8 ways to an easy freelance life

3 minute read

By Lucy Culpepper, TransferWise customer & international freelancer.

I’m a fairly typical freelance editor & writer with a couple of bread-and butter clients and several others who come and go. Over the past two years I’ve gone from spinning one plate to spinning lots of them. Some of those plates get a bit wobbly at times but most keep spinning nicely…round and around. I learnt pretty quickly that to keep those ‘plates’ spinning I need to be as efficient with my admin time as possible. That means using apps and online services to take care of all the tedious faff that I don’t like doing…like project timing, creating invoices, paying tax and even asking for payments.

Here are eight of the best, if not very best, online tools to help you spin all your freelance plates at the same time...and avoid the wobbles.

Project Management & Organisation

Don't be a disorganised wreck… Get organised with Trello

This collaborative tool organises my projects and ideas on boards. Each board has multiple lists of things to do. The lists have cards which act like tasks that can be moved from list to list as the project progresses…really helpful for online magazine editing.

Don't do paper time tracking & figure out an invoice some time later... Use Harvest

Harvest is a time tracker and invoice maker. Simply set up a client’s name and contact information, add payment info and then click on the timer. When you’re done, and ready to invoice, the system transfers the hours ‘clocked’ to invoicing…easy peasy.

Doing your Finances

Don’t get paid via PayPal... Use TransferWise for Business, and avoid their fees.

Set up a TransferWise borderless account, and open a balance in GBP, EUR, AUD, NZD, PLN or USD. You get your own bank details for these currencies, and if you place these details in your invoice your clients can pay you via a local bank transfer. You and your client could save as much as 6% in fees compared to an international bank transfer or PayPal.

Don’t get in a twist about filing taxes… Use SimpleTax

Easy-to-understand and fully HMRC-compliant online self-assessment tax tool. Gone are my monthly accountant’s fees and gone is the sinking feeling when HMRC’s envelope hits the doormat.

Finding new clients

Don't not work… Sign-up for PeoplePerHour.com

PeoplePerHour is one of largest and fastest-growing freelancer marketplaces. The site is my current favourite for finding new clients – I can really easily promote myself to thousands of companies, and offer my services in the form of Hourlies, which are small, fast fixed price projects. And better still, there are thousands of other companies posting projects each week in the hunt for freelancers, so the work is there for the taking.

Work in the cloud

Don’t write, “I have attached the document”... Switch to Dropbox.

Cloud-based filesharing has become the norm in many circles. My pick is Dropbox, one of the, if not the, fastest tools for syncing files... And its interface is so beautifully clear and free of waffle.

Clear Communication

Don’t get stuck if your client won’t use Skype...Try out Rebtel.

Some clients like to be called the old way. Simple as that. When you call using Rebtel, you call a number that’s local to you and then Rebtel connects to your chosen international number. Sign up is very simple and rates are competitive.

Don’t print, sign, scan and return documents... Go paperless with Hello Sign.

Legally binding digital signatures, recognised by US and EU courts. Enough said.

By Lucy Culpepper

Lucy Culpepper is a freelance editor, news blogger, B2B writer and travel writer. She works with clients in the UK, USA, Panama and Europe.

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