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When you get started in the freelance world, it’s not always as easy as it looks. You need a lot of organization, motivation, and self-discipline.
While you’re in the midst of honing these traits, check out these 10 great tools to help you along the way, especially if you’re working on the go.
1. Site Blocker
Whether you’re in New York City or Saigon, there are a lot of distractions online. For this reason, I highly recommend a site blocker, such as StayFocused, to help you stay on track. You can customize the sites you block, or choose to simply limit the allowed time on the site. Personally, I give things like Facebook and Quora a maximum of 20 minutes each day from 7:00am until 4:00pm. I also click the option to count any links I click from those sites as part of the 20 minutes, so if I spend time on reddit, it takes away from my original 20 minutes. Amazingly helpful.
2. Google Drive
If you live in this century and you use the Internet, you must use Google Drive. They save automatically, can be shared with anybody, and can be downloaded in multiple formats. While I like the streamlined look of the word processor, my favorite tool is the spreadsheet. I keep my ideas, pitches, and assigned articles here, so it is always accessible. (You can even get Docs on your smartphone!)
Please stop using Excel for invoices. You can go ahead and ignore PayPal’s invoice function as well, because Ballpark is better. This web app lets you create invoices however you want, through time tracking, per word, per unit, per article, etc., and creates very simple invoices with as many details as you could desire. Check it out.
Remember what I said about organization? Get a wall calendar, a nifty little planner, or simply start using your email or computer’s calendar. It always helps to write something down the second you commit to it; otherwise you’re flipping through notes late on a Monday night, when you discover you have a huge project due the following morning. Not fun.
5. USB WiFi Hotspot
Best. Toy. Ever. The one benefit of airports without WiFi is that you can’t possibly be distracted by the Internet, but when you’ve got to do Internet research and answer emails, a USB hotspot is the way to go. Most hotspots cost around $30-$50 a month, which is significantly less than your typical smartphone.
6. Online Portfolio
Keep it simple, right? You should always have a folder on your desktop with PDF versions of your proudest works, but an online portfolio is so much more complete. You can even do it for free using simple Google Docs or by using a free site on WordPress. Simply create a resume page, contact information, and a section with links to your works, as well as downloadable PDFs. If you know how to block your pages from search engines, you can even post the text for potential clients to read right online.
7. Wordless Playlist
I would lose my mind without the works of Tchaikovsky and Beethoven. There’s something about the wordless classics that really help you focus. Now, whenever I hear the suite from Nutcracker Ballet, I find myself in the mood to do some writing. If you’re not into the classics, check out modern options on Spotify or Rdio.
8. A Favorite Pen
Is this ridiculous? Perhaps. Is it helpful? Absolutely. You know how you suddenly want to go running when you get brand new shoes? An awesome pen is like this, but it doesn’t lose its luster until it’s completely out of ink. I’m most motivated when I’ve got a Uniball Signo in my hand. I’ve even been known to order the special colors online once in a while; it’s that awesome!