Freelancer. Contractor. Temp. Business Owner. Sole Trader. Entrepreneur. Gun for hire…. Okay maybe not that last one.
Whatever you want to call it, today’s ever-present accessibility to portable computers, smart phones and (usually) decent internet has opened up a whole new range of cool employment opportunities.
Now many people are choosing to work for themselves and doing so outside a formal office environment. The flexibility that being your own boss offers can be an attractive prospect.
You can work from anywhere… get to decide your own hours… can hire your own team members.
Being your own manager means you even get to choose which projects you take on and who you work for. And, the range of freelancing software platforms available to find work is increasing every day.
Because you have many lead sources and wear many hats (business owners are a one-person marketing, accounts, admin and service team), you rely on technology to help you do your job efficiently. We get it.
Let us help you sort through what’s available. Whether you’re starting out or have been in the game for a while, we have a list of some top tools and best apps for freelancers. For your home, your car and wherever else you may find yourself (*cough* Maccas run *cough*).
They’re sure to help you achieve your business goals no matter where you are.
Essential Business Productivity Apps for Your Home Office
Working from home can have its perks, but to be successful it’s important to set boundaries between work and home life. This means having a dedicated physical and virtual space to work from, and the right tools to stay organised and focused.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list, the following apps and digital tools are designed to help you work from home while giving you the flexibility to take work anywhere.
- Cloud Storage: This might not seem like a time saver at first glance. But having backups of your files in the cloud might be the safeguard you can’t do without.
Computers and hard drives have nasty habits of failing without warning. Cloud storage might just save you the many hours of time and heartbreak of trying to recover critical business files if (when?!) that happens.
Of course, there’s the added bonus of the ease of sharing files and collaborating with clients. Even those in different time zones. All you need is an internet connection.
Think Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive (and there are plenty more). Not only are they about file storage, with the likes of the closely related Google Docs you can produce professional documents on the fly.
And because they’re accessible from all your mobile devices, your entire office is just a click away.
- Time tracking tools: Knowledge is power in business – and part of that is knowing where you’re spending most of your time. Is it quoting? Admin? Do the social media hours add up? How long do different projects take you?
Knowing these things can help you quote more fairly and accurately, aaaand be more productive. We love RescueTime because it tracks everything automatically by logging how much time you spend in each application – and it’s available as both an Android and iOS app. Track your time at home and while you’re away from your office.
As a freelancer who’s always connected to work, your digital wellbeing and the ability to correctly allocate hours is so important.
- Calendar apps: Now you have a hold on your time, you need to keep track of tasks and appointments. We know you’re probably already familiar with Outlook, Google or iCloud calendars – and get the alerts on your phone.
However, did you know many cars now have in-car infotainment systems (aka Android Auto and Apple CarPlay) that can notify you of your next appointment and navigate you there? Time to buy a new car? More on what productivity tools modern cars offer in a sec.
- Accounting software: Ditch that shoebox (and keep the tax man happy) by saving your receipts direct into your accounting software so you never lose them. Send instant quotes, invoices and reconcile accounts on the go with small business accounting software such as MYOB, Xero, QuickBooks, or Wave.
- Video conferencing software: Just because you’re not sitting in the same office with your clients doesn’t mean you can’t speak face to face. We love Zoom and Skype as a couple of the best apps for freelancers because they’re straightforward. Record the meeting. Share your screen.
And you can use them on both mobile and desktop. Hold a last-minute meeting in the car if you need to (just not while driving!).
Don’t forget a mobile ring light (also great for creating social media videos) and set of Bluetooth earphones for wireless connectivity. Make them noise-cancelling to keep those extra distractions at bay when needed.
Car Technology Every Freelancer Must Have
Many freelancers travel for work. In fact, you might travel…
- from client to client
- to provide in-house services
- to run corporate or community workshops
- as a speaker at, or to coordinate, events and conferences.
This might even happen in a single day.
If this variety-rich workplace environment has you nodding your head, then being able to track and meet each appointment in a timely way is important. And it means being able to check your schedule, navigate and find a park easily. Luckily, most modern cars now make this simple.
Stay on schedule. Navigate to appointments.
One of our fave best apps for freelancers when it comes to managing your road trips is Waze (now owned by Google). It plays well with both Apple Carplay and Android Auto systems and will remind you when you need to leave to meet your next appointment.
There are a few reasons why you might want to dump Google Maps for Waze. These include the way it shows you affordable petrol along your route, shares updates from other Waze users nearby and finds car parking close to your destination.
You can even save the place you parked (in case you’re the forgetful type). Nice.
Parking made easy
One of the most useful best apps for freelancers who are constantly on the road is a parking app. Save yourself some time and money by checking out these reviews of the best parking apps in Australia.
And don’t forget to log your travel – you’ll need to know the specific of every work trip at tax time. Get more tips and our fave car-tracking apps in our blog on the do’s and don’ts of claiming car expenses for business.
Use your digital tools wirelessly
When you’re in the car, there are two beautiful words we want you to remember. Voice assist.
Got an idea you want to write down before memory doesn’t serve you? Ask Google to take a note and it’ll record your voice. Need to make a phone call? Ask Siri to call a contact or a specific number. Google and Siri voice assist technology can help you do so many things for work, including:
- make a call
- dictate notes
- send and reply to messages
- search for information about the business you’re meeting next
- help you research your next project
- get driving directions, and
- listen to music, podcasts and audio books.
Plus, as we mentioned earlier, many modern cars have an infotainment system you can integrate your apps with. Talk about making life even easier.
Regardless – as a business owner, these hands-free digital tools are great ways to keep you moving, on time and with minimal effort.
Technology That Travels with You – In Your Glovebox
Not all the tools you need to be a successful business owner on the road will be virtual. Here’s our list of some must-haves you need to keep in your glovebox.
- Laptop car charger: There’s nothing worse than having your laptop die when you need it. Save yourself the heartache and humiliation of fussing around with cables and power points in your client’s office.
- Mobile wireless charging cradle: Forget fiddly cords when you’re in and out of the car. Charge your phone on the go while it’s in the cradle. Easy.
- Small tripod with remote: Sharing the great work you’re doing with clients is part of many business owners’ promotional strategies. But if you feel awkward asking for a selfie with your client, a tripod and remote is the perfect solution.
Something Else You Can’t Live Without
Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, it’s important your vehicle is properly insured. It’s even more important when you’re driving around with expensive work equipment and tools.
At PD Insurance, we can help you get the best deal on your comprehensive car insurance. We offer a range of discounts, including one for people who are the only driver of their car. Need contents for your car too? We’ve got you covered.
Over to You – Best Apps for Freelancers
What essential technology could your business not live without? Do you have any suggestions for other best apps for freelancers? Let us know in the comments below or head over to our Facebook page.