Are you getting into the freelancing industry? Get yourself to the top by having these must-have freelancer tools in 2021.
If you are among the millions of freelancers in the UAE or among those that wish to quit their full-time jobs to become freelancers, it is no brainer that you have been anxious at some point about the best tools to help propel your career further.
The freelancing industry is quite vast, with a plethora of focus points depending on one’s expertise, training, and passion.
Many people also get into freelancing for many other reasons, more so due to the freedom that comes with it:
- The freedom to do what you love and are good at
- The freedom to choose the clients that you want to work with
- The freedom to choose your ideal time and pace.
However, as much as this sounds like paradise, it is not always all smiles and fun. At times, freelancing can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you are not well-prepared. As a freelancer, you’ll have to take up all the functions of an entire organization: this means you’re in charge of marketing yourself (and your services), you are the worker, you take control of your taxes, etc.
Sounds like a lot of work, huh?
Well, there are many freelancers in Dubai that have made a killing from the trade, but if you were to ask them how they did it, the response would most certainly be the same: proper planning.
But how do you get started? How do you ensure that your work as a freelancer runs smoothly? Since you’re all alone in this, it would be prudent to have a helper, and in most cases, this would entail having with you certain tools and software.
There are many freelancing jobs that you can do without much investment, meaning you can actually get to use several free tools.
In this post, we’ll go through a list of 20+ best tools for freelancers in 2021.
Best communication tools for freelancers
As a freelancer, the first thing you should note is that you’ll be working with different clients that have different needs. This usually starts with how you communicate with them. To get you started, here are some of the must-have communication tools for every freelancer:
Hunter.io would comfortably fit into the list of the best prospecting tools, but it is a communication tool at the end of the day.
It is one of the best communication tools you should have as a freelancer, as it will help connect you to key decision-makers within an organization that you’d like to pitch to. Simply put in the URL of the organization, and it will display a number of email addresses attached to that company (or website domain).
Sounds great, right?
With this tool, you can get many more new clients with just a click of a button.
If you’ve been in the online space for long, then you must have heard about Skype. This is one of the best virtual communication tools used by freelancers from all industries. With Skype, you can chat, have an audio call, video call, and even create groups where clients and freelancers can send messages to many people at once.
While Skype has been one of the leading virtual communication tools for long, the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic made another competitor: Zoom, much more popular.
With this app, one is able to have both audio and video conversations with others. The good thing about this is that it is best for hosting meetings that many people attend. This is also one of the best tools to host webinars, conferences, etc.
4. Microsoft Teams
If you have a Microsoft account, having Teams would be ideal. This is yet another popular communication that’s most preferred by many corporates.
It has a user-friendly interface, and what’s more, you can link it to your Microsoft suite and have access to all other tools, such as email, calendar, and much more.
You need to stay on top of email communications as a freelancer. To help out with that, Boomerang would be an ideal addition to your tool list.
Its main claim to fame would be its ability to schedule emails to be sent at the best possible moments. You may want to respond or send out an email to a client at times, but you do not wish to do so during ‘ungodly’ times or send it out during your free moments. This is when Boomerang comes into play, and you can schedule the emails to be sent during your regular working hours.
Best cloud storage tools for freelancers
It is a no-brainer that local storage solutions, such as hard drives, are prone to various issues. They can easily get broken, lost, and in most cases, they can be exposed to viruses.
As a freelancer, you will become highly disadvantaged by this as you’ll always need to have somewhere to store your work, which may come in handy in the future ‒ most likely when you need to refer to previous projects or when creating your portfolio.
So, what are some of the best cloud storage tools for freelancers in 2021?
1. Google Drive
Almost everyone has a Google account, but not everyone knows of all the free tools that you can use with this account. One of the top tools freelancers in the UAE use in their daily operations is Google Drive.
This tool helps store all your files in the cloud, and what’s more, you can easily choose the types of files to be uploaded and on what conditions. There’s a free version with limited storage, but you can always upgrade to get more storage space.
