Freelancer Tips

Tools You Need in Your Freelance Tech Stack

Erica Perry
June 26, 2018

As a freelancer or solopreneur operating independently, a critical factor to the success of your business is identifying a core set of tools and technologies to help you streamline and simplify your day-to-day operations.

Sure, you may reap the benefits of working flexible hours from wherever you like and hand-picking the clients you work with and the projects you take on, but there’s a lot behind the scenes that goes into ensuring you’re able to maintain your momentum. That is, tasks like managing your finances—which includes submitting invoices, tracking expenses, and paying taxes—ensuring a smooth and consistent workflow, and being proactive about business prospecting.

Tedious as these may seem on the surface, these tools tackle problems that—as a member of the Gig economy—no one else is going to solve for you. Fortunately, the evolution of technology has afforded us with an abundance of tools to address these needs so you can work smarter, not harder and manage these responsibilities flawlessly. If you're going freelance for the first time, or are simply looking to refresh your toolkit, consider these core components of your freelance tech stack: Accounting Software

The vast amount of freelancers, if asked, would likely agree that they didn’t sign up for their career path so they could become their own personal bookkeepers and take on the added work of financial reporting. However, as the saying goes, with freedom comes responsibility, and in the freelancing world managing your finances is no exception.

The good news is there are plenty of software solutions that help you create invoices, file your expenses, and provide a snapshot of the financial ins and outs of your business at any given moment from your smartphone or laptop. AND CO’s app, for example, includes an invoicing feature that allows you to submit an invoice in 20 seconds or less. These can be based on adhoc milestones, or auto-generated on a recurring basis for weekly or monthly Gigs, depending on the nature of your work and what is optimal for you.

The tool also helps your facilitation of the follow up process to protect yourself against getting stiffed. Specifically, you’ll receive an alert when a client has viewed your invoice, and allows you to send a reminder when it’s time for them to pay. From a client perspective, AND CO’s flexible payment options make it simple and fast to to accept payments directly through the invoice. With the option to sync with Stripe and PayPal, payments can be complete with a mere click of a button making their lives easier and yours.

How? Because the fewer the number of required steps it takes to pay you, the faster you get the money. It’s a classic win-win situation. Now, let’s talk expenses. AND CO’s expense reporting section helps you keep track of all your receipts and bill your clients directly through your invoices so you don’t need to go through separate processes and take time away from your work.

Further, tax season will be a breeze by being able to use AND CO to generate a list all of the expenses you’ve incurred, filterable by time and client, and syncing your bank account so with each transaction you’re able to instantly claim all of your tax deductions.  Want a financial snapshot of your business on-the-go? No problem—AND CO’s business reporting interface has you covered providing cumulative expense and income overviews and the functionality to set up financial alerts and generate the key statements you need for tax time.

Whether today or in the future, you’ll always be equipped to make decisions that move the needle. Tax Software There’s no sugarcoating the fact that taxes are more complicated as a freelancer. For first-timers especially, their first tax season represents an important learning moment making them keenly aware of how their self-employed status directly influences their tax situations and incentives.

From navigating the several 1099 forms and determining your other write-offs versus what’s off limits, there’s a lot more to understand and significantly more to the process now that you’re dealing with more than a single W-2, that once filed, you never had to think of again. Because no one wants to go through the headache of sifting through the entire IRS tax code, utilizing a tax software is a much more manageable, less strenuous way to arm yourself with what you need to know to make informed decisions and execute tax season like a seasoned pro.

Thanks to AND CO’s partnership with Visor, tax filing is as easy recording your information, sharing it with the tax experts, and sitting back while you save. Simply track your income and expenses via the AND CO app, send your information over to Visor’s tax experts in one click, and Visor handles the rest. In addition to filing your taxes for you, your personal Visor tax accountant will help manage your questions and concerns throughout the year so you’re never without guidance. The best part? You pay a one-time fee at the time of filing—no hourly rates!

