35 Online Tools That Make Your Freelance Career Easier

Over the years the appeal of freelancing has grown tremendously. Some are drawn to freelancing to enjoy the freedom of choosing their own work hours, some as a way to stay ahead during times of recession. Today, there are many individuals on the web pursuing their career as a freelancer. Bloggers, web designers, social media strategists and many others have found that freelancing is a great way to utilize their skills and sell their services through the wonderful medium we call the internet.

Although freelancing appeals to many, the stakes are quite high. I am sure most of you agree with me when I say there are a few sleepless nights, and work often seems to follow us wherever we go since most of us work from home. Like everything else, freelancing has it’s ups and downs.

The benefits of freelancing, however, certainly outweigh the pitfalls — and using the right online tools can help tip the scales even further. Gadgets and online apps are a freelancer’s best friend when it comes to being effective.

35 Tools That Make Your Freelance Career Easier

Here are 35 online tools that can help make your freelancing career even easier:

  1. Bubble.us : A brainstorming tool that lets you put your ideas into bubbles and save your mindmap as an image.
  2. Relenta : Helps you manage your contacts, emails, documents and other activities.
  3. Wridea : Idea management service and collection of brainstorming tools for writers.
  4. Slideshare : Create and share slide shows online.
  5. Toodledo : A web based to-do-list to help you organize.
  6. Mint : A very simple easy to use finance tool for personal use and to manage your freelance finances as well.
  7. eFax : Although you might think Fax is outdated we are pretty sure most of your clients still use it, especially the corporate ones. Use this site to make your life easier when it comes to faxes.
  8. Webnote : Allows you to quickly take notes using a web browser. You can save the notes using any computer and visit the site later to retrieve notes. Useful when using public computers.
  9. Box : Share files online with your clients and friends using this simple tool.
  10. ReadBag : A bookmarking service that lets you save links that you can read later in your browser, email, phone and even in an offline mode.
  11. Stock.xchng : Free stock photography for your blog, site or any other use that you might have for images.
  12. YouSendIt : Allows you to send files and folder that are upto 2GB without clogging your or your client’s inbox.
  13. WordFast : A translation tool that is compatible with any language supported by word.
  14. FaxZero : Lets you send free faxes to US and Canada.
  15. Copyright : Find everything you need to know about US copyright.
  16. RSS2PDF : Turn your RSS feeds into PDFs and read them even when you are offline.
  17. CentralDesktop : Helps freelancers collaborate, communicate and share files with clients and coworkers.
  18. FlightStats : Get up-to-date information on your flight so you can let your clients know about delays and know when exactly they are arriving if you have to pick them up.
  19. SiteKreator : Helps you create sites instantly, all you need to do is add content.
  20. InstaCalc : A web based calculator that includes spreadsheet capabilities, unit conversions and programming commands.
  21. BlinkSale : Lets you send invoices online, recurring templates and keep track of your invoices and purchases.
  22. Skim : Helps you take notes directly on a PDF file as you read.
  23. Icebrrg : Lets you easily build online embeddable forms.
  24. ConceptShare : Allows you to invite clients to take a look at your design work and get real time feedback while you work on the project.
  25. GoToMeeting : Setup online meetings with clients and colleagues using this popular meeting tool
  26. Wufoo : Another tool to help you build forms.
  27. Escrow : Use this service to protect yourself and clients when the stakes are high.
  28. XE : Most freelancers work with international clients and a currency converter is a must to determine the payment. This tool takes care of giving you up-to-date information on currency rates.
  29. ProjectStat.us : This tool allows your clients to view the status of a project using a token.
  30. CreativeCommons : This site provides free tools that lets freelancers easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry.
  31. ProofHQ : Lets you annotate a variety of document types – PDFs, PSDs, JPGs, Word, Powerpoint – and webpages.
  32. ProposalKit : An online tool that helps freelancers with proposal and contract management.
  33. SlimTimer : An online timer that helps you track time spent on a particular project and bill your clients accordingly.
  34. SpotRunner : Use this website if you are planning to build a TV advertising campaign.
  35. MonkeyOn : Allows you to create a to-do-list that you want other people to do.

