For the past few years, I have run my freelance video production business, Helkey Media LLC shooting videos for clients all over the country. When I started out, I got overwhelmed with all the administrative tasks that come with operating a business.
Invoices, keeping the books for taxes, sending and signing contracts, etc. can become very tedious and time-consuming. All these tasks were time away from actually creating videos for my clients. I tried a bunch of tools to attempt to help me manage all my tasks and found through trial and error a set of them that I love and thought I would share them with you.
This post is a list of 7 resources that I wish I had known about when starting out.
Having a contract for the jobs, I do with clients is essential both to protect myself and also to make sure all parties are clear on exactly what services will be performed and how much everything will cost. PandaDoc lets me create a contract right inside their online web builder and get the contracts sent out and signed digitally and quickly. For similar jobs, I create a template so I can have alike contracts created very easily.
Everyone loves getting paid! Wave invoice is a completely free online invoicing and accounting app. When it is time for my client to pay me, I send them and invoice. If the client wants to pay online, they can, and the money gets sent straight to my bank with a small transaction fee. I have most of my clients pay through checks, so I don't have to worry about this fee. What is awesome about wave invoice is that it also keeps accounting records so I can track how much money I bring in each month and watch for trends. I can also go back and see the breakdown of how much money I have made in total from each client. It has a ton of features such as a dashboard that reminds you when an invoice is not paid on time.
Taxes was one thing that was a huge stressor when starting out. I had no clue how to keep track of everything and what to do. It was a mess. Quickbooks self-employed was the tool that changed everything for me. It syncs with my bank account and credit and debit cards and lets me categorizes all my business expenses in the correct tax deductible categories. The different categories are explained simply, and there is a beneficial help section if anything is unclear. One significant feature is it tells you how much to pay for each quarterly estimated taxes. It also syncs with TurboTax for easy filing at the end of the year. It’s amazing!
I do a ton of driving for work, and this excellent app automatically tracks each drive well running in the background on my phone. I then can swipe right for business or left for personal drives to quickly categorize each. If I don't want to categorize on my phone, I can log into the very well-organized web app and categorize my drives there. For any freelancer that does a lot of driving for work, this app can be a huge game-changer! At the end of each month, I input my total business driving distance into my Quickbooks account so that my driving deductions can sync with my other info in Quickbooks.
Boomerang for Gmail
Boomerang is a fantastic Gmail plugin that I use for almost every important email I send! It can remind me if I don't hear back from an email I send. For example, if I send a client an email asking them an important question that I need to hear back about I can set it to bounce back to me the next morning if I don't hear back. This is extremely helpful as it lets me not have to worry about remembering to follow up on emails I send and keeps me organized and on top of everything! This plug-in is incredible.
Streak for Gmail
Streak is another amazing Gmail plugin. It has a ton of features however I use it for its email tracking feature. I can see exactly when a person opens up an email I send which can be very helpful when I need to make sure an email gets to someone or if I'm following up on a marketing lead. With this plugin, I will know if my emails are opened or not.
This is my go to To to-do app so I can remember everything I need to do. It's super clean, has a bunch of features, and also has a mobile app that works very well. This gives me the peace of mind to make sure that I'm reminded when something's due and keeps me on top of everything! Highly recommend.
These are some amazing tools that I use all the time. Keep in mind that different people work differently and that even though these tools work very well for me, they might not be the right fit for you. I always like to learn about what different tools creatives are using for their business as it gives me ideas for myself. Let me know in the comments if you have any awesome tool recommendations.
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