half hour, and you know you've put a lot of effort into your objective. You want your work to reflect that. Having the proper tools to be able to quickly fix those errors and details, can ensure you give your best work regardless. Being able to simply create a productive environment in places most others would not be able to create otherwise is a huge workflow advantage to be gained. Here are our picks for the best mobile productivity apps you can download and get started with today.
PDF Expert (iOS, MacOS)
No matter what type of freelancer you are, it's crucial to make sure that you have access to a reliable PDF (Portable Document Format) viewing/editing app. If you aren't managing and altering PDF's as part of your every-day agenda, there will certainly come a time where you will need to. PDF Expert is one of your best options. It features an award-winning user interface that allows for easy annotations, highlights, and even offers the ability to add your own e-signatures. To further aid your workflow, you gain the opportunity to insert your own texts, shapes, images, links, and even lets you password protect any PDF that you open. Downloading and the app to create annotations and take notes is free of charge, but you have the option to upgrade for $49.99/year (with a seven day free trial) to unlock all of PDF Expert's features, such as reducing file sizes and embedding signatures.
Microsoft 365 for Business (Android, iOS, MacOS, Online, Windows)
Formerly known as Microsoft Office 365 for Business (changed April 21st, 2020), now Microsoft 365 for Business has held familiarity with many different creatives over a long period of time, inside and outside of the workplace. What many people aren't familiar with, are the numerous updates this suite of tools has had recently. With the new 'Microsoft 365' format, they improved their existing business plans, while implementing new ones as well. This gives you now four different plans to choose from, helping you only pay for what you need; a sought after quality in a tool for a freelancer. The plans range from five dollars per month (Business Basic) to twenty dollars per month (Business Premium). If you want an easy to use online storage system with reliable file sharing for your team or clients, Business Basic is your ideal plan. If you're a rigorous full-time freelancer, then Business Premium is most likely your best fit, which includes one terabyte of online storage and the advanced cyberthreat protection. It's also worth stating that all plans come with Microsoft Teams included, a team and project-managing app that is highly customizable via different compatible plug-ins available.
OneNote (Android, iOS, MacOS, Online, Windows)
Although part of the Microsoft 365 suite, One Note is widely regarded and enjoyed as a stand-alone app. It allows for creative thinkers to bring their ideas onto a versatile canvas. Unlike other tools, OneNote's unlimited note-taking system is free so you're able to take as many notes as your project demands. From entire blueprints, or quick pop up thoughts you don't want to forget. A notable advantage OneNote enjoys over a good amount of their competitors, is having the power of cloud sync. Being able to able to start a page on one device, and work on that same page across an unlimited amount of devices almost needs no explanation of how helpful that can be. It also has many different quality of life improving features, such as handwriting to text.
G Suite (Online, Partially iOS & Android)
G Suite, or Google Suite (by GoogleCloud), is another powerful bundle of tools compiled into one platform. They utilize a multi-plan system so you aren't paying for tools or services that you'll never use, allowing you to truly get the best bang for your buck. The prices range from $6/month (Basic) to $25/month (Enterprise). If you want to set up a system for yourself that you can easily manage your business emails, you'll benefit from having up to 1 TB of online storage for projects via Drive, and have the opportunity to take advantage of Google's Vault, which allows you archive, search, and retain data, then G Suite's middle-tier"Business" plan ($12/month) is what you want at your disposal.
Trello (Android, iOS, MacOS, Online, Windows)
Trello is one of the more popular tools out there that many people gravitate towards when looking to manage tasks better. Being accessible on just about every platform, Trello can be used on whatever device you're closest to. Remember mobility is crucial to a freelancer, so simplifying the process of collaborating with team members and clients to reach your goal easily shows its significance. Trello also offers plugins such as Evernote and Slack to enable more note taking and communication options.
Ayoa (Android, iOS, MacOS, Online, Windows)
Trusted and used by large companies like Coca-Cola, Disney, and McDonalds, OpenGenius's app Ayoa is a notable tool for many different types of management. This app is considered a must have for those who enjoy visually seeing their ideas while brainstorming. The 'Mind Mapping' function is easy to use, and being able to see your ideas connected together as one large organized outline can remove some scattering of thoughts. Ayoa also offers a highly customizable suite of tools that caters to any sort of freelancer. Just like many of the other tools mentioned, Ayoa makes multiple plans available for you to select from. They offer a free user experience (Basic), which includes a planner, a messaging system, a task-management system, reminders, etc. However, if you're looking to have the majority of your freelancing tools located on one platform, Ayoa offers a mid-tier Advanced ($10/month) plan, packed with tons of additional features such as Evernote / Google Calendar integration and Templates for your Mind Map.
Adobe Creative Cloud (Android, iOS, MacOS, Windows)
Adobe Creative Cloud can be classified as another all in one tool, although it differs from the previous mentions. AdobeCC (Creative Cloud) serves the purpose of boosting productivity. They offer digital media editing tools like Indesign; high end image editing programs like Photoshop and much more. The suite of tools offer new routes of creative, design, and possibility simply by its robust features. Creative cloud also benefits from a strong history with users as it's been around for quite some time.
LastPass (Android, iOS, MacOS, Online,Windows)
When there's an overwhelming amount of information to retain, sometimes just having to remember and recall large vast collections of details can be difficult. Let's say you use a couple of the freelancing sites (above/below) to book jobs. That's several different passwords to remember, along with their respective logins and other data. LastPass understands that potential struggle when your brain just doesn't want to cooperate with you, which is why they offer industrial-grade password memory system that is trusted by some 61,000 businesses, not including all of the individuals who've purchase this tool for personal use. A special thing to note about "must-have" is that just like OneNote, LastPass offers a free version, but in that free version allows you unlimited passwords, and a password generator, which means you can begin to benefit from this app immediately, then upgrade as your needs expand.
Hootsuite (Android, iOS, Online)
Being a freelancer means at some point, you'll need to have some sort of presence, whether that be a web presence in the form of a website, or a social media presence. With busy work schedules and projects on top of projects, it's nothing short of realistic for someone to not have enough time to create their own website. Some people turn to websites such as EvolveMyBrand.com to create a functioning website, but others who have even less time or resources turn to social media; i.e. Facebook Pages or Instagram. What if there was a way to slightly automate, organize, and manage that process? Well, Hootsuite earn edits place on this list by creating a tool that does exact that. They have created a platform built of the best tools to assist you in social media marketing. They also incorporate different plans based on your needs, although the prices range much larger than the other tools. The plans range from$29/month (Professional), which allows 1 user and 10 profiles all the way to$599/month (Business), which allows up to 35 different profiles and 5+ users.
Grammarly (Android, iOS, MacOS, Online, Windows)
One of the worst issues you can encounter, whether you are a freelance writer, blog writer, journalist, etc.,is running into a phrase you'd like to use, but aren't 100% sure on how to use it correctly. Maybe that's not the issue, though. Maybe you're honestly exhausted and don't feel up to proof reading an entire blog article at that moment. Well, Grammarly is the answer. No matter what platform you use the app on, it corrects punctuation, spelling, and grammar errors on-the-fly, which is monumental when composing a piece of writing. Grammarly also offers Premium($11.66/month) and Business ($12.50/month) plans to suit your requirements. The premium plan includes suggestions and fixes that not only help with your punctuation, spelling, grammar, but simultaneously aid you in creating a better fluency while delivering, assist in strengthening your overall readability, and help you to use advance to using a more extensive vocabulary should you need to.