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Being a freelancer can be a rewarding career move, but it certainly isn't easy. Not only do you have to wear multiple hats to keep your business afloat, but you also need to save time and energy to work on projects, deal with clients and meet deadlines. Writing down ideas, managing different tasks and juggling multiple clients all at the same time can overwhelm any freelancer. While there are no magic formulas for freelance success, there are several ways to make your freelancing life considerably easier. From time management to managing your business, here are 10 tech tools to help you succeed as a freelancer.
Time management1. RescueTime
Do you know where every second of your freelance hours goes? RescueTime can tell you everything from how many billable hours you've spent on a project to how much time you've wasted on Facebook. This time-tracking software works in the background of your computer or mobile device, tracking the amount of time you spend on applications and websites, as well as time spent away from your desk. RescueTime is free with limited features, or $9 per month with advanced capabilities like daily accomplishment logs and blocking distracting websites.2. My Minutes
Manage your time efficiently by setting realistic goals. My Minutes is an iOS app that helps you meet productivity goals by budgeting your time. It uses an "at least" and "at most" system, such as "spending at least two hours on Client A's project" and "spending at most an hour on emails." The app can also send daily notifications of your to-do list, as well motivate you with alerts when you have reached a goal or are close to hitting one. My Minutes can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store. [The Top 5 Freelance Jobs]
Take the guesswork out of billing clients. Harvest offers an all-in-one solution that both tracks time and does all the number crunching for you. In addition to one-click time tracking — simply click Start when you begin and Stop when you've finished — Harvest can automatically generate invoices based on time worked, log and analyze expenses, create professional-looking estimates and more. Harvest is free for up to one user, four clients and two projects. Unlimited plans start at $12 per month.4. FreshBooks
Simplify your accounting system. FreshBooks is a cloud-based accounting software system for nonaccountants. It doesn't only track billable hours, but also integrates it with an easy online invoicing system that automatically calculates totals and taxes to quickly generate invoices. FreshBooks also offers hassle-free expense tracking that automatically imports and categorizes expenses from bank accounts and credit cards, and it logs expenses simply by taking a snapshot of receipts. Its financial reporting tools include expense reports, quarterly analysis, profits and losses, payments collected, tax summary and more. FreshBooks starts at $19.95 per month.5. Simple Invoices
Get paid in a flash. Easily create, send and track invoices with Simple Invoices, a free, open-source Web-based invoicing app. Start by choosing from an extensive gallery of customizable, professional invoice templates. Input your information and then export the invoice into PDF, Excel, Word or plain text. The software also lets users send invoices by email, line itemize, schedule recurring invoices and accept payments online.
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Organization and project management6. Wunderlist
Staying organized is key to a freelancer's success. Wunderlist is a simple, intuitive to-do list app that can be accessed on your desktop, over the Web or on mobile devices. To-dos can be organized by project and by client, then broken down by tasks needed to complete each item. Additional features include the ability to add notes and files (such as photos and spreadsheets) to each to-do item, set deadlines, and create reminders and automatic data syncing across all devices. Wunderlist is free.7. Trello
Say goodbye to sticky notes, disorganized calendars and overwhelming to-do lists. Eliminate the clutter and maintain your freelancing Zen with Trello. This project management tool lets you keep track of ideas, to-do lists, things currently in progress and completed tasks using a virtual, Pinterest-like whiteboard. Each item is set up as a "card" that you can drag and drop within and across categories, making it easy to organize projects and your entire freelance business. Start using Trello with a free account.8. Dropbox
Every freelancer needs a reliable file-sharing and cloud-storage solution. Whether you need to back up and store data, share documents or collaborate on projects, a cloud service like Dropbox lets you access your files anytime, anywhere there is an Internet connection using your computer or mobile device. The Basic plan is free, but is limited to 2GB of storage. A Pro plan is best for most freelancers, which costs $9.95 per month and offers up to 100GB of cloud storage.
Signing contracts, proposals, agreements and other types of paperwork is a significant part of being a freelancer. Avoid the back and forth of manually signing documents with EchoSign, Adobe's secure electronic signature solution. This tool lets freelancers use any Web browser or mobile device to send and e-sign documents, eliminating the time wasted in printing, signing, scanning and sending files. EchoSign also features tracking capabilities when documents are viewed and signed, and works with popular file formats like Word, PDF, Excel, PowerPoint and more. EchoSign starts at $14.95 per month.10. Rocket Lawyer
As a freelancer, it's critical that you have all your legal ducks in order. Get everything in writing with Rocket Lawyer, which provides DIY legal documents and services. These include independent contractor and consulting agreements so you can get paid and nondisclosure agreements to protect your intellectual property. It's free to create one legal document on Rocket Lawyer, which can be saved and printed, but not edited once finalized. A paid plan costing $39.95 per month or a one-week free trial is required to create and edit more than one document.
Originally published on Business News Daily