Dropbox is yet another cloud storage tool that most freelancers use to store their important files securely. Just like Google Drive, it also comes with limited storage with the option to upgrade.
With dropbox, you can automatically sync your computer with the app so that you do not have to upload specified files to your cloud storage manually. Furthermore, it is easy to share files with colleagues, as well as being able to access your files across various devices.
Spinbackup is a great tool for freelancers that are heavy users of Google products. The tool helps you to seamlessly backup all your documents and files from the Google Suite.
The main selling point for this product is its ability to make redundant backups possible.
It comes in handy in case your Google account got hijacked or compromised. This way, you can easily retrieve all your files, including images, emails, photos, documents, etc. Furthermore, if you prefer to work online on a document, Spinbackup allows for incremental backups. This makes it possible to save the changes made, paving the way for a super clean and cheap backup.
One of the best (or probably the worst) things about being a freelancer is that no single day is the same. Since you handle different clients, you are also likely to handle different tasks with varying requirements.
But how do you keep track of all these tasks? How will you monitor your progress to steer clear of deadlines?
With this in mind, a good calendar tool would come in handy.
Furthermore, calendar tools aren’t only for keeping tabs on your progress but also used for scheduling purposes. In case you wish to plan for a meeting with a client, you just have to input their details, the date, and time on such tools, and you’ll be notified of the meeting in case you forgot.
The key calendar tools to consider are:
1. Google calendar
Google calendar is free for anyone with a Google account. It is a great calendar tool that helps you keep track of your work progress, monitor deadlines, schedule meetings, and get you alerts prior to your appointment (you choose how long before and how many times you get notified).
The other great thing about Google calendar is that it enables the user to input other relevant details to their scheduled meetings, such as location. It also comes with rich formatting that makes it possible to hyperlink and share notes before a meeting or presentation.
If you are looking for more than just a tool to keep track of your deadlines and work, calendly is the next option to consider.
Do you detest the back and forth emails between you and a client when looking for the ideal time to schedule a meeting?
With calendly, you get rid of all that hassle, and you can easily send the other party a link. They’ll then see your availability and be able to choose a time that works for both of you. Calendly is easily integrated with other tools such as Google, Office 365, Outlook, etc.
Project management tools
According to statistics, a tenth of what’s invested in a business gets wasted due to underperformance. Being a freelancer in Dubai means you must be ready to take on the fast-paced world and be able to keep track of all your projects based on the client, nature of the work, deadline, among other requirements.
However, even though project management tools aren’t entirely necessary on an individual level, it may be essential to have a good mastery of them, as you may use them when employed by clients that handle work from other freelancers.
Although ClickUp might not really be on most lists of the best project management tools, it supersedes many others in terms of ease of use and reliability. One of the main reasons behind it missing out from the majority of such lists is that it is a pretty new company that has taken all the downsides of the other tools and made them an opportunity.
With ClickUp, you can easily add various users, lists, folders, categories, etc., where different tasks are put. You can easily assign other people tasks (if having workers under you, or working together as a team). It also makes following up on the progress of tasks easier, making this one of the best project management tools in the market.
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Trello, a project management tool best used by those who appreciate visuals and graphs.
On Trello, you can easily create boards and cards to represent various tasks that have been assigned to you or that you need to do. The tool is very flexible and can be used for almost anything, from personal task management to corporate management.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use project management tool with a simplistic dashboard, then basecamp is for you. It includes the functionality that includes to-do lists and message boards. Furthermore, you need not worry about your data getting lost along the way as the tool supports cloud storage.
A freelancer, it is also your sole task to get more leads and clients that would be interested in your services. Besides having the technical knowledge of how to do the work, you should also add ‘business development’ to one of your roles.
Getting extra clients isn’t all about applying for jobs whenever they’re advertised. This actually reduces the chances of you getting the job as the competition is high while the pay may be a lot lower.
