When I found out I was pregnant eight years ago, I decided to quit my job and focus my efforts on being the perfect stay-at-home mom. Shortly after my daughter was born my husband and I had a groundbreaking revelation: Wow, babies are expensive. This cute little leech was quickly depleting our bank account but I wasn’t willing to work the 9 to 5… and that in a nutshell is how I started my freelance writing career.
But wait, there’s more. I had to learn the hard way that freelance writing is harder than just finding clients and writing a blog or article. There’s the branding of oneself, organizing deadlines, learning any one of the various online platforms that a company utilizes (like Slack or Google Chat) and even just finding work in the first place. This is the struggle of every modern day solopreneur and fortunately, there are a plethora of online tools to help you through this journey. Here are a few of my favorites that I have added to my arsenal over the years and have helped me run my solopreneur freelance business.
1. Google Drive
I know this one seems incredibly obvious, but I am shocked at how many people aren’t using this necessary tool. All of my professional life is created and maintained on Google Drive. For the past two years I’ve written hundreds of articles and made countless spreadsheets and I still haven’t gotten to the point where I have to pay for storage. And speaking of storage, all of my work is protected in the Internet cloud so if my computer crashes or my laptop gets stolen, my projects and documents are still accessible.
GoogleDocs is also perfect for team collaboration. I have worked on a script where four of us sat around a table and everyone could see the edits being made to ensure that our individual ideas were being incorporated into a cohesive product. Conversely, I have worked on a document where the co-writer was in another city and we were able to volley back and forth our ideas and edits.
It has been reported that approximately 269 emails are sent per day and the average person receives 121 daily emails. It’s no wonder that the information we are looking for can get lost in the great abyss that is our Inbox. With this problem in mind, Slack has emerged to the forefront of online communication tools.
I was introduced to Slack last year when I was hired on by an app company to help revamp their website. This was the perfect tool as our four person team (who was spread across the country) could share sample website designs that we favored, update each other on our specific part of the project and discuss what worked or what didn’t in the initial draft process. With Slack, you can stay organized through designating separate channels by client or by project.
Running your own business is completely overwhelming and the problem with being a solopreneur is that you have to be good (or at least competent) at everything. The problem is, I’m great at writing and researching but I stink when it comes to bookkeeping. With Bonsai, they let me focus on content creation while they take care of providing and storing basic business contracts, professional looking invoices (instead of that boring Excel spreadsheet), and processing payments. Better yet, their software is customized especially for freelancers.
Craigslist, LinkedIn and Indeed are all well and good for most jobs that fit into the traditional workforce. However, as a freelancer or solopreneur, these sites are pretty much useless for finding clients. This is where specialized platforms come in to play for those of us who want to take advantage of telecommuting, being their own boss or choosing the projects that they want to work on rather than just being assigned a task.
For the past two years, I have been a part of the CloudPeeps community and have been able to work with some awesome companies. CloudPeeps gathers a wide array of freelancers including social media marketers, graphic designers, web designers, media managers, copywriters and more to pitch on various jobs that companies post to this site. You can also create your own packages for companies to purchase. They have an active community on Facebook where “Peeps” ask questions of other freelancers and the support staff is incredible. Memberships range from free to $49/month and a huge plus is that the base rate for any job is $30/hour so professionals get what they deserve.
As a solopreneur, there are certain topics I’ll research and tasks I’ll perform on my own including marketing, branding and basic web design. However, there are two things I will always hire someone else to do: my taxes and my legal documents. My dad is my CPA and Incfile is my go-to for filing my LLC filing forms. When it comes to legal paperwork, there is no room for error and I would rather pay to have it done right than get fined exorbitant amounts to fix any errors that I might have made. Their business formation packages include a lifetime of customer support, online access to your incorporation documents and your first year of registered agent service for free. Online business formation packages start at just $49 plus state fees… totally worth it so I won’t screw something this important up.