Independent contractors face some unique challenges. Without an in house IT department, marketing team or accountant, a freelancer shoulders all of those responsibilities for themselves. Many freelancers do everything they can to avoid the administrative half of their job, but like a xenophobe in the city, there is no escaping it. Luckily there are a few apps to help make administration a little less painful.
Freshbooks — You do not have to make invoices in a spreadsheet or (God forbid) a word processor. There is a better way.For anyone who has ever been buried under a mountain of invoices and bills, Freshbooks is here to help. Use Freshbooks to track hours, expenses and outstanding payments. Your clients can make payments directly through Freshbooks using either a credit card or paypal. It is so convenient, you might find yourself getting paid faster. When tax time comes around, freshbooks allows a quick summary of expenses incurred during the year, so you can be sure that you do not miss any write-offs.
Behance — Second only to referrals, your portfolio is hugely important in attracting new clients. Behance knows this, and has built a great repository to showcase your work. The design is simple, attractive but not flashy, allowing your content to be center stage. Uploading samples, linking to work around the internet and embedding media is very easy. Build a portfolio that you can be proud of with Behance.
Flavors.me — Important though it is, your portfolio is only part of your web presence. You probably have a website, portfolio, multiple social media accounts, and maybe a digital resume. Unify them under one heading with Flavors.me. It doesn’t have to cost you a penny, but a dedicated domain and premium design like I use (RayDeck3.com) is well worth the investment. Flavors.me creates for you a single internet location from which prospective clients can access all of your internet presence. The design simplicity makes it easy for Google’s search bots to catalog your site. It will rank well in search results almost instantly. The value of this cannot be overstated.
Trello — If you are balancing multiple projects from multiple clients simultaneously, you could probably benefit from a workflow management system to keep it all straight. Trello is very easy to use, and can help you keep yourself organized. It’s project based construction is perfect for freelancers. The sharing function allows your clients to look in on how things are going without the need for email updates. Everybody loves less email.
Bananatag —Freelancers are constantly bidding on new contracts. Bananatag allows you to see specific information about when your emails are opened, which links are clicked and how many times. I hesitated to put this one on the list because I think of it as a secret weapon. Information is power. With powerful metrics like what you’ve come to expect from your web tools now applied to your email, you stay in the driver’s seat. No more radio silence from potential clients. Using Bananatag, you can know if they read your email and are snubbing you, or if it’s being furiously forwarded around the office.
What other web apps do you use to work smarter?
by Ray Deck