As a freelance designer one of the most important, and most debatable topics in the freelance community are tools. There are so many different Freelance Tools that have so many categories and variations within each category that it is almost impossible to complete such a list containing all the best tools, or necessary ones at least.
That being said there is, however, a few different types or variations of design tools that do prove to be deemed a necessity.
To be a successful freelance designer you must have:
A time management or tracking tool to stay on target, a financing and bookkeeping tool for payments and accounting, variations of multiple communication tools, project management tool, a contract and proposal tool, resource tools, and a web hosting tool. Those variations of freelance designer tools are a must for any freelancer that wants to be a successful designer.
A tool set that makes managing and tracking your time is crucial. The top time management and tracking tools are a valuable asset when you are a freelancer because time is money right.
- Timely – is a scheduling and time-tracking tool. It lets you plan your weeks in advance, plus track time (and hourly rates) for your current projects. I always use Timely for long term commissions that need time-tracking, in part because it allows me to have a retrospective look at where I spent my time in previous weeks.
- Harvest – The most reliable time-tracking tool based on reviews that I have found is Harvest. The user-friendly UI allows you to send invoices to clients from the app. But one of its biggest advantages is its integrations with popular apps Basecamp, QuickBooks, and more.
- Toggl – This choice may be just a little too mundane for most however, Toggl is one of the simplest time-trackers around.
- Freelancy Time Tracker – Where other time-tracking tools can feel too focused, Freelancy strives to be the all-in-one tool for freelancing with all the gadgets of all other variations wrapped up all in one app.
Like any businesses, freelancers have to track their income, cash flow, and prepare their taxes. Luckily, you’ll find plenty of tools to help you manage your finances, bill clients, and keep up with your taxes. While some of these tools work together, and others not so much. Some are just for billing and or taxes, each of them can make managing your money much easier!
The best and most popular finance and tax tools and their variations for a freelance designer artist are as follows:
- Quick Books Self-Employed – A personal favorite — and this is the one I rely on most when tax time comes around — is Quick Books Self-Employed. It makes it incredibly easy to stay on top of quarterly taxes.
- 2)Square – Another personal favorite and this is a very popular method of collecting payment from clients, with Square it is easy to create, send, and collect payments both in person and online with a credit or debit card. There are better choices out there.
- 3) PayPal – Lets you collect payments in practically all methods possible via credit or debit cards, face to face, PayPal credit etc. PayPal’s less-than-stellar user experience design has proven the only reason I choose other platforms.
- 4) Cushion – If you’ve ever freelanced, you know that the most stressful part is keeping on top of cash flow and planning future projects. This choice is perfect for allowing a future income projection, seeing potential cash gaps (so you can schedule new projects), and managing projects to minimize overlap.
Communication is key when working on a project with others, especially when working on parallel projects. Project management tools help you better organize and keep clients in the know, everyone knows nothing tops communication.
The right tool can make all the difference between project bliss or utter disaster, so ditch the emails, and get yourself (and clients) on one of these great tool variations:
- Slack – Has an incredible chat application that will let you and your clients ditch the back-and-forth emails and upgrade to a more reliable platform. It allows you to set up a new private group for each client, making it much easier for us to collaborate and get to final product much quicker.
- Flow – This choice of tool is known as a multi-device app with chat and management all in one. I’d argue that Flow is much simpler than other management tools on this list, while also packing in a good number of features.
- Asana – Is beautifully designed project management solution, you may not need to go further than this choice. While it sometimes feels like too much, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a project management tool with all the accessories as this one has.
- Trello – Trello has been a designer’s favorite for project managers alike. When looking for a flexible and a great visual solution, then Trello might be your go-to. I use it for everything from my daily chore list to client project management to vacation planning.
We would have covered these under finance tools, but contracts and proposals play such a huge part in the freelancing process, they deserve their own section.
The right proposal and contract literally can and will seal or break a project. It’s the most important part and most crucial detail of any project, yet so many freelancers pass it off as no big deal.
- Creative Class Contract Course – This choice is the priciest of the list, however, it keeps it’s worth with its enormous file size. The Creative Class contract course will guide you through building a bulletproof contract that also allows you to make even more money.
- Bonsai – Bonsai makes it super easy to create a contract, review it with a client (and make changes), and then sign it. It is literally the only all in one tool available for this purpose.
- Funnel – This is also a hybrid tool that fits multiple categories, it lets you easily add forms to your website for collection purposes and information gathering from prospective clients.
All of these tools are a variation of freelance tools that are a bare necessity of the immense amount of tools that are needed to be a successful freelance designer
However, never forget that above all of these various tools the most important remains at your very fingertips. Your work ethic, dedication, and superb finished work is always your most valuable tool available.
As you can see this list of freelance tools can be useful for any freelancer wanting to be more production, creative, and stay ahead of the masses!
This list took some time to research, so if you think it’s useful please share!