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30 Invaluable Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

30 Invaluable Tools to Make You Better at Freelancing

By | Freelancing, Remote Support Services, Remote Work | 2 Comments

Check out these 30 useful tools to improve your performance at freelance work and help you find more jobs.

Are you a freelancer competing with others from all over the globe for jobs? Honing your skills to remain competitive in the ever-changing job marketplace? It may seem like a rushing tsunami at times but freelancing does not need to be stressful. Enjoy the freedom of working in the comfort of your home, at your pace and in the hours that suit you, and become successful at it by harnessing the power of these tools. They will help you in skill development, time management, and productivity enhancement to transform your freelance career.

We at IdeasUnlimited have compiled a list of our favorite tools that have helped our global remote workforce and call center operators get their jobs done efficiently. Click the links below, and you will see the benefits from them as well!

Skill Enhancement

Skill Enhancement Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

In the freelance industry, you need to expand your skillset with the demands of the times, getting better at your work and moving away from generic skills to specialize in areas of high demand. Invest in your career by using these skill development resources.

1. Lynda.com

A LinkedIn resource with an affordable membership and unlimited access to their library, Lynda.com offers courses in fields ranging from business and design to software and web development. Learn from expert teachers on any of your devices. Start with their free trial month and their most popular courses to get a better feel of how you can upskill yourself.

2. Coursera

Partnering with world-renowned institutions, Coursera provides online courses on everything you can think of. You can enroll in their courses, learn at your own pace, discuss difficult topics with other learners to improve your understanding, get certification, and even earn degrees. Evaluate your skillset, figure out the weak areas, and find free courses to improve. You’ll find mentors and translators to help you through the process.

3. edX

Another resource we love to recommend to our remote team and other freelancers is edX. Partnering with 130 institutions globally, edX offers thousands of in-demand courses for business professionals. Work on your professional skills or learn something new like artificial intelligence to enhance the marketability of your freelance skillset.

4. Codecademy

Join 45 million people who have transformed their careers by learning how to code through Codecademy. Their motto is

‘Tell us why you want to learn to code, we’ll show you what to learn’.

Join for free to learn web development, data science, programming, and computer science with easy-to-follow tutorials, immediate feedback, and a tried and tested curriculum. Their coaches, advisors, and graduates are also available to help you through any difficult sections.

Time & Productivity Management

Time Management Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

Your personal motivation and willpower are key for a successful freelance career, but these time and productivity management tools provide the extra push needed to ensure wise time use. In addition, they will help you track time spent on each project transparently, so you can easily bill your clients.

5. Toggl

Incredibly simple time tracking for personal and business use, which prompts you when you’re idle for a period of time. You can divide up your time by projects, clients, and tasks, and Toggl will let you know exactly what is making you money and what is dragging you down. You can use it on any device, and with real-time sync, you can start a task on your laptop and end it with your phone, making your life easier all around.

6. RescueTime

This app will run in the background on your computer to track time spent on various functions or projects. It then develops a report for the day, allowing you to see how you spend your time and what activities are eating up most of your day, so you become more focused and productive.

7. Paymo

A free-for-life time tracking and management software for freelancers that also allows you to manage clients. Eliminate all the stress of managing different projects for different clients by tracking the billable hours for each and presenting transparent reports to clients, apprising them of the status of each project. You can even generate three invoices for free and purchase the invoicing add-on to generate more.

Paymo also allows to manage tasks with deadlines and order them according to their priority levels, using Kanban boards to set up a workflow. We love the feature that allows attachment of all the files of each project, so your work is all organized in one place.

8. Thrive

Marketed as the wingman of the solo freelancer, it will help you manage your projects with data analysis to ensure you meet deadlines, remain productive, complete pending tasks, and manage your time effectively. With Thrive, you can then take on new tasks and improve your earning. Not only does it help manage timesheets, it makes invoicing clients as simple as the click of a button with its instant autofill of project details.

Communication Tools

Communication Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

These simple tools will facilitate your communication and marketing efforts, leading to a bigger client base.

