Freelancing. It’s something most people in the knowledge economy have thought of at some point in their careers. When you spend your days fighting traffic just to get to a manic office, before fighting your way through traffic to get home again eight hours later, it’s a lifestyle that seems really appealing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to set their own hours and, should they so choose, work in their pyjamas?
And how hard could it be to make the big leap once you’ve set your mind to it? All you need is a laptop and a decent internet connection right? Well, that’s not a bad place to start, but there’s plenty of other technologies that will go a long way to making your life as a freelancer a whole lot easier.
Here are a few of them:
Part of the appeal of freelancing is that you can work from anywhere. Thing is, if you need to be online to do your job properly, you’ll quickly find that “anywhere” actually means “home, or whatever coffee shop will tolerate you hanging around for hours at a time”.
Sure you could tether your laptop to your mobile phone, but in many countries that gets very expensive very quickly.
The right MiFi deal, by contrast, can be incredibly cost-effective and give you connectivity across all your devices.
Most importantly though, it means you really can work from anywhere, as long as there’s mobile signal.
MiFi devices are particularly good for anyone who wants to build a freelance career while traveling around a country.
One thing you’ll find as a freelancer on the move is that the battery on one of your devices will die when you least need it to. You might be in the middle of a presentation, or finally hitting a good workflow after hours and hours of procrastination.
Fortunately, having a power bank means you never have to experience that pain (as long as you remember to keep the power bank).
You can pick up the kind of power banks designed for smartphones and other mobile devices reasonably affordably, but if you’re spending a lot of time between meetings, you’re probably better off getting one that can charge your laptop too.
Invoicing software (or a cloud-based equivalent)
One of the things people tend to forget about when they start on their freelancing journey is that it comes with a lot of extra admin.
Let’s take invoicing for example. When you’re a salaried employee, the company takes care of billing clients. But when you’re on your own, it’s all on you.
And unless you enjoy admin (hint: most freelancers don’t), it’s worth investing in software or subscribing to a service that makes invoicing – and filing invoices – simple.
If we were to lean to one side, we’d suggest a cloud-based solution, if only because it means you won’t lose everything if your hard drive crashes.
A virtual tax assistant
If you hate doing your taxes as a salaried employee, you probably won’t be pleased to hear that it’s generally even less pleasant when you’re a freelancer.
Remember, you’re effectively a one-person business and that comes with a whole host of its own complications.
Fortunately, there are a whole host of online tax assistants (such as South Africa’s TaxTim) to help you out.
You may have to pay a little to use them, but the best ones will save you serious time and money in the long run.
An external hard drive
Even if you save everything to the cloud, it’s worth having backups that you have total control over.
Are you a freelancer? What technologies do you consider indispensable? Let us know in the comments section below.