Welcome to guest writer, Mark James.
Since its inception in 1969, the internet’s changed the world considerably. Nearly every facet of our everyday lives has been thrust onto the web. We get our news online, we socialise online, we shop online… heck some of us even find love online.
Debates rage about whether this is a good or bad thing. Some, like my father, are convinced it’ll prove our downfall in a Terminator type scenario. Others, like me, take a more measured approach, pointing to how technology’s improved our lives.
Regardless of your opinion though, you can’t deny the online boom’s made things easier on the business front. Particularly for the freelancer.
So, without further ado, here are eleven apps and online resources for the aspiring, newbie or seasoned freelancer…
If you’ve not come across it, the PCG is a not-for-profit association that claims to be ‘the voice of freelancing… that represents, supports and promotes freelancers, consultants and contractors in the UK’.
Regardless of whether you’re an aspiring, new or experienced freelancer, membership to the site provides you with access to a hub of knowledge, alongside a wealth of further benefits. For UK freelancers, it’s akin to a trade union and a decent equal to America’s Freelancer’s Union.
It’s an extremely competitive marketplace, Elance, but it’s a huge one at that.
At time of writing, I found 20,589 jobs on there, ranging across a variety of freelancing disciplines. As long as you don’t sell yourself short and have a decent portfolio, it can prove a useful arena for finding work.
Google’s entry into the doc creation market has been excellent for the freelance community, offering a modern alternative to the tired and cumbersome Microsoft Office.
It’s free for the first 5GB (that’s an awful lot of documents) so it instantly beats Office on the cost front, whilst with it you can collaborate in real-time with clients – be that if you’re word-processing, spreadsheet wrangling or presentation polishing. Not bad, eh?
Now be prepared as this’ll cost you, the package most suitable for freelancers costing $20 a month.
In effect that’s a tiny amount for the project management tool you get with Basecamp though as, out of all that I’ve used, it stands head and shoulders above the rest. Simple but slick, it’s received almost unanimously good reviews and it’s well worth the small fee.
You’ll have probably heard of Skype…if not, where have you been?
I say that, as it’s been a fantastic innovation for the freelance community, offering free device-to-device calling, and low-cost device-to-number calling anywhere in the world. Multi-person video chats and screen sharing are also on the menu now, and their app is available for just about any platform you can name.
Following the international slant of Skype, as a freelancer you might find yourself occasionally working for clients based abroad… perhaps constantly if you’re a translator.
With this in mind, you’re going to want to make sure your rates are reasonable after conversion, and for this, your best bet is XE Currency, either the website or the app. It’s been around for nearly 20 years, so it’s pretty good at the currency conversion game and the go-to site if you need to read up on your rates.
I’ve kind of jumped the gun a bit here, writing about currency conversions and the like. Before doing any of that you’ll need to figure out your pricing, and it’s here that My Price can help.
Especially useful if you’re a new freelancer, with this you can calculate how much you should charge for your creative services, taking into account factors like the project, client, location, as well as your education and experience. If your business is amongst the more creative and knowledge based, then it’s a very useful app.
As a freelancer you’ll need something to help you manage your finances – a successful freelancing career is built around being savvy with your cash.
Pageonce provides a useful platform to do this, the app providing an overview of all of your bills and bank account balances. Elsewhere, you can view due dates, transactions, and even pay your bills using the platform. Importantly from a cash-flow perspective, you can also set up real-time alerts and reminders about upcoming bills.
Essentially an add-on to Twitter, the Tweetdeck app should make your more Twitter use more effective.
Through the prism of a slick looking dashboard, you can run multiple Twitter accounts – perhaps a personal and work one – create columns for different lists, and follow the hashtags that matter to you most. Ultimately, it’ll make your Twitter use a little more orderly.
Tying into Twitter and your general internet use, Mention will help you to protect your online reputation.
Say a client is badmouthing you on a forum, or telling porky pies via Twitter, Mention should catch this sort of thing. You simply sign up, enter up to three words to focus on – perhaps your name, brand name and your freelancing discipline – and mention will spot when someone’s talking about these.
And finally, because it’d be remiss not to mention a site I write for, I’d better give you a nudge towards Freelance Advisor.
On here, there’s a range of resources, from tax and legal advice to handy print outs for things like invoicing. Added to a regular dosage of Freelance Factfile, you’ll pretty much have all of your freelancing bases covered!