9. Skype

Contact your clients, team members, and project collaborators through the free Skype app. It allows you to chat to people all over the globe, share all types of files instantaneously, make voice and video calls, and even set up conference calls. You can even add some money to your Skype credit and use Skype for Phone and Home to call those who don’t use the app.

10. MailChimp

The world’s largest marketing automation platform, MailChimp allows you to connect to customers and engage with them, managing email subscriber lists and building your personal brand with email marketing campaigns, updates about new services offered, or availability for projects. You can even automate your marketing emails. Start off with their free plan till you get your bearings.

Administrative Support

Administrative Support Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

Each call center operator and remote team member at IdeasUnlimited swears by these administrative support tools for providing 24 hour call center support and remote support services to our clients all over the globe.

11. Google Productivity Apps

The real-time sync feature and editing capabilities provided by Google’s web-based office suite apps are nothing to scoff at. Our remote workforce uses these apps to collaborate with team members all over the globe—forms are used to collect information, sheets manage databases, docs are used to create and edit documents, and slides help with presentation of sales pitches. These apps are free with your Gmail account, which makes them ideal for freelancers.

12. Every Time Zone

As a freelancer, you must work with clients from all over the globe, each with a different timezone. Never again do you have to struggle through the math to figure out what the time is in a particular country. Simply look it up here, like we do!

Managing Projects

Project Management Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

Each freelance job is a new project that you need to manage well, completing all the tasks within the deadline. Check out these project management tools to help facilitate your work.

13. Trello

Trello is an essential project management tool for both individual freelancers and those working in a team of digital nomads or remote workers. A Kanban-style project management app, Trello can be used in myriad ways to manage your to-do list, visually organize data, manage productivity, and collaborate with teams. Organized by cards, boards, and lists, it is a perfect tool for brainstorming a new idea. Check out a detailed summary of all that you can do with Trello here.

14. Evernote

Making sure no detail falls through the cracks again by keeping notes, pictures, videos, and voice notes of your ideas. Manage your personal and professional lives with Evernote and become more efficient by keeping track of projects and tasks—online or offline—using any of your devices.

Managing Finances

Tools for Managing Finances that every freelancer and remote worker needs

Freelancing frees you from the restrictions of a 9 to 5 job with a single company but without the associated 401k, managing expenses and savings is likely to get hectic. You also need to keep track of invoices due and received from clients. Don’t worry, we’ve found these 4 tools to make your budgeting and financial management a piece of cake:

15. Mint

Working as a one-person business becomes difficult since work and personal finances tend to overlap, so to keep your boat afloat you must get your business finances in order. Mint offers the perfect budgeting tool, sending you alerts when you’re near your budget limits, push notifications when a bill is coming due, and charts to see how you’re managing your cash flow. It even gives you suggestions based on your budget, allows for instant scheduling of payments, and helps manage your credit score.

16. Shoeboxed

Get your receipts in order and generate expense reports with this verified paperless organizer. You simply scan your receipts, and it will digitize and archive them into accessible human-verified data in one secure location. Shoeboxed will develop expense reports for your clients as well as organize IRS-recognized receipts for facilitated tax filing so you don’t have to manually input any data.

17. Wave

This free online financial management platform allows freelancers and small businesses to record expenses, make invoices, and balance their books. It allows customization of invoices and even tracks them, so you know when to expect payments. You can even fast-track your cash inflows by accepting credit card payments through Wave, simplifying the process for your clients as well.

18. PayPal

PayPal allows you to create and email professional invoices that you can send to clients all over the globe, and they can pay using their credit cards even if they do not have PayPal accounts. You can even accept payments over the phone with Virtual Terminal. Best of all, you’ll be keeping track of all invoices and payments in one place.

Sources of Inspiration

Sources of Inspiration that every freelancer and remote worker need

All of us face mental blocks from time to time. These sources of inspiration can help rejuvenate your creative juices and power you full steam ahead.

