Freelance tools you just can’t live without

by Claire Chow
02 February 2023

I am a fan of freelance tools. I’m talking about apps, browser extensions, software and shortcuts. So many of these tools make my life as a freelancer so much more hassle-free.

There are freelance tools for productivity, client management, handling the money side of things. Tools for writing, collaboration and reminders.  And along my freelance journey, I collect, audit and cull them regularly. 

And it got me thinking. What do other freelancers use and love?

I reached out to the Rachel’s List Gold Community, and asked about tried and tested freelance tools they just can’t live without. Here’s the list!

The all-in-one workspace

Google Workspace is one of the big guns and it’s only getting better with new Google spaces for collaborative video meetings and transcribing. (Yes, you read right!)  Even having a free google account hits the G-spot for many freelancers with various apps available.

Melissa Gerke reckons it’s the bee’s knees as she has a Google pixel phone. “I record on my phone and it converts the transcript to a Google doc. Bam, it’s in my Google drive.” 

Staying organised

Carly Jacobs likes to keep organised with Timepage. “A beautifully designed and stylish calendar app that’s minimalist but also intuitive. The sounds in the app really make it – ticking off items you get a happy little music sound. So satisfying.” 

For Rachel, the organisational winners are TeuxDeux, Slack and Gestimer. “TeuxDeux is a clean, simple online to-do list that syncs with my phone and sends reminders. I love it. Slack is brilliant for keeping everything in the one place, especially if you’re collaborating with other people or team members. And Gestimer is my new love – it’s a browser reminder app that’s great for those niggly little reminders you need to set on the fly.”

The reMarkable

The game-changing paper-feel tablet reMarkable came up again and again.

Yes, it’s a physical tablet but with cloud-based functionality and the ability to translate written word into a typed PDF makes it a great freelance tool.

“It’s absolutely transformed note-taking for this old-school journo who just assumed I would be scribbling interviews and notes in notebooks,” says Steve Colquhoun. “It is what the name says. It’s not cheap but if note-taking is your jam, this absolutely rocks.”

Leigh Livingstone also took the plunge with reMarkable. “It’s my weekly to-do list and notebook for interviews etc… so handy.”

And Rachel loves hers as well – check out her review of it here.

Managing projects

A new workspace discovery for Michelle Bateman is Notion. “I use it to keep track of all my jobs with different clients across very different timelines. I love its flexible interfaces and that I can just have a hub of info, deadlines, calendars, etc. It makes it so easy to have key info at my fingertips.”

Fran Molloy is flirting with the idea of Notion but is committed to Trello for the time being for project management and workflow. Lynne Testoni is also staying loyal: “I love Trello still. I know others have moved on, but it really works for me. I have a list for every client, under which I list cards for each project. When done, I moved them to the completed list and, ultimately, archive them. I love the checklist and the due date and it helps me keep track of everything.”

Sherene Strahan votes for Airtable, “for everything related to planning: events, editorial, content, campaigns. Free for individuals or for teams from $10 a month with additional features.”

Money apps

If you’re in need of a handy percentage calculator, Lisa Creffield recommends this one “because GCSE maths was very, very, long ago!”

Rounded was mentioned by the goldies several times but it was Bek Lambert’s comment which made me laugh. “Honestly, I was a potato before. Crowdcast for classes.”

It really is a fab way to get your accounts in order (and as a RL Gold Member be sure to use your one-time 20% off annual code).

Scheduling stuff

For scheduling meetings Katrina Fox uses Calendly – “It’s excellent for scheduling interviews for my podcast as well as those needed for editorial and content marketing articles and meetings with clients. It connects with my Zoom so apart from the email I send to the person, everything else is automated. I love it!”

Workish playlists

And then there’s Spotify – for ultimate mood-shifting playlists. Julia D’Orazio loves listening to chilled jazz to enhance her concentration and get her in the zone. I like to listen to this one while I curate socials. 

Nola James simply tunes into SBS Chill – “It puts my dog to sleep, he stops barking, I can write!” I like to listen to this one while I curate socials. 

Proofreading and transcription

Perfectit is Marge Overs go-to proofreading software. “Great for the final edit – especially useful for big reports to pick up style inconsistencies. Also love”

For Carrie Hutchinson (and several other freelancers) transcribing tool has been a complete game-changer. “May I – or any other freelance writer – never transcribe another interview again.”

The ‘I’ll get to that later’ app

Evernote gets a big thumbs up from Rachel as it’s the only way The Wrap Up gets produced every week.

Fran Malloy seconds this – “It is my happy dumping ground for anything I am not sure what to do with and the search is good, so I can find things fast. I even put my Wordle scores in it!” 

Content creation

And last but not least (because this list could be never-ending) is Canva. Cal Chickwendu gasped when no one mentioned this as it’s a freelance game-changer for socials, websites, presentation and infographics.

Rachel is also mad about Skitch, “for quick image tweaks, crop, annotations and other mark-up type tasks”.

A big shout out to all the freelancers from the RL Gold Community who made recommendations. Talk about #FreelanceLifeGoals in one place!

Pop on over to our You Tube channel where you’ll find a recording of me talking through this blog and my absolute favourite top 4 tools.

Want more freelancer advice? Don’t miss Rounded’s incredible new freelancer advice page – it has 71 pieces of advice from successful freelancers and covers everything from launching your freelance career to finding clients and managing your money. Check it out here.

Claire Chow

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