When starting out as a freelancer, it can be difficult to manage all the bills, work schedule, project organization, invoicing and more, in addition to doing your work. When you worked for someone else, they took care of the business side of things. Now, everything is on your head. Thankfully, there are a number of online programs you can use to automate and get all the little business tasks under control so you can focus on doing what you love.
1. Google Docs (Free)
As the top free program for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations, Google Docs is a lifesaver for anyone who needs an easy way to get work done. Furthermore, Google Docs allows you to collaborate with businesses, clients or other freelancers on the same document – all you have to do is give them access to it, and you’ll be able to work from long distances to put together a mutual report, presentation or spreadsheet.
2. Basecamp ($49 – 149 /month)
While Google Docs is good for collaborating on single documents, if you need to work on an all-inclusive project strategy involving multiple schedules, meetings, presentations and more, you might need to drop some money on Basecamp. Perfect for the freelancer who never wants to be out of the loop, Basecamp provides, as the name would suggest, a home base for everyone working together on the same project. Give clients their own home space online with all the information that’s pertinent to them, and keep all your information organized with this online tool.
3. Harvest ($12 – 90 /month)
Harvest is an all-in-one time manager, allowing you to keep track of your and your employees’ hours, to print out professional invoices, and to develop budget and earnings reports with ease. This tool is ideal for people who need to look and feel more official as well as people who have a hard time handling money. Harvest provides templates and programs to handle all these business needs.
4. FreshBooks (Free – $39.95 /month)
FreshBooks is an accounting tool specifically designed to create and organize all your invoices to keep your books up to date. All of your invoices are kept online in an encrypted, secure environment, and you can send them via snail mail or email to any clients who might need them with the touch of a button. All you have to do is enter the appropriate information, and FreshBooks will generate an official invoice.
5. inDinero (Free – $99.95 /month)
For anyone concerned with their business’ long-term finances, inDinero monitors trends and numbers related to how much money you’re spending. It then offers predictions for future months based on the types of purchases and gains you’ve made in previous months, allowing you to prepare for financial issues in the future before they become a problem. Furthermore, inDinero does all this automatically by tracking your banking and invoicing information, meaning you don’t have to spend hours every day doing manual data entry!
6. Campfire ($12 – 99 /month)
Another collaboration app, Campfire is unique in that it provides real-time chat for business groups collaborating over the Internet. It handles conference calls, live image uploads and saves all the chat logs so you can go back and remember that one great idea everyone had. Finally, Campfire can integrate with Basecamp, allowing you to add chat functionality to your project management base of operations.
7. Backpack ($24 – 149 /month)
Another project management tool, Backpack is basically a self-organizing file cabinet for any and all media that you and your clients need to save. An easy-to-navigate system allows users to find whatever needs to be found, making Backpack an online office, so no matter where anyone is in the world, the office is accessible over the Internet.
8. Assembla ($4 – 249 /month)
Great for freelance developers who work with code, Assembla allows designers to collaborate with programmers and anyone else on a software development team over the Internet. Online code browsing, bug and issue tracking, and tools for everything from administration to branding make Assembla a one-stop online office geared specifically toward software development professionals.
9. Mailchimp (Free – 240 /month)
Want to keep track of your customers and do some market research? Mailchimp allows you to track the activity anyone who participates in an opt-in email advertising campaign so you can better engage them with your products and services. Marketing your freelance business is hard because you don’t know what your potential clients want. Mailchimp automates the whole process and provides you with easy-to-understand graphs, metrics and reports.
David is a writer for one of Australia’s leading consumer advice websites offering a thorough comparison of credit cards, including a range of business credit cards offering rewards.