Web conferencing tools are something that new freelancers may not think they need — or better yet, may not even think about until they need to use one.
After all, a big reason for going freelance is to escape time drains like meetings.
But in our post-pandemic world where the word “zoom” is synonymous with video conferencing (and not ye olde dictionary definition, “move around quickly”), it’s hard to escape hopping on the occasional video conference call.
Plus, there are loads of ways that web conferencing tools — Zoom and beyond — can benefit you beyond forcing you to occasionally shower and put on “normal” clothes (at least a top) every once in a while.
Let’s dive in.
What Are Web Conferencing Tools?
Simply put, web conferencing tools help you communicate and collaborate with people online. While video meetings immediately spring to mind, there are other functions that web conferencing tools provide.
- Broadcast webinars
- Stream videos — live or recorded
- Give presentations and web tours
- Host online events
- Record and transcribe meetings or conversations
In other words, web conferencing tools make it possible for you to use any browser to communicate with others in real-time via video, voice, and messages.
The Benefits of Using Web Conferencing Tools
When you’re setting business goals, two obvious benefits of using web conferencing tools spring to mind:
- You can connect with clients from anywhere, anytime — and it’s more personal than an email, text message, or even a phone call.
- You save time and money on travel when/if you need to meet clients or a collaborator “in person.”
Now, there’s a third massive benefit that you might not consider, and it has to do with setting boundaries with clients.
Picture this: you’ve been going back and forth with a potential client over email about a project, but now they want to schedule a discovery call and talk about more details.
You could give them your phone number. But should you?
Giving potential clients your phone number runs the risk of blurring a professional boundary. It may inadvertently give them free rein to contact you outside of your office hours regarding non-emergency matters.
Don’t get me wrong, depending on your unique situation, you may find it’s easier to communicate with clients this way, and that’s completely fine!
But if you want to get off on the right foot while protecting your privacy, consider using a web conferencing tool for communication. It does the double duty of personalizing the exchange and keeping contact to a time that you schedule — not the other way around.
Bottom line: there are many things web conferencing tools can do for you that your smartphone alone simply cannot.
Should I Call You Or You Call Me?
Web conferencing tools not only make you look professional, but they tend to make client calls run easier and more efficiently.
Not to mention, if you’re a full-on digital nomad, it may make more sense to run a call through a web conferencing tool if you don’t have the best reception or a limited international phone plan.
Plus, most video conferencing software includes some essential features and functions for freelancers, including:
- File sharing
- Screen sharing and presentation mode
- Better connectivity and call clarity
- Various chat options (video, text)
Much sleeker and savvy than a simple over-the-phone call, right?
Best Online Meeting Platforms for Freelancers
Whether you use them regularly or once in a Super Blood Wolf Moon, it’s never a bad idea to have a go-to online video conferencing tool for any situation.
Here are some of our favorite web conferencing tools for freelancers.
Zoom is ubiquitous nowadays: it’s a brand, a verb, a noun, and, of course, a powerful web conferencing tool. From hosting HD video meetings and crystal-clear calls to creating video webinars, Zoom lets you do it all — and, depending on your usage needs, for free.
Zoom's intuitive interface makes it easy for all parties to join a call, share their screens, and chat. Zoom’s HD video and audio capabilities will have you getting down to business quickly so you can get back to work.
Zoom’s mobile and desktop apps allow you to connect from anywhere — no matter where you are in the world — securely and with clarity.
This web conferencing tool even lets you change the background of your screen so your clients don’t have to see your messy home office or your kids' toys strewn about. And if you’re feeling particularly festive (or feisty, for that matter), you can pop on a filter … because who doesn’t want to rock their inner John Oates with a thick mustache every once in a while?
What’s more, Zoom’s click-to-record feature allows you to keep things running without having to worry about taking notes. You can store files on your computer or the cloud, which makes it convenient to access later on.
Conference calls are more efficient and less stressful with Zoom, which is consistently voted one of the top freelancer tools worldwide.
Who should use Zoom?
Freelancers who need a flexible web conferencing system that allows for easy video calling, screen sharing, and connectivity.
- Basic — Free
- Pro — $149.90/year/license
- Business — $199.90/year/license
For a detailed look at Zoom’s pricing and features, check out their website.
Arguably one of the most practical web conferencing tools available is UberConference by Dialpad. As they clearly state on their website, UberConference provides everything you need to run a smooth call.
If you want to compare UberConference vs. Zoom, there are a few notable differences:
- No more PINs (if you have the Business Plan).
- No more software downloads. (Zoom can run on a browser, but downloading and installing the app is encouraged.)
