As a company of one, leveraging technology with digital freelancer tools is a no-brainer for staying on top of your business.
When you’re setting business goals, smart tools can help you become more organized, multiply your time, and solidify the backend of your business. This, as a result, allows you to focus more of your time and energy on doing the creative work you love and serving your customers and clients to the best of your ability.
However, there is a downside to adopting new tech into your life — and that’s deciding which tools to use.
If you’re anything like me, you end up spending more time researching and testing the tools (and fussing over the decision) than you do using them. This means that rather than saving time, you end up wasting it.
Not quite the result we’re after.
So, to reduce the overwhelm and get you over the decision hump, I’m sharing 42 of the best freelancer tools that I’ve already researched (and many of which I use). These selections will make the job of serving clients and growing your business at the same time significantly easier to manage.
Freelance Project Management Tools
If you think that project management is only necessary for big companies, then you’re thinking way too small. Freelancing project management software is your secret weapon to improving collaboration, enhancing productivity, and ensuring you deliver on time, every time.
Work with clients and collaborators from anywhere, anytime.
Asana is one of the best project management software for freelancers, making it simple for you to coordinate and manage your work. It’s most beneficial if you work with multiple clients and/or other freelancers. Just invite them as guests, and they only see the tasks, projects, or teams you want them to.
Asana makes staying organized a snap — with more than 100 integrations, you can use it for just about everything.
My favorite is Asana for Outlook, which turns emails into actionable, trackable to-dos without switching tools. This user-friendly interface makes it simple to keep tabs on your goals, tasks, and multiple project statuses all in one place.
Tops among freelance project management tools for confidently running projects and workflows.
Monday.com isn’t just another project management tool. It helps you focus on the process, not just the task, so you can improve how you manage your to-dos, projects, and collaboration.
While Monday.com is best if you have a small team, there is an individual plan that helps keep track of your projects and work. A visual tool, the brightly colored statuses make it simple to see where each project stands in a glance. Monday.com supports you working how you work best.
A virtual filing cabinet to organize your work and declutter your life.
Evernote will organize your life. It keeps your ideas and notes all in one place across all your devices, so they’re always with you and always in sync.
You can use it whenever you need to record, review, or remember anything. You can even clip notes directly from the web with their browser extension and file away all the most useful content you want to come back to. It’s one of the freelancer tools that help you conquer information overwhelm.
Professional email + a complete office business package that works seamlessly from anywhere.
Google Workspace gives you the power to create, collaborate, and organize everything for your business, from anywhere you are.
For a small monthly fee, you get a professional email, plenty of storage space, and a suite of powerful online business tools, including Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and Drive. If you want to streamline your business operations, keep all your files in one place, and make it easier to create and communicate with your clients and collaborators, then Google Workspace is your answer.
A digital project management tool that organizes your tasks using visual boards.
Trello is for people who prefer a visual work style (or anyone who is a fan of personal Personal Kanban or Scrum). You can use it to create, plan, and manage your business projects productively and collaboratively.
The basic version is free, and you can access it easily via the app or their website. You can also boost its functionality with a third-party app like Zapier or upgrade to Trello for Business to power up your project boards.
Topping the list of what’s most important for your business success is proactive fiscal management. The good news is you don’t have to hire pricey accountants to handle your day-to-day finances. Here are a few of the best accounting software for freelancers.
Easy accounting software for freelancers and small businesses.
FreshBooks makes it super simple to get paid and keep your finances in check. Invoicing is painless, expense tracking is easy, and knowing how profitable you are is a breeze.
Chasing money sucks, and the less time you can spend on accounting, the better. So using an all-in-one solution — designed specifically for freelancers and solo operators — is always a good choice.
A robust, top choice for freelancers who want to handle their own tax payments.
QuickBooks Self-Employed gives you a comprehensive suite of accounting functions, including seamlessly syncing with popular tax app TurboTax.
Forget your fear of underpaying or overpaying taxes — QuickBooks stays on top of it for you in real-time.
