Freelancing

10 Most Useful Free Tools Every Freelancer Must Have

10 Mins read

Freelancers are starting to become an increasingly larger chunk of today’s workforce. As of 2018, a report from Upwork says 56.7 million Americans worked as freelancers. That is more than one-third of the entire labor force. Luckily, the marketplace is responding in kind with high-powered tools that freelancers can use to be more effective and efficient.

Understanding the importance of information availability, regardless of which tool you are currently using, most of our picks for the best tools for freelancers integrate with other popular tools for freelancers. Our list will also discuss their unique features, pricing (if applicable), and reasons for and against them. Let us jump right in.

Free Calendar Tools

Being a freelancer requires a lot of discipline especially when it comes to time management. You ought to be aware of your scheduled meetings, keep track of deadlines, etc. in order to have a better-managed freelancing business. With that in mind, here are our top two calendar and scheduling tools every freelancer must have;

Google calendar

While this tool is available free to all Google account holders, it comes with a number of benefits. With a very user-friendly layout, it surely is the preferred option for many. It also has the ability to share calendar events with other people, allowing you to manage several calendar events simultaneously. 

Features

  • Sends alerts prior to your appointment (alert time can be customized)
  • Easy to integrate with other Google tools
  • Can be accessed both online and offline via various devices
  • You can send the location and other important details to all attendees.

Calendly

Calendly is a cloud-hosted scheduling and calendar software, which has a very user-friendly interface and automates the otherwise time consuming manual scheduling applications. It easily integrates with other apps such as Office 365 and Outlook. It can be used well on web-based devices with iOS compatibility. Free trial and basic plans are free while the premium and pro versions are charged at $10 and $15 per month, respectively.

Features

  • Easily integrates with other apps such as Outlook, Office 365. Google calendar, and over 500 other apps through Zapier.
  • Easily books appointments with clients without the merry go round of exchanging numerous calls and emails.
  • Simple, yet elegant user interface.

Free cloud storage tools

Your computer and hard drives are prone to virus and malware attacks which can lead to permanent loss of data. Therefore, using cloud storage can protect your data and help you access all your work from any device anywhere in the world round the clock. Some of the most recommended tools include; 

Google drive

This is one of the most common cloud storage tools in the world. Users can access their documents and files from anywhere in the world. All users get 15GB of free storage. However, if they need more storage space, they can get 100 GB of storage for $1.99 only per month, 1TB to cost $9.99, and 10 TB + to cost $99.99.

Features

  • An easy to use platform
  • You can organize your work into folders
  • Easy to share files with others
  • You can adjust the rights and the level of access. You can grant viewing or editing access to as many people as you want.


Google Docs

Features

  • Documents are usually saved to Google’s servers.
  • People can view past edits and the revision history by each user with the date and time.
  • The ability of many users to share and edit a document at the same time.
  • It is completely free.
  • You can leave comments on the files.
  • You can assign tasks to other team members.
  • You can view the history of all changes made by each team member along with the date and time.
  • You can use the speech to text feature. If you are tired of typing then let Google doc convert your speech to text. You must speak at a moderate speed otherwise the conversion will have a few errors. Speak in a clear and loud voice for the best results.

Google sheets

A very good application for creating and editing spreadsheets offline. Pricing will depend on the storage options you have for your Google drive.

Features

  • If you have used MS Excel, then adapting to Google sheets will be easy for you.
  • Work on your spreadsheets online, access from any device and changes are saved immediately in real time.
  • You can work on a document with someone else at the same time and the changes are saved instantly.
  • It has sharing security options of which you get to choose what others can do with your document.

Icloud

This tool is only available to Mac users. 5GB of storage is offered for free and an upgrade will prompt you to pay for it. 50 GB of storage will cost you $0.99 a month, 200GB costs $2.99, and 1TB costs $9.99. 

