Being a freelancer is tough. In the words of writer Liz Pelly, it’s like “signing up for finals week for the rest of your life.” That’s why it’s important to make like a Boy Scout and be prepared. Here are some essential tools to help you on your journey.
Tools for Finding Work
Upwork (formerly Elance-oDesk) is a service that helps freelancers looking for work meet businesses looking for freelancers. The site boasts 10 million freelancers and 4 million clients with a 90% rehire rate. The catch? Between 5–20% of your invoice will go to Upwork for their trouble. Whether or not it’s worth the extra cost is up to you.
Freelancer is a lot like Upwork, except that it allows you to bid on projects offered by clients rather than connect you to clients directly. If you’ve got a competitive streak, this might be the service for you.
Google Alerts is surprisingly useful for those looking for freelance gigs, especially those specific to your location. You can track posted jobs as well as news related to your area of expertise, work by your favorite writers, and anytime anyone mentions you online. Which is totally not egotistical at all.
Tools for Staying Organized
I’m calling it right now: Evernote is the best note-taking service out there. Allow it to and it will take over your life in the best way possible. Not only does it let you take notes on the go—including written notes, images, sound recordings, and website excerpts—but it also organizes them in themed notebooks and with tags. It’s a freelancer’s dream.
This time-management program will cost you $30, but for full-time freelancers it’s well worth it. With Freelancy, you can create and send invoices, manage multiple projects, and track the time you’ve spent (paid and unpaid) on all of your work. For those interested, they offer a two-week free trial along with a customized Chrome app.
For the nerds out there, Habitica will suit you perfectly. It’s an online service that encourages you to build habits and achieve goals by reimagining your life as an 8-bit RPG. Meeting deadlines and sending invoices on time will raise your level and unlock new gear and prizes.
Tools for Handling Finances
Mint is among the most popular online finance tracking services out there, and for good reason: it’s really, really good at what it does. Along with helping you keep track of your overall spending habits, the app can help you pay your bills, calculate your credit score, and even help you win the lottery. (Okay, that last one was a lie. But it’s still a fantastic service.)
There are plenty of apps out there designed specifically for sending and keeping track of invoices, but Invoice2go is my personal favorite. It’s simple, easy to use, and will save you a ton of time drafting and sending invoices. Do work, get paid, lather, rinse, repeat.
Tools for Making Connections
If you’re really looking to make it as a freelancer, it’s a good idea to maintain a website or blog with samples of your writing. This will make it easier for potential clients to get a sense of your skill and areas of expertise, and as an added bonus, it’ll inspire you to write more often. To make your site top-notch, you can get your domain, hosting, and professional email address from Rebel.
If you’re wondering how to make bank blogging, check out our post with tips on how to monetize your personal site.
Twitter is still the one of the best networking services out there for freelancers, and Tweriod will train you to master the art of the perfectly timed tweet. The service analyzes your tweet and tells you exactly when the most people are reading them, so you can target your followers at the right time. Like a Twitter ninja.
For more, check out the 70 best apps and resources you need to succeed.
Feature Photo: Todd Quackenbush