Welcome to the Freelance Lifestyle list of useful tools, gadgets, books, podcasts, Youtube channels and apps to make freelance life easier, faster and more fun.
This list is in no particular order, and will be added to over time so it’s worth bookmarking! I’ll also be including a few exclusive discounts.
Courses & Memberships
Oh you didn’t think I wouldn’t mention my own course? The 30 Days To Go Freelance course takes you through all the steps you need take, to go freelance in the UK. It’s also part of The Freelance Business Lounge, where you’ll get access to lots of other courses, resources, twice weekly calls and Voxer support.
I’m a big fan of Elizabeth Goddard’s trainings, and the first one I’d recommend is this one. If you’re looking at getting started with a 1-to-many model, profitable live trainings are a great place to begin with.
Another item to add to your To Do list if you’re growing your business and mailing list is a tripwire, which can turn email subscribers into customers, or help you bolt on extra sales to bundles you offer.
Want to do a flash sale but don’t know how? This course from Elizabeth has everything you need to throw one, whether it’s for a birthday, the start of the year, or when you need a boost of income.
The final one from Elizabeth Goddard is this one all about adding a Voxer offering to your services. I’ve been offering Voxer coaching for a year now since taking this training, and it’s one of my absolute favourite offerings. If you’re not familiar with Voxer, it’s an app for sharing text and audio updates between you and another person. A bit like Whatsapp, but the big difference is you can listen to the audio as they’re recording it, giving a walkie talkie vibe. I find it really useful for creating a more relaxed coaching environment, but it’s also great for lots of other freelance professions, either as a core service or an add-on for extra value.
Let’s kick off with an assortment of online tools, Chrome extensions and apps.
One of the core tools in my freelance kit. It’s a client hub with all sorts of automation magic, from calendar scheduling and invoicing, to sending contracts and creating client portals and To Do lists. There’s nothing better than waking up to discover someone has booked a call with me, and already been sent the invoice, contract, onboarding questionnaire and a welcome email. All without me clicking a button!
One of the more popular calendar booking systems, alongside Acuity, Calendly is a great tool if you want to simplify your calendar or meeting booking systems. You can create different sections for different meeting times etc, so it’s flexible, and the basic plan is free.
MissingLettr takes a lot of the stress out of creating promotion campaigns for blog posts and podcasts. Once set up, it will pull in the details of new blog posts as they’re published, and then created social media posts to share across your accounts, with an assortment of quotes pulled from the article, images and graphics created with both in mind. It does this over a 12 month period, so it’s not a case of publish and forget.
Meeow Networking is a platform where you can attend networking rooms of up to 4 people for an hour, making it introvert and time friendly. It’s got a light structure and you have time to share what you do at the start, but then it’s a case of chatting (with the aid of suggested questions or speed rounds of Boost questions).
Again, there are plenty of tools around for scheduling to Instagram, but Planoly is my go-to because I love that you can see your grid as you’re planning it, you can schedule to stories, and save collections of your favourite hashtags. Talking of hashtags….
Flick is a brilliant tool for finding out the best hashtags to you (a mix of high popularity ones and medium), and saving them into collections you can copy and paste. It’ll even alert you if you start trending on a particular hashtag.
I’ve tried every scheduler going for Facebook group scheduling, but RecurPost is the one I always come back to – and it’s free! When it comes to Facebook Group posts (ones I admin, not ones owned by others), I want something simple I can set up and forget about, and it posts the same regular themed posts every week (for example, I have a goal setting thread, Pitch Slap Wednesday for working on your business, and Friday reviews).
Freeagent is one of the most popular modern accounting software tools amongst freelancers, no doubt partly because it comes free with a well known bank’s business account, but also because it’s user-friendly, app-friendly, and makes (dare I say it!) doing your accounts an almost pleasant experience.
Crunch is a Brighton-based (yay UK software!) accountancy service that offers support, advice, accounting services and software. They have packages ranging from their free bookkeeping and invoicing software, to their pro package which you can use to sign up to HRMC, submit your self assessment and get unlimited support from actual accounts for around £25 a month (great for peace of mind and spreading the cost, especially in the first couple of years).
Podcasters! If you’re looking for hosting, Libsyn is my favourite. Not only can I quickly upload audio files and their descriptions and tags quickly, but I can see podcast episode stats and their partnership with Headliner means I can whizz up social media posts with snippets of the podcast in minutes.