To survive in the industry, you must be able to know how to send proposals to prospective clients. Here are a few tools that can help you curate a killer proposal:
Proposify is one of the best tools out there to help you create proposals in much less time than usual. The tool offers a wide selection of templates and lets you control the typography and layouts. Furthermore, it is easy to save your customized snippets for future use.
Besides being a great tool that can help you to send out the proposals of what you can do, Prospero helps you further as you can price out each item or service within your proposal.
Prospero is ideal for new freelancers in the UAE as it helps them create a user-friendly proposal. Furthermore, it assists users in filling out all the important details by asking them questions such as the name of the project, your rates, the total cost, the duration you’d take to complete the work, etc.
If your freelance services are pretty straightforward, you can use Draftsend to take your prospects through proposals. What’s more, you can easily record audio alongside the pdf, making it easier for the client to understand your proposal.
Contracting and legal paperwork
One of the biggest lessons you’ll learn in your freelancing career is never getting into an agreement without a legal document in place. This can be anything from a set of rules of engagement and a contract that spells out the roles of each party.
Put simply; the contract doesn’t have to be too sophisticated or filled with too much legal jargon. All you need is to put out the nature of the work you’ll be doing, your role, how much you will be paid for the said tasks, and when you should be paid.
There are lots of tools that you can use to create a good legal document, but there are only a few that would be ideal for beginner freelancers in Dubai. They include:
Bonsai is a pretty straightforward, easy-to-use contract creation tool that makes it easy for the freelancer to develop a document and revise it per your agreed-upon terms. Once created, both parties can legally e-sign the document, which comes out as a legally binding document.
This tool is great for beginner freelancers with its super intuitive templates where you only need to fill in the details, making the process a whole lot simpler.
Bonsai also comes with an invoicing system which allows the freelancer to send out invoices to their clients. What’s more, there are different payment methods integrated with the tool, such as Stripe and PayPal.
2. AND CO.
Since being acquired by Fiverr, one of the best freelancing platforms in the world, AND CO. has been rated one of the best all-in-one tools for freelancers. One of its best users is the contract creation ability, which, like Bonsai, is pretty easy to use.
Besides that, AND CO. also offers many other cool features such as invoicing, expense tracking, time tracking, and more.
If you’re not looking for anything beyond a simple contract document that both parties can sign, then HelloSign might be ideal for you. With lots of templates to choose from, this is a straightforward tool for online legal paperwork.
Our last category to look at is definitely not the least important. Almost every job in the freelance industry entails coming up with a write-up, no matter how simple or short it is.
To this end, it would be prudent to stand out as a professional, shown by your expertise in writing. While we may not all be the best in writing, there are a few tools that could be of help to you. Some of them include:
Grammarly is hands-down one of the best grammar checking tools out there. It is hard to think of any freelancer that wouldn’t benefit from this tool, even if you are not a writer. This is because the tool helps to increase your confidence in all that you write: whether in your emails, personal websites, portfolios, etc.
Grammarly points out grammar errors in relation to spellings, punctuations, correct word usage, etc. It is a crucial addition to any freelancer’s arsenal.
The human brain is made to store lots of data and remember a lot of things. However, it might be pretty risky not to put your thoughts and important ideas in writing. This is because your mind is always here and there, and the moment you want to recall something, the thought completely evades you.
You can use a tool like Evernote to get what’s on your mind into writing (an actionable and searchable note format). You can easily organize your notes based on the clients, topic, niche, type of thoughts, etc.
Becoming a freelancer is one of the most satisfying career choices one can ever make. However, it is not always a bed of roses when trying to make it to the top. Besides having the right knowledge on how the field you’re interested in operates, it would also be prudent to know the right tools that will help you get the job done.
Although there are many other useful tools that could add to your arsenal, the ones mentioned on this list will undoubtedly propel your career to becoming one of the best freelancers in Dubai.
Do you agree with our list? What other tools do you think are a must-have for freelancers? Do let us know in the comments section below.