It calculates your quarterly tax payments and allows you to e-file all within the same platform. That, combined with the ability to log and track mileage, expenses, invoices, and receipts with ease, makes QuickBooks an excellent choice for solopreneurs.
A free freelance accounting solution.
When you’re starting out (and even as you grow), shelling out cash to manage your cash can feel painful. Wave is a painless accounting solution because it’s free. (They make money by charging a fee, comparable to PayPal’s, for each online payment.)
But just because it’s free doesn’t mean Wave is chintzy on functionality. You can create unlimited customized invoices, take payments online or over the phone, track your profitability, and more. Plus, when tax season rolls around, everything, including receipts, is organized and ready to file.
A scalable solution that grows with you.
Xero is a great choice if you see a worldwide empire in your future (and even if you don’t). It has all you need when you’re first getting started, from invoicing to bill payment, receipts storage, and expenses tracking, and easily expands from there.
As you begin to scale your business, Xero offers hundreds of app integrations, including Shopify, Stripe, and PayPal, plus payroll, so that your financial house is all in one place. Guaranteed your ambitions won’t outgrow Xero.
Simple, intuitive, interactive solution with a free starter plan.
Like the other accounting freelancer tools, ZipBooks has all you need out the gates: unlimited professional invoicing, customer and vendor management, and digital payments via Square or PayPal. Plus, the free version should suffice for most new freelancers.
ZipBooks also aspires to be more than just accounting software for you — it wants to be your trusted advisor. It provides you with smart insights into how you can save money, retain clients, and get paid faster, which is the kind of help we all can use.
Client Communication Tools
Among the most essential freelancer tools are those that keep the lines of communication open and clear.
The good news is that today’s technology, from web conferencing tools to collaboration platforms, makes both synchronous and asynchronous communication easy.
Boomerang for Gmail
Lets you take control of when you send and receive email messages in Gmail.
With Boomerang, you can write an email now and schedule it to be sent automatically at the perfect time.
It’s handy for freelancers who work odd hours but want to appear more professional with a nine-to-five response time. You can also set reminders for emails you’ve already sent, so you don’t forget to follow up when it comes to the important stuff (like getting paid).
Slack brings all the pieces and people you need together so you can get things done.
Slack is the answer to getting out of your inbox and getting more done. You can use it to communicate more effectively with your colleagues, clients, and communities.
You can drag, drop, and share all your files and connect all your freelancer tools in one place to create a centralized communication hub for you and your business. It has direct messaging and calls built-in, plus it integrates directly with your other apps to allow your internal operating system to flow with ease.
Web conferencing platform for high-definition audio and video communication.
Zoom gives you high-definition audio and video conferencing for crisp and clear communication with clients. The free version of Zoom allows you to have an unlimited number of meetings, one-on-one conferences of any time duration, and 40 minutes for meetings of three or more people.
Zoom also allows you to work with others more efficiently, thanks to the group collaboration features. Screen sharing is simple with an intuitive interface that displays visual presentations, and there’s also a built-in whiteboard. Plus, you can have some fun with backgrounds and filters, so it’s not all work and no play.
Content Marketing Tools
When you work freelance, content marketing is a smart strategy to attract quality leads and engage clients to grow your business.
The key is to provide valuable content that solves pain points and challenges, and follows best practices to ensure search engines — and prospective clients — can find you.
You don’t have to be an SEO pro to rank higher and get more traffic.
Ahrefs is an SEO industry leader that gives you everything you need in one place: site audit, content inspiration, competitive keyword analysis, keyword performance tracking, and high-quality backlink opportunities.
If you’re in a competitive market and want to get the edge with expert SEO insights, Ahrefs can be a powerful tool. It is an investment that starts at $99 per month for the “lite” plan, which might be one of the more pricey freelancer tools for those on a budget. But then again, it’s a lot less than hiring an SEO agency.
A plugin that makes designing WordPress pages easy.
Beaver Builder is a drag-and-drop page builder that puts you in complete control over the layout of your website posts and pages.
Beaver Builder incorporates gorgeous page templates that you can use to save time while building your site from scratch. It features multiple drag and drop design elements that make website design much easier.
