More and more people are embracing the digital nomad-lifestyle, escaping the traditional office and choosing to work as independent freelancers, contractors, and temporary or remote employees. These individuals are getting to enjoy some amazing benefits that most of us can only dream of – no 9-to-5 working hours, no stuffy offices, no fixed schedule, no boring job description, no bosses…It’s no wonder you might be feeling jealous and thinking of adopting this lifestyle, as well.
If you decide to become – or are already working as a – freelancer, you need to ensure that you have everything you need to succeed. Here are the best tools for freelancers that can help you.
Working as a freelancer bears an often-overlooked challenge – taking control over your income. Working for multiple contractors on a different hourly wage makes determining your total earnings a difficult task.
This is where the Hourly to Salary Calculator comes in, just specify your hourly pay, work hours per week and number of work weeks per year and voila, there you have it.
Here are 11 essential tools you need to have when working as an international freelancer.
Must-Have Time-Tracking Tools for Freelancers
Making money as an international freelancer has just as much to do with how you manage your time as it does with how good you are. The most successful freelancers are those who know how to manage themselves to get the most value from the time they spend working.
This simple and easy to use time tracking tool is a must-have if you bill by the hour. It divides up your tasks and times them individually as you work on them, allowing you to record hours worked and productivity levels so you can share the data with your clients. It integrates seamlessly into mobile apps, desktop programs and web browsers, providing a great deal of flexibility, convenience and accurate timekeeping.
If your freelance work requires careful scheduling of your time, then you should get this tool. It’s an all-encompassing time-tracking app that combines time-tracking with your calendar. So you don’t have to set work hours on your calendar and then start a separate timer when you are ready to work since this app covers both facets for you.
It can be very useful in planning and carrying out a freelance project. The app will enable you to plan ahead by allowing you to estimate the time you need to spend on different tasks, keep an eye on how much time you have set aside for each task, and view your progress.
Scheduling and Workload Management Tools
As a digital nomad, you often find yourself needing to carefully and thoughtfully plan your workload, sometimes as part of a wider team of freelancers from across the globe. That’s where workload management tools come in.
This simple tool makes it easy to manage a project by allowing you to break it down into sub-tasks with individual deadlines so you can monitor exactly what you’ve completed and what still needs to be done. Though it can be extremely useful when working on your own, it’s particularly suited for teams working remotely as it allows users to upload attachments and share their projects with other people – meaning you can loop in other freelancers (team members) and collaborators as well as your clients.
If you are a very visual thinker and always find yourself messing your workspace with post-it notes, then you’ll definitely love Trello. This organizational tool makes it easy to tackle multiple or recurring projects from different clients by providing a “digital board” on which you can visually arrange your thoughts on how you’ll handle those projects. You can create a board on your screen for each of your clients where you can note down details of his or her project (s), including things like deadlines, payment details, instructions, notes and so on. By so doing, you’ll have an easy time managing your workload. Trello is very easy to use and integrates into both desktop and mobile apps.
Money Management Tools
To sustain your digital nomad lifestyle, you’ll need to keep track of your finances and stay in control of your money. It is of utmost importance that you take steps to reduce or avoid the exorbitant fees associated with international money transfers.
Wave is a very comprehensive money management tool that allows freelancers to send invoices to their clients and manage accounting and bookkeeping. You can use this tool to accept payments from clients via credit cards, track your cash, generate custom professional invoices, record your expenses, and more – completely free of charge!
As a digital nomad, you’ll definitely need to make and receive payments from different clients across the globe. Wise makes this process easier and much cheaper. It offers better foreign exchange rates than most payment services, including PayPal, and is actually eight times cheaper than using your bank!
With this payment service, your clients are able to pay you the exact amount in your desired currency without having to go through the messy process of bank transfers. All you have to do is to enter the amount they owe you, what the amount is for, and your bank account details. Once you do this, TransferWise will create a link and then send it to the client so they can pay you in just a few simple steps.
Communication Tools for Freelancers
Good communication is key to achieving freelancing success. You probably already know this. To stay motivated and on top of your game, you need to be able to communicate effectively with not only your clients and collaborators but also family, friends and those you meet while globe-trotting.
One of the most popular communication tools for international freelancers is Slack. This clever, group messaging app allows you to create unique and dedicated spaces through which you can communicate with clients and/or teams. It is easy to use and convenient, and you can use it to send instant messages, participate in group discussions or chats and share files straight from your desktop or mobile device. By integrating with your existing communication channels, it ensures that all your messages are kept in one place and you’re able to reduce email overload.
While we cannot deny the convenience of emails, text messages and social media networks, it’s important to balance these online interactions with face-to-face communication while working remotely as it tends to be more personal and, therefore, extremely effective. Skype is the top face-to-face communication tool available. You can use it to make video calls or voice calls, chat with clients or team members in different languages (via Skype Translator), and more.
Freelancing Tools/Websites to Find the Right Job
In order to establish yourself as a digital nomad, you’ll need to find enough customers for your service. You can find clients through a variety of sources, but freelancing websites are, without a doubt, the best.
Freelancer currently ranks as the top online marketplace for international freelancers, boasting thousands of buyers (read clients) looking to hire freelancers like you. Founded in 2003, it is one of the freelancing platforms that have greatly contributed to the emergence of the digital nomad lifestyle and you can easily find work by using it. The only bad thing you’ll encounter whilst trying to find clients on this site is that some of the prices offered are quite low. But, if you can take time to build your reputation within this platform, you may eventually find clients who are ready to pay you what your talents are worth.
UpWork is the new giant online marketplace that has emerged from the merger of oDesk and Elance, two popular freelancing sites. It offers everything you need to find clients, including easy to use features that help you connect with buyers and find jobs that match your skills.
A Tool for Finding the Ideal Workplace
Once you start working as a freelancer, you’ll find that you’re more productive when working from an environment that is digital nomad-friendly. WorkFrom provides an easy and convenient way for you to find such a working environment whenever you arrive at a new destination. Whether you’re looking for a quiet place for concentration or a busy coffee shop where you can interact with other digital nomads, this app will do the hard work of searching for the ideal workplace for you.
You may also like: 5 Smart Ways to Get More Work Done Every Day
About the Author
Razvan Nichitoiu is heavily invested in online marketing for more than 10 years, having experience in both the corporate and freelance environment.