All freelancers need to track projects, send invoices, share screens, and do other necessary tasks to get the job done. At last count, there were about a billion software options out there to help you streamline your work flow. But what software for freelancers exists and is any of it actually worth it?
There are a wide variety of tools ranging from complex to simple; from expensive to free. Many freelancers thing they need these programs in order to be—or look—more professional. While that’s understandable, the fact is that professionalism doesn’t come from tools.
The best thing you can do to exude professionalism is to present yourself as a professional. Use your website, LinkedIn and Facebook pages, pitching emails, and your commitment to deadlines for maximum results. These low-tech tools will get you to your goal even if you never use fancy software.
Now, what software do I use, personally?
There are tons of options available, and I see targeted ads for new ones regularly. But I don’t invest in most of them unless they will pay for themselves and then some.
Spending for software programs can add up fast! You may sign up with the best intentions, but beware the trap. One minute, you’re signing up for a year’s subscription, and twelve months later you realize you never logged in.
In my experience, the simple, free solutions work just as well as—or better than—any paid software. (There is one exception, which I’ll go into in a minute.) I use Word docs to send invoices. I keep track of invoices using an Excel sheet. My clients usually pay me by check or PayPal. (I build the PayPal fee into my rate.)
I schedule appointments with clients through one-on-one emails to find a good day and time. If you encounter problems with clients forgetting meetings or calls, you could use Calendly to makes the appointment online and sent automatic confirmations. But, still, I really only recommend the free version.
The only reason to spend money on a program is if you can directly track your return on investment. In other words, if you’re spending $20 per month on a program, it should directly contribute at least $20 more income per month. If it doesn’t, then it’s just a flashy tool that makes you feel more professional.
There’s only one tool that I recommend you pay for. You must have a program that backs up the documents on your computer.
Technology will inevitably fail at some point. And you can never know when it will happen. There’s also a very real possibility that you will delete important files you’ll need later. In both of these scenarios, you’ll be relieved to have automated software backing up your files.
Some backup options are:
- Mac’s iCloud
- Google Drive
It doesn’t matter which backup tool you choose, as long as you pick one. It might take a while for it to pay for itself, but I guarantee: it will be worth it someday!
Your turn! Which software for freelancers do you pay for? Are you glad you do, or not? Let us know in the comments below!
Last Updated on April 14, 2021 by Kate Sitarz