If you haven’t heard of Canva, where have you been? It’s a place to create DIY graphic design. You can create anything, from social media graphics to presentations and business cards. It’s great for getting started on a budget (I would recommend using a graphic designer for logos and ongoing branding once you’re established).
Want to onboard new clients or sign-ups in a friendly, personalised way? Bonjoro is brilliant for this. You can send personalised video messages to your new members or clients, with a call to action underneath. It syncs with a lot of different tools (I have mine synced to Teachable so new subscribers get added to my Bonjoro to do list) and they’ve just introduced a Chrome extension so you can do it from the comfort of your desk. I’m on the free plan.
There are three big tools for project and task management that tend to be popular with freelancers – Asana, Notion and Trello. Asana is ideal if you’re analytical, want something more professional, and are working with a team. It’s highly detailed, gives you lots of options for adding in deadlines, tagging others and attaching files. I’ve seen some great uses for it too, including some course providers using it to share entire courses.
Also, a unicorn/celebration creature skips across your screen when you tick something off.
Notion is a relative newcomer, but it’s a very aesthetically pleasing and customisable option for task and project management. In fact, if Pinterest is your jam, there’s a good chance you’ll like Notion. You can create pages or use templates for a huge range of purposes, from client projects and To Do lists, to recipe collections and Christmas prep lists. My favourite bit is that you can have a homepage with all the information you want at a glance, from your Google Drive to your favourite shortcuts.
Trello is similar to Asana in that you can create boards or lists for projects and share with others. It’s more informal than Asana, and has a few added extras, like tasks going grey if they haven’t been touched for a while. For me, the biggest benefit is that you can add images to each task, which as a visual person makes checking in on everything a lot easier than a blur of text.
Going networking? Download this app to scan business cards, set reminders to follow up and add notes when you do.
If you struggle to tear yourself away from your phone, you need to download Forest immediately. Choose a virtual tree, plant it and then set the time for it to grow. Then lock your phone. If you unlock your phone during that time, the tree dies. And you can use it with friends, so if one of you unlocks, all your trees die. Great for co-working sessions or dinner with friends.
It’s 2021. If you don’t know what Zoom is, you were fortunate to sleep through the pandemic.
Ooh this one is a goodie! IFTTT stands for If This Then That, and essentially creates triggers between online tools. For example, you can set it up so that your Twitter profile gets updates when your Facebook one does, or if you have smart tech at home, your lights can flash if you get a particular notification or your heating can go on when you’re within 5 miles of returning home. I also have a couple set up with my Monzo bank, so food shops automatically come out of my supermarket pot, and if I hit the McDonalds drive thru, I get a £5 ‘fast food tax’ added to my savings. There are so many options, so I’d put aside some time to play with this one.
If you like Zapier but need more, or IFTTT doesn’t have all the tools you need, Zapier is likely to. You’re more likely to have to subscribe, but I find it so useful for things like connecting Teachable and ConvertKit.
If you’re looking to get something transcribed, the most accurate option is always going to be to hire a transcriber. But if you don’t mind doing a little bit of editing, Otter is absolutely briliant. You can use it to transcribe meetings, brain dump notes, record Zoom calls and it can even transcribe live on a Zoom call. My favourite thing is that you can sync it with your calendar, so whenever you have a meeting it will pop up to ask if you want it to record and transcribe it. Plus it will pull out keywords which is handy for quick searches. The basic plan is free.
If you’re working with a team, Slack is a great tool to communicate with each other, without getting bogged down in emails. There’s also a lot of integrations available through Slack and IFTTT.
Oh Voxer. I bloody love Voxer. It’s a voice and text notes app, a little similar to Whatsapp, but you can hear what they’re saying as they record a voice note, giving a walkie talkie feel. I use Voxer for some of my coaching options, because it allows people to be coached and have accountability check-ins without having to worry about being on camera (or for those who look after children, have to worry about interruptions). If you want to add Voxer to your offerings, I really recommend taking Elizabeth Goddard’s course.
Has ‘get pension sorted’ been on your list forever? I highly recommend you have a look at Penfold. It’s incredibly easy to set up (seriously, a few taps on the phone, everyone always comments ‘I can’t believe I waited so long when it was so quick and easy!’) There’s an app to keep tabs on things, and you can import previous pensions if you have it. If you use this link, you’ll get an extra £25 in your account.
