These days, the Internet is flush with apps designed to benefit freelancers and solo entrepreneurs. Even though many apps promise you the world, not all of them deliver equally.
As a freelancer, your time is the most valuable asset you have, so when you do invest the time and (sometimes) money into downloading a promising new app, you need to make sure it measures up. Being more productive with your time is something we talk a lot about in The Freelancer’s Roadmap.
Here are 12 outstanding apps that will make your life easier, save you time, and propel you down the path to success.
Before you do a great job on your project and win epic praise from your clients (and bigger bonuses), first you need to actually win the bid. A common mistake even the most savvy freelancer makes, is sending off a good bid in lackluster fashion.
Luckily, Bidsketch makes submitting professional bids a snap. Proven proposal templates, electronic signature features, and seamless mobile design make proposals easier than ever to write, not to mention increasing your odds at winning bids, so you spend less time fishing for work and more time getting paid. Click here to sign up for a free 1 month trial.
Cushion’s slogan says it all: peace of mind for freelancers. There are a plethora of time management tools on the market, so what sets Cushion apart?
Its bread and butter feature is the schedule, which is simple, easy on the eye, and most importantly, visual in a unique sort of way. You can zoom out to a bird’s-eye view of your planned workload for an entire year, note hourly commitments to different clients (and color coordinate them) and track delays in payment or turnaround—because some things in life are, sadly, inevitable. You can try it for free and upgrade for just $8/mo after the free trial.
Due in part to its cheekily-spelled name and back-flipping cat on its product landing page, Toggl is an indispensable tool for tracking time worked for one client or end one hundred of them (and there are no limits to how many clients you can toggle).
You can track your time worked with a single click, track time offline, send pie charts to clients breaking down productivity and billable time, and sync up with lots of other great time management apps (more on that in a second), and the basic free version should be more than adequate for your needs.
Think of Trello as Pinterest for your projects. This gigantic and simple to use pinup board is especially useful for collaboration with others, as it adapts to the needs of your project, team members, and workflow.
You can upload files from cloud sources such as Google Drive and yes, you can sync Toggl to Trello so everyone you’re collaborating with knows exactly how much sweat and tears you’ve put into the project (and pay you handsomely for it). The best features of Trello are available for free, so it won’t cost you anything to sign up.
Perhaps every freelancer’s worst nightmare is losing track of important documents they’ve sent or received in Gmail, and given the constant flood of emails that permeates your inbox, occasionally things slip through the cracks and end up in the wrong folder. Avoid that headache and easily download all your emails using Duffel, a handy little free app that makes backing up your Gmail inbox a cinch.
When you do get paid, do it with Wave. This free app lets you invoice clients, keep the books, track receipts for deductible expenses, and so much more.
Whether you’re a solo freelancer or a small business owner—they designed the software specifically for businesses with 9 employees or less—Wave will make the accounting side of your freelance gigs easy. Did we mention it’s free? You should also check out this awesome class on Personal Finance for Freelancers to get a solid foundation for running the financial side of your creative business.
7. Effortless W-9 by TOMO
TOMO’s easy-to-use, extra secure W-9 platform allows freelancers and contractors of all types, to quickly complete and send a W-9.
What’s more, is that once you’ve filled out a W-9 using TOMO, you can save your data and create a profile (if you’d like), so you can easily manage and send requests in the future. Imagine a world with no more time spent dealing with W-9’s.
Remember when you were in middle school and you had to brainstorm ideas on a piece of notebook paper for an essay and you had all those kooky thought bubbles running off each other in radiating lines? MindMeister takes those brainstorm sheets from your 7th grade history classroom and into the real world, and the results are stunning.
Not only can you storm up your ideas for your next graphic design piece or blog post, you can also combine forces with collaborators and create the coolest, prettiest mind map in seconds. You’ll be churning out better ideas faster than ever with MindMeister, and you can even get started for free.
If the most valuable asset you have is time, then Freedom offers you the time-liberating experience of being locked out of all but the most essential features of your device. By blocking distracting, unnecessary apps on your phone or laptop you won’t give yourself a choice but to be more productive! And as the name suggests, it doesn’t cost a cent.
Want to have your client sign a legally binding agreement, but can’t afford to hire a fancy lawyer to write up a contract for you? Then Shake is exactly what you’re looking for.
Once you answer a few simple questions (“when is the deadline?” “how many drafts/revisions are included in the cost,” etc) Shake will draw up a proper contract full of crunchy, delicious legal jargon. Avoid the J.D. shakedown and download Shake, currently available on iOS and Android.
Evernote is your task manager, your word processor, your design board, your collaborative messenger, and your slide presentation show all rolled up into one sleek, user-friendly app.
It works across all devices, is available offline, stores emails, and pretty much has the capability to be the one app you’ll ever need to build beautiful content. Are its best features available in the free version? No. Is it worth paying just $50 a year to get the full bounty this app offers? Absolutely. We even have a class that’ll teach you how to use Evernote for Your Business.
Every freelancer needs to be using legally binding, bulletproof contracts in their businesses. Otherwise, you’re exposing yourself to the possibility of a freelance client refusing to pay for services rendered. Bonsai is your all-in-one solution to gathering contract templates for various different activities, within multiple industries, and adapting them to work for your freelance business.
You can even download a free template contract right on Bonsai’s homepage that’s guaranteed to be legally binding within the United States.
If you’re starting or looking to grow your own freelance business, download our free eBook, The Freelancer’s Roadmap.