As a freelancer of any sort, you wear a lot of hats.
You have to be great at selling yourself, negotiating business terms, delivering a stellar final product, and sniffing out new business for yourself. It’s time-consuming and stressful.
Unless you were lucky enough to find one great nest egg of a client, then you probably juggle several clients at once, so you have to do all that work times two or three or four. Those who say the freelance life is great because we can stay at home and work in our PJs all day don’t often see this other, much more difficult side of the equation.
You can’t exactly let any of the above duties slip. After all, clients come and clients go, and you always have to be ready to have something else lined up so your income doesn’t suffer.
Don’t you wish it could be easier somedays?
It can. By automating some of the processes that you manually have to do with tools, your day becomes wide open. You can then focus more time on searching for new clients, responding to emails, writing or designing, or doing whatever else is necessary to keep your self-employed business afloat.
Of course, there are so many automation tools and services out there. How do you know which ones to choose for your freelancing business? You don’t want to waste unnecessary time or money on solutions that won’t work.
In this article, we’ve compiled six efficient automation tools for freelancers that are worth using.
Okay, raise your hand if this has happened to you before. You start emailing with a client who sounds very enthusiastic and into your work. They ask you to do a project, so you get right to work. You spend some time crafting the best work you can and get back to them. Then, crickets.
You either have to chase down the client and ask them to pay you or chalk it up to a loss (which, while very unfortunate, sometimes does happen in the freelance business). No one likes having to send follow-up after follow-up email inquiring about a missed payment. It’s embarrassing for us and makes our feelings towards our working relationship with you sour.
That’s why so many freelancers prefer PayPal. This free service lets you make or receive payments. Your client only needs your email address to get started. Then they can input the amount of money they want to send you and pass it along. You’ll receive an email when the funds are in your PayPal account.
From there, you can either leave the money in your PayPal account or move it to your bank account if you so choose. Many online retailers accept PayPal payments, and you can even sync your financial information on PayPal with QuickBooks.
You should be aware that PayPal does charge a transaction fee, which may be as much as 2.9 percent or more if the transaction is international.
Do you have a lot of clients? Are you often inundated with work to the point of being overwhelmed? With so many people asking so much work from you, it can be hard to keep track of everything you need to do. You may accidentally miss a deadline because you’re just so slammed that you honestly forgot.
This is not ideal, as it could lead to a loss of business and revenue. Next time you see your schedule getting full, sign up for a Trello account. This is also free to use, which is great for any new freelancers out there.
Trello lets you make boards. You can have as many boards as you want, and you can color-code them so everything stays organized. If you have some very important work or clients, you can even add a star to a board for quick access.
Once inside the board, Trello becomes your organizational playground. You set up columns and fill those columns with cards or tasks. As a freelancer, you might make columns naming all your clients or the projects you’re working on. Then you might make an “in progress” column and a “finished” column for when you’re done.
As you get new assignments each day or week, you can move the card from one column to another. Seeing the lifespan of a project visually like that gives you a great sense of satisfaction as well as keeps you organized.
Everybody’s on social media today. You may have a Facebook Business Page or a presence on Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube that you strive to maintain. Of course, with how much you do in an average day or week, sometimes there just isn’t time to post and reply to comments. Social media often ends up on the backburner.
This is where Hootsuite comes in. Used by the likes of Penn Mutual, Accor Hotels, eHarmony, Visa, and many other Fortune 1000 companies, Hootsuite is a social media management platform. You do have to pay to use it, but you can try it free for 30 days.
With Hootsuite, you can schedule posts (so you can always reach your audience at ideal times even if you’re not in front of the computer or a mobile device), monitor keywords, and review your social media success with detailed analytics.
You can even look up keywords, locations, and hashtags to see what’s popular on any given day. Now you’ll always have great ideas for your own content so your posts can be more timely and popular.
Hootsuite can be used with Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.
Making pitches is at the heart of your job, yet it’s so time-consuming.
You may have a pitching template you use, which is great, but this doesn’t always work for every client you may want to work with. Yet still, the longer you take on your pitches, the more money you’re missing out on. After all, there’s no guarantee that you’ll win a project with a client even if you pitched to them. The time you spent on that pitch could have been used doing work for a client who pays. Of course, if you don’t pitch, you don’t get any new work, so it becomes a kind of catch-22.
That’s why Bidsketch should be on your radar. With this tool, you get customizable templates that you can change at will, adjusting the designs, fees, and content so your pitches are their best every time. You can even ask for an electronic signature from your new client so you can get started on work sooner.
If you’ve ever wondered what a potential client does after you send them a pitch, you can finally put an end to the agony. Bidsketch offers notifications and proposal analytics so you can track who may be interested and who needs a nudge to get back to you. Bidsketch does cost money, with both monthly and annual plans available.
An automated service that just about everyone loves (and with good reason!) is Zapier. You only need a Google account to sign up. Once you do, you can choose the apps you use the most. Zapier will then automate tasks within those apps and allow you to set up your own workflow, saving you tons of time you can now spend on any other activities you choose.
There are over 1,000 supported apps on Zapier and counting, so just about any app you use for your freelance life should be covered. A sampling of the apps that are compatible with Zapier are:
- Google Sheets
- Google Calendar
- Google Drive
The list goes on and on. The basic features of Zapier are always free, which is another big plus. If you want even more, you can pay for a premier Zapier account.
As a freelancer, you’re also a marketer. That’s no secret to anyone who’s been doing this kind of work for even a few months. You have to market yourself and your services to willing clients to keep up a steady stream of work.
Of course, when you look at the prices of some marketing software, your jaw might drop. It’s difficult to fathom spending several thousand dollars every year for marketing, especially if your income stream is still in flux.
This is where EngageBay comes in handy. This new service was created to compete with other, much more expensive marketing software out there. EngageBay is tailored for small business owners like yourself, startups, and entrepreneurs.
EngageBay’s email and social media automation make it easier than ever to reach out to and keep up with clients even when you have a full workload for the day (or the week).
Freelancers will quite like the price, too. EngageBay is still in beta through late June. After moving out of beta, it will only cost a dollar a day to use EngageBay’s great marketing services. That’s less than the cup of coffee we often need to rely on to keep up our energy levels on those long days and nights of work.
The freelance life is far from the walk in the park it seems to be to outsiders. You might be able to work from anywhere and set you own schedule, yet you’re constantly looking for new work while appeasing the clients you do have. Your basic day can be very stressful!
That’s why these six automation tools are perfect for freelancers. Most of them are free, and the ones that aren’t are relatively inexpensive so you can still fit them into your budget. Even if you use just one of these tools, your work life will improve drastically. After all, who doesn’t love more time?