When finally deciding to take the plunge into the world of freelancing, I was immediately apprehensive of the cost. The cost needed to set up an idea that I have had in my mind for many years.
After talking to some friends it became clear to me that what I was experiencing was not uncommon. I quickly found out that every freelancer experienced it. As if worrying about the setup cost was almost a prerequisite.
If this is you, you’re not alone.
To keep costs low and making sure I had ample time to dedicate to the real tasks like building my name with a solid bunch of clients, I searched high and low for the most efficient and affordable software and apps needed to run my freelance business.
Below is my arsenal of software and apps I can’t live without. Tools that not only do a great job but apps that also don’t break the bank.
Photoshop for dummies. Sketch is a brilliant piece of software perfect for wireframing (and when Photoshop and Illustrator are just too laborious for a simple project).
Cost: $99 for the whole year
- You can edit vector elements or any .eps file directly inside Sketch
- You can export code or artboards in every conceivable format
- Import UI/ UX kits directly from their resources portal
- Grids and guides make drag and drop a breeze
- You can iterate and duplicate artboards at speed
To add to its impressive set of design options, the guys at Platforma have developed a set of beautiful wireframe templates for $49 that slot nicely, straight into Sketch. Offering every conceivable landing page element you’ll need, I swear by this and have used it in every web project since I stumbled across it.
Accounting & Invoicing
The ultimate accounting platform – Freshbooks saves so much time by doing the accounting groundwork for you. No more manual invoicing or constructing invoice emails in Gmail. You can now send them directly from the Freshbooks portal.
Cost: free for the first month then $25 a month, which includes up to 50 clients.
- Connect Stripe to all invoices so clients can pay with one click from the electronic invoice. This decreases the time you’ll be waiting to be paid.
- Send invoices on the fly – from your mobile and PC.
- Record billable time and hours
- Build freelance proposals
- Set invoice reminders
Although slightly more expensive compared to their counterparts, I think the investment is worth it for only a small fee of $22 per month.
Project Management Tool
The perfect project management tool – Asana takes the complicated out of projects by simplifying them into smaller bite-sized chunks and holding you accountable for overdue tasks with daily reminders.
Monthly Subscription: FREE!
- If you are collaborating with others, you can send them reminders of overdue work
- Tag up your project and plan your work out for the week using the calendar view
- Add attachments and screenshots to any tasks to quickly explain feedback
- You can see all your projects and outstanding tasks at a glance
- Chat with others over a task or subtask
Stationery and Printed Collateral
The worlds most affordable business cards – the guys at Moo have developed an online design portal for you to either upload your business cards or design it on the spot. For $22 you can land yourself 100 business cards. For something extra special you can choose to individually design the back of each of these 100 cards for a small additional fee. Whow.
A total no-brainer for those wanting to share large files with clients – Google Drive has your answers. For those freelancers that also write lots of blogs and website content, Google docs provide the perfect platform for track changes without the back and forth emails.
Cost: 15GB FREE
- Secure – every file stays safe regardless of if you lose every device you own. After all, it’s Google.
- Sharing options – you can opt to give people different access such as editor, viewer or an all-access pass.
- Make powerpoints, documents and sheets. Think of it as the suite of Microsoft products without the price tag.
Banking & Finance
If you time your run right, ING Bank offers a $100 bonus for new customers with their referral program. This means you can open a bank account for your clients to deposit money into AND start your balance at $100.
- Shop online and overseas and pay no ING international transaction fees – this one is perfect for hosting and domain fees which are usually in American Dollars.
- You can set up roundups to your savings account. This of this as forced savings without you really knowing. For example, if you make a purchase of $4.55, the remaining 45c will flow.
- Recurring bills? No dramas. You can set up recurring payments easily.
- Free ATM withdrawal fees anywhere in Australia
- No monthly fees (always important)
By far the cheapest and most reliable domain registrar – Go Daddy has your back as the world’s largest registrar for business names. With top-notch online support, they have some of the best online guides and instructions to connect your domain to your hosting platform.
Yearly cost: 99c (literally)
Design Collaboration & Presentations
Take your wireframes and designs to the next level with Invision. This platform allows the freelancer to show off their hard work professionally while putting the power in the reviewer’s hand with easy commenting. Backed with email notifications and summaries once a user has made comments, it’s the ultimate design collaboration tool and will certainly increase your review process.
Cost: Free for the trial period.
For so long, I was on the hunt for a solid brainstorming tool that was easy to make and share, that didn’t resemble a Microsoft word clip art design. Then I stumbled across Mindmeister – an easy way to collaborate and share mind maps that look great and can be branded with your colours.
Cost: the first 3 maps are FREE.
Awesome Screenshot for Chrome and Firefox is a browser-based extension that can capture a selected part of a website, the portion visible in the browser window or even the entirety of the page in one go. You can also make comments, annotations and add arrows/ shapes once you’ve taken it.
Even the best of copywriters and freelancers make spelling mistakes. That’s why you need a spell checker that integrates so much more than just spelling. Grammarly looks one step further at your sentence structure. With Grammarly, you can make sure effect and affect are used in the correct context. The best part is that it is a Google Chrome add-on and any point you click a text box Grammarly will work its magic.
Protection & Security
If you’ve been locked out of your account for too many login attempts and forgot your email that you created 7 years ago, this app is for you. 1 Password allows you to aggregate all of your passwords into one encrypted portal so you don’t forget it.
Coming in at a grand total of $431 for the whole year, the above is what I used to help me start my freelancing website and business. Less scary than originally anticipated, $431 was a much more affordable start and proves you can begin anything on a shoestring budget.