Becoming a freelancer nearly a decade ago was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my career. It gave me freedom, flexibility, and the chance to learn more about design and development (and marketing, social media, content creation, etc.) than I probably would have had I taken a job at an agency, or at a single company. Between various design and development projects I’ve worked on, plus writing for some amazing tech blogs, I got way more experience than I might have otherwise.
One thing that totally saved me when I started freelancing, though, was all the amazing tools and resources out there for freelancers. And today, there are even more resources than there were 8 or 9 years ago.
Stop using a spreadsheet for tracking your income and expenses. Stop creating proposals from scratch every time. Stop doing all of your social media and email marketing manually. And stop trying to manage your projects with paper to-do lists.
Instead, check out these amazing apps (50 that Meredith Lepore featured in her 50 Tools You Need To Get Your Freelance Business Started, plus 49 new ones!), communities, and blogs for freelancers that will make your life so much easier.
To succeed as a freelancer, you need to be organized when it comes to your work, whether it is a solo project or you are working on a team of 20.
Podio is a completely customizable project management software that you can adapt for literally any kind of project you can imagine. If they don’t have pre-built modules for what you need, it’s super easy to build them! Use it alone or with a team.
LiquidPlanner was developed specifically for tech teams. You can use dynamic project plans that adapt to the day-to-day capabilities of your team, rather than static plans that are a constant source of stress. It even instantly shows you the impact of changing around priorities or due dates.
Wrike is a project management app that includes collaboration tools and document sharing, making it perfect for teams. Workflows can be customized for each team. It’s great for product development, marketing, and more.
Solo is a project and business management app built specifically for freelancers who work, well, solo. It includes time sheets, project analysis and management tools, invoicing tools, expense tracking, and more.
Asana is a game changer. This popular group collaboration tool is free to use for up to 15 people. You can also subscribe or unsubscribe to notifications regarding changes to the task so everyone knows what is going on. It looks beautiful and makes life easier.
Everyone loves Evernote. Evernote can store notes, receipts, and other miscellaneous files associated with each project.
Get your collaboration on. For those of you who love to have a good organized brainstorming session, this is the tool for you. It is a free online collaborationtool that’s organized by boards, lists, and cards. You can attach files, images, etc., to each card and add as many people as you want on board for collaboration. Changes appear in real time.
One of the more popular project management tools. It starts at $20 a month for 10 projects at a time.
You are nothing unless you can keep track of the money you are making and spending.
Shoeboxed lets you turn your receipts into data. Use it to scan and organize your receipts, as well as business cards. You can create expense reports, track mileage, and more.
Mint is great personal finance software, and perfect for freelancers who don’t need a full-fledged business accounting app. It helps you make sure your bills get paid on time, lets you track multiple accounts from one dashboard, and tagging and categorizing helps you keep personal and business expenses separate.
Square lets you take credit card payments with your mobile device. What a lot of people don’t realize is that they also offer online invoicing of clients at the same low transaction rates.
12. PayPal and PayPal Here
PayPal makes it easy to set up online payments, plus it lets you invoice clients directly, and lets them pay via credit card (whether they have a PayPal account or not). PayPal Here lets you take payments via mobile, just like Square.
Stripe is a great payment gateway service with an easy to customize API. Use it to set up an online payment form for your clients, or to sell products on your website.
14. Your Rate
Your Rate is a simple freelance rate calculator that helps you determine exactly what to charge. And it has a super easy to use user interface. It even adjusts how much you should charge to account for taxes and savings.
This one offers online accounting, invoicing, billing, and banking. The most basic plan is $6.30 per month for the first 6 months and then switches to $9 per month.
This is a bookkeeping and invoicing application specifically designed for small businesses and freelancers.
This is perfect for managing your small business finances. It lets you import data from your existing accounts, making setup quick and simple. It updates daily from your accounts, and automatically categorizes your transactions.
If you are a freelancer, invoices will become the bane of your existence. Some days will just be spent writing and organizing your invoices. A great and simple invoice system will be a godsend. FreshBooks has been a great resource for me. It is straightforward and free until you have more than three clients but totally worth the $30 per month.
With Expensify, all you have to do is photograph your receipts and upload them. It works on iPhone/iPad, Android, WebOS/Palm, and BlackBerry phones.
The most important currency for a freelancer is time.
