When I first started freelancing, I was armed simply by my laptop, a printer that I’d have to plug and unplug whenever I needed to use it, Gmail and Google Drive. I’d set up shop each day and scroll through email upon email and sift through countless folders on Drive in order to access documents for each of my clients. And whilst that sort of does the job, over time I’ve discovered a wealth of programs and apps that help me to work smarter, not harder.
One of the most important apps that I use daily is Slack. Slack is the answer to your work communications issues, especially if you work remotely but as part of a wider team. In fact, Slack is one of the tools that makes my business an international one! You can sign up members of a team and create ‘channels’, each with individual channels and threads as needed. Ideas for sub-channels could include: ‘Coffee Break’, ‘Round Table’ or even drilled down to your team.
This productivity app is widely used with my existing clients and it’s a great way for teams to see an overview of what’s going on in the wider process, as well as for other uses. At Tartle, we use it to move tasks through a project, from brainstorm to completion. At-a-glance, it allows you to see where tasks are being blocked and where you can assist a team member.
For somebody that works with multiple clients for an online output, Toby is my saviour. I’m a Google Chrome user through and through, and a tab enthusiast at that. I’d often find myself working with 8+ tabs open, only to be frustrated at having to find and reopen them the next time I worked for that particular client. With Toby, a Chrome extension, you can group tabs into saved collections and, at the click of a button, reopen them with needed.
If you track your billable hours, Harvest is a useful tool for keeping track of those. Available as an app, you can set up fresh accounts for each client and then hit the timer each day when you begin work to accurately track those hours. Even though I rarely work on an hourly basis, I find this a useful tool to track how many hours a type of project might take me to complete, ideal for those all-important rate refreshes as the year progresses.
When it comes to contracts as a freelancer, it’s a minefield, isn’t it? Agree.com is a handy platform that allows you to easily draft, create and send contracts to your clients, allowing them to sign and save them too. Ideal for fuss-free contract creation, and one less thing off your mind.
Last but not least, the humble Google Calendar. It’s all well and good to save appointments, meetings and booked clients on your phone or noted in a paper diary, but being able to see my day on-screen is a game-changer. Colour-coordinate to your heart’s content.
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