Did you know that there are currently 57 million freelancers in the US?
Freelancing is a great way to gain experience as a business owner, supplement your income if you work full-time, and/or finally take that leap toward doing something you love.
If this sounds appealing to you, it’s worth knowing that success as a freelancer isn’t a given. But there are steps you can take to set yourself up for success.
Enter: Automation tools.
As a freelancer, automation is key to saving ample time on mundane, repetitive tasks. With automation tools, you can boost your productivity so you can get more done in less time.
Ready for a full overview of the top automation tools we recommend for freelancers? Today, you’re in for a treat.
Tools for time management
With change data capture (CDC), you can transfer data in real time as changes happen.
Because critical systems contain essential data to help drive decisions, real-time access to this data is necessary to stay competitive.
Here are some tools that’ll allow you to track and manage the time you’re investing in your freelance pursuits:
1. Time Doctor
This SaaS tool offers a full host of time management solutions.
Some of its highlights include a time-tracking dashboard that allows you to keep track of your tasks, clients, and projects you’re working with and how much time you’re spending on each one.
These detailed reports can help you calculate accurate invoices and payroll figures quickly and easily.
2. Toggl Track
Toggl Track (formerly known as Toggl) is another great option for monitoring and managing time. It offers efficiency-boosting features such as project rate billing, idle detection, and an offline timer.
Some of ToggleTracks most celebrated features include its intuitive, easy-to-use design and impressively equipped free version, which includes a timeline, auto-tracker, weekly reports, and more.
TimeCamp’s suite of time management solutions is designed to help users make better decisions about their work.
In addition to offering attendance tracking and logging work time, this tool offers reports and insights that measure each activity’s productivity.
Tools for a steady workflow
With the use of remote support software tools, freelancers can connect to and manage devices from any location. This enables seamless process automation, remote maintenance of IT infrastructures, and quicker resolution for technical issues.
Here are some of our favorite remote support software tools for a steady workflow:
If ease of use is a priority for you when looking for software to help manage projects, Trello is an excellent option. Its design is built around Kanban-style boards that allow you to display elements of your work according to stages in a process.
Trello is easy to learn and implement and offers automation features like Butler, a bot feature that automates due date notifications, assignments, and other administrative tasks.
This scheduling app allows you to create and add descriptions to items on your calendar and organize individual tasks into different projects. Once created, you can filter these tasks by assignment status and priority level.
Todoist is an affordable option for freelancers and small operators because its free version offers all of its signature features for up to five collaborators or 300 active tasks.
Tiered subscriptions are available if you need more collaborators or tasks.
HubSpot is a great tool if you’re looking to create a steady workflow for sales and other CRM-related tasks.
For example, HubSpot lead scoring can automatically calculate a customer’s propensity to make a purchase, saving you hours of prospect strategy work.
Tools for social media
Social media plays a big part in advertising your freelance services and booking new clients. Using a social media scheduler is an efficient way to schedule your social media posts, or even repost or curate posts from other sources automatically.
Here are some popular tools you can use to streamline social media marketing:
This management software has already become a popular tool for publishing and scheduling social media posts. Buffer has earned its reputation because of its ease of use and generous feature offering through its free version.
Users can choose between (or mix and match) features that analyze social media engagement, post and plan new content, and efficiently manage inboxes and messaging.
Hootsuite is one of the most all-inclusive options for automated social media management. With Hootsuite, you can schedule automated posts and uncover insightful analytics to see how well your social media content is performing.
Hootsuite can also help you add social listening, influencer identification, and other engagement analytics to your social media platforms.
As its name implies, Planable is a social media collaboration tool that emphasizes easy and efficient planning when automating post-scheduling and content management.
Planable also offers a platform for client-user collaboration on social media projects and multiple options for customer support.
Tools for personal branding
Building a brand identity is an essential part of maintaining your business’ reputation. Use these tools and services to make sure your brand maintains a consistent look and feel:
Its accessibility, affordability, and robust free version make Canva one of the best-known options for basic graphic design and branded content creation.
Though not as advanced as Photoshop, Canva offers everything that you need to get started creating branded print and digital materials.
The Brand Kit features are great for managing fonts, logos, and colors to help you maintain a consistent visual style.
Design suites and photo editing tools are extremely useful and practical for freelancers that want to develop or improve their personal branding.
Picsart offers a wide range of options for perfecting the images you choose to represent your business. With Picsart, you can edit photos, choose from a large menu of layout and template options, and create multi-layered graphics.
Though pricier than other options, Visme offers users the ability to add a highly professional-looking touch to slideshows, presentations, and other visuals.
When you’re trying to make a positive impression on important stakeholders, Visme can help ensure that your social media posts, infographics, ads, and other materials have the polished visual aesthetics you need to stand out.
Tools for finance management
Creating accounting reports as a freelancer can be challenging. Having a tool that automates these kinds of tasks can help you free up time to put in hours into the work that really matters.
