You’ve spent endless hours perfecting your craft so you can do it as a freelancer. But, as all successful freelancers know, your trade is only a fraction of the work. Your time is also dedicated to sending out proposals, creating contracts and invoices, tracking time and expenses, and don’t even get us started on preparing taxes (ok, fine, we’ll mention them later).
But we have good news.
Nobody is expecting you to write every contract from scratch and you don’t need to have a drawer overflowing with receipts to keep track of your expenses. Freelancers today have tons of tools at their fingertips. So many tools that deciding which to use might feel like a job in itself.
Don’t worry. We’ve rounded up a list of the best freelancer tools for your business. All you have to do is choose from our narrowed selection for which simple tools to download. Now your tasks will go quickly and easily so you can go back to concentrating on your freelance skill.
Freelancer Proposal Tools
None of the other freelancer tools matter if you aren’t getting clients. Consider the tools below if you want assistance creating professional-looking proposals.
Clarrow provides custom proposal templates to get you started. It has a unique comments feature allowing you to make live updates as you talk with your potential client. After you set your deliverables and timelines, it only takes minutes to convert your proposal into a contract. You can use Clarrow with one active client for free.
If you want more bells and whistles, Proposify might be for you. You can deck your proposals out with fancy typography and adjust the layout. It’s possible to include videos, live chat, and interactive pricing. This system provides insights on which sections prospects are looking at and how long they look. Proposify plans start at $19 per user per month with a maximum of five active proposals at any given time.
The Qwilr process starts with you creating Qwilr Pages using simple building blocks. Once ready, you share a link with the clients you’re hoping to impress. Clients can sign, accept, and pay in one flow. You instantly receive notifications when prospects view your documents. Qwilr plans start at $75 per month if you pay monthly or $66 per month if you pay annually.
Contract Tools for Freelancers
Contracts ensure expectations are clear for both parties and protect you legally in the event a client wants work outside the agreed upon scope or hasn’t paid you. Not having contracts in place is one of the most common mistakes people make when they start freelancing. Don’t make that mistake.
Creative Class Contract
Creative Class Contract gives you the proper language you need to protect yourself as a freelancer and prevent yourself from legal liability and lawsuits. It was made in collaboration with Rodgers Collective (a group of lawyers who specialize in helping freelancers). These written instructions and visual clues promise to provide you with insights such as “What should my refund policy look like?” Creative Class Contract is professional and comprehensive, but it’ll cost $269.
No matter what type of freelancer you are, Clarrow’s pre-vetted Terms and Conditions have you covered. It only takes a few minutes to customize one of their contracts and create an independent contractor agreement. Their e-sign technology makes online signatures secure and legally binding. While Clarrow is in beta, you can try it free. Even after the beta, a free version will remain to use with three active client (or you can upgrade to include more clients).
LegalZoom has vetted attorneys who are familiar with every state’s laws. The website provides a library with a variety of legal document templates, including independent contractor agreements. You just answer some simple questions. You can save your document, download it, or print it, and it’ll also always be available in your account. You have access to the templates for $7.99 per month or can add attorney support for a total of $31.25 per month.
Time Tracking Tools for Freelancers
Forgetting to write down the start and stop times when you work is all too common. To keep your time tracking accurate and make sure you’re paid the proper amount for your work, it’s smart to invest in a time tracking tool.
Toggl is one of the most straightforward time tracking apps available. It takes only one click to get started and another to stop. Forgot to turn it off when you went to make more coffee? No worries, the idle detection will notice. Your tracking is synced between your phone and desktop so you can start timing on one and stop on the other. The basic version with limited features is free. For more features, plans paid monthly start at $10 per month and annually at $9 per month.
Select the project and press Start. That’s all it takes to begin tracking your time with Clarrow. If you have other time to record, say following a client call on your phone, you can manually add in that time to ensure you’re paid for every minute. A top benefit of time tracking with Clarrow is that this feature works in conjunction with the service’s expense tracking and invoice generation. Everything you need is in one place. Clarrow has a free version for up to two invoices a month and paid versions start at $9 per month.
