5 Killer Apps Every Freelancer Needs
Need Order In Your Gig-To-Gig Life? There Are Apps For That.
If your year-end consists of navigating a stack of random 1099s, then mastering time and money management can make all the difference in being the brilliant boss of you.
Fortunately, you’re not alone in your struggle for optimal organization and efficiency. In fact, there are several easy-to-use and affordable apps that can empower you to succeed amid the fun and fraught of the freelancing life.
Obviously, we at Fair are not in the product endorsement game. We’re an app for getting a car on your phone, people. We have, however, tried out the five apps below and think they could prove pretty useful if you’re someone who values flexibility and that sweet, elusive feeling of actual organization.
1. StayFocusd: Internet blocker
The internet is every freelancer’s greatest friend and worst enemy. It’s an essential way to connect with clients and perform research, but with its endless delights and distractions, it can be easy to fall down a wormhole of social media status checks and YouTube videos. Fortunately, there are a number of apps and add-ons that can do the dirty work of staying disciplined for you.
StayFocusd is a chrome extension with a brutal, yet effective way of managing the time you spend online. Simply input the websites you have the most trouble staying off, set a timer for how much time you’re allowed to spend on those sites, and let StayFocusd save you from yourself. You can visit any site you want, but once the timer goes to zero, you’re done for the day. No more online shopping, photo commenting or upvoting for you.
StayFocusd also contains a “nuclear option” in case you’re really cranking to get through a deadline and simply cannot waste any more time online. This allows you to block either the entire internet or specified websites for a pre-set number of hours. Once the nuclear option has been activated, it cannot be turned off.
One of the best parts of StayFocusd is how customizable it is. You can blacklist specific websites or block the entire internet, except for those sites you’ll need to work. You can also block specific forms of content, such as videos or games. So that whatever your specific online weakness is, there’s a way to take it out of your life.
2. RescueTime: Internet time tracker
It can be easy to fool ourselves into thinking that we’re not actually wasting as much time online as we think we are. After all, a quick five-minute social media check isn’t a big deal, right? But if that check is happening 30 or 40 times a day, it can eat up your hours without you even realizing it.
RescueTime is an app that lets you stop lying to yourself and gives you the information you need to answer the eternal question: “Where did all of my time go?”
It tracks where you went on the internet, documents how much time you spent there, and even lets you categorize every website you visit as either “productive” or “unproductive.” It then generates a simple report that tells you how you’ve spent your online day.
Additionally, you can add subcategories to your productive sites such as “writing” or “accounting” that will help you break down exactly how you’re investing your time each day, so that you can maximize the time you spend on the revenue-generating parts of your business.
RescueTime has both a free and a premium version. The free version will track your time and give you basic reports, while the premium version will also allow you to set alerts for various goals and block the websites that distract you the most.
Cost: Lite version is free. Premium version costs either $9/month or $72/year.
3. Bonsai Time Tracking: Billable hours tracker
The great philosopher Snoop Dogg may have been speaking for all freelancers when he informed the world that he's got his “mind on my money and my money on my mind.”
Snoop, he's just like us!
Indeed, one of the most important tasks any freelancer has is keeping track of their billable hours and managing their invoices effectively. However, this can be tricky as you move on and off of different projects and have to manage a growing client base.
Bonsai Time Tracking is an app that allows you to track the time that you spend on different projects, so that you can easily move from job to job, without losing track of how much time you’ve spent on each one.
But Bonsai is far more than just an online stopwatch. It also enables you to plug in your pay rate for a particular job. Then, at the touch of a button, it will create an invoice for you based on that information.
Bonsai will also centralize all of your invoices and make them easily searchable based on the date or company, so that you never lose track of who owes you money or how much they owe. Their invoicing system is fully integrated with PayPal, Stripe and Coinbase as well as allowing users to be paid through Automated Clearing Houses (ACH), to facilitate you getting paid faster.
4. Todoist: Calendar and project manager
Once your freelancing career grows and your clients multiply, you’ll be challenged to effectively manage all of the various tasks that are essential to your success—writing, invoicing, scheduling meetings and everything else.
Todoist is a highly customizable calendar and task management program that allows you to maximize your time efficiency by laying out everything you have to do in a clear and easy-to-read format.
You can create up to 80 different projects with the free version (or 300 projects with Premium), add subtasks to each one and filter them by priority, due date, or assignee. You can also color code tasks and mark them as either personal or business. If you’re working with a team, anyone with a Todoist account (up to the version maximum) can access the calendar and be kept aware of their tasks and the progress of each project.
Todoist is a cloud-based service, so all of the notes and tasks you add on one device, will automatically be synched to all of your other devices. And because it’s available on so many different platforms, you won’t have any problem if your computer is a PC but your cell is an iPhone. It can also be integrated with Gmail and other email servers so that you can seamlessly toggle between the app and your Calendar.
Todoist can create weekly reports for you that will not only inform you how many tasks you’ve completed that week, but how important they were, so you can easily monitor if you’re staying on track with your highest-priority jobs.
Cost: Lite version is free. Premium version costs $29.
5. Shoeboxed: Expense tracker
If someone asked you to take a $20 bill out of your wallet and set it on fire, you probably wouldn’t do it. But that’s exactly what you’re doing when you fail to properly track all of your tax-deductible expenses as a freelancer.
Shoeboxed is a simple app that has the potential to save you money by digitizing one of the most important but time-consuming tasks you have as a freelancer: keeping track of your expenses.
This app allows you to quickly scan your receipts and then sort them into any of 15 different tax-deductible categories such as medical, office supplies, car repair, and more. Of course, there’s no shortage of apps that will digitally scan and sort your receipts, but Shoeboxed offers an additional, touch-free approach. Rather than scanning all of your receipts yourself, Shoeboxed will allow you to physically send all of them to their office where an actual human being will scan and organize all of your business expenses for you and then send you the report.
While this may seem like a luxury, consider how time-consuming it can be to organize hundreds of receipts every year. This option will free up your time to pursue the tasks that actually make you money. Another nice feature is that Shoeboxed also contains a mileage tracker, that makes it easy to keep track of your business driving miles.
Cost: Shoeboxed has a number of tiered pricing plans, ranging from $19/month to $29/month to $49/month depending on how much accounting you need to do.