Must Have Online Tools for freelancers (Students)
We all pick up bad habits when we work autonomously as a freelancer and these can have a detrimental effect on our income unless we address them properly and have a good solution. The first problem most of us suffer from is a lack of awareness of the problems. This means we have no way of knowing if what we are doing can be done more efficiently or more cost effectively. This can leave us behind some of our main competitors when it comes to securing repeat business or lengthy contracts. It can also mean we have less time to source those potential clients that are contacted by freelancers who seem to have plenty of time on their hands.
If you want to be the sort of freelancer who always has some spare time to chat and network on LinkedIn, you need to start using some essential tools. Here are some of the best on the market and they are proven to pay for themselves if they are not already free:
Time Tracking Software
If you are billing your clients by the hour, you should use time tracking software that keeps a record of your time working on their projects. The better packages will include automatic screen shot recording and this is great if you are a freelance writer, artist or graphic designer because the results are visible and you have proof of progress. This means there are no more disputes about the hours you have billed for because clients dispute the fact that you are actually working on their project. This also helps you concentrate on the project at hand and this makes you more productive.
Online Accounting Software
There are many online accounting packages on the market, but the best offer a complete turnkey solution for freelancers at a lower cost than a traditional number Cruncher. Accountant fees have always been a point of contention for anyone who has a freelance career, but now we can have all our accounts done online and there are even ways to submit everything required to HMRC directly from your accounting software. Bank reconciliation ensures you have all your transactions monitored and no expenses are unaccounted for as well as an automatic invoice settlement when clients pay you. QuickBooks Online is about the best for freelancers and SMEs as the software is scalable and you don’t pay for things like Payroll if you have no need for them.
Idea Capture and Retention Software
If you are a freelancer in the creative industry, develop software or are just in the habit of forgetting the important piece of information you had at completely the wrong moment, you need a transferable Post-it note system that is available everywhere. Some of us are constantly emailing ourselves useful web links, ideas and pretty much anything that grabs our attention. These emails remain unread a great deal of the time, but idea capturing software is a great way to remember everything that is important and categorizing it so that your brain can use it as a valuable resource. There are many free tools, but something like Evernote can capture and store almost any kind of document, audio or visual input and it is available everywhere. You can use it with mobile devices and desktop computers and it can even help with project management.
A Multi Device Syncing Calendar
Knowing when you have a networking event, an approaching deadline or an accounts submission deadline with HMRC coming up is critical to the smooth running of any freelancer’s business. Using something like QuickBooks Online mentioned above will cover the HMRC side of things, but the rest of your life needs organization. Many online calendars are great for making sure you get reminders, but the best around is Google calendar because you can receive reminders on your Android phone or any handset you have the Gmail app installed on and invitations or events you have in your email can be added to your calendar with one click.
Sync tools for saving passwords and Bookmarks
I personally use LastPass and Xmarks to sync all my bookmarks and passwords cross browsers and computers, XMarks is a subsidiary of LastPass and are 128 bit SSL encrypted, which is safe enough to use and store your password information to their server, but there are other tools to do the same too.
Author Bio (Guest)
JonJon Yeung is a freelance writer and enjoys writing about Technology, Entrepreneurship, Business and lives a Savvy lifestyle. He writes about software products for businesses (in particular Intuit QuickBooks Accounting Software http://www.intuit.co.uk). He also provides great tips for small businesses.
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