- No more frantically looking through your email for the correct link to click or number to call — UberConference calls you.
- Meeting transcriptions are a snap with UberConference’s built-in AI technology. (You can also access transcriptions on Zoom, but you need a Business, Education, or Enterprise license.)
- The free plan gives you five additional minutes (45 mins. UberConference vs. Zoom – 40 mins.)
You can expect the familiar features that most web conferencing tools have, such as screen sharing, call controls, call recording, document sharing, group chat, and quality video and audio. UberConference helps you stay on time with their automatic call-in feature, which is a fancy way of saying they will call you when it’s time for your meeting.
You can even choose your own hold music! What’s better than that?
For those who are frequent travelers, this conference call system can keep up with you. UberConference’s mobile apps keep you connected while you’re on the go, so you never have to miss a meeting due to travel.
Also, UberConference offers third-party app integration of top freelancing project management tools like Google Calendar, Slack, Outlook, Hubspot, Salesforce, and Evernote so you can optimize your workflow and stay organized.
UberConference takes the guesswork out of scheduling a call and will help you make the most of your time.
Who should use UberConference?
Freelancers who don’t need all the bells and whistles but appreciate them.
- Basic Plan – Free
- Business Plan – $15.00/month
For a detailed breakdown of UberConference’s pricing, visit their website.
Skype has been around for a while — since 2003, to be exact — so it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about connection.
With Skype, you can make video and voice calls for free and communicate via the chatbox, share photos, send files, and more.
While Skype offers other advanced services like calling to landlines, international calling, and call forwarding, its simple video conferencing capabilities make running calls easy.
A member of the Microsoft family, Skype is available to use on most popular devices, even iPad, Blackberry, and Android tablets.
Skype is a reliable, straightforward platform that makes calling and video conferencing second nature. It also serves as a great way to stay in touch with your freelancer friends!
Who should use Skype?
Freelancers who just need the basics of video and audio calling.
- Free voice and video calls
To get the full breakdown of Skype’s offerings and pricing, check out their website.
Webex is one of the granddaddies of the online video conferencing space, founded in 1995 and acquired by Cisco in 2007. While the platform caters to large corporate clients, Webex offers a plan that’s perfectly sized for solopreneurs — and best of all, it’s free.
Webex wants to be your go-to comprehensive smart tool that makes it easy and secure for you to meet, message, call, and collaborate. And like most web conferencing tools, Webex provides HD video conferencing, meeting management, airtight SSL security, third-party integrations, collaboration tools (chat, screen sharing), and video call recording.
If you want to compare Zoom vs. Webex, there are a couple of differences worth noting:
- The free plan gives you 50 minutes of meeting time vs. 40 minutes on Zoom.
- The initial paid plan, “Starter” ($13.50/host/month), gives you up to 5 GB of cloud storage vs. 1 GB on Zoom (Pro account).
Webex aims to deliver a seamless working experience, so new features and AI-driven improvements are added frequently.
Who should use Webex?
Freelancers who like the look and feel of a high-end corporate web conferencing tool — without having to pay corporate-level fees.
- Free (1 host)
- Starter Plan – $13.50/month
- Business Plan – $26.95/month
To learn more about Webex’s features and pricing, check out their website.
If you use Google, you’re probably well aware that they’ve offered an array of web conferencing tools over time, notably Google Hangouts, Hangouts Meet, and Google Meet.
All of these options had varying degrees of video collaboration options — the kinds of things you’d expect, like screen sharing, recording, mobile-friendly UX, live streaming options, breakout rooms, and tight security.
As of May 2020, Google rolled all of their premium, enterprise-grade video conferencing tools into Google Meet and made it free for all users. (Well, for up to 100 users for 60 minutes — keep reading to see pricing.)
One of the best things about Google Meet is it’s simple to get started from your personal Google account or business account (Google Workspace). Meet with anyone from anywhere with the Google Meet app — cross-device compatibility, anti-hacker security, and AI-enhanced voice and video are at your fingertips.
Who should use Google Meet?
If you’re a Google power user and want to automate your business and streamline your work, Google Meet makes a lot of sense. Meetings are saved to your Google drive with a Google Workspace Essentials account, and you can also do all of your follow-up work, like sending files, emails, and transcribing right from your Google account.
- Free (1 host)
- Google Workspace Essentials – $8.00/user/month
To check out Google Meet’s features and pricing, visit their website.
GoToMeeting wants to serve all of your web-driven communications needs, starting with video meetings but also including phone calls, chat, and other cloud-based collaboration.
In fact, under the “GoTo” umbrella, it’s no longer GoToMeeting vs. join.me — they’re all a part of the LogMeIn family, a mainstay in the web conferencing tools business since 2003.
