Freelancing is characterized by freedom, among other benefits. You are at liberty to work within your schedule, during the day or at night, and within the hours that you feel are the most productive.
This career path also allows you time to engage in other social activities equally crucial for your general well-being. For instance, you no longer have to ask for a day off to attend your child’s graduation event. You only need to schedule your work, and you are good to go.
That said, the freelancing does not come without a share of challenges. Freelancers handle everything on their own; marketing, finances, devices, data security, and other responsibilities.
Fortunately, as a freelancer, you can overcome most of these challenges using a few tools. Let’s look at some of the significant challenges first and several tools that can help you overcome them.
– Challenges faced by freelancers –
Clients love working with people who can meet deadlines. Even as a freelancer, you will be expected to meet this expectation, and for many, this is a big challenge.
That you are juggling between different business activities is one of the factors contributing to this challenge. For instance, it’s your sole responsibility to maintain current clients and deliver to their expectations, acquire new ones, make or demand payments, and so on.
You are the boss and the executive manager, and it is very easy to spend a lot of time in these activities or even get lost in the mix.
As a freelancer, you may also suffer different instabilities that may affect your career path. For instance, there are rainy days when you will have few clients coming by. Unfortunately, this challenge might persist long enough until you manage to build and market your brand wide enough to pool long-term clients or long-term projects.
Other instabilities include clients who are not clear about their expectations, delayed payments, and other lots of unreliable clients who will only seem to bombard you with vague requests.
As earlier mentioned, freelancers have to wear many hats. In matters of security, you are your own IT person. If this is not your area of specialization, you may have a hard time managing your devices and ensuring that everything, including work and personal data, is safe and secure.
At such a time when data breaches and other cyber-crimes have become so rampant, this is a challenge that many freelancers are still grappling with.
– Tools to help you conquer the challenges –
The following productivity tools can help you keep track of the time spent on different tasks and projects:
Most freelancers, especially writers, need various office tools for their PCs. Google Docs offer writers a web-based alternative. Most prefer to store their documents on their external memory devices or hard drives. Instead of paying for Microsoft Office, it is more sensible to use the efficient and free OpenOffice app.
OpenOffice features a complete tool suite similar to Microsoft Office, and it allows you to export documents to PDF with ease, making it a perfect choice for pamphlets, e-books, etc. It also features various fonts, and tools like formatting and charts, just like Microsoft Office.
Freelancers send many emails, and these emails have mostly similar information. The TextExpander cuts down on the time you spend sending these emails. The app allows you to pre-program abbreviations and inserts all sorts of information, including images and other data, using a few keystrokes. You can pre-program the app to spot and fix any typos, auto-insert forms and various info, then apply different signatures for your other clients.
This tool provides an easy way to track your goals and projects through the easy-to-use work management platform. For better and timely delivery that meets your client’s expectations, this tool allows you to set and assign tasks, set priorities, and meet deadlines.
This time tracking tool helps you make the most of your freelancing time by keeping track of your time because every minute matters. You are, therefore, able to know how much time is spent on each task.
You can then compare this with the money value, and this can help you release more time from tasks that are holding you back.
The following tools can help strengthen your data and device security as a freelancer:
As suggested in the name, this tool scans for potential threats within a new network. It is a handy tool because you may find yourself having to access the internet via different systems as a freelancer, especially when working on the go.
Qualys scan will provide you with a detailed report which shows you all the vulnerable areas that need patching.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN secures your internet traffic. It does this by creating a secure tunnel invisible to all snoopers, including hackers and other cybercriminals.
With a VPN, you do not have to worry about connecting your devices to unsecured networks; your interactions remain safe from any form of interference or censorship.
Freelancers waste a lot of time trying to log in to services and websites, only to realize they have forgotten the passwords. The going advice is that you are not supposed to write your passwords or use the same password in multiple accounts, making it hard to remember all the passwords.
LastPass saves you the hassle of remembering tens of passwords and requires you to remember the master password. The LastPass app keeps all your passwords and auto-fills whenever you need to use them. It also protects your accounts from hacking by running on a zero-knowledge model. All the sensitive data on LastPass is encrypted with AES-256 and even syncs with TLS to protect you from MitM (Man- in- the- middle) attacks.
With the right financial tools, you can handle most of the freelancing instabilities and finance-related tasks with ease.
Fyle is a popular tool for freelancers for the management of receipts and expenses. When you take a receipt’s photo via the app, Fyle automatically scans and extracts the expense information on your behalf. Fyle contains an extension that you can plug into G Suite, which means you never have to exit your inbox. If you are a freelancer working on the move, Fyle has a neat technique of allowing you to track your mileage via Google Places. All you do is enter your destination, then let Fyle do the rest. Fyle goes a step further with its email plugins, which integrate easily with your existing systems.
This tool helps you ask for payments professionally by generating invoices. It is easier to keep track of expenses with adequately documented invoices and remind forgetful clients to pay up.
This tool helps freelancers to keep track of their cash inflows and outflows. Money management is a problem for many people, and this application helps keep track and control your spending. It is therefore easy to notice where you are losing money and to avoid the same.
Good money management habits are essential for beginners, and seasoned freelancers and mint helps you do this by tracking your budgets and spending.
The envelope system where you kept cash in different envelopes for various expenditures worked just fine in the past. With technology, the Goodbudget app takes the envelope system to a different level.
The app provides you with different virtual envelopes, which you fill every month by importing your bank account details, then you drag each transaction into its appropriate category or envelope.
Freelancing is a journey like any other. It has its ups and downs. The best thing about this journey is that there are tools dedicated to making the ride an easy one for you. With the above tools, you can scale up your productivity by doing more in less time and doing so safely.