If you’re a freelancer, you have to juggle a ton of different hats.
This is something I’ve quickly figured out as I’ve grown my business. And I’m guessing it’s something that you’re no stranger to.
You probably don’t have other team members (I don’t!), so you need to find a way to balance all those things without going crazy.
After experiencing that issue, I’ve finally settled on these five tools to help me work more efficiently and keep my sanity. I share them with you in the hopes that they can do the same for you…
Get a To-Do List So You Know What Needs To Be Done
Keeping track of what needs to be done with one client is hard enough. Multiply it by eight and things can easily get hectic. That’s why you need some type of project management tool to tie everything together.
You can use everything from full-on project management tools like Jira to good old-fashioned pen and paper.
After trying a bunch of options myself, I finally ended up with Todoist. It’s simple, well-designed, and does everything I need as a writer. If your projects are more complex than one-off blog posts, though, you might want something more robust.
Track Your Time So You Can Monitor Productivity
Most of my pricing is project-based. But even for my project-based clients, I still track my time down to the second.
- Seeing the time ticking away actually forces me to be more productive. I’m sure there’s some psychological reason for why this is!
- It helps me know how much I actually earn per hour, which is helpful for tracking whether or not to keep a client or raise pricing.
My favorite app to handle time tracking is Toggl. It lets me divide up my time by various clients and features helpful reports to help me quickly get at important data.
Pick a Text Editor That Lets You Write Faster
All text editors are not made equal. And if you’re writing in Microsoft Word, you’re wasting time.
Seriously, Google Docs is where it’s at. Putting aside how easy Google Docs makes it to collaborate and share with clients, it just plain helps you write faster. This is because you can:
- Insert links without needing to copy and paste
- Search Google without needing to open a new tab
- Use tons of helpful shortcuts
- Quickly switch between devices as needed
Seriously – I’m a massive Google Docs fanboy and I keep discovering new hacks to help me write even faster.
While Google Docs’ spellcheck is ok for basic stuff, I usually pair it with a punctuation checker to catch more issues.
Use Invoicing Software To Waste Less Time Getting Paid
When I got started, I used to send actual PayPal invoices to all my clients.
That’s a massive waste of effort. And even though you’ll need to pay for most invoicing software, the savings in terms of time spent is well worth it.
Now, I have pre-made templates and all my clients saved as contacts. Sending an invoice only takes a few seconds and clients can pay right from the invoice. For USA clients, I can even take advantage of flat-rate $0.50 PayPal Business payments to save money on PayPal fees.
I’m using Zoho Invoices for now. But I’ve also been meaning to check out Freshbooks and QuickBooks Invoicing.
Put Your Accounting On Auto-Pilot
Finally, if your invoicing software doesn’t come with accounting built in, you definitely need an accounting solution to keep track of all the money coming in and going out.
After trying a few, I settled on Wave because:
- It’s 100% free
- I can sync it to my PayPal account to automatically pull in payments and expenses
All I need to do is pop in every couple weeks to categorize the imported PayPal payments and I’m good to go come tax season!
Tools Help You Work Faster
After trial and error, these five tools are what I use on a daily basis to save time and energy. If you aren’t already using them, give them a try and see if they work for you! And if you know a great tool that could help me improve my processes, I’d love to hear about it.
Colin Newcomer is a freelance writer for hire with a background in SEO and affiliate marketing. He helps clients grow their web visibility by writing primarily about digital marketing, WordPress, and B2B topics.
5 thoughts on “5 Tools for Freelance Writers to Work Faster and More Efficiently”
Hello Colin, nice list of tools. I am wondering if you ever used (or tried) Wrike to manage projects, expecially when you are working with a team. Thank you, Nicola
Thanks for an insightful post. Which tool do you suggest for mass e-mail scheduling (for pitching my services?
I don’t really ever pitch so I’m not sure what’s best on that front. Sorry!
I wish I could go back in time and read this, especially the part about Google Docs. It would save me so much time, and energy. I used to work in Microsoft Word, and it was okay I guess, but switching to Google Docs makes everything so much easier. Great article by the way.
I can’t say that I’m a freelance writer, but I write enough. So, you have mentioned some really excellent tools here not only for writers but for all the freelancers.
I use Scrivener for all kinds of writings such as blog posts, my thesis, research articles, etc. What do you think about that?
Thank you very much for sharing these fantastic tools with us.