When I first started Wayfarer, I was about as clueless as a person could be about how to run a business. I’m also just a naturally unorganized person, so figuring out how to wear all the hats that come with being an entrepreneur was an ugly process. But after spending nearly 2 years of googling everything under the sun, I feel like I’ve gathered some tools and resources that are 01. super efficient and 02. super affordable, so I wanted to share them with you today!
Adobe Creative Cloud – I mainly use InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and XD ($52.99 USD / month)
ProCreate for iPad – Since we travel so much, I do nearly all of my sketching and hand lettering with this app. It’s so great and you don’t need an iPad Pro or and Apple Pencil for it. I have a refurbished iPad Air and a crappy stylus and it all works just fine. ($9.99 USD)
Brackets – I use this to do all of my coding. I especially love the split screen view! (Free)
Adobe XD – I used to create website mockups in Adobe Illustrator, but lately I’ve been trying out this new program and love it! It’s specifically for web design and allows you to create interactive prototypes that can be shown to clients via live temporary urls. ($52.99 USD / month with Adobe CC subscription)
Understrap – If you use the Bootstrap framework while building websites for WordPress, this is a really useful tool to speed up your process. It’s a WordPress starter theme with Bootstrap 4 already built in and it’s saved me a ton of time. (Free)
CyberDuck – This is my go-to FTP client for working on client’s websites. (Free)
Slickplan – Getting content from clients for their website can be so tough. I found Slickplan a few months ago and I was so impressed at how much easier it made gathering content. It let’s both me and my client create sitemaps for their website and then add all the content for each page. The client can upload text, images, videos, whatever they want and separate it all into different sections, which makes the design process of the site so much easier for me since everything is uploaded and organized in one place. ($8.99 – 89.99 USD / month)
Typecast – I love using this website to test out typography for websites! It’s really useful to see how things look before coding them and the best part is that you can pick all the fonts you want (it syncs with Google Fonts, Typekit, etc), style everything and then export the css! Such a time-saver! (Free)
Asana – I’ve tried a few different project management programs, but Asana has always been my favorite because it’s so well-designed and easy to use. I interact with all of my clients through Asana, setting up the entire project in tasks, giving due dates for each step, and making it easy to clients to give me feedback. Maybe one day I’ll do an entire blog post that shows how I set up my projects. There is a paid version of Asana, but it’s more for large agencies and definitely isn’t necessary for freelancers. (Free)
Calendly – After 2 years of living abroad, I still get my timezones mixed up. Not gonna lie, I missed a couple of meetings during our first few months in Australia because I didn’t do the math right to figure out the time difference. So to avoid having to count hours every again, I use this app to schedule everything now. It lets me set my hours in my timezone and clients can then pick a time from those hours, but in their timezone. It takes away a lot of confusion and even though their is a paid version that has a few more features, I’ve never needed anything more than the free version. (Free)
Accounting, Invoicing + Contracts
Hello Bonsai – When I first started freelancing, I tried out a lot of different invoicing systems. There are just so many out there and I really didn’t know which was best, so I wanted to try them all myself. Hello Bonsai was one of the very first that I tried out and I kept coming back to it again and again and it’s only gotten better. It was created specifically for creative freelancers to keep their contracts and invoicing all in one place. They have pre-written contracts for different types of projects (design, development, photography, writing, etc.) which was huge for me because I had no idea what to put in my contract when I first started. You can start with a pre-written contract and add to it whatever you want. Clients can sign contracts online and Bonsai automatically creates your invoices for you and sends them out. You can also send out proposals before the contract for the client to approve, which I use a lot as well. There’s also a time tracking tool and automatically add those hours to the final bill. Seriously, it’s such a great tool and they keep adding more great stuff to it. ($19 USD / month)
QuickBooks for Self-Employed – I’m not a money person, so this tool has been really helpful to me to get my finances in order without really having to think about it too much. It syncs with my bank account to track all the money going in and out, then puts it in a report that I hand over to my accountant. I also really like how it estimates how much I’ll need to pay in taxes, both annually and quarterly. If you dread thinking about money as much as I do, this is a lifesaver!
Education + Inspiration
Team Treehouse – I taught myself how to develop websites in WordPress during my first few months of freelancing with this website. It’s a great resource to learn anything about coding and the best part is that you can pause your subscription, so if you’re done learning about a certain thing, just pause it until there’s something else you want to learn. ($25 USD / month)
Codecademy – Another great website to learn code. We used this when I was in college and it was super helpful to learn some of the basics. (Free)
Yoga with Adriene – My go-to for yoga! She has so many different types of classes and I love how well she guides you through everything. (free)
Barre Body – If you can’t make it to a barre class in person, these ladies have created a really great collection of online classes that are perfect to do at home. I used it for a few months and loved it! ($25 AUD / month)
Stand Up! – I don’t know about you, but I have the worst time remembering to get up and take breaks while I’m working. But lately I’ve been trying out this app and I’m really liking it so far! You can set what hours you’ll be working, how often you want to take breaks, and it will buzz throughout the day telling you when to get up and when you can get back to work. It’s a nice little push that I desperately need to no sit in front of the computer all day. (Free)
Headspace – I’m still figuring out meditation, but this little app has been a nice way to ease into it. I like to use it during the morning before starting work on days that I know are going to be super stressful so that my head is in a good place before I start anything. (Free trial or $7.99-12.99 USD / month)
And there you have it! These are all of the things that I’ve used, loved and think are worthwhile for any freelancer. Some of them I found early on, some of them it took me about 2 years to discover, which is exactly why I wanted to share them! Hopefully there’s something in this list that you haven’t heard of before and will be useful to you. And if there are any great tools or resources that you stand by, I’d love to hear about them!