This page is dedicated to all the tools and resources that I use in my freelancing business. I thought you might like to see what they are and also take advantage of them in your business.
I only recommend products that I use - so if you ever have questions about a particular product, I'd be happy to answer them - shoot me an email!
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My Top Recommendations
If this is the only area you look at while on this page, then you'll be kicking off your business right from the out set. These are the tools that I recommend over and over again and are at the core of my freelancing business.
HostGator is who I use for 100% of my websites. They have great customer service, both via chat and on the phone, no matter where you are in the world. I have their unlimited hosting plan, which means I can host as many domains as I want.
Hosting plans start at just $4.95 per month so really, it's a no brainer! If you plan on using WordPress as your website platform (and you should be) then you'll enjoy the ease of the 1-click installation that HostGator provides.
You can also purchase your domain name via HostGator, but I prefer to use GoDaddy for this.
Use coupon code "OFScoupon1" at checkout for an immediate 25% off!
OptimizePress2.0 is THE best WordPress theme I've yet to come across. It's super customisable and allows you to set up landing pages, membership sites and blogs using pre-set templates or you can great your own from scratch. It's very easy to create beautiful opt-in boxes as well, connecting with all the major email management providers like MailChimp, Aweber etc.
Heavily driven by 'Elements' which is just a fancy term for widgets, you can create sites that look how you want them to. You can choose your own colours, fonts, change the position of logos, banners and create pricing tables that really show-case how professional and serious you are about your business!
The price of $97 for 3 licenses is what I currently have and it is well worth the price. This means I can have it on three sites without having to pay anything more for it!
There is a great support community with the guys that designed really responsive and helpful. I'm in love!
CoSchedule is THE best tool to manage your blog content calendar. I've been using it for over a few months now and it has helped me increase my blog following.
It's a great way to map out the content you want to publish and it connects with all your social media accounts, so that you can manage your blog post social media scheduling. It posts directly to everything, including Pinterest, which I love!
At just $10 per month per blog, it's well worth it as far as I'm concerned! Make sure you follow their blog too, they provide great tips on how to create content and how often you should be sharing it.
MailChimp is my preferred email management program. I know that a lot of people prefer Aweber, but I just find it very clunky. MailChimp is super simple to use and is free for your first 2,000 subscribers (although you can't set up autoresponders with the free account).
I really love how easy it is to set up campaigns, segment lists and add people from one list to another. The import feature is helpful if you are moving from another email program or you've been manually entering your list details into a spreadsheet.
Also, MailChimp is just plain cool!
Writing and Social Media Tools
These are currently the software and web applications that I use in my business. I'm a freelance writer first and foremost, so these are the tools that make a difference to my core business activities! Some of them may not make sense to you if you're not a writer, but some might, so be sure to check them out anyway...
Scrivener is my go-to tool for writing ebooks. It's also a great tool to use to map out a course. If you're looking for something to help with establishing distraction free writing, this will also work for you, as you can set it to go to full screen, where you can't see any applications and you can just focus on the writing.
I have a Macbook Air, so use that version and it is just a little better than the Windows version, sorry guys! I love the compile feature, so you don't have to worry about setting any formatting until you're ready to publish!
You can publish straight to Kindle format, iBooks and all the other ebook formats, so it makes getting ready to publish very simple!
At just $40, it is probably one of the most cost-effective tools I have and it has saved me so much time. I used to use MS Word to create my documents - but that was such a pain to get ready for publishing, even from a PDF perspective! Hyperlinks don't work anyone?! Scrivener - hyperlinks work!
Evernote has changed my freelancing life. Not only do I use to it to keep track of business ideas, I also use it to keep track of client work, to outline ebook ideas, to use as a tele-prompter plus as a word processing program.
I have multiple Notebooks set up to manage the various parts of my business including ones I've shared with my virtual assistant. It is where my process documents sit, where my networking details sit and where I go when I need to capture research links and ideas online.
It really is the best thing since sliced bread! You can try out premium for free for the first month! I've been using premium for over a year now and could never go back. It's less than $5 per month, so it's a no brainer for me!
Hootsuite is the tool I use to manage my clients social media execution. I use the pro version because it allows me to add multiple accounts and I can add team members to.
