Need help with cash flow? Marketing? These apps are rising in popularity.
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Anyone who has left a regular salary for the gig life knows this: Suddenly you need a crash course in (yikes — cash flow? marketing?) just about everything. “Freelancers wear a lot of hats and are always looking to how they can get a leg up,” said Wade Foster, who works with a lot of them through Zapier, the tool he cofounded that lets you connect your apps and automate workflow every which time-zapping way.
But which apps should you have in the first place? Zapier, which integrates with more than 1,000 of them, crunched the numbers for Entrepreneur to find the ones giggers used the most in 2018. Not surprisingly, the biggies, like Google Docs, Slack, and Zoom, all rose to the top. But here are the top five lesser-known apps — ones that are surging in usage and, says Foster, easy to use. “Freelancers don’t have time to learn,” he said. Time is money, right?
A wildly flexible spreadsheet-slash-database that helps you manage everything from budgets to project workflow.
A user said: “I’ve built a ‘freelancing dashboard,’ where I’ve got all my contacts organized in a hierarchical way, so when I need work, I start with ‘past clients’ who have paid me in the past, then ‘prospects,’ and after that, ‘contacts.’ I also use Airtable to manage projects and track my financial numbers; at any given moment, I can see how much money I’m earning and saving.” — Jason Scott Montoya, 34, communications consultant and author of Path of the Freelancer
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A tool that lets you create all kinds of visually appealing forms with your own branding that can also take payments.
A user said: “I use it for a ton of stuff — everything from selling a bonsai book for charity to lead generation to event tickets and surveys. The nice thing about Paperform is it’s superflexible and superfast, and it kind of gets out of its own way so you can get a landing page done in five minutes.” — Rhys Lynn, 39, founder of nona.media
Financial software targeted to entrepreneurs for accounting, invoicing, and payments.
A user said: “I was able to add my own branding to all the invoices — most of my clients are entertainers, so they don’t like things that look too business-y, but they want them to look professional. And I can do invoicing from my phone. So when I finish a performing gig — before I even leave I can automatically send the balance due. I’m getting paid a hell of a lot faster!” — Lisa Smith, 48, jazz singer and founder of Geek Girls in Vegas, which does graphic and web design for performers
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An app that helps you manage projects in an übercustomized way.
A user said: “It’s so flexible. It really caters to different teams, which is great for freelancers. One thing I like is that they have several views: You can see your project as a board, a box, a calendar, or a list. And their customer service is ridiculously responsive. I’ve suggested a few fixes and changes, and they’ve done them in a few days — which is great because it makes me feel like I’m part of their team.” — Jenipur Wapaño, 28, creative team manager, Platypus
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Software that streamlines proposals and contracts.
A user said: “When I started out, I was doing everything on random pieces of paper. It was a mess! Proposify keeps all my contracts and proposals organized, and has transformed my close rate. It used to take an average of 21 to 30 days to get someone to sign a contract; now it’s less than a week. The app has actually played a strong role in my transition from solo freelancer to running Belt Creative, an agency with two other people — three, with my dog.” — Collin Belt, 25, website designer