There is more software available for small businesses and freelancers than ever before, and it’s getting easier and cheaper to use. In an industry where time is money, how can you find the tools that help you earn more and do less?
We gathered our favorite software for freelancers that help with everything from productivity, collaboration, and marketing. These tools can help support you as you work towards running a successful business.
Best Software Tools for Freelancers
Tools for Productivity:
As a solopreneur, you have to learn to master your time. It is your most valuable asset. Productivity tools like these can keep you on task and moving forward. From bookmarking resources to tackling your to-do list, you can overcome chaos and manage your time like a pro.
- Evernote can help you untangle the massive amount of tasks and information on your plate. You can also incorporate your schedule to keep everything neat and tidy. Say goodbye to the restrictive formatting of Google Docs and easily include pictures, PDFs, audio, and more into your notes. Plus, all of your notes will be accessible from any device, so you’ll always be prepared.
- Toggl is a time-keeping tool that can coach even the biggest procrastinators into productivity. You can track individual clients or projects for more accurate billing. You can set timers for focus work. Plus, all of your data can be viewed in various formats to help you visualize your time. The timer runs asynchronously on all devices so you can start/stop time from your laptop or phone.
- Ditch your pen and paper for this digital task managing wizard. Todoist helps you organize your thoughts and tasks into easy-to-read lists. You can sort tasks by relevance (today, upcoming) to help you see the big picture of your week. Plus, Todoist integrates with other applications like Google Calendar so everything is in one place.
Tools for Collaborating:
Freelancers have to master the art of client relationships. That includes collaborating and quickly sharing documents you can easily update and edit as needed. These freelancing tools help you showcase your best work and provide the best service to your clients.
- The Google Suite is an easy essential tool for freelancers. You can manage your calendar, email, and projects all in one place. Google Drive gives you the capabilities to share files with clients and organization projects easily. It has ample space and most clients already have a Gmail account where they can access Google Drive.
- Dropbox provides you not only with space to share files, but also the ability to send and receive legal documents and contracts. As a freelancer, you have to protect your time and money so client contracts are a must.
- It’s hard to find a company that doesn’t use Slack (or something similar) to keep their remote and hybrid teams connected. Slack can be a great option for freelancers to connect with organizations through their own channels.
Tools for Project Management:
Even a solo freelancer has project management needs. Tracking the status of projects help you better manage your time and productivity. Use these tools solo or bring in a team to help you grow your business.
- Keep your mental load stored on Asana. You can create workflows and manage tasks so nothing gets left behind. Asana is free for teams under 15.
- Another great tool for keeping you and your team organized and on the same page. Trello organizes tasks into “to do”, “doing”, and “done” so you always know what stage a project is at.
- An organizational dream, ClickUp helps you organize yourself and your teams from beginning to end. Color code and track everything from customer service, onboarding, or marketing campaigns.
Tools for Video:
No matter your industry as a freelancer, it’s helpful to have a few skills in the video editing department. Whether you need a quick ad, presentation, or Instagram Reel, having a simple video editing tool that you are comfortable with can make all the difference. Add another skill to your freelancing services or just create amazing videos for your own business.
- If you want to create stunning videos (for free!), check out Lightworks. They’ve long been a member of the video creation space and continue to offer cutting-edge tools to help even novice videographers produce something amazing.
- This Apple essential remains to be a classic, basic video editing tool. You can stitch together clips for YouTube or create video presentations for clients. iMovie has a solid bank of royalty-free sounds and music to add a little pizzazz to whatever you create.
- If quick and easy is what you’re after, InShot is the way to go. It is very mobile device friendly which makes it a great tool for stitching together TikToks and Reels or screen recordings. You can even record your voiceovers right in the app.
Tools for Designing:
These cool designing tools can help create everything from stunning branding, custom logos, marketing materials, or scroll-stopping social media content. Depending on your skill level you can find the right software to help your freelance business.
- The Adobe Creative Cloud reigns supreme for graphic designers and creators. You can try Illustrator for free for seven days. You’ll have the power to create completely custom designs for clients, marketing, or just for fun. Illustrator works well across all types of devices.
- Similar in style to Illustrator, CorelDraw gives you ultimate control to create custom work from brand logos to your own fonts.
- Canva is a graphic design tool for non-graphic designers, but you can still feel like a pro. Choose from thousands of design templates or create your own designs with Canva’s vast library of photos and graphics. Canva has great resources if you are looking to choose brand colors and fonts to match your business.
There are dozen of other great software tools for freelancers out there. These four tools come in as some of the ones we use the most often and apply to every industry.
- TextExpander speeds up your response time to any email or message. Or if you write long-form content (like this blog for example), you can pump out more words at a faster rate as you use TextExpander to create snippets and shortcuts for your most commonly typed phrases. While it might take some getting used to, most freelancers and entrepreneurs agree that using TextExpander is a great way to save time and energy.
- Take spell check with you EVERYWHERE. Grammarly is a built-in web browser extension that corrects and encourages better writing. It’s more than just spell check though, it also identifies the tone of your text so you can avoid sounding like an expert when you need to sound approachable.
- For any writing that’s longer than a standard email, take it over to the Hemingway Editor. Simply copy and paste your text onto the page and it immediately shows you what edits to make. This can help you clarify clunky sentences and simplify your writing.
- As a freelancer, you probably have more passwords that you can feasibly hold inside your head. Add to that the passwords that give you access to client work and accounts. 1Password allows you to have one safe space to manage your passwords securely. You can use stronger passwords because you no longer have to remember them. 1Password does that for you.
What software tools does a freelancer need?
You do not have to use all of the tools. You may not even need half of them. The best tools for you as a freelancer are the ones that work well for your style of work. Take a few free trials for a spin and find what works for you. As long as you are providing great work and communicating with your clients in the most effective way possible, you are doing a great job.
From the Experts:
Some friends of LessAccounting shared their favorite tools with us. Check out their must-have software for freelancers.
Matt Stauffer uses tools to help himself streamline. Matt adds features to iCal OSX with BusyCal. He also makes file searching on OSX more powerful and faster using Alfred. Matt cuts time by shortcutting commonly typed phrases with Text Expander.
AJ Leon manages other collaborators in various parts of the world. AJ says, “Podio is the most fundamental app that we use to run our business. It’s more than project or task management, it’s business workflow.”
Keith’s favorite apps are collaborative shortcuts and tweaks. Keith uses CloudApp for quick screen grabs, as well as linking files for download to clients. The KnockKnockFactory team creates project mood boards using dropmark.
Jack McDade uses a Gmail inbox add-on called Followup.cc. This tool allows Jack to make his inbox a mini-CRM. Using followup.cc, Jack is able to set a preference on an email to alert him if the client doesn’t reply in a few hours or days.
Luke Miler recommends TeuxDeux. Luke says, “It’s lovely for quick to-dos and actionable things for today and a few days ahead. I use TeuxDeux more personally for things mostly related to our business – quick actionable / admins things I got to do every day.”
Liz White uses CageApp, which helps her by keeping design proofs organized in one place. “This was super helpful not only for my clients who had to approve the designs, but also for the web programmer I was working with. As Cage helped me streamline the approval process, it also made the transition from designing to programming go more smoothly.”
The best software for freelancers is the one that yields the highest productivity and happiness. What software tools are you using to help you be a happier and more productive freelancer?
…and of course, you should be using LessAccounting for your business bookkeeping.
LessAccounting aims to make bookkeeping for freelancers straightforward and simple. We give you all the functions you need and none of the ones you don’t. You can get in, get it done, and get it back to work.
Snag a 30-day free trial here to see the difference.