70 Tools Freelancers Rely on Most

Freelance ToolsAs freelancers, we belong to a broad group of people: writers, designers, programmers, consultants, etc. Despite our variety, though, we all use similar tools on a regular basis.

A little while back, when we first launched the forums, someone started a thread to share all of the tools we each rely on most. After three pages of great responses, I decided to compile a list of the most used tools. To see the topic that inspired this post, click here, otherwise read on for the full list.

Hardware

Obviously, we all require a computer to do our jobs (especially if you’re reading this blog). This first list of tools speaks to the very basics of operating a freelance business.

  • Windows Desktop
  • Apple Desktop
  • Windows Laptop
  • Apple Laptop
  • Two Monitors (or more)
  • Good, fast, wireless Internet Connection
  • Wacom Tablet
  • Good mouse and keyboard

Design Software

At least some sort of design software was basically a must for all types of freelancers, even many of the writers. There’s no surprise here that the Adobe Creative Suite dominates, but GIMP was mentioned several times too!

Photoshop
Illustrator
Flash
Acrobat
inDesign
GIMP

Document Handling

Word processing and document management is another category that almost every freelancer will need some of, no matter what their specialty. Understandably, there wasn’t too much variety in these responses.
Microsoft Office
Google Docs
Pages

CMS / Blogging

Content management systems were a favorite item for many freelancers, especially WordPress. There were a few big proponents of ExpressionEngine also, and a mention or two of Joomla.

WordPress
Expression Engine
Joomla

FTP

File transfer is another important category, one that is vital to developers and web designers. There were a surprisingly large number of good programs mentioned, so we trimmed this list to the most common ones.

FileZilla
Cyberduck
Transmit
FireFTP
CuteFTP

Code Editors

codaThe development group really came out strong with these suggestions, offering numerous choices for editing code. Check out the forum thread for some more juicy details.

Dreamweaver
PSPad
UltraEdit
TextMate
E-Text Editor
Notepad++
Coda
Bluefish
TextEdit

Development

A few more recommended tools for anyone in freelance development:

Ruby on Rails
WampServer
GIT
GITHub

E-mail Clients

Here’s another category that is universal to almost all freelancers. Given the number of available choices, it was a bit surprising how popular some of these clients are (I’m looking at you, Gmail).

Gmail
Microsoft Outlook
Thunderbird

Invoicing, Accounting, Bookkeeping

bamboo invoiceAdministrative stuff, ugh! Freshbooks and Quickbooks were the two most mentioned in this category, both receiving a lot of praise. There were also some other good picks:

Freshbooks
Quickbooks
Harvest
Trac
Billable
BambooInvoice
LessAccounting
ZohoInvoces

Collaboration

Collaboration software is another favorite among Freelance Folder readers. Basecamp and ActiveCollab were the most mentioned by far.

BaseCamp
ActiveCollab
Drop.io

Organization/To-Do

With the amount of information freelancers are required to juggle on a regular basis, it’s no surprise that organizational software ranks among the most important. Here are the favorites:

BackPack
Remember the Milk
Google Calendar
Moleskine Notebook
HighRise

Social Networking

I don’t think it’s even necessary to say which of these was mentioned the most (twitter).

Twitter
Facebook
LinkedIn

Chat

Chatting seems to be an integral part of many a daily routine, and there are thankfully a few great programs that make it much easier.
Skype
GTalk
Yahoo Messenger
Pidgin

Music

Listening to music while working is one of the perks of freelancing — here are a few suggested ways to go about it:

iTunes
Pandora
Last.fm

Some other necessities…

Dogs (or pets in general)
Coffee
Chocolate

That’s it for the list of our forum responses, but as you can imagine this is only a few of the many tools freelancers rely on. Which ones do you use? Do you have any recommendations that aren’t on here?