by Sarah K. White

8 tools to run your freelance business in the gig economy

Jun 01, 2016
Enterprise ApplicationsMobile AppsProductivity Software

Flexibility and autonomy are what draw many to the freelance lifestyle, but when you ditch big corporations, you also ditch the productivity and organizational tools that come with it. But with a few apps, you'll be able to manage your schedule, contacts and independent business in no time.

freelance biz tools
Credit: Thinkstock

Favorite freelance business tools

Freelancers have more tools than ever to stay connected, engaged and on task, but finding the right app for you is another story. Sifting through all the available tools can be overwhelming, but there are some that are tried and true, and there are plenty of apps that have become favorites among freelancers. Whether you need to video chat, manage your tasks, keep on track, collaborate or manage your social networks, there’s an app for that. Here are 8 of the best tools available for freelancers that you can get on your desktop, notebook or mobile device.



As a freelancer, you typically don’t spend a lot of time in face-to-face meetings with clients, but sometimes it’s just easier to hammer out details in-person — even if it’s virtually. Skype allows you to hold free video chats with clients and coworkers wherever you are, as long as you have a Wi-Fi signal. You can also use it as a messaging service, so you can shoot off a quick question or update without going into a full video chat. You can also use Skype on your mobile device, making it easier to stay connected and to video chat with clients on different mobile operating systems.



It might be tempting to take on every project that comes your way when you’re a freelancer, but you don’t want to promise to deliver on more than you can accomplish. With Timely, you can plan out and schedule your weeks ahead so you have a better idea of how much time you’ll have to complete a new project. It’s also a great way to track just how much time you’ve spent on a project for billing and invoicing purposes. You can even assign an hourly rate to a project so it will automatically calculate the invoice charge. Different tasks can be color coordinated so you can juggle multiple projects at once. The app works across platforms, so you can access it from your browser, mobile device or smartwatch.

Microsoft Office 365

office 365

One of the perks of a freelance lifestyle is the ability to work from wherever you have Wi-Fi, but being on the road a lot might mean that you swap out devices often. Maybe you take a tablet on a road trip instead of your notebook, or maybe you have a desktop setup at home, and sometimes need to take a notebook out to a coffee shop. With Microsoft Office 365, you’ll have access to the entire Microsoft Office suite on all of your devices, giving you freedom to travel light and leave some devices behind if you want. You’ll also have the ability to download the 365 apps on to your device or to access the different programs directly from a browser, so you won’t need to purchase the office suite for every notebook, desktop or tablet you have. Or, alternatively, if you are without one of your devices, as long as you can get access to a web browser, you can quickly dredge up an old invoice or document for a client. Plans start as low as $5 per month for the business essentials package, and each offers different levels of access to certain features.



A lot of businesses are starting to move towards Slack as a messaging service, and if you find that is the case with your industry, you might want to consider jumping on board. With Slack, you can easily create chat rooms dedicated to specific projects, and juggle multiple clients at once. You can also find other groups of freelancers, allowing you to connect and network with others working independently in your industry. It’s a quick and easy way to get in touch with people in a more casual format than email. You can even add on the Kyber app, which integrates a to-do list and calendar so you can schedule meetings, create action items and integrate your calendars all on one platform.



Freelancers make their own schedules and hours, but that can also mean blurring the line between your personal life and work life. The last thing you want while you’re on vacation is to be receiving calls or texts from clients. And if you aren’t the type of person who wants to tote around two separate phones, one for personal one for business, then Flyp is a great option. It gives you the ability to use two or more numbers on the same phone, so you won’t have to give out your personal line for business purposes. Your first number is free with unlimited calling, texting, customized voicemail and you can even choose the area code for your new number. After that, each additional number will run you $2.99 per month or $29.99 for the year.



Invisionapp is popular with major tech companies like Netflix and Twitter as a way to collaborate and share designs virtually. If you’re a freelancer who deals with web, app, software or graphic design, this tool offers an easy way to get feedback on your project in real time, rather than going back and forth over email. You can launch the service in your browser, host meetings, present designs and even create tours right through the service; other users can also edit and leave comments in real time. With Invisionapp, you can cut down on some of the back and forth that might happen if you sent in projects over email. Instead, you can invite all the key players to a virtual meeting, present your design and get valuable feedback right on the spot.



Since you aren’t working for a big corporation, you won’t have the benefit of using your company’s cloud server to back up all your documents and files. And as a freelancer, you want to make sure you always have access to old invoices, files, projects and more just in case a client comes calling after the fact. Mozy is a great investment for anyone interested in cloud storage — it’s an EMC product that promises to not only keep your files backed up, but also keep them secure. Mozy lets you choose from a personal, business or enterprise account to backup and protect your data. That way, an accidental spill on your keyboard or a defective hard drive won’t destroy all of your files that you need to keep safe. Pricing plans vary, with a number of options to choose from whether you want to subscribe annually or monthly, and the more gigabytes you want, the higher the price.



As a freelancer, the c-suite is you, you’re in charge of everything, including your personal brand and social networking. When it comes to marketing yourself, you’ve got to put on your CMO hat to get the job done and Hootsuite helps you do that. In the IT industry you need to have some type of social presence, whether it’s on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, so clients can find you and contract your services. But managing multiple profiles might fall to the bottom of your list when you are the sole person taking care of the day-to-day business. HootSuite allows you to manage all of your social brands in one convenient dashboard, so you can fire off a Tweet, post a Facebook update, check your Instagram comments and interact with your LinkedIn groups all within one app. It also delivers analytics so you can get a better sense of your audience engagement. This can help you identify what channels are bringing in clients.