19. The Accidental Creative Podcast

Get free advice on improving your productivity, developing creatively, and staying brilliant and healthy at your life and work. Author Todd Henry talks to authors, inspirational leaders, and artists to get their insights on how to cultivate creativity and stay positive. Freelancers love listening to his take on these important topics.

20. 99U

Whatever your field of expertise, 99U aims to creatively inspire you to succeed at your goals. Learn how to create your own signature value proposition by following the experiences of these trendsetters, so you no longer have to compete for freelance jobs as one of a crowd but stand out for the extra value you offer. It teaches you everything from perfecting your sales pitch and getting noticed to generating innovative ideas.

Legal Resources

Legal Resources that every freelancer and remote worker needs

You should legally protect yourself from getting conned by unscrupulous clients by using this tool that has been vetted by the Freelance Union.

21. The Freelance Contract

Protect yourself by entering into binding legal agreements with your clients using this free resource. Vetted by the Freelance Union, it allows you to customize the contract by adding or removing clauses and notes, and generates alerts when the contract is reviewed and signed. The best feature it offers is generating invoices based on the terms of your contract that you can simply approve and send. Not only can both parties e-sign the contract, you can set up a self-destruct time, so only contracts signed within the stipulated deadline are valid.

Backup Storage

Backup Storage Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

When asked about their greatest professional fears, the one we hear the most often from our remote workforce and call center support workers is data getting corrupt or erased. Prepare yourself for such an eventuality by backing up your work on a secure cloud storage platform or using an appropriate backup tool. We’ve rounded up three of the best options for you:

22. Google Drive

Get up to 15 GB of free drive storage with your Gmail account on which you can store all kinds of files—photos, videos, drawings, etc. You can sync these files across all devices and access them when and where you like. With Google Drive, you don’t have to email entire files to clients any longer, simply share the files with them to view, download, and edit directly on the Drive. Upgrade if you need more storage space.

23. Amazon Glacier

Do you want a cheap, secure, long-term storage option for your important data? Compliant with strict data regularity standards and using three forms of encryption, Amazon Glacier offers privacy, security, and durability. With three retrieval options to choose from, you can decide how actively you wish to access your data. Store all your project work and data here, paying only for what you need, with no upfront costs.

24. All-in-One WP Migration

Backup your website and your clients’ websites using this amazing WordPress plugin that allows you to quickly restore a site if a bug or glitch brings things crashing down. It also makes site migration incredibly easy, you only have to import the new site and voila, you are ready to go!

Free Resources

Free Resources that every freelancer and remote worker needs

There are tons of free resources, graphics, and tools but not all of them impart significant value. Here are some we have used and would recommend to you too.

25. Free WiFi Finder

There’s nothing worse than going out and realizing you’re out of data. Free WiFi Finder will help you locate the closest place with a WiFi connection that you won’t have to pay for, so you’re never out of touch with your clients. You may need to purchase a drink or small bite to eat, depending on the location, though!

26. Canva

You need graphic design skills to create stunning Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator graphics but Canva requires none of that. For quick and easy designs, use their beautiful freemium templates, vast database of elements and photographs, collaborate with teams, and share designs. You can even upload logos, choose brand colors, and decide on default font styles. Our remote workforce and even internal team swear by Canva for designing brochures, social media posts, flyers, marketing documents, and much more.

27. Freepik.com

Freepik is an amazing source of free vectors, illustrations, photos, PSDs, and icons that you can use in your work. You simply need to credit the author of the graphic or upgrade to the premium account for a few dollars a month to download hundreds of graphics for personal or commercial use. They add to their database daily and have yearly subscription discounts. This should be your go-to resource for all kinds of graphics to jazz up your projects.

28. Creative Commons

Join this incredible global network that shares audio, photos, videos, scientific works, and educational resources by issuing free creative commons licenses, attributing usage conditions to the works. You can use most of these for free by simply attributing the authors, so you have an incredibly vast resource that you can use in your projects and designs. You can share your own work with the community too.

29. Other free resources

Graphic Burger: Find free to use without attribution—personal and commercial—icons, textures, templates, and photos.

