According to Upwork’s (the leading online talent platform) 2020 study, 36% of the U.S. workforce has been freelancing amid the Covid-19 pandemic. While this influx has been fueled by the pandemic that has forced people, both young and old, to look for alternative career opportunities, we cannot deny the fact that freelancers have always contributed significantly to the U.S economy.

People become freelancers for various reasons, but the most common one is the freedom that comes with it. This includes:

  • Do what they enjoy doing
  • Work with their chosen clients
  • Work from anywhere and at their own schedule

That sounds fun, right? But freelancing comes with its own challenges. You’ll have to look for your own clients, take care of your finances (including taxes), and manage your time well since you’re only paid according to the amount of work done.

Luckily, there are many tools that freelancers can use to handle the above challenges and emerge on top of their game. The problem is that there are way more tools on the market than there used to be, and one may be confused on which ones to go for.

Below we have broken down a list of top tools for freelancers by categories to make it easier for you to choose ones that matter to you as a freelancer.

Best Project Management Tools

What you’ll quickly learn when you become a freelancer is how time-consuming and taxing it is to manage so many different projects. The following project management tools will make the work a lot easier.

Trello

Trello is among the simplest and easiest to use freelancer tools when it comes to project management, and its pricing makes it an even greater option. This tool is perfect for those who love visuals and graphs.

Trello enables you to manage your projects using kanban boards. You can also add cards to represent the tasks that you are working on or those assigned to you. The best part is that you can move your cards and projects easily and even share boards with outside collaborators like other freelancers or clients. Trello is free, but you can upgrade to business class for $12.50/month which includes some powerful additions. Check out our post about Trello pricing for more details.

Bonsai

Another favorite freelancer project management tool is Bonsai. If you are not a fan of project management, Bonsai is the tool for you. It has everything you need to put your project management on autopilot. Having this tool is like having a real assistant.

Bonsai will send the contract immediately after your client agrees to your proposal. And, when you start working, Bonsai will help track your progress and even send invoices.

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Harpoon

If you’re looking for an app that will help you achieve your financial goals and manage your cash flow while freelancing, check out Harpoon. Simply tell Harpoon how much money you want to make freelancing, how much profit you want to make, how much your insurance cost is, and your other expenses and this tool will help you get there.

Like many other freelancer tools, Harpoon has a free trial period to get you started, after which you can start paying $19 per month as a freelancer.

Best Freelancer Invoicing Tools

As a freelancer, you want to make sure that you’re managing your time the best way possible. Having a freelancer invoicing tool that does everything pertaining to invoices can help you save time and keep your admin tasks simple and effective.

Let’s look at some of the best freelancer invoicing apps you can consider.

Bonsai

Yes, Bonsai has already been mentioned under project management tools, but we cannot omit it on this list because of the incredible invoicing features it has for freelancers.

For starters, Bonsai has a smart invoicing feature that enables you to automatically generate invoices from contracts signed by clients or proposals you’ve sent to clients. You’re also able to track client activity and know if they have looked at your invoice.

This tool also allows you to create automatic reminder emails at different intervals and accept any form of payment that you want, including PayPal, credit card, ACH, and more.

Invoice.to

This is, by far, the simplest of all invoice tools on this list. You can even start setting up your invoices before signing that contract.

While invoice.to doesn’t have all the bells and whistles found in Bonsai, this is one of the best invoicing apps for those who are all about simplicity. This app links to your Google account and sends, manages, and stores all your invoices from there.

Best Time Management Tools for Freelancers

Since most freelancers are paid according to the number of hours worked, it goes without saying that time management is an important aspect of every freelancer. The good thing is that there are time-tracking tools to help you track and manage your time well.

Toggl

Toggl is among the simplest time tracking tools for freelancers, creatives, and teams who desire to manage their time properly. This web-based tracking app is specially designed to track your hourly work. It offers native apps for both iOS and Mac but also includes a robust website to aid in overall account management. What’s more Toggl comes with a handy browser add-on, the Chrome extension that allows you to track your time without necessarily opening the web interface. Read our Toggl in-depth product review.

Clockify

Clockify is a user-friendly time management tool with paid options available, although the free option is still okay for most freelancers.

This tool allows you to add individual projects and clients and also separate between non-billable and billable hours. Timesheets are also exportable. If you outsource certain services, you can add team members to this app as employees or administrators depending on the type of role.

Best Security Tools for Freelancers

As mentioned above, one of the reasons people choose to go freelance is workplace mobility, allowing them to work from anywhere, including coffee shops, restaurants, and even at the airport. This means from time to time; you’ll be tempted to connect to a free Wi-Fi network. While this may sound like a godsend, there are dangers to using free public Wi-Fi. As a freelancer, there are various ways you can use to protect yourself and your client from potential cyber threats.

VPN

One of the best ways to ensure your safety while connecting to public Wi-Fi is by using a VPN. So, how does a VPN work? A VPN protects your online activities and data from hackers by redirecting your traffic through an encoded server, making your information unreadable to the bad guys.

A VPN also works by masking your IP address, effectively changing your location to a place of your choice, thereby confusing hackers of your actual identity and location. As an added benefit, this also allows you to access content from geo-blocked countries.

So, you’ve decided to ditch that 9 to 5 job to become your own boss by starting a freelance career. Good for you! But, remember being your own boss comes with responsibilities; you’ll have to manage your business, supervise your time, and track your invoices.

What’s more, the freelance community keeps growing, and with growth comes competition. If you want to have the upper hand over your fellow freelancers and scale up your freelance business, you’ll have to do more than just get the job done. The above freelance tools should help you in different aspects of your freelance work.

Best Marketing Tools for Freelancers

Marketing is essential for just about any business. If you are freelancing you might need marketing tools for your own promotion as well as you clients. Here are a handful of tools to consider.

Right Inbox

Right Inbox is a useful Gmail extension for marketers looking to supercharge their emailing efforts. More than 250,000+ professionals have added Right Inbox to Gmail for next-level email productivity

See who's opening your marketing outreach emails and who's clicking on your links with email tracking from Right Inbox. Create and use templates for recurring situations so you save time and increase productivity while adding more consistency to your email communication. Eliminate the risk of forgetting about emails by setting notifications to remind you at a time of your choosing. Never forget to follow up on important conversations again.

Outfunnel

What’s the #1 challenge of freelancers? Lead generation that’s automated and brings new business. Outfunnel helps streamline lead capture and lead nurturing with nifty sales-marketing integrations.

For example, you can use Outfunnel to automatically sync contacts from web form submissions over to your CRM and then send automated emails to these contacts. Set it up once, and let the automations run as you focus on doing your best work. Outfunnel’s pricing starts at $19 USD per month, and comes with a free trial for 14 days. "

Conclusion

Freelancing provides the opportunity for a real work-life balance. But it’s important to have the right tools to optimize your time and projects. This list provides some great tools to help you on your freelancer adventure.

And don’t forget, even though you’re working alone as a freelancer, your clients will almost certainly have a team of people you need to interact with. Be sure to read up on how to optimize remote work with teams before you venture off. Good luck!