Freelancers are most often one person businesses, which means they’re responsible for everything.
Not just designing, or coding, or writing. They’re solely responsible for finding new clients, creating contracts, sending invoices, managing expenses, handling taxes, and so much more.
There are countless tools for running all of the different aspects of a freelance business, but sometimes the sheer number of different options can be overwhelming.
To cut through the noise and get the definitive answer on which tools are used most by freelancers, Bonsai asked 15,000+ freelancers to submit and vote on the best freelance tools in each category. The result was the Freelance Stack.
Here are their findings on the top tools for freelancers in each category, plus a short description of each.
Time Tracking: Toggl
A very popular time tracking tool that has a free option and works for everyone from individuals to large teams. Track time with one click on any device or with multiple integrations, then create beautiful reports to show your client on where time was spent.
A beautiful calendar app that’s available on web, iOS, Android, and OSX. Aside from it’s great design, it includes many amazing features under the hood, like the ability to easily schedule meetings, integrate with multiple calendars or accounts (e.g., Facebook), and it supports time zones very well.
Contracts & Invoices: Bonsai
The easiest way to create solid contracts for any type of freelance work, then e-sign them, create invoices, and get paid online. The contracts are completely free and the invoices are just a dollar when paid online.
Accounting: Wave Accounting
Wave is an accounting tool for freelancers and small businesses. It includes invoicing and payments, general accounting tools, and even payroll. The tools are free, and you pay only for credit card payments, payroll, and support.
The voters were skewed towards designers, so Dribbble reigned supreme in the portfolio category. If you can score an invite, it’s a great place to showcase your work and interact with other designers. They’ve also recently launched Playbook, a more fully featured, and somewhat standalone portfolio app.
Project Management: Trello
Trello was another crowd favorite. It’s a very simple, flexible, and free way to organize your work. It can be used by you alone or in conjunction with a client. It’s used by everyone from freelancers to agencies to big companies like Google and Adobe.
Medium is a publishing platform noted for its great design and user experience, as well as its network sharing and finding great articles. Medium is used by individual and companies, and can even replace your own blog!
Icons: The Noun Project
Think of it as Dribbble, but for icons. Contributors will submit and tag icons of anything from general navigation to currency symbols to food types. You can use icons for free with attribution, or pay $1.99 per icon for it to be royalty free.
Learning: Creative Class
Learn from the best with Paul Jarvis, who guides you through finding clients, pricing your work, handling revisions, and maintaining good client relationships. Paul includes includes not only content, but a Slack group and monthly Q&A calls with him. We highlighted Paul recently, check out his best advice for freelancers.
Email is a pain for everyone, but Mixmax is like your email plus superpowers. It’s a layer on top of your Gmail that lets you do things like track emails, embed rich content, set reminders and snoozes on emails, and more. Perfect teaming your inbox and keeping up with clients.
Did we miss any of the essential freelance tools you use?
Share below in the comments and contribute your suggestions over on the Freelance Stack, to get your top tools the attention they deserve.
If you’re ready to start a freelance business, or get serious about growing your existing client base, download our free eBook, The Freelancer’s Roadmap.