Let’s face it. As an indie artist or freelancer staying on top of your finances, managing employees and keeping all your clients happy can be quite overwhelming at times, but it doesn’t have to be a headache! Here is a quick look at some awesome online tools that will help you work smarter:
Freshbooks: Cloud Accounting
One of my favorite tools, Freshbooks is cloud accounting service perfect for service based small business owners and freelance workers. Freshbooks will help you manage your time and expenses as well as send branded invoices, collect payments and track taxes. It has a user friendly interface and is simple to learn. keeping all your finances in order.
PROS: Sophisticated invoice management. Great basic expense tracking. Promotes customer interaction. Has a mobile app.
CONS: No payroll management offered. Too much white space which leads to more scrolling!
COST: There is a free version, but you have to ask for it once your free trial come to an end! To access all the features, you will need $19-$49 per month depending on your company’s needs.
NICKYJIGGY SAYS: If you are a freelancer, indie artist, small agency or business that does not need to track payroll or complex inventory, this tool a great and affordable way to start managing your finances.
Hootsuite: Social Media Management
Ahh Hootsuite. Possibly my most valuable freelance tool! Hootsuite take the lead when it comes to serious social media management and marketing and is one of the most popular and advanced social media tools out there. Hootsuite allows the management of multiple profiles and pages, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Ping.fm, WordPress and Google+ all from one place. With Hootsuite you can collaborate as a team and delegate status posts, replies and even approve and track messages your team is sending. Hootsuite also provides deep customized analytics, RSS integration, free additional add-on apps and helpful, customer friendly support.
PROS: Auto-scheduling. Team management. Mutliple profile management (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube etc). Analytics. Mobile app. Desktop suite option. The list goes on!
CONS: Hootsuite analytics, team management add on and custom url shortners can be expensive.
COST: Hootsuite offers a great free version, but to take advantage of everything this tool has to offer it will run you just $9.99 per month. If you are looking for serious social media then you can request a quote for the enterprise package which starts at $1499.00
NICKYJIGGY SAYS: Despite the cons, I would still recommend Hootsuite for most business. Even if you don’t have a business, Hootsuite is great for personal use.
Podio: Cloud Project Management Software
Podio is an online work platform for collaboration and project management in one central place with tasks, calendar, contacts, activity stream and the ability to build your own work applications. Podio basically moves you work out of the inbox and puts into a social activity stream so it is easier to see what projects you are working on and who is working with you. You can build and shape as many of your own online “workspaces” as you need. Collaborate within your own team and with your vendors, clients and outside partners. The great thing is, everything is always stored on the cloud so everyone will always have access to what they need as long as they can connect to the Internet. Podio is by far one of the most useful and valuable tools out there – if you know how to use it. I personally could not survive without it!
PROS: Work from anywhere with mobile apps for every kind of device. Is a great option for sharing large files without using email.
CONS: Search does not index file. Price per user can get expensive.
COST: There is a free version that is wonderful with plenty of storage and features! But if you want additional employe options it will run you $9 per month per employee
NICKYJIGGY SAYS: I think everyone should try Podio, especially if you frequently collaborate with others.
MailChimp: Email Marketing
Last but certainly not least is the most powerful email tool on the market today, MailChimp. MailChimp is one hell of a service, offering amazing custom and sharing options unlike any other email service today. You can add your own HTML email design or choose from their huge selection professional templates, including mobile templates with drag and drop editing. Your subscribers can easily connect to social networking pages and share your campaigns, plus you can use social networking in conjunction with your email marketing and spread the word everywhere. MailChimp also offers amazing reporting and analytics, as well as a variety of mobile app tools to help you grow and maintain a healthy mailing list. And finally, MailChimp does add a bit of humor to their service, you will find a link to a hilarious YouTube video on almost every page.
PROS: There are too many to list here, but the main pros are: Ease of use. Variety of template styles. Analytics and reporting. Social media sharing options.
CONS: The biggest con for MailChimp was no user or role management, but just this month they have finally released this feature. No phone support. Customer service can be slow to respond.
COST: MailChimp has a kick ass free version for less than 2,000 that can send 12,000 per month. But if you list is large and you would like to remove branding, it will run you $10 to $240 or more depending on your list size. You can also buy credits and pay as you go.
NICKYJIGGY SAYS: MailChimp is a must for any business looking to expand their customer or client base.