Being productive and hitting deadlines can be a struggle for freelancers.
In your day-to-day job, you have no one to rely on except yourself. So it’s a must to make use of effective freelance apps to help manage time, write, calculate, and build schedules.
It is important to take into account the all-encompassing essence of freelance jobs and the number of specializations that may be identified with independent professions. Although you definitely don’t want to get bogged down in a lot of tools, there are certainly a few free services out there that can significantly support your efforts as a professional freelancer.
So, here are 30 apps for freelancers to make your life easier.
Freelance Writing Tools
All freelancers (but in particular writers) require a complete suite of office tools for their personal computers. Although Google Docs provides a web-based option, a lot of people prefer saving documents on their hard drive or external memory device. Why not try the excellent and unrestricted OpenOffice option instead of paying the cost of Microsoft Office?
Although OpenOffice comes with a complete suite of resources that are equivalent to Microsoft Office, the OpenOffice writer has the greatest advantage here: it is a completely featured writing platform that makes it easier to export to PDF, making it suitable for e-books, manuals, pamphlets, and other documents that need to be conveniently shared in PDF format.
ZenWriter is a full-screen writing app that takes aesthetic appeal into account. With a serene light and dark backdrop and customizable fonts, this is the best full-screen writer available. It costs $9 to make full-time use of all of its functionality, but you can download the software for free and try it for yourself.
Do you really want to get rid of distractions? Use DarkRoom and then do the impossible: switch off the Internet! That’s right, disabling the web with a full-screen writer is going to leave you with not a lot of choices except to get some work done!
Nothing will give you more attention than a full-screen writing app, and WriteRoom is the original offering available for Mac.
Featuring a pure black backdrop with no menu options (as well as blocking all toolbars, including the start menu), WriteRoom can keep your writing between you and the page, cutting away all the outside items you need to press so that you can concentrate on your writing efforts.
Freelancer Time Management Tools
You’re probably sending a lot of emails as a freelancer. Worse still, many of these emails are likely to contain identical (if not duplicate) information.
This is where TextExpander comes in, allowing you to pre-program short abbreviations that instantly insert all sorts of information and even photos, CSS, and other longer types of information, all from a few simple keystrokes. You can also pre-program to correct typos that you sometimes create, use different signatures for different customers, and auto-insert forms and other project-based data.
For freelancers, getting things done in a timely fashion is of the utmost importance, and freelancers normally have a very variable timetable of their own. While the Pomodoro Method provides fantastic results to some people, it’s hard to execute daily without the right equipment, and who wants to walk around with a timer all day?
That’s where the Focus Booster comes in, it’s an online timer designed primarily for freelancers (or anyone!) using the Pomodoro Technique to get things done. If you’re unfamiliar, this approach focuses on getting 25 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of rest, which lets you segment tasks to get them completed one at a time.
You may be familiar with RescueTime because of its affiliation with a few major names, such as Matt Mullenweg of Automattic and WordPress. What you do not know is how useful RescueTime actually is.
RescueTime lets you keep track of how you invest your time on your computer and lets you evaluate how this time was spent afterward. If you noticed that you spent more than 10 hours on Reddit last week you will know that it’s time to start using your time more wisely.
The Teux Deux “to-do” list app first began to pick up some steam when it was reported that Seth Godin used it to make regular to-do lists. The idea behind Teux Deux was to create a very lightweight but visually convincing app that is highly accessible and intuitive.
If making lists is a vital part of your organizational framework as a freelancer, then you should probably check out Teux Deux, it’s one of the best solutions out there for building and handling task lists (and it’s free!) You can even take Teux Deux on the go with your iPhone app.
Toggl is a time monitoring software that promises to help you track time with a single click, and to quickly move between different activities, and create reports so that you can do stuff and turn that valuable time into productive time. It’s also available as a Chrome plugin and can be easily enabled in your browser for use as soon as you access the web.
Freelance Project Management Tools
You’re most definitely familiar with a lot of these apps if you’re using a Google Account. From messaging & task apps such as Gmail, Google Meet, Google Calendar to collaborative apps such as Google Docs, Google Sites, Google Reader, and many more, Google Apps is a must-have for any freelancer.
Helium is a super simple task management app to help you clean your inbox, allocate, and delegate tasks quickly, and take steps to get things done. Easily attached to your company email, Helium also doesn’t need to be connected to the internet to work: you can import it to your PC or Mac and it’s ready to go.
You can use Helium to delegate tasks whether or not other people use Helium, they don’t need to have an account to make use of its advantages. Finally, Helium features a clean interface and a drag-and-drop dashboard for easy management.
When inspiration and good ideas pop up, would you leave it to your mind to keep track of them? The frightening fact is that your memory isn’t as reliable as you would like to believe, but it cuts the poor man a little slack: in today’s society, we are expected to remember lots of information and are continually being stimulated by new information.