I prefer this for client management because the dashboard is user-friendly and I can get access to reports and suggested content ideas.
It allows me to schedule posts in advance, which I recommend if you're doing social media management - batch scheduling works even better!
Check out Hootsuite for free!
Buffer is the app I use to manage my own social media - I like the ease of adding things to Buffer directly from within Feedly and Pocket, two other apps I also use.
I use the free version and it works very well for me. I love the analytics I get as well, which tells me which platform gets the most engagement and where I need to spend a bit of extra time.
Buffer makes it very easy to manage my own personal social media and I would definitely recommend it if you aren't already using it!
Pocket is probably one of my favourite apps on my iPad. I use it there more than anywhere else. It's the place that I save all my 'to read' articles and favourite blog posts from my fave bloggers.
I love that you can add tags to each post, so if you just want to view posts tagged with 'social media' you just choose that tag and viola! I do use it on my laptop as well, but I do most of my 'consuming' of information on my iPad.
The best part - it's free!
Feedly is where I find a lot of the content I want to consume! I also use it to generate ideas for my clients social media channels as well as come up with different blog post angles.
Feedly integrates with Hootsuite as part of the free version, which is why it's perfect for my clients social media management!
I use the free version, but the pro version allows you to connect other applications such as Pocket and Buffer, so it is definitely something I'm looking to do soon - but you can definitely get by on the free version.
Feedly replaced Google's Reader and it is far superior, IMHO!
Business Management Tools
These are currently the software and web applications that I use in my business. They make a huge difference to my every day life and make running a freelance business super easy. Check them out for yourself!
Dropbox is probably one of my favourite business applications - but not just because I can upgrade the space I have access to, but the ease of sharing files and folders that it provides.
I use Dropbox to store all of my documents, I don't store anything locally on my computer. I also use it as my site backup storage space. All of my sites are backed up automatically to Dropbox.
The best thing is, I don't need my computer with me to access Dropbox, I can access it from my iPad or iPhone and I can access it from any web browser, so it allows me to be truly location independent!
I also make use of Google Drive too, as another place to store files, but I mainly use that when I'm collaborating with colleagues or working on a new project.
Trello is free! This is probably one of the best tools I have in my freelance business arsenal! I use it to track client projects and assign tasks to my team.
It works best for those that are visual in the way they look to organise things, which is what I am. I like to be able to see things laid out and Trello does this so well.
You can change views to see what's coming up in the month, you can quickly see what's outstanding and if you have set due dates, Trello will notify you when it's due 24 hours prior. I love it! I use the free version but there is also a pro version that gives you a little more 'extra sauce'. But for now, the free version works well for me - I couldn't live without it!
Freshbooks saved my life! It has probably been another great asset to my arsenal of tools just for the fact that I can now easily track my income and outgoings. But I can also track project work as well, as it has a built in time tracking module.
You'll be able to set up recurring invoices for those ongoing clients as well as assign expenses to clients if they are outside their normal scope. I just love how it is cloud based, meaning that should something happen to my computer, I won't lose a thing to do with my income tracking! Plans start at $19.95 per month, which allows you to set up 25 clients - plenty for a successful freelancer like you and me!
If you work with clients directly, ie outside of sites like oDesk and Elance, you need to make sure that you have some type of legal contract in place.
OurDeal provides this for you and it is super easy to set up - you just choose the contract type, fill in some details and they system will email it directly to the client, with your details attached. It's a great way to keep track of your contracts and to also have something in writing outlining the agreement you have both come to.
You can access some contracts for free, but if you want to really track everything and access more, you can upgrade for $9.99 per month. This is the plan I use.
[email protected] is one of the best apps I've found to keep me focused when I need to have 'butt in chair' work time. I'm easily distracted, so need some type of noise. Cafe's work well too, but I can't always be there, plus who will look after my Macbook if I need to go to the toilet?!
[email protected] plays music, that you can choose from, while you work - you can set the timer for as short or as long as you like and it 'ding's at the end of each session. You can also track how productive you are being, so you can figure out which music works best for you.
I started out with Classical and then moved to Cinematic as I found the Classical was just a little too laid back for me!