Running a freelance business can be challenging. At any one time you're pulled in a hundred different directions. So how do you stay sane? How do you keep things in order? Well structured work flows and a reliable set of freelance tools will help you to survive and thrive.
Below you'll find a collection of 90 apps and services that will help keep your freelance business organised. You'll be ready to take on anything the freelance gods throw at you.
Feel free to add any other freelance tools or services that I've missed below in the comments. Good luck!
Managing clients and projects
Love it or hate it, Basecamp is the go-to project management service. Simple, easy to manage and plans that cater to most needs. Plans start at $20.
Trello is a Jack of all Trades and but excels at very specific tasks. It can be used for virtually any organisational task your freelance business could need. And best of all… Plans start at $0.
It’s a rare day that I don’t use Google Drive for some task or other. Whether it’s a spreadsheet to see which leads I need to follow up on or a Document to write a simple email draft. Necessary and inevitable. Plans start at $0.
Research, collect and organise information from all over the web and have it with you wherever you go. Another daily app for me. Plans start at $0.
Project management built for consultants by consultants. Get your clients actively involved in their project. Plans start at $24.
Podio is a different kind of project management that is aimed at freelance creatives. They have a whole host of extras you can add to their basic service. Plans start at $0.
Invision (3 months free with this link)
Invision describes itself as a prototyping, collaboration & workflow platform. I've been a customer for several years and their service just keeps getting better. I use it in every project and my clients love it. Plans start at $0, but if you want to use their paid plan free for 3 months, this link: Get 3 months for free
Another service I use on a daily basis. Send screenshots, short videos, documents and pretty much anything else you can think of straight from your desktop. Plans start at $0 but upgrading to the paid plan is money well spent.
Getting things done
If you want to know where and how you spend your time when working, then Time Doctor could be for you. Their analytics can help you evaluate and improve your productivity. It’s free to try for 30 days and prices begin at $0.
Wasted hours is billable time down the drain. Find out just how much of your week you spend on Facebook, Twitter, Photoshop and any other system you use. Prices start at $9.
No matter how you price projects, if you don't know how much time your spending on a given task, you could be losing money. If you're not tracking your time, I urge you to start. Prices start at $0.
Security is a concern for anyone on the internet. The more services we use, the more passwords we need to keep track of. 1Password does a great job of creating, storing and coordinating of all your sensitive data. Prices vary according to platform and country.
You're out at a business meeting and you pick up the tab, do you mess around with a receipt? You might do, but scan it to your smartphone and you're done. Keep your paper trail to a tidy minimum. Prices start at $2.99
If you're like me and have very little internet self-control, then you could probably use Freedom. Force yourself to focus by blocking out the pesky internet for any time period you choose. Prices start at $10
This isn't an app I've ever used but I know freelancers who swear by it. Text expander lets you create custom keyboard shortcuts that translate into regularly used text snippets and images. You can now stop typing your email address 30 times a day! Prices start at $35
Zapier automates your manual workflows. It supports over 300 web apps and connects them so you can easily move data between one service and another. Automate those tedious tasks. Prices start at $0.
Ah, todo lists. We love to hate them. When there are so many apps to choose from it's easy to spend too much time selecting the right one. Be careful not to spend too much time setting up lists and not actually checking them off. Get it done! Prices start at $0.
Email Marketing and Services
If you send out newsletters then no doubt you already know of Mailchimp. It's a great place to begin your email marketing. However, depending on the complexity of your needs, you may outgrow it sooner than you think. Prices start at $0.
Drip spans the gap between Mailchimp and Infusion Soft. With more of a focus on marketing automation, it delivers more bang for your buck. If you want more control over your email marketing, Drip may well be for you. Prices start at $49.
Getting information about your leads can be challenging. Rapportive plugs into Gmail and gives you vital Linkedin information about your contacts. Make your outreach a little easier, and more personal. Price: $0.