Bonus — 5 Blogs You Should Subscribe To

If you are a freelancer or are planning to become one, here are five blogs you should subscribe to for tips and inspiration

  1. Freelance Folder : The blog that you are currently reading. Launched back in 2007, Freelance Folder is one of the best blogs on the web dedicated to helping freelancers.
  2. Skelliewag : Written and managed by Skellie, Skelliewag is a blog that you don’t want to miss. In Skellie’s own words “If you want to make a living from your passion, not AdSense, this is written for you.”
  3. Freelance Switch : A blog that is often referred to as the mother of all freelancing blogs. If you are looking for insightful tips and helpful advice from the veterans, FSW is for you.
  4. 43 Folders : Launched by owner and writer Merlin Mann in 2004, 43 Folders talks about finding time and ways to do your best creative work. A must read blog to keep your creative juices flowing.
  5. MenWithPens : Ranked no.2 among the best blogs for writers, MenWithPens offers tips and advice to take your freelance writing to the next level.

More Online Resources from FreelanceFolder

If you liked this list of online tools, you might also enjoy these other resource posts from FreelanceFolder:

Add Your Thoughts…

I hope I was able to introduce a few new tools that can help your life as a freelancer. If you have a chance, please take a minute and share some of the tools that help you manage your freelancing career — they will probably be useful to others too.

Photo by Amir K.

Comments

  1. Yana says

    I don’t see any advantages of using Wordfast as a translation tool. You still have to translate yourself, it just helps you manage what you’ve already translated.
    Personnally, I find that Déjà Vu and MemoQ are much more convenient for translators, and Trados is much more popular.

    Even the fact that Wordfast can be run under Linux doesn’t make it the tool to choose. It can’t handle office files that were created in other Office Suites than MS Office. So it’s kinda useless for open source geeks.

  2. says

    Good list, we’ve partnered with Central Desktop and it’s a great tool. I follow all of the blogs listed as well.

    I’d recommend CarbonMade as well for freelance design portfolios. And PBworks for free wikis,

    -Josh

    ps. Find freelance jobs on oDesk

  3. says

    Another very useful tool can be found at http://www.balsamiq.com this allows you to create mockups of user interfaces without having to worry about someone saying “I don’t like that colooor” everything is drag and drop and is locked into a grid. It’s very easy to use and an invaluable tool.

    It’s free to try out (you just get an annoying popup every 5 minutes) or $79 dollars to purchase a license…they also have free licenses available if you’ll blog about the tool so if you get enough traffic and subs than you can probably get it for free…again very cool tool and the company behind it seems pretty chill too.

    *Yawn* it’s another one of those sleepless nights for me.Thanks for the list…subbed bookmarked and favorited. Have a good night.

  4. says

    This is a great list and even exposes further possibilities for being productive using these software. It would have been really nice if you could add programming IDEs, Frameworks, Tools, Libraries to give novice freelancers a better idea of whats happening in the real world freelancing. Buy anyway, it was a great list. Thanks

  5. says

    Thanks for the post. Very useful.

    Another one that I absolutely love is TeamViewer ( http://www.teamviewer.com ). A remote support / live desktop presentation tool, allowing you to share you desktop with clients. Helps cut those meeting times down considerably. Great for client design changes.

  6. says

    As a freelancer you can never have too many resources to save to your bookmarks for future reference. I have to say, I love coming to FreelanceSwitch because I always find great lists like this to help out with my freelancing lifestyle. Thanks a bunch!

  7. Jason says

    I recommend outright.com instead of Mint. No question, Mint is fantastic for personal finances but I prefer keeping my revenue and expenses organized accordingly. outright does estimated taxes and P&L reports automatically; Mint isn’t meant for that.

    @craig, not Skype but Google?? Not because of advertising but gmail, calendar, docs, and voice. All under your domain name and for free.

  8. says

    Freemind is a great free software from Sourceforge that can help you build mind maps with the capability to add links and attach files, as well as choose how to view the map – including creating an outline to publish.

  9. Ritu says

    Thanks everyone for your comments and sharing some of the tools that you use.

    @Tatiana Thanks for pointing that out. I tried fixing it but it seemed ok in the admin section. not sure why it’s doing that.

  10. says

    Great list. Usually these lists are full of tools I already know about, but there are a bunch of tools here that I hadn’t heard of and am going to check out. Thanks.

