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Freelancers should keep it simple

My first rule is to keep it simple. I use the fewest tools and services possible. I do this for two reasons.

  1. Expense – This is just good business. We are in business for profit. The difference between what we spend every month and what we make is called profit. Spending less equates to more profit.
  2. Productivity – While having many choices may be a great at the dinner table, it’s a distraction when trying to get a job quoted, working and completed. Pick your tools carefully and plan to use them in your workflow.

My freelancing work toolbox

In no real order: (NO affiliate links included)

MacBook Pro 13” Retina – 2015 model – 16GB, 128GB SSD

iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, Notability – It’s where my handwritten notes from client calls go. The notes sync to Google Drive.

G Suite Business – Flexible Plan – 1 User $10/mth.

Ulysses Writing App $40/yr. – Used for blogging and writing in Markdown. Not to be confused with Google Docs

Google Docs (part of G Suite for Business) – Proposals, project documentation. I have two templates that I reuse for everything.

Google Chrome for most browsing and web work.

Safari and Firefox for testing and troubleshooting. I’m always amazed by how many times something JUST won’t work right in Chrome but does in FF or Safari.

Spare Windows PC – To remote into for testing and the very odd and occasional time that I need Windows.

2 28” Monitors – Maybe overkill but I’ve been using them for years.

Grammarly – The free version. Helps with your grammar when writing. Just began support Google Docs.

LastPass – The free version. Secure your password with easy access. – Cross-platform and mobile versions.

Skitch – Free (for Evernote – Free version) – I don’t use Evernote except for Skitch.

Cloud App (screen and video capture) – I have the pro version, purchased via an App Sumo deal. I use this constantly to create explainer videos. A priceless timesaver.

Pilvia – I put dev sites here for free and point clients to them. Simple. I use templates for this so turning up a ready-made WP site takes minutes.

Cloudways – My goto hosting provider for VPS. Can’t beat the performance, stability or the price.

Upwork – I have the Upwork app open on my Mac and my phone.

MailChimp – Mostly for client campaigns

Notion.so – $5/mth. This is my go-to note-taking and all in one app for my custom CRM, Client notes, databases, todos, etc. Cross-platform. Free version available but limited by the number of Blocks (data) you can store.

Pixelmator – Image Editing – I don’t use the Adobe Cloud. When I was spending $54/mth for Adobe (because that’s what you HAD to have), I could NOT wait for the subscription to end. They actually hold you captive or you have to pay to get out of your contract. Adobe is great software but expensive an not really required to get started. Pixelmator is for Mac and has a trial version

ImageOptim – Free image compression app – very quick and configurable. If there was a paid or pro version, I’d buy it. (Mac and Linux only).

I also use the standard suite of apps and web tools for speed testing, load testing, Analytics, Search Console, etc.

To wrap up

That is my list. You can see it’s focused mainly on free tools and utilities but, when the added productivity justifies the expense, I’m quick to whip out the debit card and get the app.

Please, share your apps in the comment section. I’d like to know of any gems I’m missing out on. Especially productivity or time-saving apps.