We all like to be at inbox zero. Sometimes this can be near impossible. Boomerang reminds you to follow up with people by sending an email back to your inbox in a set number of days. This allows you to keep track of your obligations and helps to keep your inbox nice and tidy. Prices start at$0.
A Gmail alternative for those concerned with privacy and Google's policies on data. Prices start at $10 per year.
How many email subscriptions do you have? Probably more than you think. Unroll.me will find all of your email subscriptions and package them up into single digestible emails. It will even allow you to unsubscribe from newsletters with a single click. Prices start at $0.
Prices start at $6 per month.
Prices start at $8 per month.
Prices start at $0 per month.
Subfolio (self hosted)
Prices start at $0.
Prices start at $6 per month.
A freelance business won't last long without clients. Nusii is designed to help creative businesses write, send and manage proposals without fighting software or digging through old files. Win more projects in less time. Prices start at $29 per month.
What did we do before Stripe? If you work with clients in another country then a secure, fast payment provider is a must. Stripe have made it beyond easy. Prices start at 2.9% + 30¢ per successful charge.
I use Plasso in conjunction with Stripe. It allows me to build a "store front" on top of Stripe. This makes collecting client or product payments even easier. Prices start at 0% per credit card transaction.
Managing clients is at the core of what we do. Knowing where in your funnel a client is at is fundamental to running a well oiled business. Contactually will help you achieve this. Prices start at $0.
Do you fly by the seat of your pants and hope that your finances will be OK in 3 0r 6 months? Wise Cash's financial forecasting can get you out of a jam before it ever happens. See how it can help your freelance business. Prices start at $24 per month.
Accounting sucks, there are no two ways about it. If you're also an avid numbers hater, or simply need to save time then check out their freelance account. Prices start at $20.
What with all this accounting, financial forecasting and proposal writing, you're going to need an invoice service to make sure you get paid. Hiveage is the new incarnation of Curdbee. It easy to set up, has a free plan and can be customised to match your branding. Prices start at$0.
Losing data can be a catastrophe. All of your work, personal information and not to mention time invested can go up in smoke if you don't have a backup plan. Crash Plan promises to keep your data securely backed up so you don't have to worry. Prices start at $0.
If you need a legal document and don't have the financial means to contract a lawyer, check out Docracy. Prices start at $0.
Client onboarding can come in many forms, and sometimes quite literally. If you ask potential clients to fill out a questionnaire before getting the ball rolling, then Type Form is a great way to get off on the right foot. Prices start at $0.
If you use paid advertising you should check out Dyno. Dyno lets you easily customise your landing page copy to perfectly match your advert copy. What does this mean? It increases your chances of converting visitors into leads/clients. No coding needed. Prices start at $19.
Blog post ideas can sometimes be tough to come by. Hubspot's topic generator might be what your creative juices need to get kick started into action. Prices start at $0.
Content research, influencer and blogger prospecting and outreach CRM - this pretty much summarises what Ninja Outreach does. Build a list of people to reach out to for your link building efforts and content promotion. Prices start at $29 per month.
Another idea generation tool (amongst other things) that works a little differently. Check out which posts are popular on other blogs in your sector. Just type in the URL and watch the results roll in. Prices start at $0.
Slideshare is a great way to get your content in front of a different audience. If you have an offline presentation or article that could be repurposed as a slide show, Slide Share could be a great fit. Prices start at $0.
Finding out what your customers or audience want can be difficult and time consuming. One way to reduce the friction is to create a quick survey, and that's where Survey Monkey comes in. Prices start at $0.
Appsumo are taking over! If you want to start building your tribe then Appsumo is here to help you. They have a huge collection of tools to help you build your audience and the majority of them are free. Go see!
Stock image sites
Prices start at $1.
Prices start at $10.
Prices start at $0.
Do you work remotely? Do you use a cell phone, do you use multiple phone numbers? Do you need a toll free number for customer support? Grasshopper can help you stay organised and maintain a professional appearance. Plans start at $12 per month and 6c a minute.
