The freelance life can be tough. Negotiations with clients, deadlines and time-tracking, invoices to file and follow up, can all come together to bog you down. So try these apps and guides that can relieve the burden a bit.
None of the tools in this article will help you find a gig. There are special freelance job boards for that. What we are concentrating on is the actual work part, so that you are more efficient and productive.
The Freelancers Union is a New York-based organization that seeks to protect and empower freelancers with anything they might need. You will need to sign up for free membership, and then you can check out the free resource stack they offer.
While some of it is New York or US-related, most of the resources are things anyone can use. There’s an invoice template, a tax habits checklist, answers about health insurance, and a guide to the small claims court. As an independent worker, you need to be prepared for any and all eventualities, which is what the Freelancers Union covers in this stack.
The Freelancer’s Union also provides an official app to help you find a freelance-friendly lawyer in case things go bad. But if you follow the guides in their resource stack, hopefully, it should never reach that stage. A union like this is one of the best reasons to go freelance.
2. What Is My Day Rate? (Web): Find Your Daily or Hourly Rate With Hidden Costs
You need to figure out your rate before you ever approach a job because that’s the make-or-break question in most situations. What Is My Day Rate is a simple web app to calculate your worth.
The app asks you to state how much you want to earn annually. Currency doesn’t matter, put in a number. In a second, it will spit out what your day rate or your hourly rate should be. The cool part is that the app explains the formula. It’s not as simple as amount divided by 365.
What Is My Day Rate takes into account various factors like the number of working days in the year, accounting for public holidays based on your place of residence? It also adds sick days and paid leaves, as well as a generous accounting of the non-billable work you’ll do as a freelancer. Everything is put together to come at the figure. And you can change these factors to recalculate too.
It’s a much more real-world view of what your rate should be, and an invaluable tool for those who are new to freelance. These are the hidden costs you won’t account for, so the app does it for you.
3. And.Co’s Freelance Contract (Web): Get an Airtight Contract to Protect Your Interests
Being a freelancer can mean getting into legal issues over copyrights and other things. To protect yourself, make use of the Freelancers Union’s contract creator, made in association with And.Co.
In a step-by-step process, the guide takes you through the process of creating a contract so that there are no misunderstandings later. The Freelancers Union has created this new standard so that it’s a familiar document for both you and your clients. Just key in information where asked, and you’ll have a new contract in no time. Give it a digital signature and send it to your client, who can then sign and approve it.
In general, And.Co is an excellent tool for freelance professionals. It mixes invoicing, time tracking, project management, and other freelance needs into one app. It can also be a bit overwhelming at first, so give it a try.
4. TopTracker (Windows, Mac, Linux): Free Time-Tracker With Automatic Screenshots
Freelancers often need to charge your clients by the hour, and so you have to track how much time you are spending on their work. A time tracking software is an easy way to do it. And TopTracker is perhaps the best free program for desktop users.
It includes everything that some of the other good time tracking apps have, but with one difference: it automatically takes a screenshot while you’re working. This is legitimate proof that you were doing your client’s work, in case they ever doubt you. It’s a choice, so you can switch off screenshots, delete them, or blur them to protect privacy.
Apart from that, the other thing I really liked about TopTracker was that it is free for an unlimited number of projects. Most other time-tracking apps will limit how many projects or users you can add before needing to pay to unlock the full software.
If TopTracker isn’t for you, try out Toggl, which many people reckon is the best time-tracking app for mobile and desktop.
5. Invoice.to (Web): Quick Invoice Generator and Tracker
I have been freelancing for several years and looked at a lot of invoice generators. I always fell back to Office software and the awesome free invoice templates available for it. But Invoice.to might make a convert out of me yet.
Sign in with your Google ID if you want to record your invoices, or don’t sign in and use it as a no-registration tool to quickly generate a bill. Fill in the blanks where required for your name or company’s name, the client’s name and address, payment methods, and the rest of the details. You can even connect the Invoice.To to your Stripe or Paypal account to track payments.
Once you’re done, click the little green arrow at the bottom for an auto-composed email from your Gmail. Attach the new invoice as a PDF and send it to your client. Easy-peasy.
Take a Freelancer Course, It’s Worth It
As a freelance professional, you have to manage much more than your work alone. You are now your own boss, and you are basically running your own company with you as the employee. If you’re a newly independent worker, it can be worth your while to take one of these courses that will change your freelance life.