20 top tools for freelancers

Freelancing looks idyllic from the outside. Working with the best clients, choosing fun projects, determining your own hours and working from home or wherever you like. But there’s a lot that happens under the hood to keep the momentum going.

Doing the actual freelance work for your clients never takes up 100 per cent of your time. Soon you’ll be swamped with paperwork and admin – writing proposals, drawing up contracts, sending invoices, writing down tasks and managing your workflow.

To accommodate that, we’ve seen an abundance of tools spring into the market to assist freelancers. You can now write proposals and send them directly to the client without ever opening up your email. Instantly glance at your revenue for the month and compare it to last year’s. Check how much time you spent on that new project last week.

To help find the best, I’ve broken down the tools into the following categories: proposals, finance, legal, time management, workflow and bonus tools. Use the drop-down menu above to find the page you want.

Proposal tools

Let’s begin with proposal tools. The value of a great proposal shouldn't be underestimated – they can be the key to winning or losing a project. These tools aim to make things simpler by providing templates and customisation features. Many also enable you to send the proposal smoothly to the client and track its progress.

01. Prospero 

This stripped-back proposal tool will also help you price your project

Prospero not only helps you create a proposal but also helps you price the project. There are no dashboards or even account settings – its strength lies in helping you create a proposal, rather than just letting you fly blind. It promises 'More client, more money, less headache'.

When you create a proposal, Prospero asks you some brief questions, such as your rate, the time it will take you to complete the project, and the type of work you're doing (Prospero covers print and branding proposals as well as web and app design). It then smartly generates a proposal based on your answers, which you can edit. 

There's no design customisation (only text editing options), but the default design isn't bad. When you're finished with the proposal, you can download it as a PDF or send it directly to the client. It costs $20 per signed proposal on the Pay As You Go plan or $25 per month for unlimited proposals.

02. Nusii 

The proposal editing in this tool is attractive and simple, and once completed you can send it straight to the client

Nusii's dashboard not only lets you create proposals, it also lets you glance over your sales revenue or proposal acceptance rate. It uses the available data in a useful way so you can keep track of how proposals are progressing. The 'send to client' experience is smooth, and you're notified when a client views it.

The proposal editing process in Nusii is attractive and simple. However, visual customisation is limited and you can't insert tables – an odd decision considering freelancers often like to include a breakdown of deliverables and expenses in a table. A nice touch is that the tool supports a range of currencies and languages, so you can use it almost anywhere. It costs from $29 per month.

03. Proposify 

Select a proposal template to get started with this WYSIWYG option

A true WYSIWYG tool, Proposify comes with a range of templates. Though pretty bland, the templates give you a nice place to start if you're new to writing proposals, and the editor includes a range of customisable features (and even some basic drawing tools). However, it is quite like a word processor – you don't get that beautiful proposal writing experience.

Priced from $40 per month, One of the benefits of Proposify is that you can embed videos and images. It also lets you create content snippets to drop into your proposals and reuse, which is a great time saver.

Next page: Finance and legal tools for freelancers