5 Top Tools For Freelancers That I Use As A Digital Creator And Manager
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I'm in a constant battle between wanting to get as much done as humanly possible... and taking the rest of the day off.
I'm blaming it on my running career—we go really hard at practice for two hours and then have to recover before we get back to doing things.
So basically, I've become so accustomed to that type of living, that I'm doing it in my off-the-track endeavors too.
Whether that's truly what happened or not (it's the story I'm sticking to), because I'm run training plus being a digital creative freelancer, everything I'm doing is going in very different directions.
Soooo, I rely on some trusty freelancer tools to get it all done and I legitimately couldn't survive without them. I know that's just a figure of speech some people use, but I actually mean it.
I know because I've been there, absolutely drowning in my work without the right tools and systems in place. I've dropped the ball, missed opportunities, and straight-up completed some creative work that wasn't good.
Maybe I was sort of surviving, but I definitely wasn't thriving, and it definitely was only going to get worse.
So these are the best freelance tools I use as a digital creator and content manager that I think you should consider too.
My Favorite Tools I Use As A Freelance Digital Creator & Manager
Another issue I have (I love talking about my issues, if you're new here I'm warning you now) is that I want to do everything for the low low.
I'm talking about spending 17,000 hours piecing something together instead of just buying it. I'm in full support of DIY, but there's a limit to how many hours and how much stress you can put into something before you're simply losing money because of it.
I wouldn't even consider paid plans for tools or purchasing technology that makes things easier. Putting my cheapness aside and actually investing in the proper tools really changed things for me.
So here are what I consider to be some of the best tools for being a digital creator and freelancer.
Some of them are free, some are purchased, and some could be either depending on your mood. Regardless, they helped me and I believe they can help you too.
Obviously, Canva. I'm sorry to come off this intense, but nothing would be possible without Canva. 😂
And although I did survive for a while on the free version, switching to the paid version of Canva was one of the best investments I made in my business. Simply because it saved me time and annoyance!
Why Canva is helpful as a freelancer and creator:
Photoshop is very expensive and very confusing
You can save brand kits (fonts, colors, logos) for quick access to perfect designing
A library of fonts, graphics, pictures
One-click editing tools for filters, mockups, distortions
Templates for almost every size design you could ever need, but you can custom too
Syncs between desktop and phone quickly which makes designing even faster.
When Canva Pro is worth it:
you want access to the best fonts. Pro gives you more and they're beautiful.
you need to remove image backgrounds from images. It's so easy.
you want to quickly download designs with transparent backgrounds. (this was it for me!)
you spend too much time on stock photo websites and want a giant library of high-quality photo and graphic options
you have multiple clients or brand kits to keep organized.
you want more templates - (250,000 vs 610,000 and counting)
magic resize of an infinite number of designs will cut time from your workflow.
you want to schedule to social straight from Canva
you need more cloud storage (5gb vs 100gb)
I also love Canva for productivity and organization because it's so easy to organize designs into folders. You can make templates and just plug and go so fast.
With as many graphics as I need, that's a must. And I don't have to store them on my computer or phone...they all go on the Canva cloud.
I'm honestly not sure why Keywords Everywhere isn't talked about more than it is. When I was first introduced to this tool I was blown away...and kinda (read: extremely) mad that I didn't know about it earlier.
You're telling me that there's a keyword research tool that I can easily access from a browser extension, gives me a TON of information, and is only like $10 a year?
It sounds too good to be true, I know.
Well, it partially is because here's the catch: you purchase "credits" to use for the course of 1 year, and every time you perform a search using Keywords Everywhere, credits get deducted from your account.
You pre-pay for these credits, and then as you use them they get deducted. I bought the cheapest option, which is 100,000 credits for $10 and I didn't run out in the year.
To toggle Keywords Everywhere off/on, you just click the browser extension. When it's off, your searches won't deduct points.