Here are some great options to stay on top of the financial side of your freelance work:
Ruul offers a selection of finance-management tools including invoice options and payment collection.
It also enables users to manage and create legal documents like non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and contracts. The ability to create, store, and share these materials all in one platform can have a huge impact on the efficiency of your workflow as a freelancer.
Are you looking for a financial management resource specifically designed for freelancers? Bonsai might be the answer.
In addition to the contract, expense, and payment management services, this suite of efficiency-promoting tools also overlaps with some of the time management workflow solutions mentioned earlier. This makes it an excellent value.
One standout feature is the option to create proposals with customized branding and package options.
Rippling is an all-inclusive HR software. It specifically supports finance management by offering payroll and benefits management — great features if you run a small team. Its features are also easy to customize and adjustable for businesses of all types and sizes.
Rippling also offers peace of mind by protecting user data through Amazon Web Services, which uses transport layer security (TLS) to secure sensitive information.
Tools for networking
Freelancers may enjoy more autonomy than other types of workers. But effective and accessible communication tools are still necessary.
Here are some resources to help everyone stay on the same page:
As one of the best-known business messaging apps available, Slack offers a selection of highly customizable shared online spaces for communicating with colleagues.
This platform allows users to send asynchronous messages or chat in real-time. The service also allows users to schedule send messages and create “huddles” for teams to communicate about specific areas or projects.
For many freelancers, LinkedIn has become an indispensable networking tool. It is, essentially, a social media platform specifically designed for nurturing business connections.
Developing your presence on LinkedIn allows you to take advantage of features such as the ability to search among the vast number of job postings, companies, and potential professional connections.
Once you have made these connections, you can set your account to notify you of any invitations, endorsements, and other opportunities that your growing list of contacts may provide.
If your freelance journey has led you to need the services of a job board, it’d be hard to find a more battle-tested option than Indeed.
Its familiar and easy-to-use design will come in handy whether you are seeking new opportunities for yourself or are ready to recruit new talent to join your work.
Bonus: 7 tips to succeed as a freelancer in the digital era
Aside from using automation tools to minimize administrative tasks, consider implementing the following tips to boost your freelancing career.
1. Develop a portfolio
Be prepared to showcase your best work.
Depending on your field, it may be helpful to present as much variety here as you can. For example, if you’re a freelance writer, feature examples of top-quality writing that focuses on a diverse assortment of topics.
2. Invest in your brand
Remember to keep the big picture in mind and consider the overall impression that your freelance work is making on clients and other stakeholders.
Strong branding will help develop a memorable identity for your endeavor that’ll pay off much longer than a one-time gig.
Visuals also matter! Design suites and photo editing tools are extremely useful for freelancers that want to develop or improve their personal branding.
3. Work with people you love
Be honest with yourself and others about whether or not you feel in alignment with the people you’re working with and the projects you’re working on.
Healthy, honest relationships with clients and colleagues are vital to staying in business for years to come.
4. Get a business license
You’ll have enough on your plate managing clients, projects, and connections. Don’t put yourself at risk of legal trouble by neglecting your profession’s governing body or the laws that apply in your city, state, or country.
5. Build rapport with other freelancers and clients
Engaging on networking platforms like the examples mentioned above may not lead to paid work every time.
But remember to be courteous and open-minded. Some of the connections you make could turn out to be highly valuable in the future.
6. Stay up-to-date on industry trends
Stay informed on the events, organizations, publications, and influencers that are driving your industry forward. Change is inevitable and you’ll need the information they provide to stay relevant.
7. Protect your clients
Being a freelancer doesn’t imply that you handle small or unimportant clients. Regardless of the level of business to which you provide services, maintaining data security is key.
Losing client information or data not only means risking hours of work that will have to be redone, but also the risk of compromising confidential information. Hence the importance of keeping information secure.
Maintaining data security is one part. The other is to ensure that data is adequately stored and backed up. Having a Virtual Dedicated Server (VDS) can help you store key information on your own site, so you can give access to your clients knowing that their information will be protected and backed up.
Companies like VPSBG allow businesses and freelancers to use their VDS services, offering them to make specific configurations to their needs, such as bandwidth, storage capacity, and automatic backups, among others.
Set your freelance business up for success
As a freelancer, you’ll inevitably face challenges over how to streamline your career—and you may not have a team of assistants at your fingertips every time.
But thankfully, technology has come to the rescue.
These automation tools can help you accomplish more with less hassle, so you can have time and energy to focus on more important aspects of your job.
The key is all in how you use them. Be sure to have a strategy in mind before implementing any of the tools we shared today.
For discounts and deals on more tools that help you on your freelance journey, check out the AppSumo store. We have many offers you might like.
Jeremy is co-founder & CEO at uSERP, a digital PR and SEO agency working with brands like Monday, ActiveCampaign, Hotjar, and more. He also buys and builds SaaS companies like Wordable.io and writes for publications like Entrepreneur and Search Engine Journal.