Best Tools for Freelancing
- Oct 20th, 2015
- Add a comment
Due to the increasing costs of regular employees and the benefits presented by hiring specialized temporary workers, freelancing is growing at a rapid pace. The internet is the prime cause behind this change; availability of workers who can complete jobs from home is supplying this growing need with the fuel it requires. As a freelancer, there are a variety of tools to make your life both easier and more secure.
Working online presents a unique set of challenges and risks. To optimize your returns and minimize your risks, you’ll need the right kind of support. Although a poor craftsman blames his tools, I don’t think you’ll find too many carpenters trying to build a house using only a hammer! You too should arrive on the scene with the right tools in hand. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what you’ll have at your disposal and what each tool is for.
For starters, you’ll want to know where to look for your next freelancing gig. Without the proper resources, it’ll be a lot harder for you to make a living while working remotely as a freelancer. For finding work, there are a few different options, but one of the most popular is likely to be the use of websites specifically targeted at freelancers and those looking to hire them.
One website that can be a useful tool for locating potential employers is Upwork (previously known as Odesk). Upwork is free to use, but limits your “Connects,” which are essentially digital tokens that are used to apply for jobs on the website. For a fee, you can upgrade your membership plan in order to receive more Connects for the month. Luckily, if an employer invites you to submit a proposal on their job listing, you will not have to fork over any of your Connects. Currently, users on the basic (free) membership plan receive 60 Connects per month and most job listings require two Connects when you send over your proposal.
Due to its popularity, Upwork is full of opportunities for people of all skill sets, making it a great tool for any freelancer. The only downside of it is the amount of competition on the site, but you are sure to snag a job as long as you check the site frequently, offer a detailed profile and take into consideration the amount of other freelancers who have already applied to each job you’re interested in. The early bird catches the worm on this one!
Fortunately there are other freelancing websites as well, such as Guru, that don’t appear to be quite as flooded with competition. Like Upwork, Guru only allows you a limited amount of times you can apply for jobs with a free membership. Guru limits you to 10 bids per month, but you can buy extra bids at any time or upgrade your membership for additional benefits and features. The main appeal of Guru is the possibility of having more of a chance of acquiring work compared to Upwork since there appears to be less active users on the site at the moment.
Skillshare is the site to visit when you’re looking to add a few extra skills to your profile and resume. For just $10 per month (or less if you sign up for an annual membership), you’ll gain access to 1,967 classes that are available for both online and offline viewing. You can also join for free if you choose, but of course free membership comes along with some limitations, such as the inability to download classes for offline viewing.
Skillshare offers classes in a variety of different categories, so there’s sure to be classes available for everyone who’s looking to either polish their already existing skill set or learn a new skill entirely.
There’s nothing worse than a data breach when you’re doing jobs for clients and trying to build a good repertoire on freelance websites. Losing client data or having your files compromised by hackers or malware can leave a serious dent in your reputation. Good software can help prevent that from happening.
The first is a good anti-virus program, which is something you’re likely already familiar. While most computers come with an anti-virus program already installed, the majority of licenses are only free temporarily. Instead, opt for a free anti-virus service for not just your PC, but for your mobile devices as well. Panda and Avast both offer free options with premium features available for purchase.
The other lesser known service is the Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is an excellent option to secure your connection as it channels your internet through a remote server, which not only encrypts your data sent and received, but hides your IP address and helps you browse anonymously. In addition, you’ll be able to choose what country to connect from, allowing you to complete work that may have trouble with geo-restrictions.
There are a couple of good choices for a VPN, with ExpressVPN being one of the best because of its speed, customer service and level of privacy. VPNs aren’t typically free, but their service is certainly worth the cost.
To help manage your time, a few developers have created nifty apps that allow you to monitor your activities and send you reminders. RescueTime is one such app, which creates a log of what you’ve been doing on your web browser and how much time you’ve been spending on each activity.
EverNote is also incredibly helpful, particularly if you’re working with your smart phone or tablet. It not only allows you to take notes (as suggested by the name) by typing them in, but you can also record your voice or meetings for later review. You’ll be able to save images and other handy bits of data to help you continue doing your job effectively.
What sort of tools do you use as a freelancer? Do you store your data online or use strong passwords? Share in the comments!