Freelancers love effective and affordable tools. For you, time really is money. Most freelancers get paid by the job, not hourly — so you love any tool that helps get the job done faster and cheaper.
And just because you’re a bootstrapper doesn’t mean you want to look like a bootstrapper! Your clients and customers want the best. You have to look like the best, even if you can’t afford it.
The good news is there are plenty of affordable or free tools that make you look like a million bucks. From finance to organization, and focusing to sales, these tools and websites will help you grow your business without breaking the bank. (Click each name for a link to the website.)
WEEK Plan’s motto is “Put First Things First.” This weekly planner is inspired by the The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change from Stephen Covey and Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity from David Allen.
Google Calendar is a great tool for scheduling, but Week Plan allows you to mark tasks as important and/or urgent. This way we can visually see what the most urgent items on our list really are.
This tool is perfect for anyone who struggles with grammar. I recently read an email from a “professional” with several grammar mistakes. I know this person is trying to create a professional image, but he sounded like an uneducated teenager.
We all run into tricky grammar situations — maybe it’s an email to a potential client, or a blog post. As a freelancer, you truly can’t afford to make stupid grammar mistakes. Whatever the situation, if you’re not sure about grammar, use Ginger to check it out.
BoxBilling is a great billing and client management system. It helps you create and track invoices, and it can automatically suspend accounts for non-payment. There is a free option, but the paid option is only $5.95 a month.
As a freelancer, you don’t get paid for the hours it takes to do billing. Set up a system like BoxBilling and use the extra time to make more money.
The average person spends over 15 hours on Facebook every month! If you’re one of those people, you need StayFocusd. It increases productivity by limiting the amount of time that you can spend on time-wasting websites. You can block any website and once you’re allotted time is up, you can’t use that site again that day.
Be honest and real about how you spend your time — and think of how productive you’ll be once you stop wasting time on Facebook!
As freelancers, we all have a product or service to sell. If you don’t have a website that handles e-commerce, or if you want a very affordable sales solution, try Selz. It’s an e-commerce framework that allows you to sell both digital and physical products.
Selz charges a flat-rate 5% + 25 cents per transaction. If you don’t have a website you can create a professional online storefront. Or you can use Selz for all your sales transactions, including selling your services. It’s user-friendly, so it is a great choice if you’re looking for a simple sales process. Plus, the layout will make you look extremely professional.
Many freelancers are hesitant to create their own graphics. You want them to look professional, even if you’re not artistic inclined. The good news is you don’t have to be an artist to create great graphics.
Canva is a simple platform to create flyers, presentations, Facebook covers, business cards, and posters. It allows anyone the ability to create professional looking graphics. Don’t be nervous. Just use their templates and see how easy it is to create a custom graphic.
Not every freelancer wants to create a huge email list. But if you do want to use an email system, MailChimp allows you to send bulk emails to a list of up to 2,000 subscribers for free.
You can create a list of clients, potential clients, or newsletter subscribers. You can announce new products or services, or even promote a sale. You can stay connected to whomever is most important to your business and send out professional looking emails. MailChimp has a lot of templates to choose from and there is a lot of support for new users. It’s the perfect email solution for bootstrapping freelancers.
Hootsuite is the answer to juggling multiple social media accounts. As a freelancer, you’re constantly on the lookout for new clients and building your brand image. That means you have to dedicate some of your time to marketing.
Social media is a cheap way to connect with your followers, but you don’t have hours to spend on Twitter, Facebook or even LinkedIn. Hootsuite lets you schedule updates throughout the day or week. The free version lets you post to five social media accounts. And the Enterprise plan lets you connect with 25 social networks. Don’t spend hours on social media — just choose the cheapest plan for your specific social media needs.
Evernote’s tagline is “Remember Everything.” It’s a note taking system, but that doesn’t really define how great Evernote really is. It synchs your notes across your computer, tablet, and mobile device. Evernote also has Skitch that adds annotations and shapes to sketches. It also has Penultimate, which is a handwriting app for iPads. It lets you write directly on your iPad and then converts it into notes.
The real beauty of Evernote is the ideas offered from their website. Their blog and the Tips & Stories section truly set Evernote apart — it teaches you how to apply the technology. It’s like a freelancers best friend.
Mint is a free software application that keeps your finances simple and streamlined. You can see your checking, savings, mortgage, and investments all in one place. It gives you a snapshot of your finances, so you can keep on top of bills, set a budget, or reach a financial goal. Mint is safe, secure and free. It’s a great way to keep track of your finances.
Again, as a freelancer, time is money. So any tool that helps you simplify or save time is essential. You can spend more time working on your business, and less time managing your business.