A few days ago on FreelanceSwitch, Joel Bankhead compiled a list of resources he called 30 Inherently Useful Tools for Freelancers. It’s a great list of software and web services that make a freelancer’s life easier.
While not every tool on this list will be helpful for every freelancer, its overall aim is to provide you with resources that could help you significantly increase your productivity (do more…), get organized, work more efficiently, plan your to do items better, and maybe even save some money!
More than half the resources Joel lists are free. Which do you use?
- Evernote. Evernote is in the very first spot on this list because it’s awesome and it’s free! Whether it’s an App that will become a trustworthy companion or pleasant acquaintance will primarily depend upon your level of organization, but it’s undoubtedly worth a look! Click here for an in-depth review of Evernote for Mac.
- Google Calendar. You may be entirely satisfied with your current calendar and it’s capabilities, you like the way iCal syncs with your iPhone or the simply virtuous pen on paper. Despite this, it’s worth having a look at whether Google Calendar could enhance the way you work! It’s a great tool that allows you to share your schedule, access your calendar on the go, and get customizable reminders to help you stay on schedule. You can even choose to be notified by email or get a text message sent right to your mobile phone, for free!
- Sample Design Contract (links to a PDF). Alongside some of the more interesting entries here I’ll also endeavour to shed light on some useful tools that won’t change your life but will make it easier. Here is a good example of a sample design contract from Mayhem Studios that includes some useful small print!
- SlimTimer. SlimTimer is a useful tool for tracking how much time you’ve spent working on a task and even includes the ability to export the reports to coworkers and clients. Did I mention it’s free?
- Creating a Web Design Contract. This blog article by Anders Haig on how to create a web design contract is a great tool for anyone starting out in the web design business and gives a good overview of what needs to be included. It even goes as far as including a sample contract, although it is a little more basic than the sample from Mayhem Studios.
- Dropbox. Dropbox is an effortlessly brilliant piece of software that syncs your files online, as well as across your computers and handheld devices. You simply put your files into your Dropbox folder on one computer, and they’ll automatically appear on any of your other computers or devices that also have Dropbox installed! Its basic version is free – get it now!
- Google Docs. For some of us a fully functioning Office-like suite of programs for word processing, et al., just simply isn’t necessary and would be a waste of resources! Meet Google Docs. It’s a free, web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, and form application that allows users to create and edit documents online. It goes above and beyond the standard word processor, allowing collaborating in real-time with other users!
- PayPal. It might sound ridiculous to those of you who’ve been in the freelancing world for years but PayPal is an incredibly useful tool for receiving and sending money. If you regularly receive payments via PayPal, then it may have become a little mundane and unremarkable, but it’s worth remembering how powerful it is for a freelancer to be able to quickly and easily receive payments from anywhere in the world!
- FreelanceSwitch Hourly Rate Calculator. An abundantly useful tool, the FreelanceSwitch Hourly Rate Calculator is designed to give you a guide based on your costs, number of billable hours and desired profit. As a simple tool for you to play around with it’s fascinating, and put to proper use it can really help you evaluate your finances!
- Mint. Managing your money is a vital part of being a successful freelancer and Mint is another tool that is designed to help you do just that! Mint brings all your financial accounts together online, automatically categorizes your transactions, lets you set budgets, and helps you achieve your savings goals – and all for free!
- Remember the Milk. Remember The Milk is a delightfully simple way to manage your tasks and events that allows you to get email, SMS, and IM reminders. It’s free and available for almost any platform/device you can name!
- XE. For working with an overseas client you may need to handle foreign currencies. XE’s currency converter is a useful tool for accurate currency calculations that features up-to-the-minute currency rates.
- Instacalc. Even if times you need to do inherently complicated math are few few and far between, I would still recommend bookmarking Instacalc. It’s beautifully intuitive and the perfect solution to any math jam you may find yourself in!
- FreshBooks. FreshBooks is one of the more popular online accounting Apps and benefits from having a good free account and an excellent companion App for the iPhone. It aims to help you break free with fast, simple services that help you manage your business.
- faxZERO. Do you have a fax machine? I thought not. Very few freelancers would now find any use in having a fax machine, but for those rare occasions when a client requests a holdable copy of something there’s faxZERO – a simple but useful tool that allows you to send a fax free to anywhere in the U.S. or Canada!
- Creative Commons. If your output as a freelancer is creative and original, then Creative Commons is an organization that exists to help you! Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation. Use Creative Commons to specify what kinds of legal restrictions you want your work to carry.
- Aiga Standard Form of Agreement. As a freelancer it’s vitally important to protect your livelihood and creative output. To this end, the final tool included here is essentially a set of terms and conditions relevant to design work. This agreement allows you to create customized terms and conditions for different types of design engagements. It is arranged in modules so that terms and conditions can be kept to a minimum in each case.
That’s an incredibly helpful list. Make sure you check out the original article on FreelanceSwitch. You’ll find even more resources in the comments!