Five super-useful free tools for freelancers

As a freelancer, what part of your workflow seems to get stuck?

Is it your time management? Your client contracts? Perhaps your collaboration? For me, it used to be invoicing.

Lucky for us, the internet is full of fantastically useful tools for freelancers. If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried lots of them to find a good fit. As small businesses we have to keep our overheads low and our productivity high, so free or freemium online tools can make a world of difference to our bottom lines. Here are five of my favorite super-useful free tools for freelancing.

Wave

Wave is free financial software designed especially for small businesses: freelancers, entrepreneurs, contractors, one-person shops, and companies of nine or fewer employees. It’s cloud-based and provides integrated business tools that are really easy to use.

free-freelancing-tools-wave

Features

  • Estimates
  • Invoices (including iPhone invoicing)
  • Accounting
  • Transactions
  • Reports
  • Receipts
  • Personal finance management

Payments and payroll are available as paid-for services.

Tips and tricks

If you want to test the waters of Wave, try the invoicing first. It’s easy to make client profiles, customize your invoices, and change payment terms and currencies for different clients. One of the best things is the invoice dashboard which shows you the status of your invoices at a glance: saved, sent, viewed, partially paid, fully paid, and overdue.

Timely

Timely is “the time tracking app to end time-tracking.” You can use the app to schedule and log hours simultaneously.

free-freelancer-tools-timely

Features

  • Schedule work ahead of time
  • Timer to track how much time you’ve spent
  • Weekly layout with colours and tags for managing projects
  • Assign hourly rates
  • Integrate your Google/Yahoo/Microsoft/Apple calendar
  • Collaborate with your team
  • Available via web, iPhone, and Watch

Tips and tricks

I find Timely useful both for planning ahead and filling in my hours at the end of the day (if I hadn’t planned or things changed during the day). It’s worth categorizing with colors and tags because the app uses these for your project overviews. The project overviews show you how much time you’ve spent on a project, along with billable hours, the value of your time spent on the project and notes you’ve made on the work you’ve done thus far.

Shake

Shake is an online service that helps people create, sign, and send legal agreements. They have a collection of legal templates for freelancers including design, photography, software development, and writing. You and your “signee” can sign electronically on your computer or mobile device to seal the deal.

free-freelancer-tools-shake

Features

  • Free legal agreements
  • Library of templates
  • Electronic signing for you and your signee
  • Available on web, iPhone, and Android

Tips and tricks

For those of you who work exclusively online, digital signatures are far more time-efficient than printing agreements, physically signing them, scanning them, and emailing them back.

Myows

Myows offers online copyright protection for your intellectual property. You can upload your original content to Myows (writing, photos, design, music, etc.) to protect it from copyright infringement.

free-freelancer-tools-myows

Features

  • Register your work to prove authorship
  • Generate contracts and licenses
  • Search for unauthorised copies
  • Remove illegal copies of your work
  • Build cases against infringers

Tips and tricks

Myows’s free membership allows you to upload three files, which is great for people who want to protect a small amount of intellectual property. (This number is going to increase in the near future.) Myows is also ideal for bloggers. You can protect your blog content by uploading your blog as an RSS feed.

Google Apps

Google Apps is a collection of incredibly useful cloud-based collaboration tools. The best part is that if you use a personal Gmail account for work purposes, all of these tools are free.

free-freelancer-tools-google-apps

Features

  • Email
  • Video chat
  • Online hard drive
  • Word processing
  • Spreadsheets
  • Slides
  • Forms

Tips and tricks

There are so many uses for Google Apps, but I’ll share two of my favorites.

  • Text documents: If you’re a freelance writer, collaborating with your editor via Google Docs is a simple way to share ideas, submit, and edit your copy. All it takes is a shared link.
  • Forms: Do you ever wish you could screen your work inquiries or send your clients a questionnaire? Enter Google forms. You can make a form and link it to your website’s contact page for potential work inquiries, or send a link via email for post-project feedback.

Okay, your turn. There are lots of super-useful tools for freelancers out there. Which ones are your favorites?

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