  11. says

    Great list.
    I would second the recommendation for Dropbox (getdropbox.com) but would also recommend Drop.io which has a lot of features designed especially for teams sharing and collaborating on files.
    I would also recommend Audacity for voice recording (on a Mac) and Call Recorder (http://ecamm.com/mac/callrecorder/) for recording Skype conversations.

  12. Rudy says

    You may also want to add checkvist.com to the list. Let’s you share and handle multiple outlines. I use it to track the office to do. Whoever gets to it first, crosses it off.

  13. says

    Great post! Another good tool is LogMeIn.com. It’s currently only for Mac, but the free version allows you to log in to your computer and control your desktop from anywhere – or anyone else’s Mac who is signed up and gives you their login info. Great if you travel or need to help someone non-local troubleshoot.

    And just for the record (in response to a previous comment), Stock.Xchnge does have free images, you just need to go to ‘Advanced Search’ and select ‘No’ on the ‘Restricted?’ drop down list.

  14. Jack says

    As an Engineering student who’s attempting to start my own small business designing aftermarket tools and parts, this list is a Godsend. Thanks for compiling so many useful tools in one place!

  15. says

    DimDim (www.dimdim.com) – Free web/teleconferencing that really works. Includes whiteboard, document sharing, desktop sharing, group chat, webcam/microsoft, telephone bridge, etc.

    EverNote (www.evernote.com) – Free multi-platform notetaking tool that auto-synchs with a hosted web service. Manage and synch your notes in your browser, desktop or mobile device.

  16. says

    Great article. I would like to suggest that the list includes more ways for freelancers to generate new business. Tools such as vFlyer, http://www.vflyer.com, provide a suite of services to generate business for freelancers. vFlyer enables freelancers to generate marketing content that is both automatically distributed to leading marketplaces but can be used on sites like Craigslist.

  17. says

    I’ve been using Airset.com for a couple of years now, since it was just an online calendar service. It has added services since then. The free service is all I need at present. By setting up shared calendars, I’m able to coordinate my calendar with my partners (take that word in both the personal and business senses), business contacts and extended family. They and I need only look in Airset when we want to avoid a schedule conflict.

    By using the free program for synchronizing my Palm PDA with Airset, it doesn’t matter which calendar I use to schedule an event or which contact list I use to take someone’s contact information. One click reconciles them.

    I also make heavy use of the ability to set up reminders, and even use that to have email alerts sent to me when it’s time to do tax filings.

    There may be something newer or slicker out there, but Airset has been just what I needed.

  18. says

    This is a great list. Just want to share another free fax website here. GotFreeFax.com lets user send free fax online to the US and Canada. Plus, it does not add Ads to the fax, which makes it more suitable for faxing formal documents.

  19. says

    File Replication Pro is great for collaboration, because it operates in real time and uses the least possible resources. Everyone can work on the same files, and have them synchronized and up to date all the time.

    Toggle is another tool that makes life easier — you can track your time and easily shift from one job to another as sudden urgent calls and emails arrive. At the end of the day, you’ll know exactly whom to bill for how much time.

  20. Koby says

    Enjoyed reading the extensive list and for the effort you put into creating it. I noticed you touched on a couple of internet fax services (eFax and FaxZero). An internet fax resource that compares the various internet fax providers is http://www.faxcompare.com You may want to keep that website in mind if you’re considering a paid subscription fax service.

  21. says

    Hi Ritu,
    Have you heard of Mikogo? It’s a free desktop sharing app free for both business and private use. With it, you can share your screen live over the Web with up to 10 others. It also includes such features as switch presenter, remote keyboard/mouse control, file transfer and more. If you like, please drop by our site for more info or feel free to contact me. Thanks!

    Cheers,
    Hsiang-Yi Cheng

  22. Mary says

    I was also a bit surprised at the exclusion of Skype, particularly as it has so many useful plug-ins. One of these is Yugma, another online meeting program, which is free for up to 20 participants.

  23. Timothy says

    Never forget the value of some good remote desktop software. These are the programs that let you log into your home computer from any computer or smartphone in the world. Perfect for grabbing a file off your computer that you may have forgotten, or never thought you would need!

  24. says

    Thanks for the nice tools , I also like to introduce eZdia , a new freelancing site has brought in a change in freelancing never seen before. It allows employers to communicate with potential employers via a chat. A skype plugin has also been added to felicitate communication.

