Freelancing is becoming extremely popular, it’s now reported that 1.65 million people in the UK are choosing this remote way of working. But let’s face it, why wouldn’t you want to freelance full time? You can choose where you work when you work and how you work. Seems perfect right? Not exactly. There’s one slight problem with this way of working and it’s that it’s hard. Very hard. But have no fear, I’ve decided to make things a little easier by telling you about the top 3 tools you need as a remote freelancer.
There are literally hundreds of different tools out there for anyone who works from their laptop. They range from project management tools to accounting software. Each one promises to make life a little easier. The issue here is that there’s just too much and you actually end up wasting more time than you would without the tool in the first place.
I used to be a sucker for new apps. Every time I’d see a free 7-day trial I’d be like “sign me up”. But with tool overload you never settle into a good workflow, you’re just constantly wasting time learning new apps. We’re just way over-complicating things when we don’t need to.
I like to keep my workflow lean and I recommend you to do the same. Here are the top 3 tools that I use, and as a remote freelancer, you can too!
This project management tool literally changed the way I worked remotely forever.
You can use Trello to organise your day, your projects, or the individual assignments within those projects. The app is so visual and simple that you can create your own way of working with it. From day to day tasks to collecting information.
As the app is so versatile (in my opinion) I’ll just let you know some of the ways that I use it and you can too.
Trello is so good for project management. If you take a look at a Trello board you’ll see it’s divided into lists and cards. It’s as simple as that. Within the cards you have a core description and then comments after it. You can also attach images and other files within cards.
This makes in the perfect client management tool and I use it just for that. I will set up every new client I start working with on Trello.
I’ll store all of our core information such as goals, KPIs and resources, and then I’ll set up either a week by week planner or a month by month planner.
These planners then allow me to create individual cards for each task I and my team have. We can share notes, comments, tag each other and set each task to either complete, in progress or no longer needed (you can even set due dates).
This means that both the client and my team can see exactly where we are on a project.
If you base all of your work (tasks) on Trello then you can use it as a centralised place you can just check in on each morning.
The trick to using Trello as a client management system is to make sure everything is updated on a day to day basis. It’s also key to include every last piece of information your team has available so there is nothing missed.
If you can’t afford to pay for a CRM like ActiveCampaign to manage your leads then Trello is a great free alternative.
It’s important to note here that Trello does in no way replace a CRM. It can, however, provide a freeway for you to manage you lead funnel.
There are multiple ways freelancers can get clients. Whether prospects contact you, or you get work through online and offline networking, Trello can serve as a great tool to manage these leads.
Below I’ll show you a screenshot of an example board I used to use. Essentially, you create a new list for each stage of the sales funnel and each card will represent each lead. You’re able to store all the detailed information within the card and as you move each lead through your pipeline you can simply move the card.
This is a great visual way to manage your leads and I highly recommend it for any freelancers just starting out. You’ll see that when you start talking to multiple prospects, across multiple channels it’s very hard to keep track of all the information.
It may seem a little far-fetched claiming that you can create an entire business plan on Trello. But I did just that, I planned out every single small detail it takes to build a business, I created lists and tasks out of that and then I ordered those tasks into priority order.
Trello enabled me to map out an entire business plan in a visual and detailed way. I was then able to work from this with my team.
I’ll share a screenshot of this below to show just how much information you can harness within Trello.
You can see Trello can be used in so many different ways, which is why it’s one of the top tools you need as a remote freelancer.
I love working in a collaborative and transparent way, which is why Google Drive is my go-to each day.
I’m now at a point where all of my work documents are stored on Google Drive. This is not only because I need to share work with clients and my team but because I’m very aware that I need this stuff in the cloud and not on a hard drive.
I’d recommend starting to set up an organisational structure on your Google Drive. It will allow you to easily share documents, add comments and tag people in documents and like magic, collaborate on documents.
It’s important to note that you can use Trello and Google Drive in sync. What I mean by this is if you were to create a certain folder that holds a bunch of docs in Google Drive, but then wanted to store than info in Trello then you’d just put the Google Drive folder link into a Trello card.
I can not stress how convenient this is when you’re working in a team, which is why it makes it on to the list of the top tools you can use as a remote freelancer.
This one seems super simple but sticking to a daily calendar, not only for your meetings but for every task that you need to do can be really powerful.
I use Apple’s calendar app as it syncs perfectly to my iPhone, and I make a lot of changes on the go. However, there are great alternatives such as Google Calendar.
The trick here is to use your calendar as a day to day task planning app. This means planning out EXACTLY what you need to do each day for the next day. If you’ve ever read ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’ by Tim Ferris, he mentions a principle called ‘Parkinson’s law’. Essentially it is the theory that whatever time you allow yourself to do a specific task, you’ll use.
This takes a lot of self-discipline when you’re self-employed. However, it can work really well when combining Trello, Drive and Calendar.
What I like to do is to designate a certain time frame to do something, put it in the calendar and then shorten it by 15 minutes. I say to myself if this isn’t done within the time allotted then it won’t ever be done. Of course, you’ll need to use your own method, but this works for me.
This data will then be recorded in Trello and the work, of course, is done in Drive. Using Calendar to tie these tools together is the main reason it makes it on to list of top tools you can use as a remote freelancer.
Tools You Need as a Remote Freelancer
As we’ve talked about, there are hundreds of apps and tools out there that supposedly help you do your job faster. But when it boils down to it, are we just distracting ourselves from doing the task in hand? I understand that as freelancers, we all do different jobs, and some require different software. It’s because of this you’d probably want to throw in an Adobe product or two, or perhaps Visual Studio? However, as a base, these are the top tools you need as a remote freelancer.
If you’re already working from home but want to take your office on the road then check out my top tips for working whilst you travel.