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Making the switch to full-time freelancing is exciting; you get to set your own hours, choose the clients you’d like to work with and you can work from home. It can also be a little daunting, too. There is a lot of security in working at an established company – you have regular hours, regular pay, and access to enterprise-level software.
As an employee of an established company, you have access to the tools and software that you may not have when you’re out on your own. Fortunately, there is an abundance of free (and almost free) tools to help you manage your time and your clients.
Here are a couple of tools you may want to look into as you start your freelancing business.
Toggl is a time-tracking service that you can use on your computer, your web browser, and your phone. After setting up your account, you start by creating projects. When you’re starting out, these may be things like “Finding a designer for branding” or “Setting up a portfolio website.”
Once your projects are set up, all you have to do is remember to start and end the timer when you’re working on those particular tasks.
As you start to settle into a routine and begin taking on clients, you can assign clients to your projects. I really like this feature as it helps keep me organized and it gives me confidence knowing that the time being billed is accurate.
One of the features that I like best about Toggl is the reporting. Even with a free account, you get detailed summary reports as well as visual representations of where your time was spent.
A free account allows you to have a team of up to 5 people, has reporting options as well as unlimited projects. For $5 a month, you can get unlimited team size, billable rates and sub-projects.
Asana is a great project management tool that is free for teams of up to 15 people. A free account also gives you unlimited projects, tasks and conversations. I like Asana because it’s great for both working with other people or just keeping yourself on track.
After creating your account, you can begin setting up projects for the various clients you have. Within those projects, you can create tasks with due dates that you can easily view in your dashboard. There are list and calendar views as well as a Project overview so you can quickly see at a glance when your tasks are due. You can also set up email reminders for the various tasks you’re working on.
Asana also lets you add attachments and have conversations with other people on your team. There are apps for iOS and Android devices so you can stay up-to-date on the go, and it integrates with Toggl.
Slack is “team communication for the 21st century.” I’ve been using Slack for a few months and really enjoy the ease with which you can communicate with people.
Once you sign up, you can create Channels to communicate with clients and other people you may be working with on your project. Channels are open to anyone who is a part of your Slack group. Messages in channels are searchable and can be pinned for easier access later.
On Slack, you can also have private messages with people one-on-one as well as private group messaging.
What I like most about Slack is the integrations – “add-ons” that a user can add to make the Channel more useful. Examples of integrations are Google Calendar, Dropbox and Giphy. Because who doesn’t like a funny gif every now and again?
Invoices by Wave
Wave is free invoice software that is packed with features to help you produce professional looking invoices. The software also allows you to create estimates and quotes. First impressions are crucial so you want to ensure that the quotes you’re sending out to potential clients are polished and professional.
The software is user-friendly and makes it exceptionally easy to get paid. You can send invoices by email, customize your payment terms, create receipts, and automate reminders for late payments.
The software is currently only available on iOS but is accessible via any browser.
Try as you might, meetings can’t always be avoided. Even though there are great tools for keeping in touch, there are times when it’s just easier to meet face-to-face. That being said, you don’t have to meet physically in person to have an effective meeting.
With Google Hangouts, you can video conference with 9 other people. During a video call, you can also share your screen, text chat and edit documents on the fly. This is a great way to take notes and make sure that everyone is on board with what’s being shared and worked on.
What are some of your favourite freelancer tools and apps? We’d like to know! Tell us in the comments section below.