Leaving a 9-5 job to go freelance is no longer a trend as it used to be. The stress, constraints, and dissatisfaction that come with this mode of work have made many quit their day job and venture into freelance or self-employment.
In an analysis released by the chief economist at Upwork, it was stated that an additional 4 million Americans started freelancing – increasing the number of freelancers in the US as of 2014 to 57 million in 2019. These many people, who account for 35% of the US workforce, also contribute about $1 trillion to the US economy.
However, enticing and liberating freelancing might seem; it comes with its many worries. At first, the euphoria of that freedom will get you all excited, and things might seem to go smoothly. A year or two down the line, things might not remain the same. You might find yourself overwhelmed with orders and unable to cope.
On the flip side, you might experience “job draught,” making your earnings decline and client base, flat line. This is expected, especially in situations where prior preparations were not properly made.
8 Categories of Tools to get the ground running as a Freelancer
Apart from gadgets that make it easier to work from home, you can use the following tools to help you hit the ground running properly and or fix your business.
- Cloud Storage Tools: Collaborating, sharing, and storing files have never been easier until the invention of cloud storage technology. From anywhere around the world, freelancers can share digital copies of deliverables with their clients with just a device and an Internet connection. Asides file sharing, this technology also doubles as a backup solution for files. Hard drives are redundant and susceptible to damage, making it an unsuitable option for backing up sensitive documents. Cloud storages offer 99% uptime and reliable data retention features. Two very popular tools under this category are Dropbox and Google Drive.
- Calendar Tools: Unlike a regular 9-5, freelancers never have the same kind of routine every day. Although it adds a new spice to the job, it might pose a lot of problems if not properly managed. For those who cannot keep a good track of time and what they work on, calendar tools will come in handy. The most popular tool under this category is Google Calendar, which, apart from its regular use, has a lot of new features that are geared towards business use cases.
- Productivity Tools: Working for long hours does not matter if there isn’t so much to show for it. The time spent working has to be optimized so the freelancer can be as efficient in his/her operations as possible. Simple actions like time-tracking, note-taking, and organizing to-do lists can go a long way in enhancing productivity as a freelancer. Examples of tools under this category are Notion and Bear Notes.
- Finance Tools: Of all the tasks a freelancer has to handle, this is often regarded as the most tedious. Having to manage income and expenditure, filing taxes, sending invoices, and payment of other freelancers’ invoices is often tasking and could result in errors. To solve this issue, Wave software brings all these major functionalities onto one platform to enable freelancers to operate with ease. It also presents reporting where all the important statistics can be monitored.
- Security Tools: Cybercrimes are on a steady rise, and because freelancers depend heavily on the Internet and several tools, they are often prone to attacks – especially in forms of viruses and hacks. The ability to work from anywhere gives freelancers the urge to connect to public Wi-Fi to perform their tasks, but this is risky. The use of a VPN and having antivirus software installed are two surefire ways of keeping a freelancer’s device secure from attacks such as viruses, man-in-the-middle attacks, etc.
- Project Management Tools: The most important thing in getting work done is to first break them down into tasks. Whether you are working alone or coordinating with others, it is always great to manage your projects efficiently so you can deliver optimally and on time. To help achieve this, tools like Trello, Asana, and Jira come in quite handy.
- Communication Tools: Constant and effective communication with clients and business partners is essential for the success of any business. Many people aren’t great with communication and find it hard to keep up with people. Tools such as Boomerang and Hunter.io can, however, help with scheduling emails, reaching a large number of people at a time, and collaborating on multiple projects using a single platform. Hardly would you find project members, especially developers, not using Slack for communication.
- Contracting Tools: One thing that makes freelancers stand out and seem professional is drawing up a contract for every gig to be taken. This helps ensure that the scope of work is defined, and you are paid in full when the work is complete. In the event of an altercation, the document signed by both parties can then be presented in the court for settlement. You do not need to have any legal background to do this as tools like Legalzoom and Bonsai have templates to aid this process.