The advantages of technology continue to alleviate the issues, though with apps like Evernote. Evernote lets you grab some good ideas, pictures, or audio clips from your PC or phone, and then lets you sync them together for quick recovery and editing no matter where you are. Don’t let a good idea slip away when you’re so busy: let Evernote keep track of your random bursts of creativity/inspiration and archive them so you can come back and focus on them later.
FreedCamp claims to be the best competitive (and free!) alternative to BaseCamp, which has so far has no big competitors.
This app is getting stronger by the day with all kinds of solutions that appear to take from a free tool. Better still it comes with amazing features like project prototypes so you can get up and running as soon as you start using the service, making it an utter must try: if you’ve been curious about using a program like this, check out FreedCamp first.
Mind-mapping is all the rage these days, but it’s no different from the old school pen-and-paper process, with tools like MindMeister, you can build mind-maps on your mobile devices that act as much better storage than loose-leaf papers.
MindMeister is one of the best among mind-mapping tools, and its free plan will be enough for most people, although if you create a ton of mind-maps, the premium plans are very reasonable.
Freelance Organizational Tools
Most of us freelancers have heard of Dropbox before and let me assure you that every “hype” related to the product is absolutely accurate: Dropbox is amazing, enabling you to sync all the files on all your computers with a quick drag-and-drop framework.
You’ll never have to sit with downtime again while you’re working on a job, or get stuck without the important file you need: merge all your data with Dropbox, and your company files will be in the cloud, available from any of the computers you possess and have with you.
Remember the Milk
Remember the Milk has generated some hype lately, and with this Gmail addon, you can now access it from your email, which you’re currently wasting so much time in.
RTM is one of the best task managers out there with software that can remind you from virtually any device, set up precise location alerts, schedule your time in advance, and collaborate with others to get tasks done. In my view, the overall must-have tool.
Oh Don’t Forget…
If you’re like me, emails can be bypassed, voicemails unlistened, but text messages? They’re opened every time. Oh Don’t Forget’s team feels about that too, because they’ve made the perfect tool to get updates by text.
With an ODF account, you can send updates at any time of the day and because they’re going from your phone, you know that you’re more likely to check and recall them.
Now Do This
Now Do This is about being the easiest job management app: it only helps you to make a quick text list that you press “done” once you’ve completed the task.
No fancy features make sure this is a real “Getting Things Done” tool, there’s nothing to mess about with and change, you just put your stuff up and get to work.
Shoeboxed helps you to translate stacks of receipts and business cards into billing reports, payroll entries, and contact lists, save time, and minimize admin costs by reviewing and removing data from the paper clutter. Shoebox is also approved by the IRS, so you can use it for your company without any fear.
The only downside? The free plan won’t be enough for most users, but if you want to take advantage of the entire suite of Shoebox features several times a month, you’re going to have to upgrade to a paid plan.
Freelancer Social Media Tools
You can use the BufferApp to schedule time intervals during which your tweets will be posted every day, making sure they complement when your Twitter followers are mostly online.
You can plan tweets from the very beginning of the day and set them to go out at very particular hours, hit hot spots every day, ensuring the tweets are read by as large an audience as possible. This will maximize the impact of each tweet, and you can be assured that your important messages won’t be buried. Buffer is now working for Facebook.
When it comes to social media, timing is everything. Not just the time you spent on it, but also the pacing of the updates, which can have a significant influence on their scope and efficacy.
Luckily, there’s a one-two knockout combo for Twitter that will make sure the tweets go out at the right moment, every time. The first step of this method is an overview of your followers on Tweriod, which will give you a detailed (and good-looking!) graph showing the most popular hours on Twitter for your followers (when they are online the most).
Social Oomph has some pretty good social networking tools in its arsenal, but it shines when it comes to Twitter tools. The reason that so many of these freelance web apps concentrate on Twitter is that it’s one of the best networking platforms, with LinkedIn being a near second.
One of the great features is the auto-DM function. Although this tool can be highly frustrating when used poorly, it can be a fantastic weapon used the right way. The right way being to entice people to join you by promising them a freebie (Follow me for a free video/e-book/whatever!).
You’ll earn more potential followers and you’ll still be able to share some of the content you’ve made, making it a win-win game.
Entrepreneurial & Legal Tools
Mint has become a very common tool for people trying to handle their finances, and it’s no wonder: the interface is stunning, the software is great, and the service is free. I just can’t recommend another free money management app over Mint, it has all the basics that freelancers might like to start handling their expenses and investing more wisely.
Not only that, but the Mint blog is still filled with excellent information in the form of informative posts, infographics, and case studies. You won’t find a better built and made money management product for free.
DeskTime is a wonderful platform that is ideal for company owners, programmers, engineers, accountants, and many other forms of freelancers and entrepreneurs. What does it allow you to do?
It allows you to keep track of the people you are employing, including the ability to automatically create timesheets (no more Excel!), lower your payroll processing costs, and allow you to see who works, for how long, and at what hours. A must-have for freelancers and business owners who employ others.