22. Tomato Timer
If you use the Pomodoro Technique, then Tomato Timer is a super simple app for timing your Pomodoros. It automatically defaults to a 25 minute work session with 5 and 10 minute breaks.
FocusBooster is another great Pomodoro-based app. It helps you maintain focus and avoid distractions, and includes dashboard reporting to let you see your progress and rhythm, and further improve your productivity.
Timely lets you simultaneously track and schedule your time. And it integrates with your existing calendar.
Harvest offers pricing plans from free to premium and offers time tracking and invoicing. It works on iPhone, Basecamp, Beanstalk and has a WordPress plugin and more. Offers both time tracking and invoicing.
Keeps track of your billable hours, helps you stay organized, tracks leads, and more.
Allows you to keep track of your time spent on a project and even see how close you are to using up your client’s allotted budget. Also offers a free iPhone application.
If you charge by the hour or often wonder how long it takes you to do a certain task, Toggl will help you keep track.
Klok allows you to easily keep track of your time spent on multiple projects. You can easily start and stop tracking by just clicking a button for each project. You’re able to generate multiple reports based off of this information.
30. Ora Time and Expense
Ora allows you to track expenses, keep a list of your tasks, run a timer on your tasks, etc.
Freelancer Laura Shin swears by OfficeTime as it helps manage a freelancers’ most important asset: time. It allows you to see exactly how much money you are earning per hour. This is what every freelancer needs, especially in the beginning, because it is going to show you who is really paying you your actual worth.
A time tracker that can also track mileage and keep tabs on project budgets.
Finding a job
But first you have to find work!
33. 25 Top Sites for Finding the Freelance Jobs You Want
Our own Skillcrush roundup of the best freelance job boards out there!
CloudPeeps is specifically for finding marketing, content, growth-hacking, and community-building freelance projects.
35. Authentic Jobs
Authentic Jobs lets you to search for freelance, moonlighting, and contract jobs, in a variety of tech specialties including design, development, and marketing.
36. Smashing Jobs
Smashing Jobs, from Smashing Magazine, is a great place to find freelance projects for designers and developers.
37. Working Nomads
Working Nomads has remote and freelance job listings from around the world, curated from the best listings on the web.
In order to get the client, you have to show off your goods.
Proposify lets you build your proposals from a library of templates. You can save your case studies, fees, and more to reuse in future proposals.
Nusii includes professional proposal templates, a notification system, proposal tracking, and online signing of your proposals. It comes with a 15-day free trial.
NiftyQuoter includes professional templates (for both content and services/products) and themes, automatic PDF generation, and much more.
QuoteRobot makes it super easy to write proposals, invoices, and contracts, all in one place. It helps you know what to say and what to charge, get instant acceptance, get paid faster.
QuoteRoller has everything you need for proposals, quotes, and contracts in one easy to use app. It includes CRM (customer relationship management) tools for better automation of sales and documents.
Creating a project proposal is a very important part of freelance life. But it can be a real pain if you spend hours working on a proposal for no money and then have it rejected. BidSketch provides you with a template which will half your time.
SlideShare, owned by LinkedIn, can be a great way to give your potential clients a visual proposal that’s user friendly from their perspective.
This is a rapid wireframing tool that you can use to produce mockups and UI concepts. You can work with product managers, developers, designers and clients in real time.
Get your name out there!
Hootsuite makes it simple to schedule your social media activity, including over 35 popular social networks. It includes analytics to give you better insight into which of your social media activities are actually working.
TinyLetter is a great option if you want a super simple email newsletter. It lets you personalize your signup form, share your work, and more, all for free!
Buzzsumo lets you see which content is performing better for any topic (or competitor). If you want to know which influencers to target, Buzzsumo can give you that info.
Buffer lets you queue up social media posts on a variety of networks so that they auto-post at the times you set. There are both free and paid plans.
Not every freelancer is a designer, but Canva makes it easy to create beautiful marketing materials, social media images and ads, infographics, and more.
Adding a ClickToTweet to blog posts or other things you share online can be a great way to get others to tweet your content with the message you want.
Edgar automatically shares your best performing social media posts again and again (on the schedule you set). Just add updates to your library, set a schedule, and it does the heavy lifting for you.
