Whether it’s a side gig or how you’re making a living, if you’re gigging in the gig economy, it’s important to have the right tools for the job. From determining how much your skills are worth, to managing time, projects, and invoicing, we’re going to go over some tools that can help you keep your focus on your work.
How much should I charge?
As a freelancer, figuring out how much to charge is surprisingly challenging. You can start too low and find yourself buried in unsatisfying work with no end in sight, or too high and you’ll be twiddling your thumbs without pay. Here are two helpful tools for determining how much your skills are worth.
Bonsai’s Freelance Rate Explorer (free)
With data from over 30,000 freelance contracts, this tool allows you to compare design and development hourly rates based on skill set, experience, and geographic location.
Hourly is a rate calculator that helps you determine a target hourly based on how much you want to work, your taxes and expenses.
How do I find work?
The obvious answer to this question is to let the professionals at MpowerMe bring work to you. A team of tech-savvy IT staffing professionals with one of the top staffing companies has access to a wealth of resources and a vast network that can’t be beaten.
If you want to do the legwork on your own, you can try one of these freelance marketplaces.
How do I land the projects I want?
Now that you’ve figured out how much to charge and where to find work, it’s time to land a project. Chances are your potential clients expects you to submit a proposal to help them determine if you are a good fit for their project. If you’ve written proposals before, you know that it can take hours to craft one worthy of submitting. If this is your first time writing a proposal, a little guidance will go a long way. Let’s look at an option to help you reduce the amount of time you spend writing proposals.
Bidsketch (free for non-profits, paid plans start at $19/mo.)
Bidsketch is a proposal creation SaaS that lets you create proposals either using existing templates, or from scratch, allows you to see when the client views the proposal, and very conveniently facilitates legally binding electronic signing/acceptance.
Bonsai Freelance (free)
Once you and a client decide to work together, it’s a good idea to get a contract in place to help avoid potential future conflicts. Bonsai attempts to integrate and simplify the entire client onboarding process, starting with a contract tool simple enough a child could use it, and then intelligently creates invoices based on the contract data.
I’ve landed a client, now how do I get paid?
So you’ve done it. You’ve landed a client and now you just need to figure out how to get paid. While there are several freelance payment and accounting options out there, my personal preference is Wave Accounting.
Wave Accounting (free)
With Wave you can send professional invoices and even accept credit card payments. It’s in your best interest to make payment as simple as possible for your clients, and that’s exactly what Wave does. With a “Pay Now” button in your invoice, clients can click straight from the invoice to paying with a credit card.
The extent of what all Wave Accounting does is beyond the scope of this article, but suffice to say that every freelancer will find multiple useful and time & money saving features within this free app.
How do I keep track of my time and make sure the project is completed on time?
One of the benefits provided by the gig economy is that you can get paid for all of the hours you work, versus a full time job where you get paid the same regardless of how many hours you put in. But how do you keep track of where you’re spending your time, especially while balancing multiple projects?
Organization and planning can ensure your project is completed as ordered and on schedule. This is where a project management tool can greatly increase your chance of success.
Trello (free & premium plans)
When it comes to simple project management tools, Trello is King. Both the web and mobile apps are very user friendly, and offer incredible flexibility and support teams.
You create cards for each task and organize them into lists within boards. Your boards, lists, and cards can be named whatever you want and you can create as many as you want. Even if you start with lists as simple as “To-do,” “Doing,” and “Done,” you will find Trello to be very useful for keeping track of everything from the bigger picture to the minute details.
Pomotodo (free & cheap plans)
Pomotodo is a time management web and mobile app that is essentially a todo app that leverages the pomodoro technique. If you aren’t familiar with it, the pomodoro technique is a time management method where you break your work up into short, highly-focused, timed intervals called “Pomodoros.” After each pomodoro you are allowed to take a short break to help keep you motivated and creative.
The Pomotodo app is a good tool to use if you like checking items off of to-do lists, or just like getting work done.
How do I make sure I’m up-to-date with the latest processes and techniques?
In order to compete, you must keep up with the latest trends, practices, and techniques of your industry. Thankfully it’s easier to do this now than ever before. A couple of options for online courses, classes, and training are Lynda and edX.
Lynda (plans starting at $19.99/mo.)
Lynda has been around for quite a while and has amassed an impressive library of video tutorials on a wide range of topics. Their instructors tend to be well-spoken and their lessons are easy to follow with project files included (with a premium plan).
edX (free, $99 for certification)
A nonprofit venture between Harvard University and MIT, edX offers courses and certification from some of the world’s top universities, on computer science, languages, engineering, psychology, writing, electronics, biology, and marketing. Most classes you can take for free or pay for a sharable certificate of completion ($99) that features the school name. If you’ve always dreamed of being accepted to Harvard or MIT, this is the next best thing.
With nearly 20 years of graphic design, development, SEO, and extensive online marketing experience, Hosea served as Creative Director at Chideo and the Charity Network, New Media Director at Duncan/Day, spent over a decade at Yahoo, producing, editing, and engineering digital media for high profile clients including the NFL, the UFC, NASA, IBM and Victoria’s Secret.