Project Management Tools One of the unavoidable elements innate to the nature of freelance work is balancing your projects with tasks like taking notes, sending emails, coordinating meetings, and keeping track of project details such as interim deliverables.

Bookmark these tools to help you keep your tasks prioritized so you can channel your time and effort to the project at hand without having to sweat the small stuff along the way: Trello is a task and project management tool that leverages boards and lists as a visual-oriented way of assigning and managing tasks for yourself or others on your team. You can embed add comments, checklists, and attachments to any assignment for easier collaboration and movement of tasks is as easy as dragging and dropping the item.

Asana is a web and mobile application that includes calendars, tasks, projects, dashboards, and conversation. These features can be used in a variety of ways including developing project templates, parsing out larger projects into smaller tasks, setting due dates, and collaborating through file sharing functionality.

Evernote is a mobile app for taking notes compatible with multiple formats spanning text, photo, audio, video, PDF, and more. Ideas can be easily organized through searchable notes, notebooks, checklists, and to-do lists and are accessible though syncing content across devices, including computers, phones and tablets.

Of course, you can also use AND CO’s multi-device time-tracking tool to help you manage and document your hours on overall projects or specific activities.

Stay tuned for time stats coming soon for a more in-depth look as to where you’re devoting your hours. New Biz Platforms In addition to devoting your time your current client base, you need to also make sure you allot time for marketing and relationship-building to maintain a healthy pipeline of potential opportunity. Along the same vein as managing your finances, no one will be out prospecting potential clients for you, so it’s up to you to ascertain a healthy flow of projects for your business. The takeaway here?

It’s far worse to not have any projects, than to have to turn down work because it would exceed your personal capacity. Consider using marketplaces, like Fiverr, to find new clients and grow your business. Whatever the area of expertise—digital marketing, video and animation, graphic design, music and audio, and more—you’re likely to come away with some options and inspiration.

Simply type in the search bar the type of service you’re looking for, or browse by expertise categories to generate a result of sellers who are looking for projects just like yours. Compare packages, prices, reviews, and more to help you narrow your choices. Sign up for Fiverr Pro to have exclusive access to professionals hand-picked and vetted by a extensive application process, in which only 1% of candidates are accepted..  

Other/Misc Tools Professionalism is a highly important quality, particularly for freelancers looking to win over clients and portray their passion and seriousness with respect to their work. This all begins with giving careful attention to written communications. Grammarly uses AI to help you be a flawless communicator and ensure all of your messages, documents, and posts, are per the company’s slogan, “clear, effective, and mistake-free.”

The browser extension is free to download and available across Chrome. Safari, Firefox and Edge. The algorithm detects grammar, spelling, punctuation errors in addition to making suggestions for new word and/or style choices where appropriate. Each notification comes with an explanation so you can choose whether or not to make the change or ignore the correction.

Switching gears towards saving your hard-earned money both in the short-term and the long-term, check out services like WealthSimple.

These will not only help you better understand the importance of financial safety nets, but allow you to make strategic decisions when it comes to the various retirement programs out there. The moral across the board however, will remain the same no matter what you choose: be diligent and start early and you will thank yourself later.

Last but not least, consider browsing the various Fiverr Elevate courses on LLCs, created in partnership with Stellar Formation. Topics include company formation, exploring how setting up an LLC can help protect your intellectual property (IP) provide legal structure to your business, and save you money. Other subjects you can pursue include healthcare, business administration, health insurance, cash flow management, taxes, and retirement.

(psst Fiverr members get a massive deal on Stellar and first access to new courses) While there are certainly many more tools for you to consider than what we’ve presented, we hope these examples serve as a useful starting guide. As you evaluate what apps and platforms to incorporate into your freelance tech stack, look for those that align with your personal work habits and workflow and that will enable you to automate as much as possible so you can focus on just that: the work.

Have any other tips to share? Don’t be shy! Tell us in the comments below.

Erica Perry
Erica Perry is an independent content and marketing strategist residing in Boston, Mass. You can find her online blogging about technology, social media, and the future of independent work.
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