The 10 Best Freelance Tools That No Web Designer Should Be Without
Whether it’s due to the longer hours, the uncertain nature of the job, or the requirement to self-manage, many people understand freelance web designing to be among the most challenging jobs there is. Of course, it can also easily be the most rewarding job on the market. With the right tools for every aspect of time management, communication, and effective design, freelancers can make a real impact on clients and transform the way they earn a living.
1. Free Agent
Price: £24 per month after 30-day free trial
(Get 10% Off with Discount Code: 42ql612n).
One of the hardest parts about freelancing is managing the personal finances, client invoices, tax records, and everything in between. Because freelancers serve as their own, boss, accountant, secretary, and supervisor, these tasks must be done between client projects in a way that is easily accessible and highly usable in a pinch. Free Agent is just such a solution for the accounting side of a freelance operation, allowing for online and cloud-based documentation of finances and other sources of revenue.
The software can also produce a robust client invoice and offer it up for payment. Because the Free Agent service integrates with third-party websites like PayPal, Basecamp, Capsule, and Google’s long list of applications, it can be used to generate to-dos, accept payment, and work with virtually every financial facet of the freelance reality.
Free Agent is available to new users as a 30-day free trial. And you can have an additional 10 percent discount for life if you have a Free Agent Code (42ql612n). After that trial expires, members have the option of continuing with the service for a flat monthly rate of £24 minus your 10% discount :-).
Want More Information?
If you want more information on Free Agent check out my extended review of all of it’s functions and features!
2. Freelance Switch
Price: $7 per month
Freelancers need to have quick access to a resource that will match them up with clients, and Freelance Switch is quickly becoming the top choice of website designers who need to find work. The site functions in several different ways, blending freelance work with tools for those looking to make the switch into the freelance industry. The website’s blog offers tips about everything from self-management to client cultivation, and the company offers a number of great tips for those who are just making the switch away from a traditional employer.
To help with that transition into freelancing, Freelance Switch operates one of the largest and most useful job boards in the industry. Website designers who pay the site’s $7 monthly fee will be able to view jobs, read job descriptions, and apply directly to the clients who are most in need of work. Though the application process is competitive, there are simply few websites like Freelance Switch that offer so many tools, tips, and potential work opportunities, making it one of the smartest monthly subscription services available to website developers and designers.
Price: $20 per month for a basic membership, up to $3,000 per month for unlimited features
Basecamp is perhaps one of the most widely known names in the freelance industry, especially among web designers, as the software is the perfect blend of collaborative communication and project management. Using Basecamp, developers can keep a cloud-based list of to-do items for each design project that they’re working on at any given time. Logins can even be given to clients, allowing them to modify the list, add notes, or attach materials that might be of use to the designer as they work through the project.
The Basecamp software is ultimately the best way to enhance client communication, boost productivity in the freelance design world, and produce an agreeable end result that will further the business. Best of all, the entry-level package offered by the company comes in at just $20 monthly for simultaneous management of three projects. Monthly prices escalate beyond that price point for simultaneous management of more than three projects, with a $3,000 monthly fee for unlimited simultaneous projects at any given time.
Price: Free option available, up to $20.00 per month for all the bells and whistles!
Communication is perhaps the most important quality for freelancers, as many freelance designers find themselves working on projects for clients that are hundreds or even thousands of miles away. without being able to meet in person, tech support and instructional information can be pretty hard to convey as a project nears completion, becomes integrated with shopping cart software and CMS solutions like WordPress, and takes on real functionality.
The best way to provide client support in this case is through a service like Zopim, which allows freelancers to operate their own online, live chat support solution for clients who require access to real-time chat, instructional information, and broad technical support. Zopim can be integrated fully into services like Skype, GTalk, Yahoo IM, MSN and AIM which means you don’t have to change your existing processes. For marketers it integrates with the big boys such as salesforce too.
The potential to convert new visitors to your website into paying customers is astonishing. I convert almost 80% of people who instigate chats with me via the chat window on my website, and the real time visitor information makes it easy to gather relevant information about the person you’re talking to, and in turn sound informed and switched on to the visitors needs.
The service is free for freelancers who will be acting as a sole tech support agent. The free service only stores your chat history for 14 days and allows only 1 chat at a time. The customization and options available increase with each of the three tiered packages.
Want More Information?
If you want more information on Zopim check out my extended review of all of it’s functions and features!
5. Open Site Explorer
Price: $99 per month after free 30-day trial
Open Site Explorer is operated by SEOMoz, which is arguably the leading name in search engine optimization and outreach management. The goal of the Open Site Explorer service is to judge how influential a domain has become through its links to other blogs, generally through referrals, guest posts, and other link building strategies. Numerous free services are available to developers, including page authority and total linked domains. For more advanced information, or more than three reports per month, a premium subscription is required. That subscription costs $99 per month after a 30-day trial.
6. Code Canyon
Price: Varies per script
Developers in search of the “next big thing” in scripting and page management will love Code Canyon. The site is dedicated to listing a series of free or premium website scripts that can do anything from turn the site into a web-based application to enrich its existing WordPress comment section. Some scripts are free, but many others are priced at a premium level starting at just $1. Designers can pay for scripts on an as-needed basis, and they must remain loyal to the license at the time the script is purchased and downloaded.
Price: Free, or $5 monthly for advanced features
Time management is the number one way for freelance designers to maximize their earning potential while produce quick, amazing website designs for their selected list of clients. With Toggl, it’s possible to list a day’s tasks and monitor the exact amount of time it has taken to complete them. Over time, reports will be available that show where the most time is spent throughout the workday and how that time could be more efficiently utilized to get work done more quickly.
8. Mail Chimp
Price: Free, or as much as $200 monthly
The best way to cultivate repeat clients is to keep them in the loop about developments going on in the web design world. Freelancers who communicate with both new and old clients will prime themselves for more future business, and MailChimp is here to help. The service dispatches newsletters at a frequency of the user’s choosing, to an email list that they have generated on their own. A base package is included for free, but premium pricing will be required to reach a larger email list with more frequent updates. Pricing starts at $10 per month and escalates to as much as $200 per month based on readership.
For $19 per image, or as little as $199 per month, Shutterstock offers the Internet’s largest collection of stock photography. Most freelance designers know how important a good, relevant stock image can be to a great design. With the company’s vast options and affordable pricing, there is no reason to go with more generic options during the design process.
10. Adobe Kuler
The right color palette can bring a design to live, meshing a company’s overall message with a look and feel that will resonate with their target audience. Good freelance designers know this, but sometimes they can have trouble selecting the right blend of colors for the job. That’s where Adobe Kuler comes in. The site’s pre-made color swatches are perfect for creating grounded, enjoyable designs with matching colors that speak to a client’s market goals.
Great Options for Today’s Freelance Designers
From managing the books to picking the right colors, images, and schedules for a great design, the ten tools mentioned above will take freelance web designers to the next level. Clients will be impressed with great time management, excellent communication tools, and a thorough understanding of how to approach every aspect of design and communication.
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