entrepreneur, startup, start-up

5 Must Have Tools For Freelancers

The freelancing industry is at its peak. At least that is the Freelancing in America 2020″ report made by Upwork and Freelancers Union states.

59 million Americans freelanced in the past year & this is 36% of the total US workforce”
“$1.2 trillion in annual earnings from freelancing”

One of the skills propelled to the top of the list is a freelancing career in digital marketing.

Most important insights from the report:

  • Over 57 million Americans freelanced this year (a third of America’s workforce). That is 4 million more than in 2014
  • The younger generation is more likely to freelance. About 53% Gen Z and 40% Millennials freelanced this year
  • Technology is making freelancing possible. 77% of freelancers say the freelance market was made easier thanks to technology
  • Freelancing gives flexibility – You can move and do remote work from anywhere on the planet
  • Education needs to adapt – 89% of freelancers wish education better prepared them for freelance work
  • Freelancing opens up opportunities – 46% of freelancers say that freelancing is enabling them to work whereas they couldn’t have done so in a traditional market due to personal circumstances
  • Freelancing is paid well – Freelancers doing skilled services earn $28 an hour. That is more than 70% of workers overall in the US.
  • Freelancers are skilled – 45% provide skills like programming, marketing, IT, and business consulting
  • Freelancing is becoming a long-term career choice – For the first time in history, 50% of freelancers said they see freelancing as something they’d do for the rest of their lives

“With a strengthening labor market, we will increasingly see people work on the terms that they prefer, and for many, that means freelancing” – Adam Ozimek, Upwork Chief Economist.

When talking about terms that people prefer, we think about freedom. Most people start freelancing because they get tired of their boss, 9-5 work hours, and meetings they don’t want to be in. Freelancing indeed does solve most of those “problems,” but it has some downsides as well.

Those downsides include:

  • Isolation
  • No leave entitlements
  • Lack of professional development
  • Inconsistent work and cash flow
  • Hustling 24/7 to find new clients

It’s not easy being a Successful Freelancer. Probably the biggest downside is having to run everything by yourself. That includes sales, marketing, doing taxes, contracts, invoicing. 

These are the challenges faced by freelancers:

  • Improving communication with clients
  • Getting paid on time (accounting and billing)
  • Task management and team collaboration
  • Brand building and marketing
  • Leads and Sales funnel

On the positive side, there are plenty of tools out there to help you out in your freelancing career. Today we talk about five tools that will help you tackle the challenges you face.

1.    Improving Communication with Clients – Millo E-Mail Templates Bundle

Are you tired of thinking about what you’ll write in your next email? How are you going to sell your pitch? Need to follow up?

Millo E-Mail Templates Bundle is just what the name says it is. The team at Millo (who is helping freelancers and solopreneurs thrive since 2009) created 15 proven client email templates to help you communicate with clients.

The templates include necessary templates that help you with client pitch, client referrals request, follow-up emails to the client, and help you look for new clients.

For a one-time cost of $9, you get templates written by professionals and used with actual clients and businesses. 

2.    Getting paid on time (accounting and billing) – Invoice.to

I chose Invoice.to because we love simplicity. It’s a beautiful invoice generator integrated with Credit Card (Stripe), Bitcoin (Stripe), and PayPal. You need a Google account to use it, and it stores, sends and manages all your invoices.

With two mouse clicks, you can see all your clients in one place, or you can see all your invoices. You can filter the invoices based on if they are scheduled, paid, pending, or overdue.

It’s the simplest and fastest option available. 

 

3.    Task Management and Team Collaboration – Trello

Trello is a project management tool designed to help individuals and teams. 

All projects on Trello are called boards. Each board is categorized using lists. The lists have individual cards with additional details on projects, checklists, discussions, and comments.

There is a facility with an unlimited number of boards, lists, and cards in the free version of Trello. And you can search for them quickly using the search bar at the top. 

An example of using Trello would be having a board named Writers. The board would have three lists: To Do, Doing, Done.

On that board, you’d have all your writers. They’d chose an article from the “To Do” list and drag and drop it into the “Doing” list. After they finish writing the article, they can attach the copy under that card and move it to “Done.”

There is an Activity Log on the sidebar, and tracking progress is effortless.

Trello provides you with basic functionality in its free version. However, if you are looking for something advance – there are also paid versions of Trello:

  • Trello Gold – For individuals (larger attachments, customizable backgrounds, saved searches, Power-Ups)
  • Trello Business Class – For Companies
  • Trello Enterprise – For Large Companies

I won’t go into detail about paid versions of Trello because I believe the free version is more than enough for a freelancer/solopreneur.

4.    Brand Building and Marketing – MailChimp

Just like I chose to write about Trello for Task Management and Team Collaboration, there was only one tool on my mind when it came to brand building and marketing.

Everyone in the freelance world should know about MailChimp

It’s the first newsletter tool that springs to mind. It’s an all-in-one marketing platform that allows you to grow your audience, create campaigns, and build your brand.

“With Mailchimp’s help, we’ve scaled our business nationally with one million members and counting.” – Daisy Downs

The free plan allows you to send emails to 10,000 to 2,000 subscribers. Also, most of the tools and templates are accessible to the free account. 

There are three paid versions:

  • Essentials
  • Standard
  • Premium

But just like with Trello, I won’t go into detail on those because the free version should be more than enough if you are starting or don’t have a big client list.

5.    Leads and Sales funnel – Pipedrive

Pipedrive is a famous name in the CRM (customer relationship management) software category. 

With Pipedrive, you can:

  • Manage leads and deals – You can make custom chatbot and web forms that will get more hot leads into your sales pipeline.
  • Track Communications – Track past calls, emails, and contact history
  • Automate and Grow – Use the power of artificial intelligence to boost sales by getting personalized tips 
  • Have insights and reports – Reports on products, activities, teams, and more to gain actionable insights that improve sales performance
  • Privacy and Security – Your data is backed up daily in multiple locations
  • Have a mobile app integration – Start every day with a summary of what’s coming up and make changes to deals, activities, and contacts on the go App Store

You can try out Pipedrive for 14 days for free, no need to enter your credit card. The basic plan of $12.50 per user per month (billed annually) is enough for a freelancer. 

On an ending note – Freelancing is not easy. You are juggling multiple tasks in a day and are expected to meet tight deadlines and manage the business aspect of being a freelancer. The tools mentioned above can help you overcome the challenges and help you succeed as a freelancer.

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