Benjamin Franklin once said, “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.” As a freelancer, I’m always on the lookout for free tools that can help me grow my business. Whether it’s an online marketing tool, an online organizing app, or even a local resource, I’m on it if it’s worth my while.
I’d like to share the resources that I’ve found; I’ll also invite you to share your best freebies with me on social media so we can all grow!
These tools are appropriate for freelancers in all fields: writers, web designers, digital marketers, bloggers.
Free Organizational Resouces
Although I am successful as a freelancer and get plenty of work, I still work a full-time job to keep my Obamacare-mandated health insurance. It’s a heavy workload, but it’s worth it. I know that my end goal is to ditch the day job and freelance full-time within the next few years.
Until that day comes, I couldn’t keep on-track between two full-time jobs without free tools to keep me organized!
Here are my favorite free tools for keeping organized.
- Google Calendar: Yes, I know Google knows my every move; there are some people who hate that. However, I use this free tool every day. I track my work shifts (which change weekly), schedule writing time, and even set myself alerts when it’s time to stop writing and go to my other job! Without those alerts, I would completely lose track of time! It syncs with my phone and allows me to set up video chats with new clients from anywhere. If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a shot. It’s been a game-changer for me. Note: you must have a Google account to use this, but who doesn’t?
- Dropbox: Technically, this is free. Albeit the storage space on the free version is limited, I love storing files on Dropbox from time to time. This is especially helpful if I’m collaborating with someone who is a Mac/Apple user. It shares files seamlessly between Apple OS and my Chrome OS/Android phone.
Free Photographic Resources
We each blog to create awareness of our services. Naturally, we are diligent and work hard to represent our skills in a positive light. We use the platform to convince potential prospects that they really do need our services!
I once wrote a blog post that I thought was especially proud of on my DIY website, and apparently, another blogger liked it a lot. She published my best ever article on her blog, without my permission, and took credit for the article. The worst part of it was that it was a well-established blog with thousands of followers; she got literally 15,000 reads on that post. My little, then brand new blog, only got something like 20 views.
I bet many of you have experienced the same thing! When you grab images off of Google photos without the photographer’s permission, that’s exactly what you’re doing.
Freelancers need images. They have a way of grabbing a casual reader’s attention like no other medium online. Use them wisely and legally!
There are free tools out there which grant you access to royalty-free photos. My favorites follow:
- Pexels: No credits are required, although a shout out to the photographer is appreciated. The gallery is small, the but the images are stunning. And, it’s free. Who can complain?
- Pixabay: These are also royalty-free photos. They have a wider selection of free images. I like to give a backlink to the image, but it’s not required.
- Unsplash: This website also offers free images, no strings attached. I love the “people pictures” on this site when I want realistic, very human photos.
Free Tools for Grammar and Editing
I can’t say enough about the importance of good grammar. While I’m not a grammar snob, and I’ve been known to use some slang phrases myself, I feel that submitting freelance work to a client dictates a certain level of professionalism. This includes correct grammar, spelling, and word usage!
- Grammarly: Your clients expect great work and proper Grammar. Sign up for a free account with Grammarly to deliver that quality. I run every paid piece of work through Grammarly before I send the final content off to my clients. This has prevented me the embarrassment of a misused word that MS Word failed to catch on many occasions.
- Free Online Dictionary: Not sure how to use a word? Don’t guess, look it up on dictionary.com. Gone are the days of toting out the heavy book, blowing off the dust, and thumbing through the pages to find the spelling of a word you don’t know how to spell! You can now find that information in just a few keystrokes.
- Free Online Thesaurus: Have you ever had a word at the tip of your tongue and couldn’t think of it? Use Thesaurus.com to refresh your memory. The older I get, the more often I need it.
Free Photo Editing Tools
I will admit that I’m not a great graphic designer. While I can create some very limited graphics and doctor up a photo, I’ve only used one source to do this. My free photo editing resource of choice?
- PicMonkey. The nice people at PicMonkey offer tons of free templates, overlays, borders, and fonts. You can create graphics from scratch or edit photos that you’ve taken to create your own original images. It’s fun and easy to use PicMonkey. It only takes a few minutes to learn.
Free Fitness Tracker
Wait, what? A fitness tracker? What does that have to do with freelancing?
Well, in my mind it has a lot to do with writing. I frequently spend hours at a stretch sitting in one place writing. I have installed a step counter app on my phone. In addition, I keep my phone in my back pocket and it logs every step I take. If I am unhealthy, then I can’t be effective at either of my jobs, so wellness is a priority.
I check it from time to time to see how many steps I’ve taken that day. My own goal is 10,000 steps a day. My app sends me “reminders” that show up at the top of my phone’s home screen. It serves as a visual reminder to get out of my seat and walk from time to time!
Rally is the name of my favorite free fitness app, and I highly recommend it. It’s been a wonderful tool for me!
A Final Thought–Local Resources
Use your money to purchase the resources that you do need. Find free tools online to help you run your business, manage your time, and operate your business.
Also, don’t forget to look at your local community resources. These may include free small business workshops or community arts events. Local resources are often overlooked but can build community goodwill.and spread the good news about your successful freelancing business.
Have you found any great free resources that have helped your business? Please share with us on Twitter.