July 5, 2011 Jason

36 Tools For Freelancers

36 23 Tools in 8 6 Categories For Freelancers: New and Experienced

No matter how big my business grows, I’m still happy to think of myself as a freelancer (hmm, maybe freelancepreneur ).  I love the freelance community (online and offline), I love the opportunities to work with amazing small and medium sized businesses, and I love that I get full credit (good and the bad) for the work I do.  100% of the profit is pretty nice, too!

Now that we’re past the halfway mark in the year, I figured it was a good time to share some of the tools I’ve found that helped me be a better freelancer.  I’ve used many of these tools – but not all of them – so I’m sharing them here to get your feedback and hopefully share something useful with you. Help, help, help – it’s what I try to do all the time (even if sometimes the other party doesn’t actually want my help…but that’s a different post!)

36 23 Fantastic Freelancing Tools

(mildly updated in May, 2016)

  • Invoicing
  • To Do Lists
  • Project Management
  • Collaboration
  • Freelance Job Boards
  • Social Media Tools
  • Distraction Prevention
  • Virtual Assistant

Invoicing

  1. Freshbooks – I’ve been using freshbooks for just over a year now, and they’ve been fantastic.  Autoreminders for folks that have “forgotten” to pay, PnL reports, and easily exported to share with my accountant.  Highly Recommend this product [non-affiliate link: www.freshbooks.com]
  2. Invoicemachine – super simple invoicing option – I used this until I discovered Freshbooks.  The branding options are good, even at the free level.
  3. Express Pricing – downloadable tool for your PC or Mac
  4. Zoho Invoice – I really like the Zoho suite of tools for business – ( I did a quick review a little while ago)  and the invoice option looks nice (5 free invoices/month) and only $15/month for the standard package – it might give Freshbooks a run for the money!
  5. Cash Board – downloadable timer widgets make invoicing accurate and easy – you don’t have to guesstimate how much time you spent on a project (you’d be surprised how many times you guess low!)
  6. Simply Bill – Reminders and thank-yous, iphone friendly, and customizable templates = nice combo

To Do Lists

  1. WeekPlan – I’ve updated the list to include this tool – it’s pretty fantastic. Easy to use and syncs with all of my mobile devices. This weekly planner has become a must-have resource for my business. [non-affiliate link: weekplan.net]
  2. ToodleDo – A horrible name, a fantastic product.  Hugely useful tool to keep track of your projects – built in timer, email syntax, easy to use/share.
  3. RememberTheMilk – hugely popular tool, especially among the GTD folks. Works great, looks good, and is easy to use.
  4. ToDoist – simple and secure seem to be the main features here – as well as integrated options for many of your favourite browsers
  5. TaDaList – very simple, very free.  The folks at 37signals make stuff that works for freelancers and anyone else. update: the team has retired Ta-da to focus on Basecamp

Project Management

  1. Proposal Kit – If you’re looking for a downloadable tool to create proposals for your next project – this might be a good tool for you.  A solid proposal is the key to a great project, and this tools looks like it will make it much easier for you to create them.
  2. FreelanceSuite – At first glance – this looks like a pretty decent PM tool.  Free 30 day trial, and then a one-time license fee of $70.  Run it on your own domain, client management, invoicing, support tickets, payment gateway – very interesting tool.  I’d love to know if you have any experience with this.
  3. Task Merlin – Drag and drop interface, GTD compatible, and a shared database seem like good options.  Their website doesn’t instil much confidence in this product – please let me know what your experience has been

Collaboration

  1. Wridea – If you’re constantly losing your ideas, this might be a good tool for you.  The focus seems to be on simplicity – capture the idea in its infancy, so you can file and sort later.   Less about collaboration, and more about idea generation.
  2. Zoho – Yup, I know we’ve already mentioned them, but these folks seem to have a product for most categories – productivity, accounting, collaboration – and more.  I’m not quite ready to make the switch to them 100% yet – but that’s mostly due to my fear of the unknown (or it might be laziness, hard to tell)
  3. GoTo Meeting – It’s not just for webinars and podcast sponsorship! Super easy to setup, and a great tool if you’re virtually meeting multiple teams
  4. Skype – It’s good.  It works. It’s free.  I love Skype, perhaps because it does at least the bare minimum very well.  I use it daily to communicate with clients in the US, Canada, Thailand – wherever they’ve got internet.  There’s lots of room for improvement with Skype, but for ease of use and ubiquity, it’s pretty hard to beat.
  5. Basecamp –  Such a fantastic tool for collaboration.  Sharing, chatting, tracking – super simple way to work with others.
  6. AgreeDo.com – another super simple collaboration tool.  Schedule meetings, set tasks/expectations – Another product that focuses on the basics, and does them well!

