Freelancer Tools: 12 tools for freelancers that have a decisive advantage
When you work alone, whether as a freelancer or self-employed, it is even more important that your time is used efficiently. You are probably the marketing, sales and accounting department as well as project management and boss all in one, numerous freelance tools can support you and make many subtasks easier. There is a tool for almost every little step, new ones are always being added and your requirements change over time.
It is not only a challenge to keep track of everything, but also not to waste a lot of time unnecessarily moving data back and forth. This is exactly why automating process steps can be so incredibly valuable for freelancers and solo self-employed people. Because you probably know more than anyone that saving time actually means gaining time.
The following list of freelancer tools may certainly look familiar to you, because all the applications are certainly no longer insider tips. The special thing about them, however, is that all tools can be integrated excellently and are thus optimally suited for lean but effective automation. And if you are thinking of expanding your business by adding more people, all applications are easily scalable.
Why this list at all?
Before we start with the freelancer tools: What's so special about this list? Isn't it the same old coffee made again? Not quite. As I said, the tools themselves are no longer insider tips. What makes this list special, however, is that all of them can be integrated through Make and thus linked with each other. Data and information are exchanged between the programmes all by themselves, so you never have to manually transfer data from A to B again. Sounds good?
What is this Make? Make is a software that acts like a platform. All the freelancer tools presented here can be linked on this platform and thus exchange the defined data with each other. If you want to know how exactly this works, we have written a more detailed blog post about it here.
Freelancer tools for the back office: the heart of your business
No company (in our eyes) can do without the following things, no matter what industry or what goals you are pursuing:
We said it before, Lexoffice is unbeatable on the German market for bookkeeping. Since the regulations for bookkeeping vary greatly from country to country, it is particularly important in our eyes not to make any compromises in this category. Lexoffice impresses with its price and performance. Of course, it is still bookkeeping, but with a few little tricks and automations, you only spend a little time on it. How exactly? We have summarised that for you here.
We are also an official Lexoffice integration partner, so feel free to contact us if you have any questions or ideas about Lexoffice in particular.
Your company account with Penta or Holvi
Sure, the money has to go somewhere. Holvi and Penta are competitive online banking models that are also impressively cheap. With Holvi you can start free of charge. As pure direct banks, the digital processing of your payment transactions is of course a priority with both providers, which means there are no fees for paperless payments, as is still the case with many other providers. Your credit card is free of charge, of course, and you can use it for almost all online purchases.
All-in-one: Office365 for many freelancers Tools in one
Mails, scheduler, cloud storage, SharePoint, Teams... Office365 has everything you need to keep your day running smoothly. Surely we don't have to make these tools more palatable to you. But why Office365 and not GSuite? Basically, the two providers don't have much in common, and we think both are good alternatives. However, what convinces us about Office365 is the SharePoint, the easy sharing of passwords and MS Teams. Maybe all aspects are less relevant for you as a sole trader, but Teams pays off at the latest for virtual meetings with clients.
Both Office 365 and GSuite offer endless possibilities for automation, so here are just a few ideas:
Get an email when something new is posted in a specific Facebook group
Send mails for a new wordpress blogpost, so to speak as a newsletter
Scan your mails for emails with invoices attached or in the text and automatically upload them to accounting
Automatically create To Dos from your emails
Automatically add new Offic365 contacts to your newsletter list
The cloud storage not only allows you to save your files, but also to easily invite customers to collaborate. But we're certainly not telling you anything new.
Task or project management: Asana or Trello
When the tasks are so varied and numerous, it is necessary to keep an overview. Freelancer tools such as Asana or Trello can help you create projects and tasks, work according to Scrum methods or simply keep track of the deadlines for different tasks.
Asana free is completely sufficient for one person and helps you to sort yourself out. Because you probably won't exceed the limit of 15 users in the near future.
Of course, there are also ideas for automation:
Automatically create calendar appointments from your Asana tasks
Save completed Asana tasks in a GoogleSheet or Excel spreadsheet (unfortunately, these functions are not available in the free version of Asana).
