How To Choose Your Tools

Tools are important. They help you streamline, automate & refine your process. I love tools. Especially online tools (I do run an online business afterall). I even have an entire course on how to use online tools to go pro in your business, stress less in your day-to-day life and give your clients an experience that’ll turn them into referral machines.

You’ll be a much happier business owner if you use tools.

How to choose your freelance tools.

There is one problem with tools.

I see people getting stuck, everyday.

Stuck choosing.

There are so many options for every step of your freelance process.

For contact forms (hello Typeform, Gravity Forms, Jotform, Google Forms, Wufoo Forms…)

For scheduling software (hey Calendly, Timetrade, Acuity, Satori, Simply Book…)

For project management (Basecamp, Redbooth, DuetApp, Pancake, )

For invoicing (Harvest, Freshbooks, Motiv, 17hats, Outright, Wave, Paypal…)

BONUS: Grab the Freelance Process Cheat Sheet to learn the 6 steps in your process you MUST automate and the tools to use to do so. Get it FREE!

The list goes on and on but I’ll stop there for now.

Here’s the deal…

No one tool will solve all your problems.

There are pros and cons to EVERY tool.

And wasting time not putting your process together because you don’t know what tools to choose….well, to state the obvious, is a waste of time.

Time you could be spending refining your craft, reaching more people through your marketing, treating your clients like royalty so they become your biggest fans…doing the work you got in this business to do in the first place.

Here’s the thing about online tools:

  • Your life will be better with them
  • They’ll help you get rid of the email madness
  • They’ll make working with you as a client a lot easier
  • They’ll allow you to spend more time on the important stuff

But you can’t forget:

  • The tools will change
  • You will change, and therefore your business needs as well
  • There’ll always be more tools invented
  • Tools are supposed to help you, not hinder you

So just choose

How? Simple.

Take some time to research your options, write down what you do in each step of a client project, signup for free trials and cross-check the features with your needs, give yourself no more than a week to decide….

and just choose!

As I said above, no tool will be perfect and your needs will change over time.

Stick to your choice for awhile, get back to doing the work you love most (which I’m willing to bet isn’t testing and choosing tools), create a google doc to note features you are missing that you’d love to have, and come back to reevaluate at a later date.

 

Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis is the founder of The Freelance To Freedom Project and a web designer/developer for brilliant entrepreneurs. When she’s not hanging out in the FTF Community, you can find her people watching on the streets of NYC. Come say hi on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

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FREE FREELANCE PROCESS CHEAT SHEET
The 6 steps of your process you need to automate and the tools to use to do so.

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{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Thanks Leah — from someone who is currently on a self-imposed hiatus from downloading and trying the latest app, this post is super helpful and offers great advice when someone is stuck making a decision.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Self-imposed hiatus! Now THAT is a great idea! Thank you for sharing as I’m sure a few other readers will realize they need one too 🙂

  • As you know Leah – I love tools!
    However, I agree with you 100% when you say that it should not distract you from your priorities. Tools are there to help you save time, help your business progress, get organized, and help you effectively communicate to your clients. 🙂

  • Ah! You forgot the best project management tool out there – Asana! 😉 In all seriousness, great article. When I started my business, I spent so much time switching around from Redbooth to Todoist to Wunderlist to Trello until I forced myself to choose. I love the tip about using a Google doc to note missing features and will definitely be using that more often.

  • Busted! Guilty as charged – lol! I’ve lived and learned and been in the research vortex a time or two. Not that all of these things aren’t important but you can get stuck trying to choose. Thanks for the reminder to just keep swimming
    ( said in my Dora voice) 🙂

  • You’re so right on Leah! I think we all have to remember to stop listening to the noise and just go with our gut. Sounds weird, but I go on instinct when deciding. It all comes down to what “feels” right.

    Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  • Sage advice, its definitely just another thing I do to procrastinate and spend way yoo long deliberating between options. Thanks for sharing.

  • YES! OMG – I been guilty of getting lost for HOURS with this kinda stuff. I’ve realised that the more tool and systems I put in place, the more overwhelmed I feel. Of course, there are some essentials that make a big difference as a freelancer, but whenever I get into system/tool overload, I know there’s a bigger problem that I’m avoiding!

    Vari x

  • Nikki

    Thanks for this reminder, Leah! I have given myself a deadline… I will have all my essential tools/apps decided on by the end of this month (November). After making the decision to move my business online, I have spent countless hours doing the research (and lots of going in circles). While I know it has been necessary, I am going to be ecstatic when I have it all locked in place! Then, I hope to have a full year of using what I have chosen before I do any more looking!

    I am so thankful that I took your SL&I course, and that I’ve had several of you to ask questions of during my learning process… it’s a lot to take in! I can’t WAIT to be done and move on with doing what I love! Thanks again Leah et al, much appreciated!

    p.s. you could have a Pinnable graphic that says “Just Choose!” with your SL&I link 😉

  • One of my favorite and most important criteria for tools is, is this tool free, libre and open source? (Free as in freedom, not price – though free as in price helps too.)

    Here’s an article by Richard Stallman about free/libre/open source software and why it’s so much better than closed source software and software-as-a-service.

    http://www.wired.com/2013/09/why-free-software-is-more-important-now-than-ever-before/

    I _love_ having total control over the software and devices I use, and being able to customize them to do exactly what I want. (Or at least, theoretically being able to. Often I don’t – or don’t yet – have the technical ability to implement exactly what I want.)

    Ironically, I do still use Gmail, among other closed source and software-as-a-service things. Even I sometimes opt for convenience over freedom. Or practicality over freedom – since sometimes libre alternatives to closed source things just aren’t yet adequate for what I need to do.

    But at least free (as in freedom)/libre/open source things are always _potentially_ perfect for my needs, since, unlike closed source stuff or software-as-a-service, everyone is allowed to modify and improve free/libre/open source stuff.

    I could go on and on about the benefits of libre/open source stuff vs. the drawbacks of closed source stuff/software-as-aservice, but this comment would be much too long if I did, so I’ll stop here. 🙂

    Great website, glad I finally found it. Thanks for creating it. 🙂

  • Hi Leah,

    thanks for reminding me “simply choose” and don’t spend too much time investigating. Sometimes I get lost as I’m also a real info junkie 😉

    And it is great what I’m just learning throughout your Stresless & Impress course as well as by the great FtF community 🙂

    I’m really grateful to ran into you, it brings me so much input and values!

    With love from Germany,
    Sirpa

  • Hi Leah,

    I so needed to read this right now!

    I wanted to choose the “right” tool and also wanted to also wanted to keep moving on important work. Because I was unsure what to choose, I was getting in my way!!

    So, thanks.

    I can breathe, give myself a week to test and play, then PICK one!!

    Yeah!!

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