Distraction Prevention

  1. WriteMonkey – stripped down, zenware writing app.  Blank page = endless opportunities.  Fire it up and start writing.
  2. Q10 – some nice features – Target count, timer alarm, custom autosave – and you certainly can’t beat the price.  Very nice looking tool – but don’t get hung up on finding the right writing tool – as a good friend of mine once told me – writers write!
  3. Macfreedom – Not just for Macs!  You can now lock yourself off of the internet.  Yes – it might sound counterintuitive, but sometimes the web can be a bit of a distraction.  Program up to 9 hours of “freedom” so you can get the stuff done that you need to get done.  If you only want to turn off Facebook and Twitter, you might want to have a look at anti-social.

 

It’s May 4th, 2016 (May the Fourth be with you…) and I’ve updated a couple of links and removed a few sections. This post clearly needs a better update (especially since it’s no longer 36 tools across 8 categories) – I’ll get to it soon. ‘ish.

 

So, this post went a tad longer that I had originally intended, but I hope you find some of the links useful.  If you’ve got a site that you rely on heavily as a freelancer, please link to it in the comments.

Jason

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Comments (15)

  1. Manish Chauhan

    Thanks for this nice list. the listed tools are really useful for freelancers. I would also request you if you can also include Invoicera.com in your invoicing tools list. Invoicera is an online invoicing and time tracking application that supports multiple language & currency, multiple payment gateways (20 payment gateways) and invoice customization option and many other features as well. you can try out the application at http://www.invoicera.com

  2. Mike Vardy

    If you want a native app for the Mac for invoicing, Billings is a great option. Also, Ballpark by MetaLab does the trick as well (but it’s a web-based one as well…yet it does have an iOS edition).

    • it looks pretty nice, but not sure if I’d be willing to switch to a mac just for invoicing…
      🙂
      ballpark looks robust – even has a “freelancer” package for $6/10 invoices. not bad

  3. Just as I thought when will I have time to read through the `80 Apps and Resources for Cloud-Based Web Dev` article you had to go and give me a new list to read through. Thanks for capping it at 36.

    I use Freshbooks as well and I cannot say enough good things about it. I love how easy it is to use, and most importantly how easy it is to invoice clients. The fact that most other apps have built in Freshbooks intergration is pretty rad as well.

    For my proposals I use Quote Robot (quoterobot.com) which has cut my proposal time down from a few hours to mere minutes for simple proposals. Of course it is built for web developers, but it may be usable for other professions as well.

    • Chris, I too love FreshBooks. Been with them since 2009. They even came out to Los Angeles and bought us all dinner (even the free subscribers, which I was at the time). I wish the estimates looked more professional, as creatives do not want “Unit Price” and “Quantity” to describe our services. They don’t seem to hear my several requests on that. Oh, well. I get the jobs anyway.
      I just discovered QuoteRobot, and am on this page to see if anyone knows how it integrates with FB. Maybe you can explain that. I like the online “Accept Estimate” feature of FB, so do I just attach a QR proposal? Thanks. Where are you?

      • Hey Chris,

        QuoteRobot lets your client just click “Accept” same as Freshbooks – also, you can set up QuoteRobot to sync with your FB account, so it will mark accepted estimates as accepted in FB too.

        Thanks for your interest! 🙂

        Shawn

  4. Marie-Eve

    Do you know Kiwili ?
    It works with all the platforms (Mac, PC, Linux, iOS, Android) and there’s even an iPhone version. The app allows you to manage your time, create and send bills, get paid online, organize your projects, create your reports and so on. Here’s the link https://www.kiwili.com

  5. The accounting side of freelancing is so tedious. Because you’re basically a one-man business, everything falls on your shoulders. Instead of looking for web apps that handle invoicing alone, I look for full scale accounting software that helps me to track expenses, to set up recurring billing, to create custom accounting reports and to control cash flow all at once.

  6. Robert Macklyn

    I love to use the the invoicing tool from Replicon. The hassle free and user friendly experience of the same tool has given up the significant way to focus with in all possible terms for the invoicing to get better at times. Apart from the invoicing, the billing and expense management is also a great part to work out with the same tool. Here you can have a look out for the Replicon’s expense reporting software – http://www.replicon.com/olp/expense-reports.aspx

  7. Jesse Krause

    Nice list, glad to see zoho made it on there, I’ve been using them for a few years. A couple new ones I’ve been trying out are https://www.hiveage.com/ and http://www.job-flex.com/. I like Hiveage because I really enjoy the finishing touch they put on the invoices. It gives them a much more professional look, and a couple of my clients have commented on it. The other one I like because I do a lot of contracting work and it’s nice to have an app that kind of does most of the work for me. Check them out if you’re still looking for more!

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