Features

  • Can access the data from any web-based browser
  • Easy to share and send data to others
  • Automatically backs up all data from your iOS or Mac device

 

Free communication tools

Keeping in touch with your clients is always good, whether the deal has been closed already or not. Here is a list of some of the best communication tools freelancers in the UAE can use;

Skype

This may not be the best option for you when you live in the UAE but it is still the most widely used application worldwide. Skype Voice is currently banned in the UAE. However, skype chat is still free and allowed in the UAE

Botim

This is a licensed Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) which can be accessed in the UAE. The app is free to download but you need to pay in order to activate it. The only problem is that you cannot share the screen as in the case of Skype. It costs AED  50 for mobile users in the UAE, freelancers can activate it on their home wifi plan for AED 100. Fortunately, Botim is available for free in other countries.

Zoho mail

Zoho mail offers the cheapest email server to its users. It has a friendly user interface, is ad-free and has powerful features that can help a freelancer communicate with their clients in real time. A free version is available with features such as;  

  • Available for up to 25 users
  • 5 GB storage space per user
  • 20 MB attachment limit
  • Single domain hosting
  • Webmail access

The standard version which is billed at  $1 per month per user with a wide range of upgrades such as;

  • Up to 30 GB storage limit per user
  • Email forwarding
  • 30 MB attachment limit
  • Multiple domain hosting

If you are not tech savvy, you can ask another freelance web service provider in Dubai to assist you in setting up the business email for you. It is always a great idea to create your own network of freelancers working together as a team.

Free content writing tools

All content writers in Dubai should have some applications which would help them deliver quality work. These are;

Grammarly

Grammarly can be defined as your English language companion. It is a tool you can use to check the quality of your grammar, spellings, punctuations, plagiarism and many other features. Whereas the free version is helpful, the premium version has better features. The prices are $29.95 per month, $59.95 paid quarterly, and an annual subscription of $139.95. I would strongly recommend sticking to the free plan, as it has most features you would need for writing an error-free piece of content. 

Features

  • Corrects grammar and spelling mistakes in real time
  • Highly accurate in the best quality of grammar you should use
  • Explains to you why you need to correct a mistake
  • Very simple to use
  • The weekly reports compare your productivity, mastery, and vocabulary with the other Grammarly users.

Hemingway

This is a powerful tool that helps writers create simple words but with powerful messages. It offers a free trial version and a basic version which costs $19.99.

Features

  • Errors are detected through color-coding
  • Detects sentences which are hard to understand
  • Passive voice detector

Free Design & photo editing Tools

As of now, there are no free 3D design tools that are also user-friendly. If your client needs a 3d design, then feel free to connect with another freelance 3d designer, who would be happy to help you and also refer clients to you in the future. People like to work with people they know. Get to know as many freelancers as possible through events, meetups or social media networks. Some free 2D design & photo editing tools freelancer in UAE can use are given below;

Canva

This is a simple design platform that gives freelancers a chance to create high-quality designs. There is a free version which has limited features and a premium version which goes for $12.95 a month. It is an ideal tool for creating logos, presentations, social media posts, business cards, letterheads, flyers and much more. 

Features

  • Many pre-designed templates you can choose from
  • Easily make designs for social media
  • Create illustrations and infographics
  • Saves project history
  • Organizes images into folders
  • Resizes images

Lunapic

This is a free online photo editor that has features that go far beyond any other free photo editor.

Features

  • Select and change the color of various areas on your images.
  • Removes background from any image
  • Sharing is made easier as one has to just click a link
  • It also does not rely on other plugins such as Flash or Java in order to work
  • Special effects and editing options are available
  • Download images without a watermark

Other design and free editing tools freelancers in Dubai can use include;

  • A chrome extension (ColorZilla) which ensures you get the right color shade your client requires.
  • A chrome extension (WhatFont) assists in identifying fonts and use them consistently depending on your client’s requirements.
  • Preview (Mac only) helps in removing the background for any image.

Free finance tools

Freelancing, just like any other type of job involves handling of cash, be it sending or receiving money, managing budgets or managing taxes. The best finance tools to help freelancers achieve this include;

Paypal

Supporting over 25 different currencies and available in close to 200 countries, PayPal is considered one of the best and most secure mobile payment methods. The only downside is that it charges one a small transaction fee.

Zoho invoices

This is an online invoice generating software which helps freelancers send beautifully branded invoices, helps track the status of each invoice, send payment reminders, and receiving of payments online. It has a free version. You can also opt for a free trial version for the basic package. The free version has a number of benefits but is limited to only 5 invoices a month. The basic version, which starts at $9 per month, can help you send up to 50 invoices in a month.