The app I love to hate. I use Skype on nearly a daily basis. Screen sharing is key to remote project presentations, making the premium plan worth it for that alone. On the downside, the UI seems to update on a weekly basis and every release seems to get buggier. Even still, Skype remains a constant in the freelance business. Plans start at $0.
As more and more freelancers form part of remote teams, (if only on a per-project basis) group communication has become more and more relevant. Slack does a great job. Right from the initial onboarding you feel good about using Slack. Prices start at $0.
The main alternative to Skype. I know a lot of people swear by it, but personally I've never had much luck. If you need video and chat it might just work. Prices start at $0.
Organising meetings is never easy, especially when it comes to different time zones. Meetme takes care of that. Setup the times you're available and send the link to your client. They'll see your availability in their local time. Stay organised and look like a pro. Prices start at $0.
Social Media Tools and Services
Dig into your Twitter analytics. Find out who's following you, where they're based and when they tweet. Prices start at $0.
I recently started using Social Bro in conjunction with Buffer. The feature I like best is "Best time to tweet". It let's me know when my most active followers are online. This then schedules with Buffer. A nice combination. Prices start at $0.
Being able to schedule your tweets is genius enough, but seeing how far your social reach extends and other analytical data makes Buffer a must have. Plans start at $0.
Canva is a simple, drag-and-drop design solution for creating great looking social media visuals. It has a huge library of professionally designed templates that are free to use in your social media posts. Check it out!
I use Click to Tweet at the end of our Nusii newsletters. It allows you to create a handy URL that automatically opens up a pre-populated tweet, making it easy for people to spread your message. Prices start at $0.
If you are looking to get a little exposure for your blog, info product or service, then Pay with a Tweet can be a great way to "go viral". One of our most tweeted posts The Ultimate Proposal Cheatsheet was so popular thanks to this very service. Plans start at $0.
If you're a social diva, or just happen to handle multiple Twitter accounts then Tweet Deck can keep tabs on what's going on. Prices start at $0.
If you're putting together reasearch, copy or documents as part of a small team then Hackpad is ideal. It boasts real time collaboration and editing all in one slick interface. Recently acquired by Dropbox I'm sure we'll soon be seeing some changes. Prices start at $0.
Getting feedback on your writing is a must. Draft allows you to invite others to read, and perhaps more importantly make edits to your writing whilst leaving your version untouched. Prices start at $0.
I have a tendency to waffle when I write. Hemingway helps you remove all the fluff from your writing and keep your posts more focussed. A handy writing companion. Prices start at $0.
Design leads straight to your inbox, every Monday. (Free)
Jobs for designers and developers courtesy of the premier design platform.
Creative jobs for freelancers.
Where companies and creative professionals meet to make a better web.
One of the best known online magazines for creatives also has a pretty large job board.
Not content with showcasing some of the world's best design, Awwwards now helps you find your next star client.
Over 5,000 of the world's best startups are hiring on AngelList
Jobs for designers.
Jobs with new and established startups.
The best place to find and list jobs that aren’t restricted by commutes or a particular geographic area.
Freelance leads sent to your inbox.
SEO Tools and Services
Moz are the kings, or at least the Grand Dukes of SEO. And they put a lot of their knowledge at your fingertips. With a wide range of free and paid tools, blog articles and a community setup, it's a place you should definitely check out.
I couldn't mention SEO without including GA, even if I don't understand half of its features. Google Analytics is the standard when it comes to analytics. Its free and easy to setup, even if it does take a lifetime to fully understand. Plans start at $0.
Analytics done in a meaningful way. It has great social integrations built in, which means you can see just how well your content marketing efforts are going. In continual growth and small enough to care. Plans start at $18 per month.
The podcast for lesser-known folks building web products.
Better Clients. More Money. A Happier Life.
The show for independent professionals who build the web.
The podcast about the business side of web design, recorded live almost every two weeks.
A podcast for freelancers working on the web, discussing the everyday ups and downs of freelancing, plus web industry news, reviews and interviews.
A web design podcast for all those involved in designing, developing or running a website on a daily basis.