Link Asana to your CRM (Hubspot) and create new projects in Asana from new leads in Hubspot.
This last example leads us to the next category: Customer Relationship Management.
Marketing & CRM: Hubspot for your customer base
In our eyes, Hubspot is unbeatable when it comes to sales, customer management and marketing. The best thing about it is that Hubspot is modular and can be expanded and built according to your needs. However, the core is the free CRM system, with functions such as CMS, sales or service added on top if necessary. This makes your CRM enormously scalable, depending on requirements and changes.
Probably the most pleasant automation at the beginning: You can easily integrate new contacts from your emails into Hubspot. This means you no longer have to manually transfer all the data into your CRM. You could also create new leads from your Calendly appointments. Or capture new subscribers from MailChimp directly in Hubspot. The principle is always the same: Don't have to enter the same data five times in different tools.
ActiveCampaign for newsletter marketing and automated mails
If you are thinking about using newsletter marketing (which we highly recommend), it is important to set it up in a structured way from the beginning. An overview of new leads and prospects is important in order to ultimately reach new customers. The freelancer tool ActiveCampaign is particularly suitable for this, because in addition to the integrated automations (newsletter marketing is actually always an automated process), it can still be extended by Make.
The examples for potential automations are very similar to those for CRM: No matter through which channel new customers come in, whether Facebook Lead Ads, by email, by appointment on Calendly or another appointment booking tool, you can automatically register them for your newsletter (provided you get their consent, of course).
But also changes of data in the CRM can be synchronised with ActiveCampaign and thus relieve you of tiny but important work steps.
Your corporate website with Wordpress
Do we even need to say much more about this? We hope we don't have to convince anyone else of the importance of having their own website. Wordpress is a CMS that is not only widely used (according to its own data, 39% of ALL websites run on Wordpress), but is also cheap, flexible and completely sufficient for the vast majority of entrepreneurs. There are countless plugins to expand your website and with a visual builder like Elementor you can design your website yourself and fill it with content very easily.
RankMath for SEO
A plugin that has nothing to do with automation, but is still totally useful: RankMath for your SEO. It immediately shows you a score for all pages, depending on the keyword. We ourselves have had very good experiences with it and achieved results, so here is the tool as a small tip.
Always keep an eye on your numbers with Google Analytics, Ads and Search Console
What's the point of all this effort if you can't analyse your data properly? With Google as the absolute dominant search engine, it is important for you as a business owner to know and understand your data in order to use it for your benefit. When do your customers visit your website? Which page is clicked? How quickly do visitors abandon? Which site converts well? Where is there potential for improvement?
Google collects this data for you anyway, so why not make the most of it?
Communication less with colleagues, but mainly with customers in teams
Ok, we'll make this point short because it might be less relevant for you as an individual and we're not telling anything new here anyway: For communication, we rely on Teams, for the advantages previously mentioned for Office365 with SharePoint and a great collaboration. For you, this tool might be more relevant to simply arrange (video) calls with customers. Because Teams is also easy to use in the browser, your clients don't have to download the tool for the call. Very convenient!
There are new tools in this category all the time and we have to admit that we have already tried out a few. We have been using Calendly for a long time and can recommend it for all self-employed people, because it works great with one account and your clients can easily choose an appointment in your calendar without many clicks.
Cost: If you only have one type of event, the tool is free. If you want different types, such as different lengths of calls, the tool costs $8 per month.
Of course, we can also automate the whole thing. We have implemented a lot of this ourselves and it takes an incredible amount of work off our hands. For example, shortly before their appointment, clients receive an email asking them to answer a few questions in advance. This questionnaire runs via Wordpress and is then automatically made available to us again. This makes preparation much easier.
But there are also automated e-mails to our clients after the interview. Depending on how the conversation went and how we remained, we have different options for this. Maybe you have a second call as standard and can send an automatic email with a request to book.
