Let’s face it. Freelancing is not an easy job. Whether you are a part-time contractor trying to earn some extra cash or a full-time freelancer, there always seems to be something else to juggle. Client requests, impromptu meetings, new iterations of a project – it’s enough to make your head spin.
Thankfully, there are a plethora of tech solutions to make your life a little simpler.
Time Keeping Software
One of the best and worst parts about being a freelancer is that you are wholly responsible for your time. Think about it, no one is managing you or checking your punch card to see if you arrived to work late. Instead you have almost complete freedom to start and stop whenever you want.
That being said, you still need to know how long projects will take so you can hit your deadlines or charge an accurate hourly rate. Online time keeping software, like Toggl, helps track productivity with the click of a button.
Smart Lists & Calendars
Another idea is to take advantage of schedules that sync. Wunderlist, for example, is an online application built for tracking daily to-dos and long-term projects. When you combine this with a digital calendar, like Google Calendar, you can be sure that your clients understand what’s on your plate and when they should expect delivery.
The key here is to keep everyone on the same page so nothing gets lost in the shuffle. As most freelancers know, a dropped project or forgotten meeting could reflect poorly on them and impact their marketability in the future.
Live Documents & Box Services
Working freelance also has the added inconvenience of not being in office, which is important for collaboration. Instead, contractors will often send their work via an email attachment, which will then come back with edits, which will then be sent back with changes made, which will then require more edits or a change in strategy, ad nauseam.
Admittedly, this system is clunky and awkward. It can also lead to redundant files and disparate versions which impede productivity. So why not ditch email attachments in favor of live documents and box services?
Google Docs, for instance, are super popular for collaborative business projects because they allow each team member to make edits in real time and backtrack through each change if necessary. Similarly, services like Dropbox are useful for transferring and storing files in a centralized cloud environment.
Electronic Invoicing & E-Signing
Of course, freelancing isn’t free. You work hard and you deserve to be paid for your work. Online and electronic invoicing from services like Due ensure that businesses (and independent workers) can make (and accept) payments online. What’s especially convenient about Due is that it is affordable, secure and easy to integrate.
Similarly, freelancers might want to look into electronic signing services, such as Adobe’s EchoSign. Not only will this save time as documents are transferred quickly and securely, it will also save money as freelancers will no longer have to drive to a FedEx office, print out forms, sign them and fax them over. So, nix the printer and embrace e-signing today.
Teleconferencing & Chat Apps
Finally, freelancers may want to adopt a web-based chat platform or video conferencing service. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that communicating over a chat service like Slack is much more intuitive than collaborating via email. You can tag certain people, transfer files and keep track of conversations within a single thread; unlike email which can devolve into numerous threads, missed cc’s and poor communication.
Video conferencing systems, on the other hand, allow for face-to-face conversations with clients which is perfect for relationship building. While there are numerous services out there, Skype is a wonderful option for anyone on a tight budget. Skype allows for one-on-one video calls, group video calls, instant messaging, screen sharing and more.
There’s no shortage of cheap (or even free) tools out there to make your job easier. So, feel empowered to experiment with different platforms and services. You never know what you’ll find next.