Tools WordPress Freelancers Should Not Live With Out
Freelancing with WordPress in today’s world is a demanding but rewarding experience. Being your own boss or being a contract professional is becoming more and more popular in the website industry. What works for some freelancers might not work for others. It is wise to use tools that help you get your work completed in the most efficient way possible. This, in return, will benefit both you and your clients!
This post is a list of applications and services available for today’s WordPress freelancer. Use a mix of these to help raise your business to the next level. I’ll talk about each and my own experience on a few, but of course I won’t be able to list them all as new tools keep popping up everyday.
Be sure to leave us your reviews of any tools you use or prefer in the comments. I would love to hear about all the great tools that you are using that I may have missed!
Project Management Tools
Asana is a project management application focused on teamwork. There are many great features available including creating, editing, and assigning tasks to co-workers. Being a solo-freelancer, you could also use Asana to keep track of your projects, their progress, or even invite your clients aboard to collaborate in real time.
There is also an iOS and Android application that gives you access to your projects from anywhere.
I think the best feature of Asana is that it competes with any project management tool out there, but does so for FREE! Give it a try and you’ll see the power Asana can provide to any WordPress freelancer or team.
Basecamp is probably the most well known project management tool that exists today. Basecamp embraces its simplicity, allowing users to get work done quickly and effectively. Users can add files, create new projects, message members and even have private conversations between users. You can also configure the application to use advanced notification settings. All of this and more is available for all major web browsers, iOS, and Android.
Basecamp does come with a fee, but if you are a WordPress freelancer who wants a good platform to keep contact open between yourself and your clients, then this is a great solution.
Plans start at $20/month for up to 10 projects and 3 GB of space
Seeing as we are primarily a WordPress related blog, it makes sense to mention some plugins that offer similar features to the previously-mentioned project management applications.
I recently discovered WP Project Manager, and I really like the direction the plugin has taken. Imagine the power of Basecamp right inside your WordPress dashboard. That means you can keep things centralized inside your WordPress installation. This makes for less visits to a third-party tool, thus saving you time and energy. You can create and assign users to task lists or message them directly. There are a ton of built in features!
Additional add-ons like a Time Tracker, Sub Task Creation, Invoicing, and more are also available.
There is a free version and a pro version which allows for advanced features. Visit the link above to learn more. If you’re looking for a quick project management app, but aren’t quite ready to take the plunge into something like Basecamp, then the WP Project Manager Plugin is for you.
I tried this plugin myself recently, and even went as far as styling what you see in the backend of the plugin to brand it in my own way with CSS. How to do this is beyond the focus of this post, but it’s certainly possible!
CollabPress is a plugin that helps you manage and track different tasks. It uses built in WordPress user accounts, and also features BuddyPress integration.
If by chance you are a freelancer working on a collaborated project, this is a great solution to stay connected with your clients and the other freelancers you are working with. It is also open source, so if you’re a developer you can contribute. There’s currently a repo on github you can fork to make your own customizations.
Trello is a relatively new project management tool from Fog Creek Software. The software is completely free to use. Trello presents content in a different way than most. Tasks for content is housed inside cards which in return are housed inside boards. You can customize names for each thus making any type of project attainable using the software.
A card can contain labels, content, attachments, checklists, as well as custom action capabilities. There are a number of third-party applications that can also be integrated with Trello thanks to their Developer API. Apps such as Dropbox, Box, GitHub, Gmail, Google Calendar, Evernote and many more!
I use Trello fairly often. The interface is easy to navigate and presents you with all the information you need. I like the notifications function, as it’s extremely similar to Twitter when you tag someone.
Orbis was created with WordPress users in mind. The team has taken WordPress and transformed its default environment into a fully operating business tool.
- Super clean design
- Manage projects with ease and keep track of time
- Manage Users and set their roles on your team
- Manage Pages
- Manage Posts
- Extend Orbis with plugins
Orbis is still in development, but it looks like it’s going to be a great new way to keep track of anything related to your business.
Dropbox has changed the way we work. If you work on the web or at a computer, chances are you have already been exposed to Dropbox.
The application takes any files you save to your Dropbox folder and saves them to the cloud, thus giving you access to your files anywhere. On top of cloud access, Dropbox keeps a version history of your files so you no longer have to save files with odd naming conventions like mydocument-v3-final.doc. This old method of versioning is beyond annoying!
Simply save the same file overwriting your progress knowing that you’re safe because you can access previous version of the document if you really have to down the road.
I use Dropbox nearly every day. It makes sharing and saving files so easy. Plans start as low as a 2GB Free package to a Pro package starting for $9.99(USD) a month at 100GB of space (this is configurable). Dropbox also recently introduced Dropbox for business for 5+ users and unlimited space at $15(USD) per user per month.
Google has made doing business easier for nearly any computer user in the world. Google apps give you the power to get work done on your own or in a team setting. Apps from Google include:
The entire suite is free for 30 days and just $5 (USD) per user per month after that. Check out the pricing page for more details.
