Tools for Freelancers: 5 I Couldn’t Live Without

tools for freelancers 5 I couldn't live without for YBKBS small business magazine and online platform
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By Jess Dixon

When you’re a freelancer, sole trader, or small business owner, anything that can make your life easier and help you be more efficient is a good thing!

As you get to grips with running your business, you’ll find the tools and systems that work best for you. I encourage you to try things out – avail yourself of free trials wherever you can, and experiment until you find a system you love.

With that in mind, I wanted to tell you about five tools that make my life as a freelance writer so much easier.

Canva

I recently described myself to my wonderful graphic designer (Katy at Blooming Lovely Designs) as having “approximately the artistic skills of a teaspoon”. Since I often need graphics for social media and my blog, and sadly can’t afford to hire a designer every time, Canva comes to my rescue pretty much every day.

It’s a comprehensive and incredibly simple graphic design tool. You can make everything from invitations to banners, social media graphics to infographics, and much more.

Your monthly membership also gets you access to (literally) millions of assets including photos, design elements, fonts, templates, and the awesome background remover tool. It also includes a useful content planner, and you can save your fonts, colours, and logos in a Brand Kit.

Cost: £10.99 per month, falling to £8.99 per month if you buy a year upfront. There’s a limited free version, but I really recommend shelling out for the Pro plan if you can.

Trello

Trello is a project management and collaboration tool based on the Kanban planning system. You can organise your projects into “Boards”, and break tasks down into Lists and individual Cards. You can then share Boards with other members of your team or collaborators as necessary.

I love Trello because I’m quite a visual person when it comes to my organisation strategy. I use shared Trello boards with several of my freelance clients, and also keep a private one where my master to-do list lives.

I particularly love Trello’s colour coding functionality. For example, I use a simple traffic light code to indicate the time frame in which a piece of work is due.

Cost: Free! There is a $9.99 Pro version, but I’ve never needed it. The free version gives you unlimited boards, cards, and lists, and allows you to upload files of up to 10MB.

A sample Trello board, one of our favourite tools for freelancers
Yoast SEO

We all know that SEO is important by now, don’t we? But how many of us can remember all the intricacies each time we published a new piece of website or blog content?

Yoast SEO is an awesome WordPress plugin. It allows you to specify a keyword or phrase for each piece of content and will highlight potential SEO issues and areas for improvement. It also gives you an overall score for each post and page – red indicates problems, orange indicates room to improve, and green indicates that the piece is well-optimised.

Unless you’re an SEO specialist, you probably won’t automatically take all the necessary steps to optimise each piece of content. Yoast does it for you and picks up on anything you might have missed.

Cost: Free! There’s a paid version for an affordable £89 per year, which offers additional functionality such as internal linking suggestions, a redirect manager, and access to 24/7 customer support. But if you’re just starting out with SEO, the free version is more than adequate.

Buffer

Buffer is a social media scheduling tool. I tried several social media tools including Hootsuite, Buffer’s main competitor, but I like Buffer by far the most. You can link accounts on all the main social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can share the same post across all accounts, or tweak it for each platform (for example, posting a shortened version to Twitter, which has a smaller character limit than the other platforms).

Cost: $15 per month for the Pro plan, which allows you to link up to 8 social accounts and schedule up to 100 posts at once. If you need more, the Premium plan allows for up to 25 social accounts and 2000 scheduled posts, and costs $65 per month.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock is a stock image site and just one of many of its kind. But it’s also much more. With a Shutterstock subscription you have access to over 84 million royalty-free images, video clips, music tracks, illustrations, templates, and much more.

I love Shutterstock because it has a much wider range of assets available than the free image sites such as Pixabay. Whatever I’ve got in mind, whether I’m creating a header for a blog post or a graphic for social media, Shutterstock can be relied upon to yield something suitable.

Cost: Varies. I pay £29 per month for 10 monthly images. Other plans available are 50 images for £75, 350 images for £119, and 750 images for £149. One of the two cheaper plans will be adequate for most freelancers and small business owners.

What tools help you maximise your time and productivity as a freelancer or small business owner?

Share your favourites and we might include them in a future round-up!

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