SumoMe is a suite of tools for increasing your website traffic. It includes sharing tools, a heatmap, list building tools, highlighters, smartbars, and much more. There are both free and paid versions available, though the free version includes SumoMe branding.
PopupAlly offers “polite popups” for your WordPress website. In other words, rather than bombarding your users with a popup as soon as they get to your site, it lets you trigger popups based on things like reaching a certain point on the page or when a user looks like they’re about to leave your site. There are free and paid versions of the plugin.
How do you get your work out there? By sending an email marketing newsletter of course. Keep your clients updated about a new post or product with this simple template platform. It offers a free plan which is a major bonus for those just starting out.
This is a great service for launching an email campaign, which can help to maintain relationships with all your previous and current clients.
It looks a little like a Pinterest board. It enables designers to share their products and promote them as well serve as a source of inspiration.
Backup & Storage
Don’t lose anything!
58. Amazon Glacier
Amazon’s Glacier service is a super low-cost service for long term archiving and storage for as little as $0.007 per gigabyte per month. It’s optimized for infrequently accessed data where a retrieval time of several hours is suitable.
BackBlaze offers cloud storage that’s low cost and super easy to use. You can download individual files from the web if you need to access the backup, or get all of your files shipped to your door on a hard drive in the event of a total system failure (for an additional fee). They also offer a storage option more like DropBox if you aren’t looking for a total system backup.
Carbonite is a very popular backup solution that stores your files in the cloud. They offer both personal and business backup accounts.
If you use WordPress for your website, the BackUpWordPress plugin is a great option for making sure your WP files are safe.
Backup and sync all your devices using your Apple ID.
DropBox syncs with your computer locally, so you don’t have to worry about manually backing up files or remembering to sync.
If you’re organized, your business will be organized.
TeuxDeux is a barebones but visually compelling to-do list app that is highly usable. It’s as simple to use as paper, lets you create recurring to-dos, custom lists, and even Markdown support. And there’s a mobile app so you can stay productive on the go.
30/30 is a gesture-based task manager for your iPhone. Set tasks and a time limit (you can set them to repeat, too), and 30/30 will help you focus on that task. You can customize the label, time, icon, and color of each list item.
LightArrow has a complete suite of tools for freelancers, going way beyond just to-do lists or project management. It includes tools for managing events, client relationships, email productivity, income and expense tracking, organizing notes and files, and even a password manager.
68. Sunrise Calendar
Sunrise Calendar lets you link up all the calendars and other date-based apps you use in one central view. Combine Google Calendar, Asana, Trello, Facebook, and more to see exactly what you have going on across all the channels in your life and work.
Todoist is a great to-do list manager, since it integrates right with your Gmail to easily turn your emails into tasks. There’s a mobile app for accessing your to-do list on the go, too.
There is nothing more satisfying than crossing something off your seemingly impossible to-do list and Wunderlist provides you with the ultimate to-do list. It syncs across all different platforms. Plus, you can assign tasks to other people! Nothing better than that!
71. Time to Note
Track communications with customers, suppliers, leads and others. Keep your contacts in one place and shared, create to do lists for multiple users.
72. Remember The Milk
Remember The Milk reminds you to take care of important tasks! You’ll never miss a deadline!
73. Google Calendar
Google Calendar is a web-based tool that allows users to organise their schedule, so you’ll always know exactly what you need to be working on.
74. Ta-da List
Show everyone what you have accomplished with this organizational app.
When you are a freelancer your inbox becomes the hub of your business so it better be organized.
CloudMagic is an email program from OS X, iOS, and Android. It offers integrations with a variety of other apps, including Evernote, Pocket, Trello, MailChimp, and more, to help keep your emails organized with your projects.
Keep that inbox under control with Sanebox. As we all know, your inbox is actually the hub of your business. It brings you joy, it brings you sadness and it brings you sadness. Keep it together with this organization app.
Do you always forget to follow up after meeting a client? Then this is the app for you. This automatically does it for you.
Clean up your inbox with a single click using Unroll.me to unsubscribe from all those email lists you don’t want.
This new app for Gmail is a more graphical, more organized email communication center (it will automatically categorize your email into basic sections like travel, purchases, finance, social, updates, forums, and promos). It’ll also include built-in snooze buttons, attachment previews, automatic labeling and filing, and intelligent search. This is email nirvana!
