The 100 Tools Freelancers Can’t Live Without

Monday, October 15, 2007 at 1:25pm by Site Administrator

Everyone has their go-to bag of tricks that they can’t imagine functioning without. This list represents exactly that, but on a much larger scale. Clearly, there’s no way you’re going to have 100 different tools you can’t live without, but you can use this collection to find solutions that you’re sure to get hooked on.


Many of the tools on this list address a few specific needs. The tools in this section are far too ambitious for that.

  1. Panthius: This ebusiness suite is a a headache eraser for freelancers. Use it to manage customers, sales orders, purchases, information and lots more.
  2. Netvibes: Bring everything together in one place with Netvibes. You can get your email, feeds, gig boards, messaging and lots more on this start page.
  3. Help Me Work: Take the headache out of the up-and-down life of a freelancer with Help Me Work’s service. They look after your taxes, billing, benefits, and a lot more.
  4. FreelancerPanel: What can’t you do with FreelancerPanel? Keep track of invoicing, communicate with clients, manage your website, and stay on top of your time with this awesome tool.
  5. Firefox: As a busy freelancer, you don’t have time to mess around with anything less than Firefox. This ultra-handy tool saves you the trouble of worrying excessively about browser security, and more importantly, lays the foundation for what seems like unlimited add-ons designed to make your life easier.


Without work, your livelihood ceases to exist–you can’t get more essential than that. These resources will help you find work to keep going.

  1. JibberJobber: This tool does job seeking, and it does it well, but it goes even farther, offering a way to manage relationships with customers, prospects, and more. Be sure to take advantage of its available integration with Skype, Gmail, LinkedIn, and other popular services.
  2. Contracted Work: Find loads of projects in different industries on this site, and use their escrow service to make sure you get paid.
  3. Guru: Find work in a wide variety of different job categories on Guru, one of the most popular freelance job sites online.
  4. Professional On The Web: If you’re a professional web designer, put your portfolio up on this site to get connected with people who need your services.
  5. All Freelance Work: Get independent jobs on this site, then use their system to get rated, manage your projects, and more.
  6. Get A Freelancer: Find customers all over the world that are looking for your service on this site.
  7. Web Pro Jobs: Whether you’re a designer, copywriter, or marketer, you can find lots of jobs for web profressionals on this board.
  8. Freelance Switch Jobs: Freelancers in the fields of writing, designing, and programming can find gigs on this job board.
  9. Job Pile: Get an aggregated list of freelance posts from popular job boards on Job Pile.
  10. GoFreelance: Browse freelance jobs in loads of different fields on this site. You’ll have thousands to choose from.
  11. Sologig: Get connected with freelance, consulting, and contract jobs on Sologig.
  12. Freelance Job Search: Bid on projects in your area and price range on this site.
  13. iFreelance: Bid on thousands of projects and get advertisement on this site.
  14. Writerlance: With Writerlance, you can browse and bid on hundreds of projects.
  15. Elance: Post yourself as a professional on this job board, and you’ll get connected with jobs for the web, writing, support, and more.
  16. Craigslist: Craigslist will give you access to a wide variety of gigs in your area.

Organization & Task Management

Does staying on top of everything leave you feeling frazzled and helpless? Take control with these tools.

  1. Spongecell: Use this intuitive online calendar app to schedule your time and get reminders via text message.
  2. Priorganizer: For most people, online to-do lists get gunked up with stuff that you intended to do, but just never felt were important enough to actually devote time to. With Priorganizer, the tasks that fall by the wayside don’t get in the way, because you can structure it based on priority.
  3. TimeXchange: Although primarily designed for businesses that need to keep track of timesheets for employees, TimeXchange can help you identify clients that suck time and which ones need more of your attention.
  4. Toodledo: Toodledo makes the list for one simple reason: because you can add it as a sidebar in Firefox. For anyone whose work is primarily browser based, this extension is a lifesaver.
  5. Tweeto: Organize and stay on top of your tasks and projects, even offline, with Tweeto.
  6. TodoBot: If you chat with clients on AIM frequently, you probably find yourself constantly switching back and forth between your IM and to-do list. Use this tool to send yourself to-do items straight from AIM.
  7. Stikkit: If you’re not the to-do list type, use Stikkit’s virtual post-it notes to keep track of tasks and ideas.
  8. SantexQ: Use SantexQ to manage projects, keep track of time, stay on top of tasks, and more.
  9. Online Alarm Clock: It’s so simple, yet so effective. Give yourself a certain time in which to finish a task, and set your alarm on this site to back it up.
  10. Remember The Milk: Remember The Milk is great for freelancers that are spread out in lots of different directions. With this simple tool, you can create separate lists for each of your clients and prioritize tasks by color.
  11. Jott: Need to remember to do something, but you’re nowhere near your online to-do list? Leave yourself a transcribed message that’s sent to your email, and you’ll be able to add it when you get back online.

