If there’s anything I learned while freelancing, it’s that you have to treat it like a small business. There’s no way you’re going to be able to handle the high workloads and stresses of keeping up with multiple clients unless you adopt creative ways to stay organized just like a retailer would. The entrepreneurial mindset is a must-have, and you’re not going to go anywhere if you don’t have the tools necessary to collaborate. That said, we will discuss all the free collaboration tools that you need to get your groove on!
When you hear the words “customer relationship management” (CRM), you believe that we’re talking about retailers. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. While many CRM suites are made for big businesses, there are actually some that also work for sole proprietors and freelancers. Take Bitrix24, for example. Your clients are essentially your customers, and everything you do for them is a project. In order to better organize your workflow, Bitrix24 presents a powerful collaborative suite that lets you talk to your clients, manage your documents, stay on top of large projects, and create invoices. Everything workflow-related is packaged into one neat interface so that you can worry more about getting work done on time and less about keeping track of everything else.
At a time when everyone’s talking through SMS, you might not have that luxury with your clients. That’s why they give you instant messaging! Just like on Facebook, you can message each client individually, giving them a heads-up on projects. Alternatively, you can post status updates. By having your own little social network, you develop stronger relationships with people you work with and create a more professional impression.
2: Google Drive
Ever since Google replaced its old Docs interface with Google Drive, it became one of the most powerful collaborative suites on the planet. Many startups that offer their own collaborative products have integrated Google Drive in order to streamline the whole document sharing process.
Aside from documents, Google Drive lets you upload practically any type of file, making it easily the most versatile cloud storage tool on Earth. While you’re editing a file, other people can pitch in and edit, while you see the changes live. Let’s not forget their mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
When you’re trying to keep up to task, Asana comes to the rescue and provides an interface in which you can assign tasks to projects and attach deadlines to them.
They allow you to attach files (perhaps a finished product) to each task from your computer or Google Drive. Want it on mobile? They got apps for iOS and Android. For any other OS, they let you email tasks from your mobile device.
Your brain functions in funky ways. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could jot down your thoughts in a graphical way that represents your chain of thought? With MindMeister, you can do that now!
Although the product video shown above markets to large-scale startups with big ideas, you can also use it to jot down those inspirations you get while showering. When you sign up, the website will try to direct you to paid plans, but below them, there’s a “Basic” subscription that’s free, and it includes up to 3 “mind maps.”
5: Clocking IT
When you need to keep track of the time you spent working, you don’t have to use a stopwatch. Clocking IT can help you keep track of your time in the most fashionable manner on a free hosted interface.
With Clocking IT, you get to see different charts that show your projects, deadlines, and active tasks. Tracking time might be a little difficult at first, but it’s a very powerful and feature-rich tool that puts you at the helm of an enterprise-level environment.
Alternative to Clocking IT is Toggl.
When you need to chat with clients, sometimes you want to meet face-to-face. That’s no problem if you have the right video conferencing solution. For the most collaborative experience, I’d say that Zoom fits the bill. With Zoom, you get an easy-to-use interface that takes a lot of the hassle out of setting up a video meeting. Its screen-sharing feature allows you to start meetings without requiring all participants to have an account.
Meetings will appear in HD, depending on your camera’s ability to stream such resolutions. If you have a good webcam, it will do its magic here. For half-hour conversations, this software gives you a significant amount of professional appeal. The best part is that it also lets you host meetings from your mobile phone with its Android and iOS apps.
Productivity Needs The Right Tools
If you use these tools correctly, you’ll not only give a professional impression, but you’ll also boost your productivity significantly. Let us know in the comments below what you think of these great solutions!