What you can do with Keywords Everywhere:
The difference between the free and paid versions of Keywords Everywhere:
See related keywords (no volume data)
Everything free has, but WITH volume data so you can see what's searched most and by how much
See Trend chart on Google (no volume data)
Historical volume data since 2004
See YouTube insights and tags (no volume data)
Supported by 15+ websites (Google, Bing, Amazon, Pinterest, etc)
View monthly estimates and top 500 keywords a URL ranks for (no volume data)
Import your keywords
Analyze URL to see keywords and density (no volume data)
Competitor Gap Analysis (beta)
When it's so cheap, there's really no reason to not get the paid version of Keywords Everywhere. This cheap and easy platform can handle the bulk of your Keyword Research!
Obviously, this is most relevant if you're a content writer or blog writer that needs SEO. But, it can help you figure out topics to talk about no matter who you are. Plus, it adds a hashtag search to Instagram on the desktop.
Super helpful for anyone who posts.
Oh, where to start.
Over the years, Wix has easily become my favorite place to build websites. While there is a learning curve (everything has one), I find it to be significantly less of a process than other website builders.
It's a WYSISYG (what you see is what you get) drag-and-drop website builder. I exclusively use the "start with a template and build it yourself" route with Wix, but there is a developer segment that does most of it for you.
It asks you which route you'd prefer to go when you start a new website:
The ADI is great if you don't want as much control with the design and build, but if you want more control it's easier to go with the Editor. Which is what I do every time!
Reasons I like Wix (it's a long list):
Easy SEO guides without a plug-in or widget
Large variety of template options that are gorgeous
Widget store for additional things if you do happen to want them
Wix Blog Editor is so easy to use and organized - you can write, add photos and videos, insert quotes, add code snippets
Wix Blog Editor has a Notes feature where you can leave comments and notes to yourself (kind of like Google Docs!)
Wix Blog has a lot of helpful features, from Categories and Tags to places for Guest writers and scheduling
It has a full business suite of tools - email marketing, social media post builder, bookings, store, chat, forms, automations, subscriptions - no need to pay for extra platforms if you like the Wix platform
Easy to add code to website pages (want to add an Amazon ad or a LTKit widget? Simply add the shortcode to the page and drag it wherever you want it)
Mobile friendly - the Editor automatically adjusts the mobile page as you build (or comes made with a template that you can leave as is)
The fact that you can do so much with Wix is honestly one of its best features. You obviously have to upgrade your plan or pay extra as you want to add more, but it can end up being cheaper (and more organized) than having 30 different accounts just to run your website.
For example, email marketing is built right in. You don't need to also have an email marketing platform that you pay for and learn how to use if you don't want to.
Some challenges with Wix:
Occasional glitches. However, the Chat support has always been tremendous when I've had to reach out. Plus, glitches happen no matter which platform you use.
The premium plans get a little chaotic. Sometimes it feels like you need to upgrade for everything. You'll have to individually balance the price with what you get and how easy it is based on your own preferences.
Either way, if you need a website that is easy to build and easy to manage, Wix is a fantastic choice. It can help you run your freelance business in so many ways (even has CRM and invoicing) to take out extra steps and keep everything organized and central.
4. Google Tasks
Even if you know about Google Tasks, you might not realize how much of a gem this simple tool really is.
And you might not have considered it one of the top productivity tools for freelancers.
Have no fear, I'm going to show you why it's so game-changing for keeping things organized.
1. Let's start with how you can access it from your Gmail inbox:
Open up the side panel by clicking the little checkmark in a blue circle. There you can see any tasks you've added recently and even look at completed ones at the bottom.
At the top where it says "My Tasks," you can click that drop-down arrow to open other Task Lists. My main tasks list is for my business stuff, but I have a list for clients to keep those tasks separate!
I also have a task list on my regular life Gmail, and I'll put regular life tasks there.