Communities & Resources
There are a ton of amazing freelance communities online, many living on other sites like Reddit. But there are others that stand alone, offering support and resources for freelancers around the globe.
80. Freelance Lift
Freelance Lift offers products and a (FREE!) community for freelancers to help with the business side of freelancing. They have a blog, short ebooks, videos, and more, plus there’s a Pro Module for even more resources.
81. Freelancers Union
Freelancers Union advocates for freelancer interests, offers benefits programs (to help you find things like health insurance), events, and communities for freelancers. They also have discounts, job boards, and more.
Domino is a co-op community of freelancers with more than 1200 members so far. They help you connect with other freelancers around the world, learn from the community, find work, and get support from others in the same boat as you.
#Freelance is a Slack community for freelancers. It lets you connect with others from around the world, get support, share your stories and experiences, and more.
One of the best ways for a freelancer to learn about how to run your business is just hearing stories and tips from others. These blogs have some of the most informative and helpful articles for freelancers.
84. The Middle Finger Project
The Middle Finger Project is a favorite among a lot of Skillcrush employees. Ash offers amazing, no-holds-barred advice to small business owners and freelancer in a super accessible, often hilarious way.
85. Under 30 CEO
Under 30 CEO is a blog and podcast that offers up all sorts of awesome business, productivity, and lifestyle design advice.
87. Work Made For Hire
Work Made for Hire offers up creative business advice for creative people. They have articles on things like rates, negotiating with clients, productivity, and more.
88. Zen Habits
Zen Habits isn’t just a blog for freelancers, but since the founder, Leo Babauta, is self-employed, a lot of his posts are very applicable to freelancers. If you’re interested in a minimalist life, Zen Habits is definitely the blog for you.
If you write anything online, then you need to read Copyblogger. They have tons of great resources for content creators, including freelance writers and marketers. But since so many freelancers also end up writing copy for their own website, emails, etc., their content is valuable for everyone.
90. One Woman Shop
This is the perfect site for someone who very much wanted to be their own boss. From the site: “You were never meant for the mundane. You prefer to decide your own self worth rather than allow an employer to put a price tag on your work. You light up from the thrill of deciding when to shift gears, challenge yourself, and kick it up a notch. You are a solopreneur. The site provides you with a community of freelancers and businesswomen who are taking risks and changing their lives everyday. “One Woman Shop is your safety net.”
When you think of Apps, you don’t necessarily think they would have an awesome blog but Buffer is an exception. It’s blog is clever, entertaining and super helpful for anyone with their own business. From articles on social media strategy to content marketing, you’ll learn something new here.
92. Seth’s Blog
If you’re interested in marketing, promotion, innovation, or community building, then Seth Godin’s blog is a wealth of valuable information. His blog posts give insight into all of those topics, with a strong theme of doing things differently than what “traditional wisdom” tells us to do.
This site is exactly like it sounds. It features recent technology and profiles on innovative thinkers and daily life hacks. Looking for productivity advice? Lifehacker is your new best friend.
94. Webdesigner Depot
A mecca for freelance web designers. This site provides free web designer kits, as well as articles on social media, html, branding, contests, and more. The how-tos and tutorials on everything from email template design to parallax are a freelance designer’s dream. And everyone will pick up handy web design and user experience tips!
95. Fast Company
For a little bit of entrepreneurship inspiration, this is the go-to source. With articles written by business leaders and professors, as well as top entrepreneurs, Fast Company covers the gamut from how to get more done to advice on writing business plans.
Good is “a place to share creative solutions for living well and doing good.” Share information on what you are working on with the community, and how your work integrates with your life and the impact on the world. The blog also has content on technology, books, lifestyle, and design and recommendations for organizations and entrepreneurs to follow.
97. Pro Blogger
For those of you who are not blogging experts, but need them for your business this is a great resource. From how to organize your Google updates to ideas for blog posts, Pro Blogger has content that will spark your creativity and give you structure for blogging. For that freelancer personal brand building!
98. LKR Social Media
Need some help with social media for your site, blog or business? This is your place. Laura Roeder is a social media marketing expert who runs a fantastic blog for creatives, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. From designing an effective sales page to top tools to organize your work, she’s got you covered. Plus, amazing tips on building your (or your client’s) social media presence.
This blog seriously answers every question you have about freelance that you were too embarrassed to ask.
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