13 Tools To Automate Your Freelance Business
Although freelancing means you should charge your clients the time you work, it doesn't mean you can't automate most parts of your business to have a better work-life balance or to earn more money.
For that reason, I'm going to discuss a few tools you could use to automate your business and enjoy more free time.
Customer relationship management
Did you ever lose a great opportunity because you forgot to follow up? A prospective client tells you the company is not ready to buy right now, but they're interested in your services. What do you do?
You could create spreadsheets, reminders and spend a few hours setting your system up, or you could find an effective CRM and eliminate all the hassle.
Two apps you may want to try are Insightly and Zoho CRM.
This is a great CRM for your freelance business. You can schedule follow-up emails, see custom reports and it has a great integration with Google Apps.
They have a free and a paid version. The free version allows you to do almost everything with a few limitations. Up to 2,500 records, 200 MB storage, 40 custom fields and 3 users. It's perfect if you're a new freelancer. The paid version costs between $7-$9 per month, depending on the payment method you choose (annually or monthly payments).
Another awesome app to manage your customer relationships. Zoho offers more pricing options than Insightly.
You can choose between the free version, standard version ($12 per month), professional ($20 per month) and enterprise ($35 per month).
What better than an app that can help you to send automatic emails? If you manage your own blog and want to email your subscribers or if you want to contact your clients after a certain period of time or event, using an email marketing app will do wonders for your productivity.
The best part is integrating your email marketing app to your CRM. Two of the best known apps are Mailchimp and Aweber.
It's an easy-to-use application. The interface is clean and it can be free if you have less than 2,000 subscribers. However, the free version doesn't include auto-responders.
They have several billing methods: Based on amount of subscribers (starting at $10 per month) or you can buy credits and pay based on emails sent (the cheapest option is $9 and you can pay up to $150).
Aweber is a little bit more complicated but you can make more customizations and you pay $1 the first month. They don't offer a free version and the cheapest option costs $19 per month. You can pay monthly, quarterly or annually.
Social media is a great way to connect with colleagues, current clients and ideal businesses. If you want to update your social accounts effectively, it's a smart decision to use a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to save time and schedule updates.
This company is known for its transparency and approachability. You can schedule content for your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and App.net) and see your analytics.
They offer a free version and a paid version for entrepreneurs that costs around $10 per month.
Like Buffer, Hootsuite offers a free version with certain limitations. If you upgrade to the paid version you can create custom reports to understand engagement, reach or clicks on links.
Hootsuite offers more complete reports than Buffer. However, Buffer lets you schedule your updates better than Hootsuite.
Get organized and deliver a better service to your clients implementing a project management tool. You could also outsource some tasks and communicate with your team members using one of these 3 apps: Trello, Asana or Basecamp.
My favorite project management tool so far! Trello offers a board where you can add your tasks, put labels, assign to members and schedule due dates. They have a free version and the business class version that costs $5 per user per month.
Perfect to deal with projects without sending emails. You can create tasks, stages, add links and manage your whole team. The free version is perfect for freelancers. If you manage a bigger team with 15 members or more, you can start paying $50 per month.
You can control your projects, calendar, progress and create to-do lists. You can handle your team with this app and simplify your communication tools. Starting at $20 per month allowing you 10 projects and 3GB storage.
Invoicing and Time Tracking
If you want to keep your time tracking tool integrated with your invoicing, Paydirt is a terrific choice! Not only can you track time with this app, you also have the time tracker as an extension in Google Chrome so you don't forget to track what you do online.
It integrates with Trello, Asana and Basecamp. You're also able to accept payments using Paypal and Stripe.
The price starts at $8 per month for freelancers, and you can get started with with a 14 day free trial. If you'd like to try it, here's the signup page!
Are you tired of wasting time creating new proposals? With this tool you can automate the process and clients can sign proposals electronically. Their interface is beautiful and it lets you track your activity. The freelancer version costs $29 per month.
Replace checks or bank transfers with Paypal, Stripe, or Payoneer. You can understand your finances better and decrease your international bank fees.
The most popular platform for online payments. You can integrate this platform with most invoicing tools. They usually charge around 2.9% + 1% for international transactions + $0.30 per transaction.
Like Paypal, they charge 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. They accept credit cards and support recurring billings. It's available in USA, Australia, Canada, Germany and 13 other countries.
Payoneer issues you with a US or EU bank account number, which allows your clients to pay you directly by bank transfer. You can then withdraw your earnings to your local bank account. Payoneer is cheaper than both PayPal and Stripe - they only charge 1%.
These tools can boost your business because you can save time. When you use some tools, evaluate the benefits of using paid apps vs the time you would spend doing these tasks. At the end of the day, it's about having a better lifestyle.
Do you use any of these tools? What do you like about them?