If superb communication is needed between your client or other freelancers who you are working with, then look no further with Slack. Share files, code, and more between members instantly..
Slack is free with up to a 10,000-message searchable archive and 5 external integrations. From there, the plans get better at just $6.67(USD) per month. Visit the pricing page to learn more.
1Password is an app that remembers your hard-to-remember-passwords (ideally, all of your passwords should be hard to remember, which poses quite a challenge) and information for you. Ever get tired of entering those usernames and passwords on all the websites you have accounts on? 1Password will quickly become your best friend! I use 1Password on a daily basis to not only remember my passwords, but to speed up my workflow as well. There’s nothing more time consuming to me than entering data. 1Password makes this process a breeze.
Install the appropriate browser extension and you’re on your way to an improved and productive experience during your busy day.
Evernote is more than just a note taking application. It’s a workspace to write, find, collect, and present your projects. The application saves all of your notes to the cloud, thus offering the deployment of all of your data to any device you use. Simply download the application, install, and register if you haven’t already.
The basic application is free to all users. There is a premium option for $5(USD)/Month, which gives you access to enhanced search features, offline file access. There is also a Business option for $10 (USD)/mo/user, which allows you to centralize your administration and collaborate with co-workers.
Evernote can be used for just about anything you can think of. Writers, developers, designers, accountants, and more have access to one amazing tool.
Microsoft also offers a platform for organizing thoughts, jotting down ideas, lists, and much more. Think of Onenote as Evernote from Microsoft.
A free month is offered to new users, or you can get the application bundled with an Office Suite subscription. So far the reviews are fair for this app. Give it a try and see what you think.
Todoist is a to-app, and an extremely powerful one at that. With support for many platforms, you can take Todoist anywhere so you always have your to-do list at hand. Tasks on each list can be shared and collaborated on. Users can communicate and achieve more than ever before. The user interface provides a clear and easily-identifiable experience for new users.
Todoist is free to get started, but a pro plan is also available.
Another to-do app is known as teuxduex. This app offers a great interface to help you get organized. Plan ahead by scheduling things in advanced with the calendar view, or create your own column of tasks.
Currently there is a 3 month trial version. To continue using the app after the trial as expired, there is a fee of $3 per month.
Unroll.me is a life saver for anyone looking to optimize their inbox. Have you have had to subscribe to a newsletter or opt in when ordering a product or service online? Chances are you’re still receiving reoccurring emails from these vendors. Unroll.me searches your inbox and finds these newsletters. From there you can add to a section called “rollup” or unsubscribe form the newsletters all together. The emails in the “rollup” are then parsed as a single email which gets delivered to you at once rather than a large amount of emails.
Imagine going through and unsubscribing from all of those newsletters? This app makes that process happen so much faster.
I invite you to give it a try today to optimize your email inbox for the better.
Draft makes writing easier and more secure than ever before. Imagine being able to revert to any previous draft in history. Or imagine being able to collaborate in real time with other writers and authors. Draft gives you these tools and more. The user experience is simple and clean, which allows you to do what you do best, write. Give draft a try. It works for all types of writing, whether it’s a giant to do list or a massive novel.
Knowledge of writing in Markdown is a plus.
Business Related Tools
Mint makes managing your money easy. With a great interface on nearly any device, Mint allows you to view your transactions, spending habits, and connect nearly all of your bank accounts, credit cards, and more to one central location.
Mint is free, which is awesome!
Check is an app that tracks your finances and offers insight based on what it finds. Much like Mint, you can view all of your recent activity on virtually any device. Check goes one step further by offering integrated bill payment support and notifications when bills or payments are due.
Check is also free but comes with fees on some features within the app.
Wave Apps is a great suite of apps for business owners who need an all-in-one solution for their finance. Invoicing, expenses, payroll, and more are all included. This app may be a bit elaborate for a solo freelancer, but you can certainly make use of its powerful features. It is also free which a major plus!
Harvest is a simple time tracking app with some great bonus features. Everything from accounting for expenses, sending invoices, and generating reports is at your fingertips.
Probably most known for its time tracking abilities, Harvest makes it very easy to track your progress on whatever you are working on.
Prices range from free to Business level. View more details.
Ballpark is a no frills invoicing, estimation, time tracking, and data wrangling app perfect for freelancers. The app features PayPal and Stripe integration which offers your clients an easy way to pay you on time every time. Lose the paper with this great app!
I personally use Ballpark. I love it and have tried almost all of the invoicing type of apps out there. Ballpark allows me to work the way I want without getting in the way. Unfortunately, the makers of the app have been focusing their effort on other areas. Currently the app is for sale.
If you’re interested in Ballpark. Get 10% off by visiting this link.
Timely is a time tracking app unlike no other. Rather than tracking time in the moment, users can schedule time in advance to be spent working, attending meetings or whatever it is you need to do to get the job done.
Freelancers can use Timely for free with up to 3 projects. If you need more bandwidth, you can start at $14 per month for unlimited projects.
