Whether you’re a veteran freelancer or just starting out as one, it’s important to convey a professional image to your client. Appearances matter, especially when you’re competing with bigger, more established companies. Fortunately there are a host of tools out there that can help you level the playing field. Here are a few.
“Show me the money” is not just a thing people used to say in the ‘90s. Getting paid is (obviously) a pretty important part of working, and the way that you request payment from your client says a lot about whether or not you’re a pro. A timely, accurate, professional-looking invoice can sometimes make the difference between a client putting you at the top of their stack of bills or at the bottom.
Enter Freshbooks. It’s online accounting software with a variety of features, but one of the handiest is that it lets you quickly create, send and track professional-looking invoices. You can also view all of your outstanding invoices at a glance, track expenses and set up online payment options.
Pricing: Free for 1 client, then starting at $19.95 per month.
If you charge by the hour or if time tracking is important to you for other reasons, check out Harvest. This online tool and app makes time tracking simple, whether you’re working on a project solo or in a group. Harvest can produce detailed, nicely-formatted reports of how time was spent, something you can share with clients if you want. Harvest can also take that time-tracking data and use to it to create invoices seamlessly. It’s more functional (and much cooler) than keeping a pen-and-paper log of your time.
Pricing: Free for 1 user, up to 4 clients and 2 projects — then starting at $12 per month.
A very important part of being a professional-looking freelancer is being organized in your communications with your clients. You can only get so far with long email threads before the back-and-forth becomes a mess — especially when there are multiple people on the chain.
Basecamp is one of the best tools around for keeping a project organized. You can create discussions, team to-do lists, calendars and share files, including media — and, everything is easily searchable. Basecamp gives both you and your client the ability, at a glance, to see where you are in a project and track your progress.
Pricing: Starting at $20 per month, up to 10 projects and 3 GB of space.
Let’s just say it, conference calls are the worst. Calls drop, PINs are long and easily misdialed, there’s almost always background noise from one of the participants, it’s hard to know who’s talking — and to top it all off, the hold music is soul-crushingly bland.
Uberconference has managed to make conference calls easy, efficient and organized. With Uberconference, you can run your conference calls from a web interface, which among other things lets you see who’s talking and easily mute noisy participants. The service can can even dial out to you and other participants at the designated start time, so there’s no need to mess around with PINs. You can also share screens and documents. You can even choose your own hold music! For that reason alone, your clients should be immensely grateful.
Pricing: Free for the Basic plan, $10 per month for the Pro plan.
We would be
fired remiss if we didn’t mention our very own app, Shake, an excellent way to make you look more professional. In a matter of minutes, Shake lets you create legally binding contracts for your client relationships — no legal knowledge required. Beyond protecting you in case something goes wrong, a well-written contract signals to your client that you know your business and are a pro. You should always get your freelance agreements in writing, and with Shake there’s no excuse not to.
What tools and apps do you use to give yourself that extra bit of professionalism and polish? Leave a comment below and tell us.