Insurance is a really important consideration for freelancers. I really like Superscript, because you can pause your insurance or increase it/change it, which is handy if you know you have a quiet period coming up and you won’t need it. If you use this link, you’ll get 10% off.
Working from Home
We have a couple of Ring doorbells (one as a baby monitor in my son’s room, and one where your doorbell usually lives). They’re so useful. Firstly for the obvious – being able to check who is at the door, and to answer it if you’re out. Secondly, I’ve actually had a couple of occasions in the last year where people have asked whether we have footage of the street when something happened (a car being hit, and where a delivery driver had left something). Finally, if I know it’s an annoying neighbour or a cold sales person, I can put my headset on and pretend I’m on a call!
I hate housework. I love anything that makes life easier. I love our Coredy Robot. It’s a robot hoover with a mop option, so you can let it scoot around the house tidying up, and then switch the heads and let it mop up. It syncs with Alexa too, so you can give it a name and ask for it to get started….
Like a lot of freelancers, I have a secret. It’s an entire shelf of notebooks, at various levels of completeness. If you share this problem, you might like Rocketbook, a notebook with wipe clean pages. You use it to write your notes, then scan the page with the Rockbook app. This will then upload it to your chosen place (Google Drive, Evernote, Email etc). There are icons at the bottom you can tick, so it knows where to send it.
Podcasts (all links are to Spotify)
My podcast! These podcast episodes are short and sweet, designed to be paired with a cuppa.
Productivity, social media and business tips from Jenna Kutcher
A daily update of the latest business and world news.
A daily bitesized podcast of kick-ass from Meg Kissack
A 3 minute shot of daily positivity from Kate Cocker
A twice daily wake up/wind down podcast to bookend your day.
Another daily short and sweet podcast to add a little inspiration and positivity to your day.
From friend of the Freelance Lifestyle Alexis Bushnell, this weekly podcast chats with guests about their experiences of social media.
Want your freelance chat with a side of lols? Doing It For The Kids is a great freelance podcast aimed at freelancing parents, with Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland. Steve also does another podcast, Being Freelance, interviewing freelancers.
Denise Duffield Thomas hosts this podcast about running a business without hustling hell!
This podcast from Courney Chaal puts the fun back in business.
Email marketing can be a dry topic, but Rob and Kennedy make it funny and interesting.
Another friend of The Freelance Lifestyle, Sally Farrant hosts this value-packed podcast full of tips on pricing.
Julia Kermode’s podcast does exactly what it says on the tin – talks about self-employement!
Charlie Swift and Franky Shanahan team up for a chatty podcast all about the ups and downs of running a business.
Fiona Thomas is the voice between this friendly, honest podcast on freelancing, especially as a freelance writer.
Daire Paddy’s podcast is all about showing up in your business as yourself, and tackles lots of the mindset bits of being your own boss.
Understanding yourself is a key part of becoming a better freelancer. I love Gretchen Rubin’s framework for understanding how you deal with internal and external expectations, and how you can use it to your advantage. If you’re someone who responds quickly to outer expectations, accountability should be a key part in your toolkit. Or if you’re a Questioner like me, you’ll become aware that you need to fully research something before you’re on board. It’s a quiz and book I recommend everyone reads.
Two books here by Denise Duffield-Thomas, but I highly recommend both. Get Rich, Lucky Bitch dives into all the money beliefs we adopt, and how they can hold us back. There are so many we don’t realise we have, from the idea that rich women are bitches, to not wanting to make others feel uncomfortable by out-earning them. Chillpreneur is the anti-hustle bible for business owners, with lots of hacks and tips to run a business without running yourself into the ground.
This is one of those books I revisit regularly and get something new from each time. Atomic Habits is all about building habits into your life that stick, and get rid of old ones. As freelancers, it’s useful to be able to build habits into your life that help with your business (like Pitch Slap Wednesday!). I’d also recommend James’ newsletter, it’s always packed with value.
At some point in your freelancing journey, there’s a good chance you’ll reach a point of growth where you’ll start to self-sabotage. And that’s normal! It’s actually something Gay Hendricks talks about in the Big Leap.
Want to get in good money habits? Read Profit First. It’s all about how to deal with your business finances, and how to make sure you take profit out first (and focus on profit over revenue).