The Deck Stack: With over 60 presentation slides and proposal templates, this can give you an edge in pitching your services to your clients.

30. And Co's Directories

And Co has compiled a few directories of free videos, photos, templates, and much more that can make your work much easier.

For a veritable goldmine of free videos, download this list.

Find free design content for a wide range of needs from this list of 150 resources.

Want to drive up blog traffic but stumped by post headlines? Use this spreadsheet and don’t worry, you can apply it to any industry.

Use these 30 tools vetted by our remote workforce to transform and grow your freelance career. Comment below to let us know about any other tools that you have used and can help freelancers.

10 Tips for Affiliate Marketing Success

10 Tips for Affiliate Marketing Success

By | Become an Affiliate, Remote Support Services | No Comments

Affiliate marketing can be defined as the process of identifying a product, service, or promotion and upselling it to other parties for a cut of the profit on the condition that you make the sale. Affiliate partnership programs are usually offered by online service providers and online selling platforms.

Here Are Ten Tips for Successful Affiliate Marketing:

1. Choose a Specific Niche:

A broad niche makes it complicated to handle. A specific audience relates to a specific problem and a few solutions. You could then build your trade around your niche. Learn how to pick the perfect affiliate marketing niche here.

2. Know the Audience:

Knowing your audience means identifying a problem experienced by your audience and coming up with a solution. The solution will be in the form of a product or service to be sold.

3. Trust:

Trustworthiness is essential for products and more so for services. No one would wish to pay for a service only to find out it’s not what they thought it was. Trust creates a bond which translates to repeat customers and more traffic. So, you must create a bond of trust with clients.

4. Transparency on Affiliate Relations:

As an affiliate marketer, it is important to disclose your affiliate relationship. Your clients will appreciate the honesty rather than bypass your links to directly access the vendor’s site. Here are three tips for increasing transparency in affiliate marketing.

5. Managing Customer Experience:

This is being helpful, for instance by answering questions, giving reviews, notifying clients of updates and quick solves among other issues. Click here to learn more about the customer experience.

6. Love what you do:

You will not be successful in what you do if you don’t love it. You may also lose interest in affiliate marketing if you don’t love it.

7. Quality Content:

Affiliate marketing is all about content on your site and social media accounts regarding the product or service. If it’s simple and easy to understand, then a customer is likely to purchase a product or service. 61% of consumers buy based on the content they read while 78% trust brands with content about them.

8. Promote Content:

Promotion assists your site and accounts to gain traffic. Without promotion, your site and social media accounts become dormant, hence you will have no sales.

9. Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

A well-structured SEO campaign is essential for successful marketing strategies and can drive massive traffic. This site can help you learn more about SEO.

10. Stay Relevant:

Technology and products change frequently and clients like going for the latest. Ensure your site keeps abreast with the changes and you are reachable by your clients on all mediums.

Practicing the above tips would ensure a successful affiliate marketing strategy. Ready to get started? Check out IdeasUnlimited’s affiliate marketing program and become a partner to earn a steady stream of recurring commissions.

Real Estate Virtual Assistant: Do You Need One?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant: Do You Need One?

By | Business Improvement, Entrepreneurship, Real Estate Virtual Assistant, Remote Support Services, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

Real estate is a demanding industry. This makes it extremely valuable for realtors like you to stay ahead of the curve. It also explains why running a real estate practice or agency is time-consuming. The introduction of new technologies that support virtual assistants has made it easier for realtors to focus their efforts on enhancing the core competencies that come with running a real estate agency. Support services ancillary to core business activities such as paperwork have been delegated to real estate virtual assistants. These assistants provide the tools needed to fuel your success, whether you are a solo agent or own your own real estate or brokerage firm. The following are some reasons to consider the services of a virtual assistant:

Cost-Effective

Real estate agents live a fast-paced, busy life. They spend many hours going through emails and phone messages. They then need to organize the day’s events and transactions. You could avoid all this by getting an assistant. This will help but it is not a cost-efficient solution. Get yourself a real estate virtual assistant who will handle all these tasks at a cheaper price than what you would spend to maintain an in-house employee. You also save on expenses such as getting insurance and pension plans for in-house assistants.

