Freelancing has become a big business in recent years, with more and more people seeing the appeal of working for yourself.
Whether it’s parents needing the flexibility of working around their young children or students wanting to make a few extra bucks around their studies, or an entrepreneur with big ideas brewing, freelancing is an excellent way of making money and following the career path that you choose.
However, with that freedom and flexibility comes great responsibility. Lots of freelancers who start out do not quite recognize how hard it is to manage your own workload every single day. After all, most of us are used to being bossed about and told what to do and when.
When it’s your money on the line though, it is essential that you can manage your time and work efficiently and make the most out of every second of every working day.
To do that, you need some tools in your metaphorical toolbox, and that is what we are going to look at in this article. Ready to find out more?
1. A thick skin
The very first thing that anyone working on a freelance basis needs is a thick skin, because if you are sensitive, you are going to find it hard.
The freelance world can be a very dog eat dog world, with lots of competition and undercutting. There are times when you know you are, without a doubt, the very best person for the job yet someone else swoops in and offers to do the work for a lot less money, and gets the gig.
It is incredibly frustrating, and it will happen time and time again. You need to be able to shrug your shoulders and move onto the next one.
On top of that, there will be a time when your work is rejected, where every little thing you have done is scrutinized and criticized, leaving you feeling not quite good enough.
All these things are completely normal in the life of a freelancer, so it is important to build up a thick skin as quickly as possible.
Once you begin to realize that it is all about the money and nothing personal, you will soon find rejection easier to deal with. The right jobs will always be there for you, even if it needs a bit of looking for!
2. A decent computer
Whatever field of freelancing you are going into, whether it is writing, social media management, website design, photography, or one of the many other jobs that lend itself well to this degree of flexibility, you will need a computer.
It is not just for the work itself, but for applying for gigs, for promotion, for accounting purposes, sending emails and even taking Skype calls. It is essential, therefore, to have the very best computer that your budget allows for.
Buy cheap, buy twice, as the old saying goes! If you are not quite sure what it is that you need, ask your peers. Facebook groups aimed at your industry are a great place to ask questions about the sort of equipment that you need.
3. An internet connection
Leading on from the following point, you need a reliable internet connection.
There is nothing more frustrating, or unprofessional, than arranging a web call with a client or promising to send them a draft via email, and your internet cutting out.
It is also highly irritating if every time you get into your work, you have to stop to reset your connection.
Before you sign any contracts with an internet provider, read the reviews and see if they live up to what they are offering. You want something high-speed and reliable, so ask your neighbours to see how their connection is.
4. A mobile phone
A mobile phone is essential for most people now, but even more so if you are working freelance.
A landline number is important, and many people feel that it appears more professional, but it also ties you to your home or office.
This, in turn, can reduce your flexibility and freedom, which is quite probably the reason you went into the freelancing business in the first place!
If you have a phone on the SMARTY network, you have the flexibility of pay as you go with all the benefits of a contract, which is great news for a flexible freelancer.
Just make sure you remember to keep your business line clear for calls and that you remember to take it out if you decide to go and hunker down in a coffee shop to work – and don’t forget the charger!
5. A workflow management tool
Workflow management tools are ideal if you need something to keep track of what you are doing, what you need to do, and what you have already done.
These can be used for you alone, to keep on top of your projects or tasks, or you can share them with your client.
The latter is a great way to keep in regular communication with a client, reassuring them and giving them confidence in your ability to deliver what you promised.
There are plenty of workflow tools out there, some free, some paid and all with different features. It is just a case of finding which one works best for you and your clients. Our favourites include Trello, Asana, and Airtable.
6. Google Drive
Google Drive is cloud-based software that everyone with a Google email address can access.
From word processing to spreadsheets, forms to slides, there are free tools available that can be incredibly valuable for your business.
It is easy to share documents, and because they are stored ‘in the cloud’, they are easily accessible from wherever you are in the world.
Read also: 25 Helpful Google Calendar Hacks You Probably Don’t Know About
7. Accountancy software
The financial side of freelancing can be mind-numbing, but it is also one of the most important parts.
If you don’t keep track of the invoices that you have sent, it is hard to know whether any clients owe you money. It is also a fast-track way of getting into trouble with the relevant authorities and getting into a mess with your expenses.
Thankfully, the days of needing to keep a purse full of dog eared receipts and manually entering everything into a book has long gone. These days, accountancy software, such as Wave, allows you to manage all of your invoices, upload receipts, keep track of payments and even provides a method of payment fo your customer.
8. Email marketing software
Just as any other business would, you need to get your name out there, and marketing is how you go about this.
Encourage your clients past and present to join your mailing list, and send out regular emails with news, offers and industry-relevant news.
Give potential clients an incentive for joining your mailing list – perhaps a discount on their first job if they sign up. Mailchimp is a great free one to start with, although there are others with more features.
9. Social media scheduling tool
You have a presence on social media, right? If you haven’t – stop reading this now and go and get on there!
Social media is one of the, if not the most, effective, and cheapest pest, ways of marketing your business. Almost every man and his grandma are on Facebook now, so utilize that and shout about your services on there.
However, remembering to post engaging content regularly can be difficult, and unless you have immense willpower, the temptation to quickly check that notification or look at your old schoolfriend’s holiday photos can be too much.
A scheduling tool, such as Social Ooomph or Hootsuite, can mean you can schedule them all in advance, so you do not have to keep logging in to do it.
Read also: Best Pinterest Courses to Skyrocket Your Traffic and Income in 2020
10. An insulated coffee mug
This is essential for any freelancer.
How many times have you sat up into the early hours of the morning working on a client project to be back at your desk first thing the next day?
Even the most time effective freelancer will put in a lot of hours – after all, time IS money. An insulated coffee cup gets you through those long nights and early mornings!
Working as a freelancer can be incredibly liberating. The freedom and flexibility that it offers means that it can be the perfect job for many people, whether it is their primary source of income or a side hustle to earn a few extra bucks.
The possibilities are almost endless. However, trying to do it without a set of tools to help you work efficiently and get the very best out of your time and money is never a good idea.
No one can do it all alone, so make use of the tools and resources available to you. Whether you are just starting out or you have been in the freelance game for a long time, there is always a little more room in your toolbox.
Stock Photo from Floral Deco @ Shutterstock