Six essential online tools for Freelancers

The most daring are comfortably lounging at the beach while revising a spreadsheet or text document from your tablet. The truth is that more and more of us have left behind the rigid and artificial constraints of the office. Besides changing our personal relations and consumption patterns, social media also affect how we build our careers. The possibilities offered by the Internet allow us to escape traditional working environments, enjoy flexibility, and manage our time with more freedom. 

Being a freelance worker or trying to work outside a company routine presents its own difficulties, however. It becomes more important than ever to be persistent, responsible, and, above all, very organized. The freelance dream can fail in the blink of an eye if we do not manage our time efficiently or organize our tasks in order of priority. Fortunately, a variety of online tools can help. Of the many web platforms that are useful for independent workers, here are my favorites.

Teux Deux
Something as simple as a to-do list is a must when you’re working freelance. Teux Deux is a simple, easy-to-use tool for creating an online calendar. If a task is not finished as scheduled, it simply moves to the next day, so it never falls off your radar screen. Teux Deux has an iPhone app. 

Google Docs
Most of you probably know this application. Google’s powerful online office suite is an essential application for the freelance professional. Google Docs permits you to create and edit online texts, presentations, and spreadsheets, among other types of documents. The platform facilitates collaboration by allowing multiple users simultaneously to see a document and edit it. Because it’s an online application, files are available at any time from any device with an Internet connection. 

Of all the tools for Internet storage and file sharing, Dropbox is the most practical and easiest to use. You can install the application to your desktop or work at the website; either way, Dropbox is an excellent platform for sending and receiving large files and for backing up your files securely. The free version has a 2GB storage capacity. 

Need to manage different accounts on multiple social networks without wasting time signing in to each? Interested in doing a realtime follow-up of issues on the various social networks? HootSuite is an ideal platform for community managers and others who want to optimize their social networking time. The application allows you to centralize in one account all your social network profiles and to see all your walls (FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, etc.) using a single control panel.

OK, you have all these tools to manage your work, but how do you find freelance jobs? Well, there are lots of platforms, but Elance is one of the most complete because of the number of jobs it presents. In addition, even though most offers are in English, it is also possible to find work in Spanish. 

Once the job is done, an essential question remains: how to collect your fee. PayPal is one of the most popular online services for such transactions, allowing you to receive payment from any place in the world with just a credit card. 

We could go on naming platforms, some popular and well known, such as Skype; others more powerful and sophisticated, such as Redmine; or any of the variety of other online platforms that promote and facilitate collaboration. More important than tools to facilitate tasks management and organization, however, freelance professionals must embrace a new paradigm of work. 

Success no longer requires you to spend eight to ten hours, or more, confined to an office; without a doubt, online tools provide opportunities for more creativity and flexibility in your approach to career development. At the same time, it is essential to be prepared for the changes this new context presents—to know how to react when there are challenges, to maintain a high level of commitment, and to be able to adapt easily to the more dynamic and competitive conditions. These are just a few of the most important professional challenges of the social network era. If you can manage them, you have a promising future leveraging the advantages of the Internet to develop your freelance career.