Increase the Level of Productivity

A real estate virtual assistant’s primary function is to handle your day-to-day schedule and organize your emails and messages. When you hire an in-house assistant you will have to give them vacation days or sick leave. Rather than lose all this valuable time and resources, get yourself a virtual assistant who is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Increase Sales Conversion

When it comes to the real estate industry, lead generation is as important as making a sale. When you get yourself an experienced real estate virtual assistant, they can help you make calls and follow-ups with prospective clients through both online and traditional methods.

Omnichannel Support

All client engagement touchpoints you require—inbound and outbound calls, email, live chat, mobile SMS/text, and social media—will be covered by the real estate virtual assistant to improve the client experience and ensure there are no missed opportunities. A virtual assistant can cover your busy hours or take up the slack of your office staff. A remote workforce also allows you to choose from a much larger, more talented pool of applicants than candidates available for in-house work.

Multilingual Support

Firms and agents in the real estate industry face language barriers in dealing with tenants, owners, vendors, and clients. Get an edge over competitors by hiring a multilingual virtual assistant as the need arises and communicate with your client base and vendors in their native languages. The virtual assistant can also provide administrative and backend support for those particular projects.

These reasons clearly highlight why you should get yourself a real estate virtual assistant…click here to hire yours today!

Remote Workers versus On-Site Workers: Which Does Your Business Need?

Remote Workers versus On-Site Workers: Which Does Your Business Need?

By | Business Improvement, Remote Support Services | No Comments

The remote working revolution has arrived. With technology (like smartphones, cloud collaboration and video conferencing) becoming more widespread, remote working jobs are becoming more common. The idea of being able to work from anywhere you want offers great work-life balance. Some prefer to enjoy the daily grind of office life. Some prefer working from the comfort of their own homes. There are scientific arguments for both. In this article, we will go toe-to-toe and find which one is better for your business.

Working from home has increased in popularity by 115 percent since 2005 with 3.9 million Americans now working at home at least half the time. This growth has been seen due to large businesses hiring remote workers including Amazon, Dell, Cigna, Salesforce, Philips, Nielsen and many others. Not only large but also small businesses are looking for professionals for one-off jobs instead of hiring a full-time employee.

Improved Employee Retention

A Stanford study showed that when call center workers worked remotely, they outperformed their on-site peers. The reason behind it was they took less sick leaves and shorter breaks. They were also found to be more satisfied with the job and tend to quit less often. Moreover, Remote working also helps retain working parents with childcare responsibilities.

Access to Large Pool of Applicants

Businesses can also benefit from remote jobs if they are located in high-cost living area. With remote jobs, they can have access to more skillful people at less pay as compare to hire on-site workers.

Possible Gains in Productivity

Is working from home more productive than working in an office? The productivity of remote working has been a lot in the debates. One such popular cited study is from 2014, where the co-founders of Chinese travel website CTrip let some of their employees to work remotely on daily basis, and compare their productivity to their on-site peers. Keeping other factors same, remote workers made 13.5 percent more calls than their office workers.

Financial Benefits

Your business can save huge money on utilities and real estate. Because if you hire remote workers, you need fewer on-site workers which mean you need a smaller space. When a business moves to a more flexible working scenario, they are more likely to put things in the cloud. This is not only good from an environmental standpoint but also from utilities and extra costs (such as paper, trash, recycling) which seems smaller but certainly adds up. Companies can save millions of dollars in real estate when they hire remote workers instead of on-site workers.

What’s Right for Your Business?

Fortunately, today’s remote working capabilities are more sophisticated than doing conversations over the phone. Being accessible to chat, email, video conferences, cloud collaboration software, and a plethora of other technologies has made it all possible for almost any on-site job to be done remotely. Working remotely is a latest growing trend that you can see with the changing workplaces and more jobs being tied to computers.