When you’re starting out as a new freelancer, it’s fair to say that money can be a little tight. Without the safety net of a full-time income, your funds can start to dwindle as you search for new clients, new projects and new work all on your own. This is something I personally went through at the very start of my freelance journey — I had recently left a job and was surviving on the last remains of my paycheck before stepping out into the big wide world of self-employment alone. I was scrimping and saving as much as I could and trying to find budget-friendly ways of advertising my business and setting up shop, without diving headfirst into expensive technology, software subscriptions and promotional plans.
It’s important to find those handy free tools that can truly help your business grow and expand, without costing you the earth, and although it might have taken me a while to find them, I wouldn’t be without them now!
These are the 7 Free Sites Every New Freelancer Should Use in 2022:
No matter which industry you work in or the services you provide, promoting your business online is going to be crucial to gaining new clients and making a name for yourself online. Buffer is a free scheduling site, allowing you to share daily tweets, posts and images advertising the work you do through the most popular social media channels. It’s great for being able to simply and easily manage your marketing efforts and has a great UX that is incredibly customisable and accessible.
With a free profile, you can manage up to three different social profiles and schedule ten posts at a time, giving you plenty of space to post daily if you need to, or less if not! Easy to set up, it’s a handy tool to help keep your marketing moving.
Similarly, Canva is an essential tool to help with the major design work you’ll need to complete to promote your business. From business cards to website headers and logos, Canva is a free design site, allowing you to use custom templates to build out your most important promotional pieces. With a huge range of design tools enabled, you can create your social posts, proposals, presentations and graphics online and source images from their large bank of license-free content.
Rather than splashing out on expensive Adobe software that you know you don’t know how to use, Canva is a really useful piece of kit that’s accessible everywhere on every device. No downloads, just design.
Organisation is key for maintaining a good working system, especially as a freelancer. Trello is a project management system, designed to help you store all the information you need in neat, tidy boards and cards, making it easier for you to track your progress whenever you need to. You can set up different boards for different clients and projects, use columns and labels to monitor progression, make your to-do lists, set up contact lists and mock-up designs and future work in custom layouts.
So far I’ve used Trello to not only manage my client social feeds but also to organise my upcoming house move, plan my blog and podcast content, draw out my future goals and map out my book. It’s such a versatile system, without complicated flow charts or diagrams — just simple lines and boxes!
Snapdrop is a site I was recently introduced to, and honestly, I’m obsessed. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself constantly sending images, files and notes between your computer and your phone, through any number of strange, convoluted methods. From emailing bulk photos to yourself, to running down your limited storage on shared Google Drive files, it can be frustrating trying to share the information you need between devices.
Snapdrop is a free site that automatically connects your devices and quickly allows you to share the files you need — no signup, no paid plans and no wasted storage. So far I’ve found it the quickest and easiest way to transfer files and I’ve been loving using it to speed up my workday.
As a freelancer, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest trends in your industry. Whether you work in technology, marketing, art or performance, following the latest news in your chosen field is a great way to update and evolve your services accordingly, and to connect with your future audience. Medium is a free site that allows you to find useful, well-written articles in your industry and promotes the right content to your specific interest.
It’s also a great space to find inspiration for any content you want to produce, in terms of blog posts, social marketing or newsletters!
Whatever you’re designing, creating, promoting or marketing, it’s important to have the right imagery to reflect your brand. So before you rush out and spend your first invoice payment on pricey stock photos, check out Unsplash first. Unsplash is a great site as it holds an absolutely enormous collection of license-free images, in different styles and of different content to suit every industry.
Although you might not initially believe that imagery will be a big part of your freelance work, it’s important to consider all of the additional elements that come alongside the work — a good quality website, for example, will need strong, powerful images to help impress future clients.
AnswerThePublic is a really useful tool for figuring out exactly the problems that your future clients will have, and positioning yourself in the right place to solve them. This site provides a simple function — you can type in a keyword, i.e. ‘Freelancers’, and it will produce the most research questions your audience has about freelancers right now. They can tell you whether your audience is asking questions about invoice payments, how to hire a freelancer or where to find them — and you can use your marketing tools to help them find the answers.
But this works for every industry and any keyword. You can get to know your future client’s biggest concerns before you even meet them using this site and it’s a really important tool to keep in your bookmarks.
Which tools and sites do you consider essential to your freelance business? Over the years, I’ve gotten so attached to my favourite sites and they genuinely do make my working life so much more fluid and organised.