Discover what content performs best for any topic or competitor.
BuzzSumo helps you find the most shared content on the internet and on which platform it performs the best. It’s fantastic for generating content ideas and conducting comprehensive topic research, which will help you craft killer headlines and enhance your audience engagement.
Buzzsumo can also help you develop powerful and highly targeted traffic strategies. You can pinpoint key influencers and potential sites to approach for collaboration and guest blogging opportunities.
Rank higher in search engines with the top WordPress SEO plugin.
Yoast is an excellent all-around plugin for those of us who understand the importance of SEO but aren’t super technical. It simplifies checking a website page’s SEO score, managing the title and description, and making intelligent choices for keywords and other SEO best practices.
My favorite part of Yoast is its readability rating system, which helps you write SEO-friendly content that both people and search engines understand.
The plugin’s free version is robust, and it’s only $89 annually for added functionality, including multiple keyword optimization, internal linking suggestions, and unlimited support.
Turn your leads into customers with email marketing automation.
From marketing automation to email to contact management, Drip gives you all of the freelancer tools to transform email subscribers into devoted clients. It delivers marketing automation that makes sense and, despite its robust features, is surprisingly easy to use.
You can use Drip to help you completely automate your customer journey and create an intuitive email campaign that gets you results. It also integrates with a ton of other apps so you can create a seamless onboarding system for your clients.
Explore our recommendations for the best email marketing services in our dedicated guide.
Nowadays, you don’t need an advanced degree in creative arts to produce pro-quality visual content from graphics to videos. Here are some of the best freelancer tools for creative expression — no mad design skills necessary.
Software that makes videos easy.
Animoto makes the daunting task of creating a video feel doable. You can use it to design, produce, and promote a professional-looking video without getting stuck on the tech.
It’s easy to upload files, arrange your slides, pick your music, and add your style to your next video production. It also comes with easy embed and social sharing options so you can get more people to check out your work.
Easy graphic design, even for the creatively challenged.
Canva enables anyone to be a designer. It’s the easiest design program around and requires zero experience to use.
The software comes chock full of great templates, free stock images, fun fonts, and cool layouts, so you can create all kinds of digital media for your brand. Canva makes graphic design simple and fast.
A free, open-source photo editor.
GIMP offers a broad toolset similar to Photoshop that allows you to create graphics, add text, design elements, and manipulate images like a pro.
This cross-platform software has a variety of third-party plugins, so the only limitation is your imagination. From high-quality photo manipulation to original artwork and mockups, GIMP empowers you to unleash your creativity at a price even starving artists can afford: free.
Annotate images exactly the way you want.
Skitch is an excellent (and free) annotation tool from the people over at Evernote. You can use it to add annotations, shapes, and sketches to your screenshots or any other image you have.
It’s fantastic for recording website edits, process mapping, and giving feedback or notes for other people’s work. Just download it to your desktop and summon it when needed.
Create content and add awesome text to your images in seconds.
Word Swag is perfect for creating social media content quickly. Everything you publish will look polished and professional, and it will only take a few seconds to produce.
You can create content from scratch using photos and text from your phone or use their excellent templates, inspiring quotes, and professional image gallery. It’s free, fun, and effortless to use.
File Management Tools
Accessing and sharing files is the lifeblood of any digital business — because losing or not being able to access docs can suck the life out of your productivity. Here are a few of the best file-sharing service tools.
A stress-free way to gather content and documents.
If you’re done with frustrating, ad hoc content collection from emails, chats, and shared documents and folders, Content Snare is a user-friendly, inexpensive solution.
This drag-and-drop app streamlines information collection and content production. You can request client content, ensure that it’s the proper format, and automate the process, so all you need is in one convenient, up-to-date place.
A cloud-based home for your digital files that you can access from anywhere.
Dropbox runs in the background of your life. It automatically keeps your files in sync and backed up online, easy to access and share. It’s like having the same folder on all of your devices at the same time.
You can store anything in your Dropbox, so the content you need is always at your fingertips. You can even make files available offline, which is handy if you’re stuck somewhere without internet access.
