Tools for freelancers and consultants

Freelancers and Consultants

There are many reasons why so many professionals these days are leaning towards a freelance career. The freedom, flexibility and the opportunity to pick up desirable projects are some of the benefits that cannot be ignored. For example, for Brandon, working in a coffee shop he likes rather than an office environment makes freelance projects appealing. Andria moved to freelance work from a 9-to-5 job to take care of her kids better. There are millions of such stories revealing how freelance gigs are making the lives of professionals easier and more comfortable.

 

In the US alone, there are around 57 million freelance workers – as reported by Skillscouter. The number keeps on increasing with each passing year.

 

Now, though freelancing gives you more freedom and lets you work from the place of your choice, there are certain challenges associated with it. Especially during the initial stages, professionals often find the time and work management more challenging.

 

The good news is that there are multiple online tools to help you manage your projects better. And, this article has curated some of the best ones to help you out. To make it simpler, we have divided them into different categories as well.

 

Proposal Tools

Successful freelancers and consultants take proposals as seriously as the main project. You need to brush up your business development skills to prepare a decent proposal. These tools will help you in the process:

 

1)    Prospero – Many developers, designers, writers, consultants, and video artists vouch for the proposals that this tool generates automatically. As a freelancer, add your video, image, logo, and table and give a personal touch to the templates available on it. For just a dollar, get a 21-day trial. While creating a proposal for you, the tool asks questions like your turnaround time, pricing, and nature of your work, etc.

 

2) Draftsend – No need to visit a prospect in-person, as Draftsend lets you create interactive presentations using PDF and your voice. The tool gives you the choice of sharing your presentation publicly or privately. Several consultants and freelancers embed the presentation on their website or blog to gain traction.

 

3) Proposify – This proposal creator comes with a content library, design editor, roles & permissions, and CRM integrations. Not only does it allow you to create some powerful proposals, but also improves client experience with features like interactive pricing, electronic signatures, and client preview. If the prospects live in another part of the globe, change the language and currency easily to help them understand your proposal better.

 

Time-tracking tools

For those freelancers and consultants who work on a per-hour basis, a time-tracking tool is a necessity. Time trackers are all the more essential when other professionals are working on your project remotely.

 

4) Toggl – This tool enables you to track time across mobile apps, desktop apps, and web pages. What makes this time tracker unique is its ability to integrate with hundreds of other tools, including Asana, Drupal, Evernote, TestRail, Assembla, Bugzilla, and Google Calendar, to name a few.

 

5) Due Time– It gets easier to deliver analytics related to time spent on different areas with Due Time. This feature allows you to ask your team to improve their efficiency. With this tool, invoice creation also gets easier with the data available. For just 7.99 dollars a month, you get features like accounting reports, recurring invoices, invoice late fees, along with a 30-day free trial. The number of clients and available features increase with an increase in the per-month price.

 

6) Harvest – When you are working on multiple projects simultaneously, you can rely on Harvest to track the time for you. This is possible even if each project has a unique rate and set of tasks. Assign different tasks in a project to your team members with this tool seamlessly. App integration is also powerful with this time tracker.

 

Accounting and bookkeeping tools

Often, when you are working in a technical or a creative field, you tend to ignore the accounting and bookkeeping part of the business. This is where finance apps appear as a solution.

 

7) Xero – This tool allows freelancers to send up to 20 professional invoices personalized for their business. With bank reconciliation, tracking of cash flow becomes effortless. With this tool, professionals can also automate bookkeeping tasks – including entering bills and receipts – integrating the Hubdoc tool.

 

8) Bench – It is one of the few accounting tools that offer support of a dedicated manual bookkeeper. During tax-filing season, you can ask the experts to handle year-end prep and filing. There’s no need for you to jump to other apps, as each transaction and trend takes place in real-time.

 

9) Wave Accounting – For beginners and even experienced freelancers, Wave Accounting is a preferred option as they don’t have to pay anything to use its service. Sync your expenses, connect your multiple bank accounts, and balance your books seamlessly with this tool. The use of 256-bit encryption for bank data connections ensures maximum security. Even your accountant will find it useful – as Wave uses double-entry accounting software.

 

 

Project Management Software

With good project management software, freelancers and consultants can stay on schedule even while handling multiple projects. Collaboration gets easier and communication with clients and vendors becomes more efficient too.

 

10) Trello – With the task card feature of Trello, you can display and add details like deadlines, checklist, comments, and attachments. This feature empowers you to connect with the clients easily. There’s no fee to use its basic automation features and to create personal boards.

 

11) Asana – The presence of a deeper set of features, automation, and integrations encourages many freelancers to choose Asana over others. A better mobile app, visualization of projects and timeline view make it a perfect project management tool for consultants. Get work requests from your clients formally by using the forms in Asana. For features like milestones, guest access, forms, and dashboard, you require a premium version.

 

12) Jira – Go for this agile project management tool if you are a programmer. Use the timeline feature for creating roadmaps and planning projects. Grant product access to particular IPs only with its premium plan. The premium plan also offers increased storage, more users/site, and better customer support.

 

13) Kanban – Use the analytics of Kanban to predict the time it will take to finish off a task or a project. The time-tracking feature lets you analyze the duration of task completion. Integrate more than 15 third-party tools to increase the usability of Kanban. For beginners, the trial version is sufficient. They will have to purchase the team plans if the team and number of projects increase.

 

Productivity tools

From helping you focus to relieving your stress, these productivity tools ensure that too much work doesn’t overwhelm you.

 

14)   PomoDone – A performance-boosting tool, PomoDone relies on Pomodoro technique®, which is based on the idea that you can enhance your mental agility by taking breaks frequently. Integrate PomoDone with tools like Trello, Asana, and Basecamp to track your workflow and take necessary breaks while working on a task.

 

15)   TextExpander – Save time that is spent on writing emails, reports, and other content with TextExpander. You can expand what you type with the help of this tool. It sort of predicts what you are going to type by using your existing content and emails.

 

16)   StayFocused – If your work doesn’t require you to use social media sites, you can block your access with StayFocused, a browser extension. Many freelancers save hundreds of dollars worth of time by limiting the hours they spend on the websites they consider as distractions.

 

The Bottom Line:

As per the Manpower Group, 90 percent of US professionals are open to the concept of freelance work. However, with a sharp increase in the number of freelancers and consultants in the market today, it can be challenging to stand apart. This is where the tools discussed above can help you get and manage more clients. They can efficiently complement the exceptional work you do and make your effort worthwhile.

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