GoToMeeting has all the same features and functions of leading web conferencing software you’d expect, including HD videos, webcam preview, screen sharing, drawing tools, in-session chat, and state-of-the-art security.
There are a few notable points of differentiation:
- GoToMeeting is available in 190+ countries (Zoom, for example, is available in 40 countries)
- The software automatically adjusts to bandwidth on the fly — no choppy audio or dropped calls
- Meeting lock provides extra security and peace of mind
Who should use GoToMeeting?
For freelancers who’d like to put all their communication and collaboration tools under one roof, the GoTo suite of tools offers a ton of flexibility. Plus, you’ll save time making a decision now because you no longer have to debate GoToMeeting vs. join me.
- Professional – $14.00/organizer/month
- Business – $19.00/organizer/month
For a closer look at GoToMeeting’s pricing and offerings, check out their website.
Verizon slipped into the hot video conferencing market by acquiring the cloud-based web conferencing tool BlueJeans Network in 2020. The original BlueJeans concept was to create a virtual meeting where people could use visual communications products of their choice.
Today, the app offers Dolby voice and HD video for crystal-clear virtual meetings, smart features that help you tag critical meeting moments, real-time closed captioning, intelligent bandwidth management, and safe-driving mode for meetings on the go.
In keeping with its original mission, BlueJeans supports integration with an extensive network of apps. Integration categories include workstream collaboration (i.e., Slack, Zoom.ai), scheduling (i.e., Google Calendar, Robin), productivity (i.e., Trello, Hugo), network intelligence (i.e., Alexa for Business, Otter.ai), freelance content marketing and collaboration tools (i.e., Kaptivo, Rumpus), and IT management (i.e., Splunk, Okta).
There are also specialized integrations for healthcare, sales and marketing, and education and learning management.
Who should use BlueJeans?
BlueJeans is a great fit for productivity-focused freelancers who wonder how to get more done in a day.
Pricing – “The Basics”
- Standard – $9.99/month
- Pro – $13.99/month
- Enterprise – $16.66/month
Learn more about BlueJean’s various video conferencing plans and pricing on their website.
Microsoft wants to be your everything, with the ability to meet, chat, call, and collaborate all in one place. You can use this web conferencing tool day and night to maintain both professional and personal connections.
And indeed, with Microsoft Teams, you have access for free to a robust suite of tools, including online meetings (phone or video) for up to 60 minutes, screen sharing, customized backgrounds (including the always-fun “theater mode” — a nice switch from the standard Brady Bunch-esque gallery view), web versions of Microsoft software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), leading-edge security, and support.
Up the ante just a little bit to Microsoft 365 Business Basic, and you get access to a more robust suite of tools, including the ability to record meetings, file storage with OneDrive, and a single sign-in to all your Microsoft 365 apps and services.
Who should use Microsoft Teams?
If you’re a Microsoft fan, becoming a Team player is a no-brainer.
- Free (up to 2 GB of storage/user)
- Microsoft 365 Business Basic – $5.00/user/month
- Microsoft 365 Business Standard – $12.50/user/month
Check out Microsoft Teams for Business’ features and pricing on their website.
RingCentral, launched in 1999, has always been a friend of the freelancer. The company has long empowered solopreneurs to bring their “office” phone with them wherever they go and help make small business people seem like kind of a big deal with 800-numbers that go right to their cell phones.
Today RingCentral has Glip, a single workspace that combines smart video conferencing with built-in team messaging so you can join, host, invite, and chat in one click — no download necessary.
With unlimited meeting time, easy switching between devices or from audio-only to video, and real-time chat, RingCentral offers lots of flexibility in a user-friendly package. RingCentral Video also sports the kinds of features and functions, including emojis, that you’d expect from a top-quality web conferencing tool.
Who should use RingCentral Glip?
If you do a lot of collaborating on the go, RingCentral Glip helps you flip into work mode whenever you need to from wherever you are.
- Glip Pro – Free
- Glip Pro+ – $14.99/user/month
Learn more about RingCentral Glip, including pricing, on the Glip website.
Keep in Touch with Clients Like a Pro
Whether you think you’ll use web conferencing tools frequently or not so much, it’s always best to be prepared.
With so many high-quality, free options, it’s wise to pick your favorite today, so you’ll have peace of mind the next time a potential client asks if they can “hop on the phone.”
As you grow your freelance business, communicating regularly with clients via video or audio call may well become part of your day-to-day schedule.
Want more tips and tools for smoothly running your small business? Sign up to receive the Unemployable newsletter and never miss a thing.