It’s becoming increasingly popular for workers, myself included, to jump on the freelancing/self-employment bandwagon. And rightfully so.
The economy is harsh place for employees, but entrepreneurs seem to be thriving. Being your own boss means you have unlimited income potential and the ability to create a better foundation for our future (and family’s future).
Since accepting new business opportunities, I’ve been focusing on new projects I’m passionate about, while making some good money from side gigs (freelancing jobs I do in addition to my full-time job).
As a freelancer, I wear multiple hats and juggle lots of different projects at once.
The key to making money as freelancer is this: utilize the right tools and software, so you can make your job easier which enables you to make more money. That’s the goal of any freelancer! Below are my top 5 free must-have online tools and apps to make any freelancing career easier.
FreshBooks is perfect for home businesses as well as freelancers and sub-contractors. One of my favorite features is the time tracking module that lets me “clock-in” and “clock-out” for each freelance job or project I’m working on.
After all my time is scheduled for the month, I can export my hours to an invoice with one click. Then I have the option of emailing the invoice or sending it via snail mail.
Clients or customers can pay using Paypal (with a flat $0.50 fee instead larger percentage) or a regular paper check. The basic plan is free for up to 3 clients and comes with an app that syncs to your phone.
Even if you don’t own a small business or side gig, you can still use Paypal to securely make/receive purchases or payments online. Wikipedia states that PayPal is:
a global e-commerce business allowing payments and money transfers to be made through the Internet. Online money transfers serve as electronic alternatives to paying with traditional paper methods, such as checks and money orders. – Source
I’ve used Paypal for about the past 6 years and without a doubt, it’s a must-have for any online business like Etsy or eBay.
But I recently found out it’s an essential tool for any blogger or freelancer too. Many of my clients (and contractors) send/receive invoices and payments through my Paypal address.
In the past, I’ve blogged about how you can simplify your small business accounting with Outright, but they just keep making it better and better. Outright organizes all of the expenses and income from small businesses like – eBay, Etsy, PayPal, Amazon, other banks and credit cards.
I can easily see how much money I bring in, who my customers are and how what my expenses are. Plus I’ll be ready at tax time, with estimated taxes and the ability to import my expenses to a Schedule C (the tax form for self-employed taxpayers).
I spend less time on bookkeeping and more time on my business, which means more money for my biz. And isn’t that what we all want as freelancers? Outright is:
- Safe and secure to use
- Tracks business expenses
- Prepare reports for estimated taxes
- Send invoices and collect payments
- Imports transactions from thousands of bank accounts
- Completely FREE
- Access to their FREE mobile app
This app is secretly my all time fav! As someone who works on the go, my “office” is almost always mobile, which means I can’t lug around a fax machine or scanner everywhere with me.
Thank goodness I found SignEasy (formerly EasySign)!
I can receive contracts and other documents via email, sign on the dotted line, save them using file sharing apps and return the signed form via email.
No printing, faxing or scanning required, which means I save a ton of money by not having to buy that equipment for my office. Your signature can be signed using your finger or imported from a signature photo you’ve downloaded from the computer.
I would seriously be lost without DropBox! It’s a file sharing web and phone application that lets you share photos, documents and videos from anywhere in the world – so long as you have an internet connection.
This has been a lifesaver for me when I want to do a blog post from my computer at work, then I can pick up exactly where I left off when I get home on my laptop.
Like Google Docs, this app is perfect for traveling entrepreneurs and freelancers who want to save money and time on the go. I also use it to transfer videos and photos to my friends and family without taking up all their inbox memory.
Bonus Apps: As you can see from my iPhone screenshot, I also use some other fantastic apps to keep my freelance business running smoothly. A few of my other favorites include:
Cheddar – a website and app that lets you organize your tasks anywhere and everywhere and syncs with all your devices
Agenda Calendar – an iPhone app that organizes your meetings, deadlines and other important tasks all at a glance
Evernote – both a web and mobile application that saves ideas, take notes, captures photos, creates to-do lists and increases productivity
Obviously there are tons more online tools and apps out there, but these are just the ones help my business on a daily basis.
What are some of your favorite small business or freelance apps?