2. You can add an App to your phone
I also added the Google Tasks app to my phone for quick and easy access to my tasks. It's so much easier than opening up the Notes App (everything gets lost in there so quickly I swear) or writing it down.
All of my task lists for all of my Google accounts are accessible with a few clicks.
3. Creating Tasks directly from emails
The day I discovered this feature was a great day.
I usually try to leave emails unopened until I'm ready to address them, but then they still get lost. This removed that problem for me!
At the top of any email in Gmail you can click the "add to Tasks" icon and the whole email will become a task in your task list so you won't forget it.
4. Google Tasks in Google Calendar
I like to use Google Calendar as well as my physical planners because of how it syncs across devices. I can just access it quickly no matter what device I'm on, as long as I'm in my Google account.
I also like Google Calendar because I can share calendars across my various Google accounts so I always know what's going on in each part of my life.
You can add Reminders, Events, Goals, and Tasks. So when Tasks are created with a certain date, they automatically go onto your Calendar. Easy peasy!
So clearly, this is productive for anyone who has anything to do ever. But my point is that for a person who manages many different projects at once, Google Tasks is clearly a great option for cheap (FREE) freelance management tools.
To each their own when it comes to these Management platforms, but I personally like Asana the best. I'll do my best to explain a little bit why I think this is one of the best tools for freelancers.
The interface is very intuitive and it's easy to create and access a list of projects. I have a project for my content, my website, and then individually for other projects I have (such as building a website or managing someone's social media).
I have had clients use Asana to keep work organized as well. They simply add you to their board and then they can mention you in tasks.
Each task card has a bunch of useful places to add information:
Assignee of task
Task list within the project
Description lets you add text, photos, record a video, link
You can add attachments (I love linking right to Google Drive)
Like most of these planner platforms, you can view from "Board" mode which is the Kanban System.
I find this visual system so easy for the types of projects I take on as a freelancer and digital creator. Keeping track of each moving part is a hassle sometimes so visually being able to see a project being complete is so helpful.
As you complete each part of a certain type of task, you can move it down the board and know where you're at with everything.
I actually stay on the free version of Asana for my needs. But the premium version has a lot of great tools for managing a whole team. If I ever have multiple people working on stuff, I would definitely want to take advantage of some of these tools:
I hardly scratched the surface of what you can do with Asana to stay not just organized with your ideas, but productive with those ideas as well.
There's something about the red "overdue" label things get that makes you want to hustle! And checking off each subtask, task, and project until it's complete is so satisfying.
If you're overwhelmed with tasks and have multiple projects, I highly suggest getting organized with Asana.
Best Tools For Freelancers 2022
When it comes to the best tools for freelance creators out there, this list is obviously not exhaustive. I just wanted to do a quick post with 5 tools that I use that took my business to the next level by keeping me organized and productive.
Here's a quick recap of the tools I talked about in this post, with links for you to try them.
And like I said, I understand the urge to not pay for another subscription. Trust me, I know that feeling well.
But if after using the free version of something for a while and deciding you really like it, upgrading to the premium and investing in your freelance business is a smart idea.
Maybe you pay an extra $100 a year for something, but if that something helps you get 5x the amount of work done or 10x the number of clients...it's totally worth it.
Before I go, here are some quick tips for making sure you're being smart about paying for tools:
Keep a list in your planner or somewhere of your subscriptions and how much they cost per month/year.
Periodically check in on your list and if you spot a service you're paying for but aren't using, cancel that ish!
Read and understand the premium features. For example with Asana for me, I love the platform but the premium features are for managing groups of people and I don't need that right now.
Pay yearly instead of monthly; the overall cost you pay is usually cheaper.
Hunt for affiliate links and discount codes. Sometimes you can find a deal by checking out your favorite blogger!
Speaking of deals, wait for the time is right and buy when there's a sale. Wix does this all the time!
Have any questions about these productivity tools for freelancers? Drop a comment below and let's chat productivity and organization.
Now go optimize your workflow so we can spend more time having fun!