While the coronavirus crisis may have prompted a sharp increase in the number of remote workers worldwide, the truth is that freelancing and the gig economy have been on the make for several years now.
The benefits of freelancing are obvious: you get to be the master of your own time and destiny, get out exactly what you put in, and work from anywhere in the world so long as you have an internet connection.
But not everyone succeeds in this game: to compete in an increasingly flooded market takes tenacity, dedication, and the right equipment for the job. Here, we go over the ten top tools for freelancers in 2021 to help you get ahead of the rest.
One of the best deals on the market for freelancers, Trello offers an entirely free organization system. You can create boards, tasks, and multiple columns to keep the tasks in order.
The interface is user-friendly and easy to master, excellent if you’re working alone or with a small team. A free account gives you up to ten shared boards and the ability to collaborate with other team members, while personal boards are unlimited.
Each task or card can be assigned to multiple team members, and you can add requirements, due dates, checklists, and upload photos and documents. Email notifications ensure team members are informed when a card is moved or adjusted.
One of the best things about being a freelancer is the borderless lifestyle. If you want to, you can work from a kibbutz in Israel, a beachside cafe in Belize, or any city park that takes your fancy.
A downside to this freedom is your digital security. The free, unsecured wifi networks freelancers rely on often are riddled with potential cyber risks, such as man-in-the-middle attacks. Working on open networks puts both you and your client at risk.
Connect your devices to a VPN for security and keep enjoying the perks of free public wifi. VPNs work by using tunneling and encryption to secure data transmissions when you’re working online. Just choose a reputable, paid provider and avoid free VPNs, as these have been linked to third-party data sharing. According to the online reviews, the ExpressVPN app is one of the best on the market.
PomoDone helps you get the best out of your existing organizational tools such as Asana, Trello, Evernote, Microsoft Outlook Tasks, etc.
The app keeps you on track through timeboxing, a methodology that can boost productivity and make you more efficient. Connect PomoDone when you’re on the job and work in bursts of 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break.
The app also effectively tracks your time across multiple projects and clients. Time boxes are logged to your account automatically and can be filtered by project, date, and more. Download the data to CSV, and you’re halfway towards your accounting obligations.
Everyone needs a little design help from time to time, and if you’re not at the stage where you can afford to hire design services yet, Canva is an excellent tool. Use it to create bright and exciting logos, social media graphics, banners, and more.
The interface is super easy to use, thanks to the drag-and-drop feature that allows you to move text and image elements around and test out different layouts.
While the basic version is free, you are limited in what you can do and which design elements you can use. With a premium subscription, you get greater functionality and more choices.
Perhaps the coolest thing about Bonsai is that it lets you create contracts and invoicing in one easy-to-use app. As most freelancers know — or have learned the hard way — working to spec without a contract leaves you vulnerable and potentially out of pocket.
With Bonsai, you can whip up a solid contract quickly and with minimal effort. Once your client is on board, you can use the app to send out your invoice.
The hardest thing about tax season is that it happens every year! Get ahead of your accounts and make sure you’re ready to pay the taxman with Wave. The software is free, intuitive, and offers several features, including invoicing and payments.
Connect your bank account to the app, and it will automatically pull in your transactions so you can sort through incoming and outgoing payments. If you have a team, Wave can even take care of your payroll, but for this, you’ll have to sign up for one of the premium plans.
If you’re a content creator, having a dedicated space and your URL can make an awful lot of difference to the kind of clients you attract and the rates you charge.
Journo Portfolio allows you to upload your digitally published work and organize your work. If you’re short on time, an automatic feature sorts your pieces for you by the date of publishing. Even if you’re still getting on the ladder, you can use the platform to showcase your work in PDF form while you work towards your first bylines.
For just US$10 per month, you can upload an unlimited amount of work and create multiple pages for testimonials or contact info. You can also choose your URL.
Just like writers, graphic designers and artists need a dedicated space to showcase their best work. Dribbble is a clean, intuitive portfolio platform for designers of all kinds. Getting in is more complex than other tools we’ve highlighted as you need an invite, but it is worth the effort.
Dribbble also functions as a social network for creatives. It’s the ideal place to find collaborators and network with others in your field.
Once all your tools are set up, and you’re working across multiple platforms, keeping on track of your passwords becomes harder. Unless you’re a savant, some help here is critical. That’s where LastPass comes in; the app provides a user-friendly browser extension and stores all your passwords securely for you.
Your password “vault” is secure with an extended master password, which becomes the only password you need to remember.
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