“Are you available for a Skype call?”
“Can you submit your article in WordPress?”
“Please send your invoice through Freshbooks.”
These are only a few examples of instructions from clients that might leave you a bit confused, especially if you’ve never used these apps before.
What’s a freelancer to do? Learn fast.
If you’re a smart freelancer, then you know that staying ahead of the game involves adaptability and an open mind to new concepts, including online tools that clients ask you to use.
If technology scares you, then freelancing won’t be an enjoyable experience for you. Clients may have second thoughts about keeping someone who still uses fax or snail mail to send their work. But don’t worry — you don’t have to be a computer geek to learn how to use technology to your advantage. The only requirement is a willingness to learn.
So what exactly does a freelancer need to learn about the technical aspect of running a business?
Here are a few of the most common ones:
1. Content Management Systems
A Content Management System (CMS) is a web-based software that manages content for a website or blog. A popular and widely used CMS is WordPress. Over 60 million websites have used WordPress to publish content on the web.
If you’re a freelance writer or photographer, you need to have some knowledge of how WordPress works. There’s a great chance that a future client may need you to submit your articles or photos in WordPress, so it’s absolutely a must to at least know the basic functions of this tool.
There are lots of free resources online for learning the basics of WordPress, starting with the Support section of the WordPress website itself. You can also visit WP Beginner and WP101 for more useful tutorials and how-to guides. If you want more detailed walk-throughs, you can search YouTube for tutorials from web developers and designers who build websites with WordPress for a living.
2. Social Media
Using social media for business requires more focus and dedication than managing a personal account. An active social media profile used solely for your freelance business means you’re serious about your work and you take the time to share it with others.
Freelancers are expected to have a social media presence. In some cases, the number of followers you have is the key to landing a gig on top of your basic qualifications. A social community ensures clients that you are capable of building relationships online and that you understand the power of social media.
Social media tools like Hootsuite and Buffer help you schedule your posts and add all of your accounts in one place. These apps are essential if you want to grow a social media following and be more visible to prospective clients.
3. Invoicing apps
Are you still sending paper invoices to clients? Stop.
It’s 2015 and there are more than enough invoicing tools available online.
Clients are busy individuals, so you want to make their tasks easier, especially when paying you. Having a streamlined invoicing process not only makes it easier for both you and your client, it also makes you look professional and organized.
Invoicing apps like Freshbooks and Invoiceable help you create invoices in less time than it would take you to make one from scratch. Invoiceable is free while Freshbooks allow a 30-day trial after which a subscription plan is required (starting at $9.95 a month).
These apps also track your income, generate reports and link payment methods like Stripe and PayPal, which is a lot of functionality when contrasted against the average paper invoice.
4. Apps for collaboration
Let’s say you want your client’s opinion on your proposed web design. How do you show it to them and get immediate feedback?
Again, the Internet plays an important part.
You’ve probably come across one of these apps during your stint with a client, but if you haven’t, get acquainted with their functions. Pick one app, create an account and see how it works. Most of these apps will have a tutorial as soon as you sign up, so pay attention to that.
5. Apps for Internet calls
Some employers require an interview through a video call, so it’s important that you know the technical aspects of being in one. You need to master this part so you can concentrate on acing the interview itself.
If you’ve ever video chatted with a friend on your smart phone, then you’ll have no problems going on a Skype call with a client.
But if you’ve never used one before, get the app and have a trial run. Ask a friend who has the same app to try it with you.
You need a web camera, a set of speakers and microphone to make and take Internet calls, so be ready with these. Treat the call like a face-to-face interview, so dress up and look your best. It’s also best to take the call on your laptop or desktop computer and not your phone.
Learn as you go
Technology can be your most helpful and reliable ally when growing a freelancing career. If you’re not confident with a particular tool, it’s okay to let your client know that you’ve never used it before, but assure them that you will take the time to learn the basics and go from there.
Learning these online tools will reward you in the long run. You’ll be more confident in your work, gain your client’s trust and be one of the most valuable freelancers in your field.
Is there an online tool that you want to learn or have learned recently? Share them in the comments!
Featured photo credit: Mans Hands Typing On Laptop With Smartphone, Book And Coffee via stokpic.com