If you’re a freelancer, you know what I’m talking about. You have explosive ideas, but you don’t have the budget to go out and buy fancy software to make them a reality.
Say hello – and thank you – to the digital revolution, which has handed freelancers a golden ticket to hone their crafts. Now we can communicate more freely with each other, sharing creative inspiration. But additionally, a library of free technology has emerged that puts even more power in the hands of freelancers.
Where you’re a writer, graphic designer, email marketer, or a combination, these essential tools for freelancers will help you complete your next assignment efficiently.
Tools for Freelancers: Writing
Embrace Google Docs! C’mon, guys. This is a free and easy way to create and share what you produce. Literally all you need is a Gmail address. Not only is it cloud-based, so anyone can see what changes you’re making and get in on the action, but the bells and whistles are fantastic for creating any type of document you need.
For the past five years, I’ve used the tools in Google Docs (now called Drive) for all of my freelancing. Best part? New stuff is always coming along. Right now, you can pick a from a variety of templates for different industries and purposes to kick off your content creation. There’s the traditional Word, Excel and PowerPoint. But there are also pre-built models for everything from project proposals, to teacher lesson plans, to brochures and more.
Want clearer writing? The Hemingway Editor makes sure your writing is succinct and gets to the point quickly. Not only that, it helps you write exactly what you mean with the boldest, best words possible. Hello! Who doesn’t love that? Much like the famous writer himself, the app helps you get to the point in a few, powerful words. Why is this so important? Online readers have barely any attention span. Your copy needs to entice them to keep reading and then squeeze them for all they’re worth.
My favorite writing tools are Thesaurus.com and OneLook Reverse Dictionary. When you just can’t think of the right word to complete your thought, these two tools come in handy. Or if you are having a desperate case of writer’s block, poking around these resources will help you get the creative thoughts flowing again.
For topics to write about, check out this previous post I did about where to gather content ideas. One of my favorites is BuzzSumo. It allows me to research the most popular topics written about my area of interest. I use that as a cue to write my own article, but with a different spin.
Tools for Freelancers: Graphics/Design
Creating beautiful graphics to go along with your content is essential to making sure it gets read. Canva is one of the most popular tools today for doing this. However, there are many other sites popping up offering the same or similar services. Check out this list of Graphics Tools and test which ones work best for your needs.
Stock images are also a must-have for any content creator or graphic designer who is a freelancer. Good thing there are now a boatload of sites offering free downloads of stock images. The ones I use the most are Pexels, Pixabay, and Unsplash, with Startup Stock Photos being the best for anyone who needs a techie-looking photo. Many of these sites overlap in the images they offer, and many content producers overuse some of the more popular photos. However, you can dig through these sites and others to find the right images for your content.
Want to show off how your website looks on an iPad, iPhone, iWatch, Android, desktop or any other sized screen? All you have to do is upload a screenshot on PlaceIt and this website will do the rest. Best part is, you can choose an image of a screen by itself or placed in a stock photo of someone holding it or using it.
Tools for Freelancers: Email Marketing
For every $1 spent on email marketing, the ROI is $40. There’s no reason every single freelancer should not be using email marketing, especially when there are many free services such as MailChimp out there. Use pre-built templates to create stunning campaigns and easily upload and segment lists of subscribers for your clients.
Since most emails are viewed on a mobile device today, it’s important for freelancers to make sure their messages look good on every size screen. That’s where a free tool such as Litmus can be a lifesaver. Send a test of your email to Litmus and they’ll show it to you on every phone size out there!
There’s also fun tools such as Touchstone from AlchemyWorx that can help you determine a subject line that will get the most opens based on your industry, content of your email, and words & phrases people engage with the most.
Today, freelancers have the power to do what they do best. It’s all because of the free technology and apps at our fingertips. Don’t hesitate to explore these tools. They could help you get to the next stage of your freelancing career – and maybe even help you strike out on your own.