It’s hard to imagine that only a decade ago, referring to yourself as a freelancer would be seen as more of the exception than the norm.
If you’re someone with dreams of transitioning from working for a boss to becoming the boss, the good news is that you’re in good company. A study by the Freelancers Union estimates that by the year 2020 freelancers will make up nearly half of the American workforce.
Even if you’re not quite at the point to make the leap full-time, part-time entrepreneurs or side hustlers are also making their mark as consultants, coaches, and freelancers on the side.
With side hustling and freelancing on the rise, the need to have powerful tools and resources to help your businesses thrive is more important than ever.
From managing your time to setting up systems to get paid, here are 16 tools to help boost your business growth as a side hustler, freelancer, or solopreneur.
Manage Your Money and Get Paid
No bookkeeper? No problem. Designed for businesses with nine employees or less, Wave provides cloud based software and tools optimized for freelancers, side hustlers, and one-person shops. Unlike most software that requires a monthly fee for access to core features such as expense tracking and weekly reporting, Wave puts the ease into accounting by providing the availability to track your revenue and expenses, create client invoices, and receipts. For an additional monthly fee you can unlock access to other advanced tools such as credit card processing for invoices and employee payroll.
Investment: Free – $10+
Used by over 5 million freelancers worldwide, Freshbooks is a longtime favorite among solopreneurs and mid-sized businesses for their invoice and time tracking features. Built to support the needs of growing businesses, it provides features to help you get paid faster with online payments, late payment reminders, and recurring invoicing. Want to try before you buy? Freshbooks offers a 30 day free trial to test drive their services after which monthly plans begin at $12.95.
Investment: $12.95–79.95 per month
If you’re a service or product based business the Square card reader makes it easy to run your business from anywhere by providing the ability to accept payments and send receipts via your smartphone or tablet. After deducting the 2.65% transaction fee, your funds are deposited into your account within 1-2 business days.
Cushion takes the stress out of freelancing by providing a system to help you plan and forecast your workload, track your income, and store information about client payment habits. Best of all, if you already use tools such as Freshbooks for your invoice tracking, Cushion offers the capability to import data from these tools to have a holistic view of your transactions. Pricing begins at $8 per month for an annual contract and you can test drive the tool for 14 days for free.
Investment: $8-10 per month
Task Capture and Project Management
Keep track of your projects with ease using Asana – a task and project management tool that facilitates team collaboration and communication. Using Asana you can create projects, assign tasks and set up email alerts to stay on track of your deadlines. Available via a web app and your smartphone, Asana makes it easy to invite folks to collaborate on projects and can even integrate with Google Drive, MailChimp, and Evernote to create and import project tasks.
Investment: Free for teams of up to 15 people
Use Wunderlist to get your most important projects done by creating folders, reminders, and setting deadlines to keep you on track. In addition to offering the ability to share your lists with team members, Wunderlist can pull to-dos from your emails and even include your attachments to ensure you never lose track of your priorities.
From logging to-dos to brainstorming the details of your next big project, Evernote can help freelancers and creatives manage their projects, scan documents, share information, and record conversations. By setting up notebooks for each of your projects you can keep important information in a central location and have access to it on-the-go through your smartphone, desktop, or tablet.
Investment: Free – $57.99 for premium plans
Tracking Your Time
For freelancers, time is money and with Toggl you can get a clear picture of where you spend your time. With one-click you can log how much time you allocate to tasks and even group your work into projects. Even if you don’t bill by the hour, it’s a useful tool to assess if you’re using your time efficiently.
Ever wonder where you’ve spent all your time during the day? You may be surprised after using RescueTime. Instead of manually clocking in and out, Rescue Time monitors everything you do and sends you a report identifying your biggest distractions and most productive time during a pre-selected time period. With a premium account you get access to advanced features such as website blocking, alerts, and document tracking but the free version can give you more than enough to get your started and stay on track.
Investment: Free – $9 per month for premium
Mastering Your Inbox
Drowning in email? SaneBox makes inbox zero a reality by moving unimportant email into a new folder called SaneLater to help you focus on your highest priorities. If you’re worried about missing an important message, Sanebox sends a daily digest summarizing the notes that were filtered to your SaneLater folder throughout the day, and outlines how much time you saved from avoiding unimportant emails. Filter settings can be changed at any time and best of all you can try it before you buy with their 14 day trial.
Investment: Free for 14 days then $7–36 monthly for premium plans
Social Media Management and Analytics
Need a quick way to manage multiple social media accounts? With Buffer’s free plan you can manage up to two social media profiles and up to 10 if you go Pro. Using Buffer you can quickly schedule content from anywhere on the web and also obtain statistics on how your posts perform.
Investment: Free or $10+
With Co-Schedule you shave time off your social media planning by creating editorial calendars for your blog and social media posts at the same time. Using their drag and drop interface you can easily promote posts and identify popular content that you can integrate in your social media plan. A free plan enables you to manage up to five profiles and upgrading to premium unlocks features such as integrations to Evernote, Google Docs, and Google Analytics.
Investment: $15–$60 per month
Pardon the shameless plug, but with SumAll Insights you can access powerful stats about social media campaigns created for clients or opt for a free account to track your own weekly performance and send thank you tweets to your most engaged followers.
Investment: Free or starting at $99 per month for a premium plan
Manage Your Business
Need to create a proposal but lack the design skills to make it happen? With Bidsketch you can not only create professional bid documents and landing pages but create a client experience for your proposal process. Once a proposal is sent you can monitor which pages have been viewed, capture signatures for accepted proposals as well as export them to PDF. You can try the tool for 14 days or upgrade to a freelancer account starting at $29 per month.
Investment: Free for 14 days then $29–$149 for pro accounts
Forget hitting the print button to close an important deal, with HelloSign you can sign on the dotted line electronically to manage your legal affairs. In addition to integrating with Google Drive and Evernote, HelloSign is a valuable and time-saving investment to help protect your business.
Investment: Free or $13–40 for pro accounts
Updated November 22, 2017.