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10 online tools to make your freelance work easier and more productive

October 11, 2011

The internet has revolutionised freelance work in the past few years. You name a problem that you face as a freelancer, and someone has probably already invented a solution for it. Best of all, many of them are totally free.

There are hundreds of great web applications out there. To save you time, ByteStart has put together a list of the top 10 online tools to make your freelance work more productive.

  • Highrise: Probably the most comprehensive CRM (customer relationship management) package available for free. You can use it to track your relationships and dealings with clients and any other contacts.

    It includes a built-in task manager and reminder service. The real power of Highrise lies in its flexibility. Imagine how powerful it would be to access notes on every piece of work you have ever done for a client instantly – and anywhere you have an internet connection. Sign up for the free account here.

  • Basecamp: From the makers of Highrise, Basecamp is a web-based project management tool. You can use it to collaborate with clients and ensure that everyone does what is expected of them, when it is expected.

    You can also use it to plan your own work and ensure you meet client deadlines. A stunning tool. You can get a free account here.

  • MindMeister: If you need to brainstorm with a client who is based in a different location, this is a great free way to combine your best ideas. MindMeister allows you to create a mind map of ideas that are linked together. Visual mind maps like these are powerful ways to encourage creativity.
  • Toggl: This is the ultimate free online time tracking tool. You can set up a number of clients and a number of projects for each client. Every time you do any little job for a client, you click the red Toggl button to start a timer, and click it again when you stop. It’s surprising how a phone call here or a quick email there soon adds up. You can also make notes on what you have been doing and generate reports for your clients.
  • Todoist: Need to remember to do a certain task for a client tomorrow morning? Then enter it into the free web-based task manager Todoist. You set a date for each task using real terms such as “today” or “June 1st”. And you can split tasks into different categories, perhaps client categories.

    Every day when you go into Todoist it shows you the tasks that need to be done today. As you complete a task you tick a box which crosses the task out… very satisfying!

  • Lino It: Move away from a desk full of scruffy Post-it notes… put them online! Lino It gives you a cork board and the ability to put your own online sticky notes up, totally free.
  • Google Documents: Determined not to line Microsoft’s pockets by buying Word and Excel? Then don’t! Google does a fantastic free online version that’s being constantly developed. Documents and spreadsheets can be saved in Word and Excel formats so your clients can read them.
  • GoToMeeting: Need to meet with a client but not keen on more travelling? Why not have a web conference. GoToMeeting is a paid for service, but presents a great way to connect your computer to up to 15 other people.

    The beauty of this is that you can freelance for clients outside of the UK and still have quality contact with them.

  • Freelance Switch rates calculator: Not sure how much to charge clients? Don’t pluck a figure out of the air. This free calculator helps you work out the costs of running your business for a year, your personal costs and how many working hours you can charge for. It then asks what profit you’d like to make and bingo – works out your ideal hourly rate. The calculator asks for figures in dollars… swap $ for £ in your head and it will be perfectly valid.
  • LogMeIn: If you spend a lot of time away from your home office working on a client’s premises (and using their computer), LogMeIn is the perfect way to get access to your home computer.

    You log in through a web browser and remote control your computer. Basic access is free, and the perfect way to get hold of an important document that is stored on another computer.