If you want a time tracking tool that also lets you schedule your weeks, consider Timely. It automatically records all the time you spend in various work apps to give you an accurate timeline of your day. Next, artificial intelligence drafts your timesheets. This app is most useful for freelancers who often work on teams. The most affordable plan allows you to have up to five projects at a time and costs $7 per month if paid monthly or $5 per month if paid annually.
Expense Tracking Tools for Freelancers
Mental notes and crumbled receipts don’t count as professional expense tracking tools. When you need to be paid for something other than hours you’ve worked, or it’s time to do taxes, you’ll be happy to have a tool to help you out.
If you’re an experienced freelancer, you’ve likely already heard of QuickBooks Self-Employed. This accounting software has mileage tracking, automatic receipt logging, and more. You can take photos of your receipts and toss them. When you’re paid for expenses by an employer, you can transfer them with no fees. People who use TurboTax are able to sync their information to make paying taxes less painful. The Freelancer package sells for $15 per month.
The goal of Expensify is to create “expense reports that don’t suck.” It allows you to make reports, track expenses by taking receipt photos or manually inputting data, and pay taxes. Feel free to save a step by having it automatically submit expenses for approval and reimbursement. If you use their Expensify Card, you don’t even need to take photos of receipts. People who require five or less “SmartScans” per month can use the free version. Unlimited SmartScans cost $4.99 per month.
In addition to standard tracking and categorizing of expenses, Clarrow has additional features that make it stand out. If you sync your bank account with Clarrow, it’ll give you suggestions for how to manage your expenses based on your projects and clients. Keep losing receipts, but don’t want to lose out on reimbursements? You can choose to have Clarrow reconcile with your credit card, bank account, and associate clients.
Freelance Invoice Templates
Once you’ve completed a project or milestone, it’s time to send your client an invoice. Invoices are what get you paid, so you definitely don’t want any errors during this process.
Freshbooks is one of the most popular choices for self-employed people who need to create invoices. No list is complete without it. Once you’ve generated your invoice, you can see when it’s been viewed and you’re able to send reminders automatically. Clients have the option of paying with credit cards (because the easier it is for them to pay, the faster you’ll get paid). Subscriptions range from $15 to $50 based on how many clients you have and other features you decide to use.
Within seconds, you can connect your Stripe or Paypal account to start getting paid. All you have to do is add your details (and a logo if you wish) and your invoice is ready to go. You’ll receive an email as soon as your invoice is paid and you can easily track all of your invoices in status history. Do up to two invoices per month for free or you can upgrade to an affordable monthly plan.
While the other invoice services mentioned offer a wide variety of services, the mobile app Invoice2go is more narrowly focused. The range of templates allows you to pick a style representative of your personal brand. You can collect payments via direct deposit, PayPal, credit cards, or debit cards. You’ll know when clients view your invoice and can send automated reminders about upcoming or overdue payments.
Tax Tools for Freelancers
We can’t make it so you don’t have to pay taxes (although we wish we could). But we can recommend tools that aid you while doing your taxes.
The official app of the IRS keeps up-to-date information about taxes in the United States. Through the app you can make tax payments, including quarterly estimates, and see the status of your tax payment (or refund if you’re lucky). You can also connect with a tax professional to answer your questions. IRS2Go is free.
FreeAgent includes a time-tracking function and expense reporting. But its top benefit is you can give your accountant access to the app to file taxes for you. If you want a personal accountant, but hate the work that still goes into providing them with all your financial information, FreeAgent might be the tool you need. Pricing begins at $10 per month.
Freelancing is complex, but when you have the right tools, it becomes much more manageable. Think about which features are most necessary for you before choosing tools and remember that it’s beneficial to have fewer apps that do more. Let your freelancer tools do your busy work while you focus on the work that gets you paid.
Look for an all-in-one freelancer platform?
Want one tool that will take you all the way from proposals to invoices? Start your free trial with Clarrow today.