Freshbooks

This is a cloud-based software that helps in invoicing, time tracking, project tracking, and the ability to send or receive payments. There are three pricing packages for FreshBooks and a 30-day free trial is also on the table. There is a lite, plus, and premium packages which cost $15, $25, and $50 respectively.

Mint

This is a very good free budgeting software. It is linked to all your financial accounts and places them under one dashboard for easy management. It helps to analyze your finances, by keeping track of your bills and investments. The app also sends weekly reports to your email and will also alert you of any pending bills.

Free time management tools

Time management for freelancers is key to their success, whether you are paid for the hours worked or on a project basis. In either case, you have to be wise in allocating your time across various projects. The more efficient you are, the more you get paid. Here are some of the best time management tools you can use to be more efficient; 

Toggl

This is a cloud-based time tracking software used to track the time spent and used on projects. A free version is available for up to 5 team members. Paid versions are available for an unlimited number of team members and start at $10 a month.

Time doctor

Time doctor is the ultimate choice for freelancers who work and charge hourly for their work. Time doctor records and gives screen captions of websites visited and apps used. You can share it with your clients for billing purposes. A free version is available with limited features and also a free trial for the solo version which is billed at $5 a month.

Clockify

This is an integrated timesheet and tracker software which features activity reporting, payroll management, and activity monitoring. The software is 100% free for freelancers. However, one can contact the support team to get a customized price list for their needs.

Free Contracting and Legal Paperwork

A major concern growing from many freelancers is the lack of legal backing for their work. As a freelancer, you ought to have a contract agreed upon by your client and you, on the terms of service and payment. Some tools to make good use of include;

Docracy

Docracy is a free web service which you can use to get templates for legal documents. It will help you in drawing a legal contract and reduce the risk of litigation. It will include the rates of payment, deadlines and the deliverables.

Free Project Management tools

Project management tools give you processes that can be replicated for all your projects. Such tools provide guidelines and techniques to manage your resources, time and money as per the plan. You can use the following tools to deliver projects on time and within your budget.

Basecamp

Basecamp is an all in one tool which allows you to have all the important tools in one place, for example, Group chats, to-do lists, documents, message boards, etc. You can save projects as templates and reuse them for all your clients. All you have to do is change the company name, share it with your clients and team. You can reschedule the tasks. Basecamp gives you a system that saves time, eliminates confusion and enhances productivity. Best of all, your clients will be highly impressed by your professionalism. Your clients will get task completion notifications, you can assign tasks to the clients and send them automated reminders. There is a free trial which you can use for a flat fee of $99. Fortunately, the service is absolutely free for colleges, schools, and universities.

Simplemind

This is a mind mapping tool that brings ideas to life. As freelancers, we have so many ideas. Now you can connect all your ideas and thoughts on a mind map. You will be amazed to see where your thoughts lead you. Mind maps are simple flow charts that turn thoughts into clear actionable points. SimpleMind gives you the ability to create, edit and move texts while rotating the branches of topics and also selecting multiple elements. There are a completely free edition and free trial for the upgrades. Single user upgrades start from €24.99.

Features

  • Users can easily visualize their thoughts and customize their mind maps
  • Ability to arrange and organize thoughts the way you wish
  • Rearrange topics within a mind map
  • Notes and labels can be added to the mind map without making it look messy

Free Motivation Tools

Sometimes you may feel lazy and demotivated to finish the project you started. Stay positive and motivated, even when a client is getting on your nerves. Watch motivation videos on YouTube from renowned life and career coaches for free. From Tony Robbins to Gary Vaynerchuk, YouTube has got it all. You can also join online groups where other freelancers discuss various issues. Surround yourself with highly motivated people who appreciate you.

Final thought

With our favorite tools for freelancers, you are all set to build your freelance career in Dubai and across the UAE. However, there are other tools not mentioned that can also be very much helpful to you such as; sales tools, proposal tools, productivity tools, and social media management tools which we will cover in our future posts. At the end of the day, what really matters is your goal in life and how hard you are willing to work to achieve them. Let us know which tools have helped you the most in your freelance career in the comments below.

 

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