My 5 Favorite Small Business/ Freelancing Tools

When I first started freelancing I was overwhelmed with 100 million tools that all kind of did the same thing, or did only some of the same thing plus some extra functionality that I wasn’t sure I needed.

After a year and a half of freelancing full time, I’ve finally sifted through the bs and found out what’s worked for me. Also keep in mind I’m the ultimate penny pincher. 3 out of 5 of these are free and the two that aren’t are $12 or less. I have no plans to upgrade for at least the next year.

5. Toggl

Free Time tracking software

Toggl is my lord and savior of freelancing. I would recommend this tool to anyone, even if they aren't charging by the hour. Toggl is a timer that allows you to track billable hours while also showing you where you can be trimming fat from your day and afterall, time is money. My favorite features include the following:
  • Allows you to export beautiful timesheets such as this one for clients
  • Track your time for each client, project, and task
  • Dashboard shows you the breakdown of time utilization (emails *cough*)
  • Integrates with pretty much everything
    • Amazing iPhone and Android application
    • Integrates with todo lists like "todo-ist"
    • Pomodoro setting
    • Gmail
    • Chrome extension
  • If you work with a team, the team can track hours collectively

4. Google Domain

$12 .com domains without the GoDaddy headache

Look at that simple, button-click allowing you to hookup your domain to any platform of your choosing

When I've bought domains from GoDaddy or Bluehost or really any domain provider, I've felt like I've gotten d*cked around. Not only were some domains inexplicably $18 while some were $11, I had to pay for 5 extra things at checkout. Here's where we come to Google. Let's be real, 9/10 times Google does it right, and Google Domains is no exception. It features the following:
  • Ridiculously easy to integrate with the platform you built your website with
  • You also get free privacy protection (cut down on tons of unwanted spam)
  • If it says it's $12, the checkout total will always be $12
  • Almost every available .com domain is $12.
  • Dashboard is minimal, friendly and easy

3. Quickbooks Self-Employed

Accounting + TurboTax tax return

Save 50% using my referral link 

Note: Full disclosure. For every sign-up I receive $30, but I am recommending this because I actually use the hell out of Intuit Self-Employed

Making sure my finances were up to date and legal was one of the things that scared the living daylights out of me when I first started freelancing. Intuit Self-Employed really helped ease that worry and the fact that it integrates right with TurboTax helped so much. It is $10/month for Basic and $17/month for the TurboTax Bundle (or $12/month and $5/month). Here are the awesome things it helps with freelancer finances:
  • Calculates taxes owed and allows you to pay Federal quarterly taxes online
  • Integrates with every bank and you can create "rules" to categorize deductions/income. Example:Track all bills from Verizon as 'Utility: Phone' expense
  • Maximizes your deductions by asking you questions to see which deduction you qualify for. For example, if you qualify for a home office deduction
  • Creates Form 1099-Misc for your automagically
  • If you use TurboTax for your tax return, it auto inputs your information into your return

NOTE: Do not use this for invoicing clients - use PayPal. Their invoicing is still in beta.

2. PayPal

Invoicing classic kicked up a notch 

This seems like a no brainer, but it's actually not. Your client is going to be very cautious about what platforms they are putting their sensitive payment information into. PayPal is a known name and it's going to give your clients a piece of mind. Past experience has shown me that a huge percentage of freelancing tools offer some kind of invoicing. In my humble opinion, don't use it. I haven't seen anyone with significantly better payment processing fees (2.9% + 30 cents for CC and 1% ACH). My favorite features include the following:
  • Known platform giving your client piece-of-mind
  • Very nice looking invoices with attached payment form
  • They are okay with processing large sums of money ($1000<) while also being exceptionally secure
  • If any hiccups do occur, PayPal's been at the game for a long time so if anything happens, you can normally get someone on the horn quickly while also getting the issue resolved quickly.

1. Todoist

Free Beautiful, Todo-list on steroids

Todo-ist is the perfect combination of minimal with all the functionality you could need hidden away until you need it. Having a daily "action plan" is essential for any freelancer or small business owner in order to not run around in circles. Here are some of my favorite features:
  • UI is perfect and minimal so you can concentrate on the task at hand
  • Set due dates and urgency on tasks
  • Nest tasks under each other so that they make sense logically
  • Projects allow you to group alike tasks in folders and enable you to concentrate on one thing at a time
  • Able to integrate with Toggl allowing you to time how long each task takes
  • Able to integrates with project management tools (Trello, Jira, Pivotal, etc)
  • Seemlessly fits into your preexisting workflow, integrating with nearly everything

What are your favorite small business/freelancing tools?

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