As a creative freelancer, you’ll often have more choice over projects and freedom in the way you work compared to people who work full-time for one company. But you’ll also have more paperwork to handle - something that is often bumped to the bottom of the to-do list. The good news is that there are many digital tools out there to help you cut down on admin.
1. Apply for a Starling Bank mobile-only business account
The free Starling app has been designed with freelancers, sole traders, contractors and small businesses in mind. Real-time notifications keep you in the loop whenever a payment goes out or comes in. All outgoings are separated into categories such as Travel or Bills to make it easier to see what you’ve spent each month. You can also search through all your transactions or add a photograph of a receipt to a transaction. Starling gives you the freedom to bank on the go plus the peace of mind that your money is protected up to £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Accounts can be applied for in minutes and have no monthly fees.
2. Try Xero online accounting software
Keeping on top of your accounts is so much easier when you use online accounting software such as Xero. You can use their app to create professional invoices and send automatic reminders for unpaid invoices to take some of the stress out of chasing up payments. You can also reconcile your Xero account with your business account to automatically transfer your transaction feed. If you’re a Starling business customer these updates happen in real-time. If you’re a business customer of a traditional bank, these will happen every few hours. Xero offers a free 30-day trial. After this, monthly subscriptions cost between £10 and £27.50.
3. Download Clockify to keep track of your time
If you bill clients by the hour, Clockify is the perfect free tool to help you keep track of your time. You can add it as an extension to your Firefox browser and tap the button to log your hours without having to open the Clockify website each time. Reports on productivity and breakdown of time can be shared via email. The company is based in the US and therefore the $ symbol is used in charts in reports but you can change the currency to GBP in your workspace settings. The core product is free, with further functionality for larger teams or companies available by upgrading to a monthly subscription.
4. Stay organised with Wunderlist
There are lots of apps and websites out there to help you build and tick off items on the to-do list, including Wunderlist. Through this free tool, you can instantly add emails or web pages to your to-do lists which can be arranged in separate folders depending on the client or project. You can also set dates for tasks and enable notifications to remind you of what’s coming up. Integrations with communication tool Slack and file hosting service Dropbox make it easier to pull everything into one place.
5. Use Canva for cover letter or CV templates
Tailoring a template to your needs is often quicker than creating something from scratch. Canva is a graphic design tool that has thousands of letter templates to inspire and help you write cover letters or update your CV when you’re pitching for work. If you’re a designer, you also upload designs to add to the site and app. Canva is free to use.
6. Back up your work
Working digitally opens up huge opportunities but the more we work online or on laptops, the bigger the consequences are for losing work. Backing up your work on a physical hard drive, uploading it to Dropbox or using Google Docs or Google Sheets for your work are simple ways to make sure that if you spill coffee on your laptop the world doesn’t come to an end. Using Google Drive instead of your computer drive to share documents with clients can also save time going back and forth on feedback via email as comments and suggestions can be made directly in the document. Using Google Drive also means that if you forget your laptop, you can sign in and work from another computer. A physical hard drive cost between £20 and £100 depending on its size, Dropbox is free up to 2GB worth of storage and Google Drive is free.