I started freelancing about six months ago and it’s been an amazing adventure.
And by amazing adventure, I mean it’s been like riding a roller coaster that’s breaking the sound barrier and I’m trying to hold on with both hands but there aren’t any “oh shit” bars.
Essentially, I had to learn everything from sales to invoicing to collecting money (like a PIMP) to taxes, all in record time.
I wanted to share with you some of the online tools I’ve used and vetted that have been extremely helpful to me along the way:
Holy bajeesus, I had to highlight this as #1 because this has been my lifesaver from getting arrested and fined from the IRS. I am not a math person. It’s hard enough for me to even remember to save receipts and put them somewhere reasonable. Outright makes accounting a breeze. Similar to Mint.com, you can connect your bank accounts, credit cards, invoicing platform and even PayPal to track all of your expenses and income. The best part is you can categorize them as you would on an expense sheet and they’ll even give you your quarterly tax payment estimates!
Do not ask me how I would have ever figured out what the number would be on my own, because I wouldn’t.How do I know it’s accurate? I showed my accountant the web app and she confirmed that Outright’s calculations were just as close as hers. Booyah, you’re fired.
Outright is FREE, with advanced features available for a very reasonable $9.95 a month. If you sign up for a year, you can also use a GoDaddy coupon code to save even more.
Harvest is an invoicing tool that also does time management. There’s a neat little app you can install to track time you spend on clients for both the computer and your phone (the phone version is great for tracking meeting times when I’m not in front of the computer).
My favorite thing about Harvest is its PayPal integration. Clients can pay you via PayPal and there is only a 50-cent transaction fee, NOT a percentage. The time saved from having to wait for a check to arrive has been utterly incredible and relieving. According to their site, invoices are paid 16 days sooner (twice as fast), when online payment is enabled. Also, it integrates with Outright!
If you sign up through here, you can try it free for 30 days and get a $10 credit for your first month!
Sometimes I don’t want to look like psycho that works until 4 a.m. and sending out emails at the butt crack of dawn. Instead, I want to look like a well-composed workaholic that sends you an email at 7 a.m., suggesting I woke up around 6 a.m. to get ready to start an amazingly productive day, and took exactly an hour to get ready before sending you our first piece of communication. Not really an early riser? No problem. Voila, Boomerang. Auto send your emails at whatever time you designate. So you can look like the overachiever morning person you are not. Sweet, ey?
Any.do is my favorite to-do manager because it’s so darn simple. You create a list of what to do and when you have to do it by, set alerts, and simply cross it out (via swiping) to mark it as done. Available on iPhone/Android and as a Chrome extension that also works inside of gmail (turn any email into a task!), I can keep track and sync my to-do list wherever I am. And it’s freakin’ beautiful. The minimalist in me is in love.
My newest discovery thanks to Mike Del Ponte. Lift is an app that helps you form good habits. Why the hell would this work? I don’t know, something about tapping that big green button like you’re accomplishing something marvelous (because you are) keeps me looking forward to the next time I can tap it again. That and the psychology around it is different from a to-do list. There’s no dread in not performing these things. Just a sense of accomplishment when you do.
The app also outputs a chart showing just how good (or not so good) you’ve been at forming this habit, and tells you when you’re hitting a streak. A few things on my Lift list are:
- drink at least 6 glasses of water a day
- write morning pages
- take a daily multivitamin
- do yoga
- take the time to look decently put together everyday
You can join and follow my progress — and yell at me if you notice me slacking.
Does anyone have any other recommendations?
Photo credit: Katherine Fan