Apps, tools, and websites that make the freelance life easier
There’s a lot to manage when you run your own freelance business. It’s much easier to stay on top of your workload with the right set of digital tools. Here are some of the best apps and websites that simplify the life of a sole trader.
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As more people have started freelancing and remote working over the last few years, there’s been a wave of new digital services to meet this population’s needs.
You’ll develop your own suite of preferred tools as you grow your freelance business, but here are a few of the best we recommend.
Tips on building your freelancer toolbox
Always start with a free trial. Many of the apps and websites on this list are free, but many have paid options or require purchase. Before you set down any money, start with a free trial to test it out. If a tool or platform doesn’t have a trial, ask for a live demo. If it doesn’t have that, it’s probably best to skip it.
Run your own comparisons. This list has some of our favourite options, but they are by no means the only choices out there. Shop around and try different platforms before you spend too much time uploading all your data to the first one you come across.
Read the reviews. You’ll find links to all the app download pages in this blog. Before you tap that button, take a moment to read through all the reviews. Customers will be honest about what they love about the platform, and what falls short.
Ask for a discount code. If you do end up paying for an app or tool you like, look around for discount codes before you sign up. These often come after you’ve signed up for a platform’s email list, or you can run a Google search for “[tool name] + promo code”.
Rounded: The ultimate finance app for freelancers
Manage everything from invoices and quotes to expenses and taxes all in one place.
Thousands of Australian freelancers use Rounded to manage the financial side of their freelance business. With this low-cost platform, you can send customised invoices and quotes to clients and automatically track business expenses by connecting your bank accounts. The app also has a timer that allows you to add billable hours to an invoice, and it makes it easier to do all the calculations you need for filing your BAS and collecting GST.
Time management and planning tools
Use this highly customisable tool to manage your to-do list, pipeline, and more.
Notion is the Swiss army knife of time management apps. You can use the platform to create an interactive to-do list, take notes during client calls, plan out your travel, track your lead pipeline, and more. You can build your own lists as you like, or choose from their many useful templates.
A simple drag-and-drop planner to visualise and manage your client work.
Trello is one of the most popular organisational apps out there, because it’s so easy to use. Create boards where you can track everything you’re working on, and even add details like images, checklists, and sharable notes. It’s fantastic for collaborating with clients or just keeping on top of your own to-do list.
Stay focused and maximise your time by minimising distractions.
If you’re frequently distracted by your phone when you’re trying to work (it happens to the best of us), then this app can help. When you start the timer, you start growing a virtual tree—the longer you go without closing the app, the bigger your tree will grow. Seeing the tree get bigger and bigger is a surprisingly effective motivator for staying focused.
By the way, here’s our roundup of time management strategies for freelancers.
Easily schedule meetings with clients and colleagues, based on your own availability.
Calendly takes the pain out of scheduling meetings. The software allows you to designate what times you’re available, and gives you a custom link to send to clients so they can choose a time that works for them. The app works well with Gmail and Outlook, so you can embed times in email and automatically insert meetings into your calendar.
Plan and schedule content for all of the major social media platforms.
Social media is one of the most effective marketing strategies for freelancers, but managing it all can be a hassle. Buffer helps you plan, create, and publish your social posts in one app. Best of all, it allows you to schedule posts in advance, so you can maintain a consistent presence with your audience without logging into your socials every day.
Need guidance on launching a social media strategy for your business? Check out these resources:
Beautiful graphic design made easy.
In Canva, you can easily make stunning graphics or edit photos and videos, even if you aren’t a professional designer. Choose the fonts, colours, and layouts that match your branding, and select from hundreds of templates for things like social posts, website banners, posters, and more.
Create custom automations for your marketing tactics (and more).
IFTT, which stands for “If this, then that,” is the closest thing to having a robot assistant. The app allows you to connect the programs and smart devices you use every day with each other, so they can automate processes together. For example, you can set up a command to automatically post your Instagrams to Twitter, send Evernotes directly to Slack, or play certain playlists at a specific time of day. The combinations are endless and easy to set up and personalise.
Create custom, shortened links and QR codes and track their activity.
When you’re running a healthy marketing strategy, you end up sharing lots of links to your blogs, freelancer website, portfolio pages, and social media posts. Bit.ly allows you to create custom, shortened links and unique QR codes, making it much easier to share links and track your engagement.
Travel and lifestyle tools
Organise all of the important details of your travel plans in a single app.
Digital nomad freelancers can use TripIt to wrangle all of their travel details into a single itinerary. It can automatically pull reservations from your email, then organises your hotel accommodations, flight details, car rentals into trips based on your destinations.
Games and activities that help you bust stress and prevent burnout.
Taking care of your mental health is vital to preventing burnout. This app is a fun and calming way to promote positive thinking and ease stress, using games and activities tailored to your needs and goals. The app’s mission is simple: It aims to make you a happier person.
Check out these 8 self-care strategies we recommend for freelancers.
Explore a map of cheap flights to exciting destinations.
The next time you're planning to take your freelance business on the road, make the Kayak Explore feature your first stop. You can browse a map of destinations, and filter the results so they’re within your budget. It’s one of the best ways to choose a destination that won’t set you back too much.
Find in-person and online groups to expand your network and make new friends.
Whether you want to attend a networking event, develop a new skill, or pick up a new hobby, Meetup is a great resource. You can search for events happening in your area or online, making this app one of the best ways to combat isolation as a freelancer.
We hope you’ve found a few apps that make it easier to run a smooth freelance operation. We’ll be updating this blog article regularly, so be sure to sign up for our newsletter to get updates on new recommendations. (Use the sign-up form in the sidebar to your right .👉)