In 2016, more and more people are beginning to opt out of traditional office work to enter the unique and lucrative world of freelancing. Some experts even predict that by 2020 freelancers will be 50% of the world’s workforce. Working from home, a cafe, or on the road offers many benefits, greater flexibility in one’s schedule and location, and the opportunity to spend more time on family or passion projects. And due to better technology, tools, and job platforms for remote work, it’s now easier than ever to be a high-performing freelancer in any industry.
However, without the structure offered by the traditional workplace and 9-to-5 schedule, freelancers and designers can find themselves struggling to organize their work and remain self-driven. The following 7 tools are the best free options available for freelancers to stay on track and make the most of remote work opportunities in 2016:
RescueTime – It’s easy for freelancers to fall prey to distraction. RescueTime keeps you honest by quietly tracking your computer use. At the end of the day, a detailed time report is created based on your activity on certain websites and apps. To dissuade yourself from bad habits, you can set up limits on how long you allow yourself on certain websites and applications, and once you’ve hit your limit, RescueTime will block your access.
TopTracker – TopTracker is another time tracking tool that allows you to easily manage your tracking so that it doesn’t become yet another time sink. Automatic screen or webcam shots make it easy to corroborate your work efforts for clients, and though they may seem intrusive, TopTracker offers privacy settings like screenshot blur. It also offers a comprehensive productivity report that makes it easy to identify places for improvement across unlimited projects. It’s also universally compatible, so freelancers can sync TopTracker to any of the freelance platforms where they find work as a way to build trust with clients.
Wave – Freelancers are really just running their own small businesses, and small businesses need to track invoicing, payments, and accounting just like any other. That’s where Wave comes in. Wave allows users to make, send, and track professional, encrypted invoices, as well as set up automatic reminders on late payments. Synced with the invoicing and payment tools, Wave’s accounting function helps you understand how your business is performing by generating real-time reports like balance and sales tax sheets.
ProposalPad – Creating professional project proposals for bids on freelance marketplaces like Upwork is necessary to freelance success, yet there are few free options for quality templates. Instead of simply supplying boilerplate templates, ProposalPad helps you develop personalized proposals. Create proposals with any distinguishing logos you may use; add text, images, and screenshots; and keep track of your references, testimonials, and rates of success. Security is also a priority for ProposalPad, which offers encryption and an online signature tool that captures clients’ actual signatures on contracts when your proposal is accepted.
Trello – Many freelancers will find themselves remotely collaborating with an already established team, a situation that can present serious problems for workflow. Have no fear! Trello is an app that works as a pin-up board for teams to share their progress on certain parts of joint projects, keeping everyone in the loop on team priorities and connected to shared resources. Trello also syncs well with productivity tracking apps by tracking time on your pinned projects, so you can be adequately celebrated and compensated for the work you’ve put in!
Mixmax – One of the greatest difficulties in freelancing is managing communications across several projects via email. Important messages slip through the cracks, replies languish without being sent, and the same, simple messages are written out over and over again. Mixmax is a Gmail extension that allows for easy email tracking, ‘send later’ notifications, email scheduling, and customizable templates. Mixmax even allows you to personalize mass emails for each recipient so as to keep you in good stead with clients. To make scheduling easier, the app integrates with Google Calendar to help you manage your availability and avoid complicated overlaps.
With these free tools, freelancers can keep themselves organized, stay productive, and manage their businesses with the best of them. Have any other free tools that might be of use to those in need? Comment below!