Being your own boss means that you take on a number of responsibilities that you may not have initially considered. As a freelance business owner, you will need to play all of the roles in your business, including those that do not generate revenue.
Fortunately, there are a wealth of incredible resources and tools at your fingertips, designed especially for freelancers like you to make your business life way easier. At Moonlighting, we work with freelancers daily and many of us moonlight ourselves.
So we’ve tested many tools and rely on these resources ourselves to keep our freelance businesses running smoothly. Check out some of our favorites:
To-do lists (like Google Keep) are cool when your tasks are simple one-offs or you’re still small-timing it, but when your projects get more complicated and your business takes off, it’s time to call in the big guns. Active Collab is a great project management app if you’re into a more visual tool that you can grow into. Active Collab offers a built-in time tracker, flexible task management (with Gantt-like timeline and drag-and-drop Kanban board), integrated invoicing, and client permissions.
Cold outreach isn’t a fan favorite, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil. Hunter is a lead discovery and management tool that allows you to find email addresses by company and verify emails of leads you already have. You can also save email templates and reach out directly. Streak CRM is another favorite that integrates directly into Gmail. Streak provides a custom view of your sales pipeline right in your inbox, offers mail merge, allows you to schedule emails, and even logs calls. Both also have browser extensions to make your customer management even easier.
While its essential to maintain your business accounting, you can’t neglect the importance of your personal finances. Mint and Personal Capital are personal favorites. Mint is primarily a budgeting app that helps make sure your bills get paid on time, lets you track multiple accounts from one dashboard, and it’s tagging and categorizing helps you keep personal and business expenses separate. Personal Capital on the other hand excels in helping you keep tabs on investments, net worth, and cash flow.
There are many factors that go into setting your freelance rate. Your Rate simplifies the process with it’s painless rate calculator you’ll know exactly what to charge. It has a super easy to use user interface and it even adjusts how much you should charge to account for taxes and savings.
Marketing is critical to building a freelance business, so thankfully there are tons of tools out there to make marketing your business easier. The workhorse of social media, Buffer lets you queue up social media posts on a variety of networks so that they auto-post at the times you set. TweetDeck offers a more convenient Twitter experience by letting you manage multiple Twitter accounts, follow, manage, and organize topics and lists, and discover mentions. MailChimp and Campaign Monitor are both solid options for all your email marketing needs.
The most critical element of any freelance enterprise has to be generating business. Without that, there is no business! Moonlighting is an established peer-to-peer platform with more than 650,000 users across the U.S. or Canada where you can find jobs and be hired for commission free freelance and remote work. We highly recommend setting up an account for yourself.
Resources and Communities
Freelancers Union advocates for freelancer interests, offers benefits programs (to help you find things like health insurance), events, and communities for freelancers. We also love Eff The Office and Nation1099 for their entrepreneur interviews, tips, and freelancer resources. And if you’re looking to be inspired, tune into Side Hustle School’s daily podcast to hear stories of entrepreneurs who are creating unique ways to make money on the side.
Schedule meetings, be it face-to-face, on the phone, or online without all the usual back and forth emailing with Calendly. This simple tool connects with your Gmail calendar, and allows you to set chunks of available times for clients to chat with you. The client interface is sleek and easy to use. Once your client chooses their meeting time, it will automatically email reminders to both parties.
In addition to getting a Gmail account with your custom company email address, the collaboration tools offered by Google’s G Suite enable you to share documents quickly and easily — everything can be stored in the cloud and accessed remotely. You can control the level of access you allow, giving editing rights, or reserving documents as read only.
Invoicing and managing your freelance business finances doesn’t need to be overly complicated. Start off with Moonlighting, a powerful yet easy to use and reliable tool for sending proposals and invoices, and receiving client payments online. Payment processing fees are even waived for Pro members, so you can keep every penny you earn.
If you’re interested in a more robust invoicing solution that will also allow you to keep track of the books, turn to Quickbooks Self-Employed. It’s a great way to keep all your expenses and receipts organized and ensure you’re not forgetting those dreaded quarterly tax payments.
There are soooooo many tools available to help you manage your freelance business. The ones we have discussed here have all been tried and tested by us — and these are the ones that we consider essential.
Are you ready to start your own freelance business or try out a few side gigs to get the feel of freelancing? No matter what path you choose, kick start your freelance business by joining the amazing community of freelancers, entrepreneurs, and gig workers on Moonlighting. Sign up or download the app today — Free!
Originally published at www.usatoday.com on September 17, 2018.