I am a freelance designer working from home at my own pace, and I love it. That’s not to say it’s easy.

Life in the freelance world is unpredictable at best, tumultuous at its worst. Things move incredibly fast too, so long as you stick to your deadlines. One minute you can be working on a design for one particular business, and the next, you have a new client and a whole new project. In addition, it’s not like you have one or two things to do. At some point, you may have up to 15 or more clients at a time like I do, all with projects in different phases or steps.

If you’re not careful, things can get overwhelming. Because not only do you need to contend with your responsibilities, you must also contend with yourself. Time management — or great time management in particular — is necessary for this business too. If you don’t know how to divide your time between the many projects you have before you and your personal life, you’re never going to get anywhere.

But there are ways to make that process easier. There are even ways to help along your design process or — designer gods willing — make your life a whole lot easier.

My Top 9 Computer Apps

All of these apps make my life and my career so much easier, and frankly, I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

Keep in mind, you may find an alternate app or service more helpful, that’s okay. This list is meant to be more of a guideline for inspiration than a “must-have” feature. Still, like I said, these apps made me what I am today.

9. Freckle

One of the most important things you’ll do as a freelancer period is compiling and sending out invoices. This is your livelihood — it’s how you get paid.

Freckle is an excellent time-tracking tool that includes a wide variety of reporting features. For instance, you can see which days you work the most, for how long and what projects take up the most time. You can also see tasks your teammates or employees are working on if you have accounts synced up.

It’s intuitive, easy to use and it will make your life a whole lot easier.

Price: Free trial — after that, it’s $49 per month for up to five users | Download Here

8. Duffel

You’ll be sending a lot of files via email including documents, reports, images, designs and much more. Sure, you can use the archive feature and save everything in Gmail — and then search for it later — but this can make things super cluttered at times. Worse yet, it’s easy to lose track of important documents or files.

Duffel is a neat little app that will let you download all your emails. It’s meant to be used to back up your inbox, but it can be an absolute lifesaver at times. Don’t dismiss it so easily.

Price: Free | Download Here

7. Freedom

When you work, you need to be focused on work. That is tough to do when you have access to the entire internet at your fingertips.

Freedom will lock down your device, allowing you only to access essential features. The goal is to eliminate any and all distractions so you can stay on task. It’s amazingly helpful — plus, it doesn’t cost anything to use.

Price: Free | Download Here

6. Shake

You have to draw up a contract to protect yourself from shady clients in this business, you just have to. Otherwise, you risk the chance of getting scammed or worse.

Shake is a neat little app that helps you create a contract in minutes. Just answer a few simple questions, and the contract will be generated — difficult-to-understand legal jargon and all. Jests aside, this thing will ensure you get paid on time and that you can go after someone if they screw you over.

In the freelance world, assurances like Shake are hard to come by.

Price: Free | Download Here

5. Mailchimp

Have a blog? What about a newsletter? I sure hope you do — it’s one of the best and easiest ways to stay in touch with clients past and present.

Mailchimp is an email marketing tool that allows you to send out regular newsletters to a list of contacts. You can craft an email campaign in minutes using several pre-defined templates — or come up with your own. It’s quick, easy and reliable.

Not to mention, it’s free to use the service and always will be until you have over 2,000 subscribers.

Price: Free up to 2,000 subscribers | Download Here

4. Cushion

When you’re managing several projects at once, trying to meet deadlines and pretty much keeping your head down, it can be easy to miss gaps in your schedule. In the moment, however, a work gap can be absolutely devastating, especially if you didn’t plan for it financially.

Cushion is an excellent planning tool that helps you visualize your future income. You can map out your payments to find gaps or downtimes. This allows you to target projects that specifically fill those gaps. It’s an invaluable tool to have, especially if your freelance work is your only source of income.

Price: Free to try, $5-$10 per month | Download Here

3. Wridea

Whether you’re brainstorming ideas for a design or coming up with an application proposal for a potential client, you’ll need a place to record and organize your thoughts. Wridea is a free “idea management service” and “brainstorming” tool.

Seriously, this thing has helped me jot down so many ideas and thoughts it’s crazy. It’s better than having sticky notes all over your desk and monitor or random text files all over your desktop.

Price: Free | Download Here

2. ConceptShare

Before you actually get working on a design, you’ll need to complete the prototyping phase. ConceptShare is a great tool that allows you to share potential designs and collaborate with clients. Most importantly, they can provide feedback so you know exactly what they want and how they want it done.

It’s much better than going back and forth through email or IM services.

Price: Free for 30 days, and after that, price depends on number of users | Download Here

1. Typecast

In a design, font is everything. This app allows you to use more than 23,000 web fonts compiled from a variety of places like Google, MyFonts, Adobe Typekit and more. You can even create a style guide within the app for use with some or all your designs.

Price: Free to try, with higher prices for more font options | Download Here

 

Check out one or two or all of these apps, and find the ones that make your job easy — or at least as easy as a freelancer’s work can be.

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