8 essential tools I use in my freelance design business

Freelance design business tools | Kylie Garner, Kreatology

It is not easy putting yourself out there as a freelancer. Whether you’re a designer, developer, marketing consultant or even a photographer it is hard taking your passion and turning it into a profitable business.

And sometimes “pros” within these industries can be really unkind to those just starting out. And I get it. I really do. But it is very easy to forget that we all had to start somewhere.

So I would like to put myself out there in helping others on their freelancing journey. I want you to be a success and rock your freelance business. I am an open book. Ask me anything and I will do my best to answer what I can.

I am by no means an expert nor claim to have my business all sorted. It’s actually in a constant state of evolution. But I can share with you what works for me and my lessons learned along the way.

Let’s kick things off with a question I often get asked – what tools do I use for my freelance design business? I have tried and tested a ton of applications, tools and systems over the years. But these are the business tools I currently use to keep myself organised and get things done.

17” Macbook Pro

My Macbook Pro is a point of contention in my household. The hubby is a PC guy through and through. Up until a few years ago I was too – until I jumped ship and never looked back.

I don’t really buy into the PC v Mac debate. I think its a personal choice and what is the best fit for your business and personal needs. So here is why I love my Mac. I find the Mac platform intuitive, beautifully simple and appeals to my design sensibilities. I believe Mac developers put as much thought into the design of their software as they do the functionality.

From a productivity point of view, I have significantly cut the time spent troubleshooting browser compatibility issues when designing websites. Developing for Safari seems to produce much less issues, if any, as when I designed for Internet Explorer primarily.

What can I say? I love my Mac.

Studiometry {$US199.95}

Studiometry is my business management tool and the nerve centre of my freelance design and marketing business. It tracks all my projects from start to finish including client management, quotes, tasks, time, expenses, invoicing and payments.

While it can be a little complicated to use initially, it is an extremely flexible tool and customisable to suit my various products and services.

Google Apps {$US50 per user, per year}

Google Apps is a cloud-based email hosting and productivity suite offering 30gb of email and document storage. What I love most about my Google Apps setup is that it automatically syncs with every device I own – Macbook Pro, iPhone, iPad – and also accessible via a web based interface. So no matter where I am in the world, what device or platform I am using, I can can access my email, calendar and documents anywhere anytime.

Dropbox {Free]

Dropbox is a cloud based document storage system that seamlessly integrates with my computer’s file system allowing me to continue using the software and file types that I know and love. The documents are accessible anytime, anywhere and on any device. If the file was moved or modified, the changes sync on every device. All documents are secure, but I can also share documents or make them public for easy collaboration with clients.

Skype {Free}

While I love the convenience of email, I much prefer to talk to my clients face to face so I can get a feel for who they are and their businesses. Sometimes this isn’t always possible if they are located interstate or overseas. And that is where Skype comes in!

Wunderlist {Free}

Any tool that keeps me organised and gives me clarity is a winner to me. I am a bit of Getting Things Done (GTD) addict and if you haven’t heard of it before, check out Zen Habits “Beginners Guide to GTD”. Wunderlist allows me to setup my GTD task lists and manage both business and personal life in one single task management tool.

Evernote {Free}

Can’t tell you how much I love this tool. Everything I need to remember is stored in Evernote, which is then accessible anywhere, anytime and on any device. It is the place I store all my code snippets for easy access on web projects and also a place to collect beautiful examples of design from across the web when I need a little design inspiration.

Hootsuite {Free}

I have a love hate relationship with Hootsuite. With the myriad of social media accounts I manage, I am on the hunt for one tool to rule them all. Hootsuite suite does allow me to do this, but it’s user interface is incredibly clunky and just plain ugly. Unfortunately I am yet to find an alternative that doesn’t cost a fortune per month.

I am always on the lookout for new tools and I would love to hear from you – what tools do you find invaluable for your freelance business?