5 Tech Startups that Help Freelancers, for Free
Startups are great, particularly when:
- They are free or freemium.
- They have easy-to-use products.
- They help you deal with daunting business tasks that make you lose valuable time you should be spending doing “real” work.
Here are five internet startups who can be really handy for creative freelancers, and whose core service is absolutely free of charge.
1. When you have to find a new freelance project: Working-Not-Working
There are a lot of marketplaces for freelancers, and they all have pros and cons. Working-Not-Working is a new network for designers and freelance creatives to get new gigs without having to scour hundred of job posting or cheapen your brand in generic freelance sites.
Created by Justin Gignac, art director, it is a platform where you can quickly build your profile, and specify your availability: are you working or not working? Do you have time to start a new project? WNW does a great job in populating the site with quality creative companies that need freelance talent, like Ogilvy, Mullen and Etsy.
The best part is it that the hiring managers pay a monthly subscription for taking a peak at you, making this the most freelancer-friendly job board out there. The only catch is the invite-only policy, but you can apply on the site.
2. When you have to sign a contract: Docracy
Docracy is a pretty useful idea: a free and open source library of contract templates. This is particularly great for bootstrapped freelancers who cannot afford a lawyer but still need basic legal protection. You can search for the document you need, be it a consulting or a design agreement, or you can start with the curated Freelancer Bundle in the homepage.
What’s nice about this site is that you can see not only who wrote the document, but also how many times it has been downloaded or used by others and what changed between versions. They also have an e-signing feature, so you can even send a contract to your client directly from the site and get it signed, privately and free of charge. So, time to apply the principles of 8 Contract Clauses You Should Never Freelance Without with the help of a contract template!
Full disclosure: I’m in charge of content at Docracy. My job is to curate all the documents that come to the website. For example, I handpicked a set of useful templates for freelancers that you can customize and re-use for your business needs.
3. When you need to bill you client: Billable
Billable.Me is a minimalist invoice application. Completely and absolutely free, it allows you to create and download an invoice in seconds. You don’t even have to create an account. This nifty web app was created by two folks who “didn’t like invoicing and couldn’t find anyone who did… Billable is currently in beta and we’ve got a lot of plans for the future. We’re doing this for the creators, for the people who are trying to make something great, but have to pay for noodles in the meantime.”
It is also mobile optimized, so it is great for hassle-free, on-the-go invoicing (before you forget!) Upcoming features include personalized logo and accounts.
4. When you need to get paid: ZenCash
ZenCash, instead, is service for when the invoices have been duly sent, but, sadly, you haven’t been paid. If you are a freelancer, it probably happened to you, too. And it’s an uncomfortable situation, because you don’t want to push hard on a client and ruin a business relationship, but you also need to get what you are owed. ZenCash helps you out by being your automated “receivable machine”.
They will send automatic reminders to clients for overdue invoices. This is good not just because you don’t have to think about it, but also because ZenCash acts like a third party service and politely (but firmly) addresses your clients without making you look like a collection agency. Then, when things go really bad, they actually call a real collection agency for you — but you don’t pay a cent before that moment!
5. When you need to get things done: Trello
Trello is a very flexible to-do list and project management tool. With its skeuomorphic, web-based interface that resembles a neat set of cards stacked in lists, it definitely stands out from the competition. They recently added a bunch of collaboration features, mobile app, but most importantly it is still completely free.
They say that “everything that’s free today will be free tomorrow and forever”, which sounds awesome. Trello is great for monitoring projects, breaking down tasks and being productive in an enjoyable and modern way. It works great for solo project as well as for teams, and you can share your Trello Boards even with people not on the service, which can be a nice way to communicate your progress to clients.
What Free or Freemium Services Do You Use?
These startups are awesome because they provide free (or freemium) and useful services to creative professionals, but there are probably many more out there. Which ones do you love? Share your tech resources in the comments!