Freelancer’s Toolbox

Tonight’s presentation, the Freelancer’s Toolbox, was meant to give new (and experienced) freelancers a peek into the tools of the trade that other freelancers use.  I polled a bunch of my freelancing friends to find out what they used, and while I expected (and got) a bunch of fancy new tools, I found two things:

  1. There is no “standard” for doing anything in the freelance world
  2. More people use low-tech methods for their businesses than I’d expected!
In corporations, “they” in their infinite wisdom, tell you what tools to use in your daily work. As a freelancer, you’re free to choose whatever solution works for you, even if that solution is post-it notes and your email’s inbox for project management! As a freelancer myself, starting out in the software world, we were forced to use Microsoft Project for our needs. As a freelancer, that’s like using a bulldozer to crush a bug when a well-placed heel would do. I find that Excel- yes, Microsoft Excel, is fantastic for most of my task-driven project needs. Many other people agree.
Outlook/email is the standard for many people for contact management.
Here is the list of programs we mentioned in our presentation, and others that users contributed during the presentation! (several of which I’m excited to try!)
brighttalk.com
slideshare.net
nowdothis.com (iPhone only?) sequential todos
HiRise is integrated with iCal?
TED TALKS
Gmail contacts
how to deal with non-paying or late-paying clients –
* offer a deal for a discount if they pay up front
* if you get into trouble, be ANNOYING & PERSISTENT to non-paying clients, and you will be the one that gets paid first!
* to account for an inevitable discount, pad your rates a bit at first too
gmail labs – inbox sectioning
google checkouts (used to be cheaper, now on par with paypal)
BetterProjects – Dana’s company
blellow.com – more sharing and confirming
drop.io
ISOLATOR PROGRAM FOR MAC – makes everythign else fuzzy on your screen

Here is a list of the programs mentioned in tonight’s presentation:

Time Tracking

Project Management

Todo/Task Management

IdeaCapture

Calendaring

Contact Management

Bookkeeping/Invoicing

Conference calls/meetings

Other

  • Other Inbox
  • Bubbl.us (brainstorming)
  • MixedLink (collaborative writing)
  • slideshare.net (put up presentations)
  • cloudcontacts.com : send the dude your business cards, he scans them in for you
  • prweb.com : will broadcast your PR
  • nutshell mail: organizes your email
  • getsatisfaction.com (user feedback)
    uservoice.com (user feedback, often used to gather info from groups, like what seminars people want to see)

Twitter Clients

  • Tweetdeck (has groups, filters, but takes a lot of screen real estate)
  • Twhirl (filters)
  • nambu (has groups, but a little slow)
  • tweetie for Mac (fast, multi-threaded conversations, no groups)
  • Seesmic desktop (like Twhirl + groups)

Sugar

3 thoughts on “Freelancer’s Toolbox

  1. Great site!

    Here’s my personal list of favourite tools (I use a Mac):
    – Basecamp & Merlin for Project Management (depending on the complexity / visibility of the project)
    – Things (OSX & iPhone) for Task management / ToDo lists
    – MS Office 2008 (Mac) for word processing, spreadsheet, etc.
    – MS Access 2007 (Parallels /windows) – sometimes I need a good database
    – MindJet Mindmanager (Parallels / windows) – Mind Mapping, great for organization and brainstorming – the mac version 7 sucks
    – TweetDeck / HootSuite (the former cross-posts to Facebook and now MySpace – yawn, the latter is great to track stats on your tweets)
    – GMail to centralize email, with Google Gears so I can use it offline
    – WordPress for my blogs

    Check out my blog for other articles on being a more effective consultant – http://startrealwork.com

    I’ll be cross-posting this list!

    MKS

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