  25. says

    Milton is a web app that combines contact management, project management, invoicing, expenses, time tracking, and to-do lists into one. It’s designed for freelancers, and is pretty affordable compared to using multiple tools.

  26. says

    We can vouch for eFax – a good service. We’ve used Blinksale for invoicing for several years, but have since found “Free Agent Central” which combines invoicing (for ongoing project or fixed price work) with accounting, so highly recommend it to other freelancers!

  27. says

    Very useful – thanks for this. I’ve also been using Zoho CRM which I believe is one of the better online customer relationship management tools available.

  28. says

    Bubble.Us is a great tool but we found MindOmo to be even better and we use it for our clients’ brainstorming sessions every time. Mind Managers are quite useful when trying to come up to e great solution, when a bigger group of intelligent people have lots to say. You never lose an idea that way.

  29. says

    - Make your budget and manage your finances. To make your business grow online,

    you also have to make sure that your finances for advertising and marketing are

    well managed. Although there are free ways to promote your business online, some

    of the quick and effective ways to promote online may also cost you. Although this

    may not be as big as the cost of conventional advertising, it may also need some

    good management as online advertising may mean costs per click or commissions per

    sale.

  30. says

    Great resources here, thanks! One of my favorite tools as a freelancer has been the ability to send faxes by email, and receive faxes by email. So convenient to be just about anywhere and receive (or send) a fax on my laptop, ipad or smartphone. I used http://www.EmailFaxCompared.com to review what features were offered by the top services and picked the best one for me.

  31. says

    A great checklist for freelancers! We have thousands of freelancers using FaxLogic. Like other “virtual fax” services, FaxLogic lets you send and receive faxes by email or web. But unlike other services, we also let you keep your fax machine (while loosing the phone line and the cost). Why? There are times when all you have is a paper original. If you have a scanner, great (we support those, too), but if you already have a good, low-cost fax machine, you can simply continue to use it for one-step sending of paper originals. And no matter how you fax–email, web, scanner, or fax machine–every fax you send or receive is permanently archived in your secure, searchable on-line account.

    Most of our freelance customers use our low-cost personal plans, while agencies typically use our group plans (which allow multiple people to securely share and collaborate on faxes and other documents within their FaxLogic account).

    I invite you to learn more about FaxLogic at http://www.faxlogic.com.

  32. says

    Great post !!! You write a knowledgeable post. The way you explore the freelancing tool is amazing. These tools are the encyclopedia for a freelancer.I am not a freelancer but many of those resources are of particular use for writing in general. Very impressed, thanks.

  33. tuyucota says

    Too bad that all this software has spyware on it.
    Do you know about any “spyware freelance” software available?

  34. Anne says

    Thanks for the the list! Really helped me out a lot. Another file sharing site like box.net is Dropbox. We highly recommend it.

    Adding to this list is a new cloud business solution for consultants, Xamun (www.xamun.com). It’s an app that brings key activities on a single platform while keeping you connected to your projects, colleagues, and opportunities.

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  39. says

    For freelancers looking to earn money for projects that don’t require a lot of time, a new resource is tellatic.com. You host 10 minute chat sessions with people who need information in your area of expertise and earn $6 for each session. You set up the chat sessions when it’s convenient for you, so there’s no wasted time. (disclaimer: I’m on the Tellatic development team)

  40. says

    To add another (for any Chicago area freelancers) is NextCrew. NextCrew.com is as an online marketplace for people to find and hire shift-based work locally, and it pulls in aspects of many of these sites into a single platform. Owners find qualified and reliable temporary workers. Workers or ‘Providers’ highlight their expertise and availability in a custom profile, search for work that matches their needs, and get hired. All communication, work agreements and payment are done through the user-friendly NextCrew.com dashboard. As you work and hire through Nextcrew, grow your shiftwork ‘crew’ through reviews and online networking. AND the price fits in a freelancers budget (free-$15 a month).

  41. says

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  42. says

    Lots of interesting tools listed here, and I haven’t even tried (or heard of) half of them! I’d say my go-to source for online collaboration is RHUB’s 6-in-1 appliance. My 2 cents.

  43. says

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    • Ryan Domm-Thomas says

      Thanks for adding to the list Diana – we also rewrote an article to include updates which you can check out here. It includes a list of awesome project management tools. Proofhub is still a great tool as well.

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