Finding, winning and delighting your clients as a creative freelancer is already a hustle. Add the layer of routine daily tasks that come with running a business, and you’ve got a serious time-drain on your hands. How can you manage it all as a one man or woman show? Though it may not come as a surprise, the answer lies in technology. Tech is changing pretty much everything about the way we work for the better. Inexpensive, cloud-based apps are making it possible for anyone with a smartphone to take advantage of the latest and greatest technology to improve their efficiency, in and out of the office. With just a few taps, you can schedule your day, get paid, and manage that never-ending to do list.
Do yourself a favor, and lean on tech to help you get more done. Here are five ways creative freelancers can use tech to run their back office straight from their front pocket.
Retire the paperwork and get your head in the clouds, or rather, the cloud with services like Box or Dropbox. They keep important documents, photos and videos safely stored so you can access and edit them from wherever you are. They make it easy to search and share files or folders, which is especially helpful for keeping clients in the loop. Is juggling your schedule a constant challenge? Any.do is a great app for getting things done. It’s like a virtual personal assistant that lets you take notes, create to-do lists, and manage your calendar. Tools like Pocket and Dragdis are perfect for inspiration junkies—helping anyone who loves collecting images, videos, and articles from around the web but who doesn’t know where to keep them.
Time is money, no matter what your schedule looks like. It’s fairly easy to keep up when you work the same schedule every day. However, many freelancers’ schedules vary widely, so keeping track of the hours can be a real challenge. Don’t let missed time affect your bottom line. Try some simple time-tracking apps like Tyme, which is available only on your Mac, iPhone and iPad. This app lets you track mileage and fixed costs, and alerts you to upcoming deadlines. Don’t have iOS devices? Check out this list of 20 time-tracking apps for use on all kinds of devices.
No one likes facing a pile of homework at the end of the day. Simple invoicing apps like Invoice2go take the stress out of invoicing, and the awkwardness out of chasing late payments. The app allows you to send customized invoices electronically and collect payment on the spot. You can also see when a client has viewed the email with your invoice, and send automatic payment reminders to help you avoid the role of bill collector.
Regardless of how you personally feel about social media, these days you need a solid presence in order to grow a customer base and build your brand. But as a one person show, staying active and consistent across channels could very well be the death of your productivity. Try consolidating your social efforts with apps like Sprout Social and Hootsuite. These tools make it easy to manage all your channels from one place (and they make it harder to be tempted by your feeds which is an added bonus).
Take a page out of the big business playbook and outsource smaller tasks to help you save time. You may have used Upwork to find jobs, but what about for finding help? Figure out what tasks take up the most time from your day and could be trusted to another person. Lean on someone else for things like writing, research, and photo editing—you can find a freelancer for virtually everything. Delegating work can provide a little more balance to your workday, which goes a long way in keeping your creativity sharp when it matters most.