Before I co-founded my content marketing company, Masthead Media, I spent a few years earning a living as a freelance journalist. There are a few things I miss from that time (reporting trips to tropical locations among them!) but one thing I was thrilled to give up: tons of paperwork!
Thanks to the widespread adoption of SaaS (software as a service), freelancers and contractors can now manage their careers fully online and in the cloud. No more scraps of paper with notes, invoices, and ideas cluttering up your desk and random notebooks filled with to-do lists. Those days are gone.
Now you can keep track of brilliant ideas as well as who owes you money when you get on board with technology that makes freelancers' lives easier. Yes, they require small investments in some cases, but these tools enable freelancers to operate like the small businesses that they actually are. (They're also business expenses you can write off at tax time.)
Here are some of the top technology platforms and tools I recommend to our Masthead Media freelancers:
I use this platform keep track of all of my clients and potential clients--it stores all of our email conversations in one places, and enables me to make notes, reminders to follow up, etc.
This is an essential accounting tool for freelancers and small business owners. You can also use QuickBooks to manage expenses related to freelancing--which will be so helpful during tax time.
You need project management software to keep assets in one place--Basecamp is a great one. In addition to helping keeping projects organized between freelancers and clients at the content company I co-founded, I use Basecamp to create to-do lists for each project, and my own master to-do list. I'd also recommend familiarizing yourself with the work management platform, Asana, as many freelancers use it. It can help you get organized, and stay on track with meeting your deadlines.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
This tool enables me to find the right people at any company before I pitch them. Freelancers can use it to locate the best contact at a potential clients' company.
At Masthead Media, we use Harvest to track and report hours for every employee on every project. Free tools like Toggl and MyHours can help you determine how much time you're spending on each freelance project and assignment, which can give you insights into your hourly rate.
This is a great free design tool for making presentations look snazzy, creating social assets (for your or your clients), and editing photos for your freelance blog or website. Even if you're not visually oriented, you'll be pretty amazed at what you can create in Canva.
I truly could not live (at work, at least) without the G-suite. I love using Google Drive to send documents to my team, track revisions, and keep our inboxes from getting jammed up. Lots of freelancers keep track of assignments in Google spreadsheets and submit content and presentations to clients via shared Google Documents. It's free to use--which means you'll save on getting a pricey Microsoft Office suite for your new computer.
Calendly or Doodle
These scheduling tools for freelancers help you save time when setting up meetings, interviews, and face-to-face time with clients. No more back and forth emailing to determine a time to talk with Calendly. Doodle helps you determine the best time for any event while offering polls for suggested activities.
I use this app to stay organized and keep all my notes for articles, story ideas, and business ideas in one place. The best part is that it's synced across devices, so I can access those notes from my phone, desktop and tablet--or log on to the same notes from a remote computer.
Hootsuite and Buffer
These platforms help you schedule and manage content for your social media presence. Buffer helps you manage all of your social accounts in one place and schedule content as you come across it with a browser extension.
If you're a freelancer who manages your own website--or that of a client's--it's essential to learn and use the Google Analytics platform. GA enables you to better understand how your visitors are finding you, how long your audiences are staying engaged, and which pieces of content are ultimately driving action.
This app locks you out of devices--or certain websites or the Internet itself--so you can stop multitasking and get things done. (It's one freelancers like Diana Kelly Levey have told me about that I intend to try.)
Now that you have these tools helping you manage your business you'll have more time for creativity, idea generation and securing new clients.