Just like having a kid, there is no one manual or guide for starting your own freelance business. This can be incredibly daunting to anyone considering making the big move to pursue their work full-time, especially for folks who are incessant planners. If you are like me and you just jumped into freelance life with both feet and not much planning, you probably found that you had to get organized – and quick! Luckily, if you are like me and you are just getting started in the world of freelancing I have already done some of the legwork for you. I have pulled together my top six tools or resources that I use that make my life THAT much easier. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
FreshBooks: Math isn’t my strongest suit so I quickly found out that trying to do my own accounting via Excel spreadsheets wasn’t going to work for me. I came across an ad for Freshbooks on the Swiss Miss site, did a little bit of research and realized that it was a Canadian company. I signed up for the free trial and the rest is history. It is by far the most intuitive cloud-based software I have ever used. I send all of my invoices and estimates through it, track GST and report on income. It tells me when my clients log-in to check the invoices which means no more invoices getting lost in inboxes. I can even track my monthly business expenses! Let’s just say, it makes tax season a lot easier for me.
unsplash: Writing takes a lot of my daylight hours so I don’t always get to go out and shoot as many photos as I would like to. unsplash saves the day when I need a compelling (yet vague) photograph to use for an upcoming blog post. Basically, a small database of GREAT images that you can use for whatever you want, for free. The photo above? From unsplash. Not only will you save a bit of money from buying stock images, you’ll have a fantastic image to go with your words.
Stocksy: In some cases, however, stock photography is an absolute godsend! I was so happy when Stocksy launched last year. Curated with only the best photographers in mind, this stock photography site weeds out the crap that many other sites leave in. What you are left with is stunning images that will only enhance your storytelling.
Contently: I am totally new to Contently but I am already quite happy with it’s easy to use format and visual representation of a writer’s CV. It quickly aggregates any online content you’ve written which you can then edit down to your best work. You can also add PDFs of publications that are not online – making it easy to show what you are all about in one link. I love seeing how it tallies up the social shares as well – great to see ways you can improve on your numbers.
Adobe Creative Cloud: The Creative Cloud is kind of a lifesaver for anyone who needs to use the Adobe Creative Suite for work. I use Photoshop and Illustrator on the daily so being able to access all of my files and any of the programs anywhere/anytime is a massive convenience for me. It works on a subscription basis meaning you pay a monthly fee to use the service as opposed to shelling out thousands of dollars for the full creative suite software. The best part is? When the programs update you don’t have to worry about buying an upgrade – it is all included in your membership.
Skillshare: Continuous education is the best way to keep your ideas fresh and your mind youthful. While going back to school full-time might not be for everyone, there are so many ways you can pick up new skills or improve on existing ones whenever you have time. My favourite resource is Skillshare. I have recently taken writing and social media classes on there, amongst other fantastic workshops. The greatest part? Most classes are under $20 making it super affordable to learn something new.
photo via unsplash