Whatever you decide, we can recommend some freelance tools in this category. On the Make website you can also check whether you can easily automate the tool.
Whether you work on a project or not, as a self-employed person or freelancer it is always important to keep track of your working hours. Harvest is the tool of choice for this. Of course, the time tracking tool also allows you to transfer your recorded times to the accounting system.
If you only have two open projects, there is even a free version. Otherwise you pay $12 a month or $10.80 if you pay annually. Harvest itself advertises numerous integrations with other applications such as Slack, Asana or Outlook.
This way you can have your projects from Asana automatically created in Harvest (or vice versa). Or you can automatically create a new time tracking in Harvest as soon as an event starts in your calendar.
Choose modular freelancer tools now and benefit from automation
The market with cloud applications grows and washes. This blog post is only a tiny sample and shows only a few examples of suitable freelance tools. Nevertheless, we think that the ones presented here can also support you as a solo entrepreneur in the future. They grow with you and your business, they are easy to use and they allow you to automate and spend more time on the tasks that make you truly self-employed (Psst, that definitely doesn't include copy-paste).
Not the right one for you? Together we will find individual solutions that are flexible and scalable. We are happy to support you in the analysis and subsequent automation of business processes, explain possibilities and individually address the company processes.
Cloud Integration, iPaaS, SaaS, BPA… Ough, hard to keep track of all these terms. They are currently used frequently (and increasingly) in the context of automation, and it is sometimes difficult to make a clear distinction and distinction. We have already written blog posts on the terms iPaaS, SaaS and BPA, but we’ll take them up again here to make the difference.
But let’s start with cloud integration, because that’s the central umbrella term in which we embed all the other technologies in this blog post.
To illustrate these advantages, an example is suitable that we know well from our everyday work as an automation agency:
The central data to be used here is the data of a major customer. This can be the simplest information, such as the address. This address is required in numerous but completely different processes in the company: on the one hand, for correct invoicing in accounting. On the other hand, in the CRM system, where all the data of the large customer is also stored. But the address is also important in sales, for example, when employees go to the sales meeting on site.
Now the customer announces that the address of the company has changed after a move. This information will reach you by e-mail. There are now two options:
01. The e-mail is forwarded to all affected departments, accounting, sales, customer service, marketing… All persons open their corresponding program, CRM, accounting software, marketing tools (such as newsletter marketing) and change the data already stored there of the customer. This means that in multiple applications, different people do exactly the same thing: change one address. 02. But there is also an alternative: By connecting your applications, thus by integrizing them, the customer’s e-mail, or rather the information it contains about the address change, is automatically passed on to all affected applications: CRM, accounting, marketing, ERP. This does not require any clicks, because the cloud integration detects a trigger, i.e. address change, and thus automatically starts the process.
What sounds unimpressive in a single process becomes more effective when such a process occurs several times a day or weekly. Because there is a lot of data that is available in different applications and should always be correct. If these applications are cloud applications they are suitable for cloud integration.
But cloud integration doesn’t just happen. There are now a variety of applications that enable and implement this. Such tools usually allow us to link the relevant cloud applications on a central platform and define clear rules on when, how, where, how much data should be passed on and what happens to them.
IPaaS, SaaS, BPA, ABC – who can still see through it?
To realize cloud integration, there are various applications and technologies that are sometimes used interchangeably.
Cloud integration cannot be done without SaaS, iPaaS and BPA
Cloud integration is rather an umbrella term that includes numerous technologies, such as SaaS, iPaaS and BPA, and this is also absolutely necessary. Cloud integration is a concept that is made possible by appropriate technologies.
However, all terms share the commonality that they are cloud-based and thus offer enormous potential for growth and scaling. In addition, they are often cheaper to implement and maintain because changed requirements are easy to implement.
As an independent automation agency, we implement cloud integration according to your requirements. We use a variety of SaaS tools and iPaas (strictly speaking BPA) software. Together we find individual solutions that are flexible and scalable.