Securely send large files without sweating security.
DropSend is a handy solution when you need to send files too big for email. Securely and quickly transfer videos, photos, and large documents in a few clicks.
The best part is there are no restrictions on the file size, no software to install, and your recipient doesn’t need a DropSend account to access the files. Also, there’s a free trial, and the basic account is just $5 per month.
Simple, secure access to all of your content on any device.
Google Drive is a household name when it comes to file-sharing and storage. It up-levels your organization by allowing you to create folders, add and move documents, and convert files to different file types.
In addition to providing the smooth workflow you’d expect from any Google product, it’s the copious integrations and 15 GB of free storage that top my list of why I love (and rely on) Google Drive as one of my core freelancer tools.
Social Media Management Tools
Social media allows you to spread the good word about your services, but you might worry it’ll be too much of a time-suck to do it right. That’s where social media schedulers come in. They help you save time, money, and effort while expanding your reach, engagement, and sales.
A super-simple link shortening and tracking tool.
Bitly helps you easily monitor your online marketing and promotional activities. With Bitly, you can shorten and personalize any link you like and collect data on how well it performs across your marketing channels.
You can manage all your links in one place (using the app or the site), and the analysis tool will give you a better idea of what your audience likes and where they are most engaged with you online.
Tell your story and grow your audience with this simple social media tool.
Buffer is a straightforward, intuitive social media scheduler that enables you to queue your content for publication, engage with your audience, and analyze your campaigns on social platforms, all from a user-friendly dashboard.
The scheduler works for all the major social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest — and makes it easy for you to use on the go. And the free account allows you to publish up to 10 posts on three social channels.
Easily manage your social media and get results.
Hootsuite is one of the leading OG social media schedulers. Its comprehensive suite of tools to publish, engage, monitor, advertise, and analyze helps you do more on social in less time.
While the platform supports scheduling high-quality content and using insights to grow your audience, it’s an investment of at least $49/month for a professional plan (after a free 30-day trial). So freelancer tools like this are best for those who take their social seriously.
Automate your social media and make apps play nice with each other.
IFTTT makes your life easier by empowering you to connect two separate channels or platforms using “Applets.” For example, you can link your WordPress blog with your Facebook page, and the Applet will automatically share a link on Facebook when your latest post is live.
IFTTT’s Applets can help you with scheduler-type functions, like posting, scheduling, and monitoring your social networks. And if you can’t find an IFTTT “recipe” to fill a need, you can easily tweak an existing IFTTT Applet or create your own.
A social media scheduling tool that manages itself.
Meet Edgar makes self-promotion a breeze. If you struggle to make time to share your best content, then Edgar is your new best friend (and promotional cheerleader).
Its primary purpose is to help you boost your traffic and engage more with your audience by sharing your content more consistently on the platforms you populate. All you do is load your links to the library and then sit back and watch Edgar dole it out, in a data-driven rotation, across your social platforms.
All-inclusive Instagram management app for planning, scheduling, and analytics.
There are plenty of Instagram schedulers out there, but none of them give you a good visual feel of how your feed will look once published — except Plann, that is.
Enhancing the aesthetic of your page is a key factor in attracting new followers and getting better engagement from your current ones. Organize your feed, hashtags, and audience data in this easy-to-use app designed specifically to help you attract the followers you want.
Better Workflow Tools
If you find yourself wondering how to get more done in a day, start by trimming the fat in your day-to-day.
AI-driven tools are here to help you automate tasks, schedule meetings and appointments, track time, and even remember your passwords. All you have to do is kick back, pop a bonbon in your mouth, and enjoy the luxury of having smart tools that work for you.
Automate repetitive tasks so you can focus on your most important work.
Zapier connects the apps you use every day to help you finish routine tasks automatically. You can use it to streamline your workflow, hack your systems, and create more time for yourself.
If you use Zapier strategically enough, it’s like having another team member (who never needs to sleep). It’s easy automation for busy people that allows you to focus on your most important work.
A password manager and secure wallet for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android.
