Resources and Tools I Use in My Freelance Business
To work and support myself as a freelance web designer and developer, all I need is internet access and my laptop. This means I can travel anywhere there’s Wifi, and do the same work I do in an office or coworking space.
In addition to the physical hardware, I use a lot of online services and tools to maximize my time, keep my business organized, and make sure I’m covering all of my bases. Here are some of my favorites:
Croissant is a membership pass to coworking spaces in certain cities. In case you’re not familar, a coworking space is dynamic office where you can rent a desk space or office for the day/week/month. Most if not all offerings from co-working spaces are daily passes (around $30) or part/full time desk rentals at around $200-200. Croissant is changing things around by offering users drop-in access to a myriad of co-working spaces, available at the click of a button.
When I’m in New York for example, I can walk into one of the spaces offered in the app without worrying about finding a cafe with Wifi. The $99/monthCroissant plan for 40 hours of co-working a month is perfect for anyone needing a break from working from home. For less than the price of a single dedicated desk at one space, you get access to lots of spaces with no commitments.
Croissant is currently offered in New York City, Boston, San Francisco and Washington DC.
One of the biggest lessons I learned about freelance work and consulting is:never work without a contract. Generally you should consult a lawyer and get standard contract made for yourself, but Bonsai is a solid alternative if you can’t afford something like that yet. It’s also great if you need to protect yourself while moonlighting on the side or are doing simple projects that don’t need major legal oversight.
Bonsai generates legally binding contracts between you and your clients. It also does a great job of creating invoices that are easy for both you and your client. Clients to pay directly through the platform via Stripe / PayPal / Bank Wire and download .pdfs for their records.
For the past few months, I have been using Bonsai exclusively for all of my invoicing needs. It costs $1 per invoice plus any standard payment processing fees.
Cushion is absolutely one of my favorite tools! I use it to see how much I’m projected to make in a given month, when I’m next available to take on new clients, and keep track of overall incoming money and workloads across all clients. The more I use it, the more I like it.
Cushion is definitely a useful tool if you juggle multiple clients and/or solely rely on freelance income. There are new features coming out all the time, like freelance expenses and invoicing. At just about $100 a year, it’s invaluable for my business!
Toggl is a tool that I use practically every single day for time tracking. It’s simple enough to use and get back to work quickly, while robust enough to offer detailed time breakdowns and handle multiple projects. And it’s free! There’s a paid version, but I haven’t had the need to upgrade yet.
I have been freelancing on and off for years, but have yet to find a great tool to handle expenses and finances. A spreadsheet is just so simple and nimble, there hasn’t been anything good enough to persuade me. Also something about giving a web app access to your finances seems troubling. Are there great tools for this I’m missing?