Being a freelancer doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to the legal side of doing business. Shake is an app that helps you create, sign, and send legal documents to your clients or contracted hires. The user on the other end gets notified via email to sign or read the contracts you send them. They can sign digitally, thus presenting your terms upfront to avoid legal headaches down the road.
Shake simply makes the contracted process easy. I definitely recommend this route for the sake of ease-of-use and fail proof delivery.
Prototyping and Presentation Tools
Invision is an application focused on collaborating, prototyping, and workflow. Users can annotate mockups or prototypes to better communicate areas of improvement. Great features such as comments, drawing capabilities and more make this tool unlike any other. It also is commonly known as a version control application for designers. If you design in photoshop and save a file using Invision’s application, your files will have a history of changes all accessible from within the app. Really cool!
Start for free. Some features required paid support. Find out more.
LayerVault is version control for designers. If you work in applications like Photoshop, Sketch, or Illustrator, you can save your files with ease of mind knowing that each save will be considered a version that you can always access later. This is a great application if you have countless number of PSDS to maintain.
On top of version control, LayerVault offers an awesome way to present work to your clients.
With a minimal interface, it’s easy for your client or co-worker to focus in on the work you are presenting. Users can view full sized mockups which you can author with comments to better convey your message along with the design.
Marvel is a free prototyping application that turns your ideas into fully interactive prototypes. You can design for nearly any interface, be it a website or mobile app. Take a group of images and iterate through them with amazing animations built right into the marvel app.
The app also integrates directly with Dropbox or Google Drive so you can have immediate access to your prototyped images rather than having to always upload them manually.
Customer Acquisition Tools
Being the most used web platform in the world is no easy feat, but WordPress has managed to reign supreme. WordPress is so powerful that it deserves a number of blog posts in itself, many of which you can read on our blog. It goes without saying that if you are a WordPress freelancer, you are already familiar with this great software and what it can do for both you and your customers.
Mailchimp has redefined the email experience for the millions of users it serves daily. Mailchimp allows for delivering email campaigns to your user base or your clients. You can easily integrate it with WordPress and a large number of other platforms due to their API.
Mailchimp is free until you get a large number of followers. Definitely consider it when thinking of the marketing side of your business.
AWeber is a great email marking application similar to Mailchimp. With over 600 responsive email templates to choose from and amazing built in features AWeber makes marketing easy. If you are looking for a theme with easy Awebber integration, be sure to check out our Divi theme.
Google Analytics is a great way to gain insight about your or your client’s user base. Find out who views your website as well as the pages they view, offering insight into what you can do to improve their experience. Google Analytics gives you access to a lot of information about your users, such as their location, the type of browser they are using, the type of operating system they are using, the amount of time they spent on your site and so much more. Take advantage of the power that Google Analytics offers today! After all it’s free 🙂
Buffer is an app for social media junkies who want to schedule their posts rather than post on the spot each and every time. Customizable time slots and accounts can be configured within the buffer interface. The app has just released a great update which now allows the user of a native application on your desktop, your phone, or your tablet.
Buffer is free to use but there are advanced features you can pay for. View pricing and features.
It goes without saying that social media is huge in this day and age. To communicate with your audience and hopefully open more doors for your freelance business, you need to take advantage of the free and easy to use social media tools available. There are plenty of apps out there than offer integration with the social media networks themselves so I won’t go into detail in helping you choose those.
Becoming active on social media networks is a great asset to your buskness. If you are not already on the sites below, I suggest you consider joining up sooner than later.
The links above probably look familiar. I would suggest creating pages or business related accounts on each rather than personal accounts. This allows you to separate work from personal matters, but don’t abandon your personal identity targeting your user base. People want to hear from people not people who sound like robots!
Staying up to date on anything pertaining to the web is crucial for any WordPress freelancer. Knowing your audience and your tools will help you gain the knowledge needed to succeed. Below are a list of feeds I find myself visiting often. This list isn’t comprehensive, I’m more or less just sharing my own experiences here. Feel free to share your own in the comments.
Designer News is the place for designers to meet and discus news pertaining to design. A lot of times you get the first look at new apps coming on the market, or new ideas that have been shared. I find this news feed extremely useful because it helps me stay up to date on all things design that are crucial for me as a web designer.
If you’re more of a programmer, then Hacker news may appeal to you. Here you can uncover news for software and application development. Some of the stuff is really advanced, but can be useful if it applies to you.
Sidebar.io is a great news feed for designers and developers alike. Gain insight on news, tips, tricks, redesigns, and get advice from the community.
Product hunt gives you access to the newest and best apps out there. You can get notification delivered to your email as updates are made.
Alltop gives you access to the top WordPress related news and blogs including ours 🙂
Check back often to see a frequently updated list.
Well there you have it. One big list of tools freelancers should not live without. I wouldn’t suggest using absolutely every one of the tools I have listed here. You won’t require them all.
Do some research, find what works for you, and then start small. Chances are, you are already using some of the tools mentioned.
Feel free to share other tools you use that I did not cover above in the comments. I would love to hear about the types of tools you use for your business 🙂
Article thumbnail image via shutterstock author venimo