1Password provides a secure home for all your valuable data. It gives you the freedom to not commit your passwords to memory while locking away your logins, credit cards, ID numbers, and all other necessary information into a protected vault. Definitely one of the most important freelancer tools!
You can access all your sensitive data easily from any of your devices without compromising your security, and you’ll be able to log in into any site from your browser with just one click. It saves so much time when browsing, and you’ll never have to hit “forgot password” again.
A simple, user-friendly, and high-powered scheduling tool.
Acuity Scheduling completely removes any annoying back and forth or scheduling headaches between you, your clients, and your collaborators.
With Acuity, clients can quickly view your real-time availability and self-book appointments that fit into your schedule perfectly. Rescheduling is painless, and the software does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to onboarding, reminders, getting paid, and keeping in touch.
Flowcharts and funnel mapping made easy.
Lucidchart is one of the freelancer tools that helps you create impressive diagrams and flowcharts for your business. It’s perfect for communicating your ideas clearly and more collaboratively.
The software has a simple drag-drop functionality, which makes it incredibly easy to use, even for a beginner. It’s an excellent tool for mapping your customer experience and designing smart marketing funnels that will power your business.
A powerful, easy-to-use screen recording and video editing tool for Mac users.
ScreenFlow makes screen recording easy. If you need to record videos for your clients, produce marketing content, or create tutorials for training purposes, then you can do it all within the ScreenFlow software.
You can record from your desktop, iPhone, and iPad and have the ability to do quick edits after any screen capture. If you’re new to video (or not that great with tech), Screenflow is a simple solution with a robust set of features.
A simple time-tracker to help you get things done.
Toggl makes time tracking so simple you’ll actually use it. It helps you break down your hours by projects, clients, and tasks to see what’s making you money — and what’s holding you back.
It’s incredibly easy to use and comes with flexible and powerful reporting, so you (and your clients) can see exactly where you spend your time. Toggl is the simplest time tracker to help you get things done.
Regardless of if it’s your job to create high-quality digital content or not, what you say and how you say it is critical.
And we all use written communication to connect online, from emails and texts to blog posts, articles, and social media posts. Here are some of the best freelancer tools for writers that even non-writers can rock.
Grammar and spell-checker for your online writing.
Grammarly makes sure your writing is readable, compelling, and flawless. It’s a super-handy online tool that checks your spelling, fixes your grammar, and trains you to write with conviction.
Using Grammarly will help you tease out your bad spelling habits and help you eliminate grammar mistakes so you can become consistently clear, concise, and confident with your writing. You can even grab the Grammarly Keyboard app, so your tweets, captions, and comments can be automatically proofread as well.
Make your writing bold and clear.
Hemingway was famous for his spare, direct prose style. The Hemingway app picks up where the writer left off. It improves your writing style by grading your grammar use and offering simpler choices.
My favorite aspect of the Hemingway app is that it grades readability levels. The average person’s reading level is 7th-8th grade, so to make your writing more accessible and inclusive, aim to be no higher than middle school. (Hemingway ranks this description as Grade 7.)
Find long-tail keywords with low SEO difficulty.
When you’re writing online content, you’ve got to keep your eye on the SEO prize. KWFinder makes keyword searching a breeze, delivering rich data to help you research, plan, and write engaging website content.
As your secret weapon to finding the best long-tail keywords to target (those with high search volume/low competition), KWFinder is an easy-to-use tool for everyone from SEO newbies to pros. There’s a free trial, and monthly fees start at $29.90 per month.
That’s a Wrap …
Taking advantage of automation and SaaS freelancer tools can help you feel like you have a team working for you — even though it’s just you pulling all the strings behind the scenes.
And when you use them intelligently, they can help you improve the flow of your business and save you a significant amount of time.
You might not need all of the tools we’ve mentioned today, and perhaps you have your own preferences and favorites you rely on. Still, one of these recommendations might help make running your business smoother and significantly less stressful. It’s well worth your time to check them out!
Want more freelance tips for how to run your business better? Sign up for the Unemployable newsletter.