Communication & Sharing

If you can’t connect with your clients in some form or fashion, your business does not exist. Get with them over the phone, online, and more with these essentials.

  1. Gmail: Of course–Gmail. This perennial favorite is organized and really good at banishing spam. Plus, you can always use it with email from your own domain.
  2. eFax: You may loathe the old fashioned fax machine, but there’s a pretty good chance your corporate clients are still living in the past with this dinosaur. Make sure you can accept and send facsimilie communications by using this web-based fax tool.
  3. WordFast: If you’re working with international clients, a translation tool is essential. Check out this one that’s compatible with any language supported by Word.
  4. ClearContext: Use ClearContext to wade through the muck and get to the good stuff in your inbox. This system organizes email, identifying important senders and color coding everything.
  5. Box: Share files online with your clients using this simple tool.
  6. CoreBlox: Anyone who provides technical support will find CoreBlox essential. With this tool, you can provide case management, downloads, a searchable knowledgebase, and lots more.
  7. FlyUpload: For easy, simple file sharing, check out FlyUpload. You can send up to 2GB and share links, too.
  8. Salesforce: Get this platform for CRM success. Use it to increase sales, customer service, relationships, marketing, and other essentials.
  9. SpamSieve: Spam is a mess. Clean it up with this junk mail zapper.
  10. Senduit: So what happens when you have a file that’s too big to email? Unless you’re willing to hop in your car with a CD, you’re stuck with a pretty frustrating situation, but a file sending service like Senduit can save you. This tool lets you send files of up to 100MB at a time.
  11. Skype: If you have long-distance clients, colleagues, or suppliers, your phone bills can rack up huge charges pretty quickly. Skype takes a load off, making these calls significantly cheaper, or even free, plus you don’t have to be tied to a land line.
  12. Highrise: Manage your contact with "cases" that organize everything you’ve got going on for that particular case in emails, to-dos, files and more.
  13. Copernic Summarizer: If when reading client emails you find yourself thinking, "blah, blah, blah…Can we get to the point?," Copernic Summarizer is for you. Cut to the chase and use this program to highlight the key points in any message.

Mind Mapping

If you’re like most freelancers, you’ve probably got what seems like a million ideas and thoughts about your business floating around in your mind. Get those brainstorms out of your head and into something concrete with these mind mapping tools.

  1. FreeMind: Create mind maps with lots of functionality using this tool. It works great with Word, web links, and Outlook.
  2. CMap: Go beyond mind mapping and get into concept mapping with CMap. It lets you draw a line between relationships and ideas and label them.
  3. NovaMind: NovaMind’s mind mapping software uses graphic text, link lines, branches, and bright colors to create an attractive map of your thoughts.
  4. Skrbl: For low-tech mind maps that you can draw on your own, use Skrbl to-you guessed it-scribble out your thoughts online.
  5. MindManager: Visually capture and organize your ideas with MindManager.
  6. Put your ideas into bubbles in order to create an attractive and clean brainstorm.
  7. Thinkature: Banish the multitudes of sticky notes full of thoughts from your desk, and put your brainstorming online with this useful mind mapping tool.
  8. iMindMap: Put your ideas out on branches that replicate the non-linear way your brain thinks.

Money & Legal

Financial and legal issues are perhaps every freelancer’s least favorite things to work on. These tools will help you get paid, save on accounting fees, and best of all, keep you from burying yourself in paperwork.

  1. Mint: This new tool is really easy to use and set up, and it’s a great way to put all of your accounts together. You can use it to see where exactly your money goes and plan what to do with it in the future.
  2. Quickbooks: Unless you’re some sort of accounting geek, you probably get a little nervous about all of the financial documentation that’s involved in business transactions. Employ Quickbooks, and you’ll have one handy place to corral everything in.
  3. Less Accounting: Get paid, and do it easier with Less Accounting. This app offers a simple way to send, track and manage invoices, plus conduct simple CRM tasks.
  4. Nolo: Need some quick legal advice for your business but don’t really want to spare the time or the money to get in touch with a lawyer? Find answers to your common legal questions on Nolo.
  5. Creative Commons: For creative freelancers, copyright protection is a must. Set how much or how few restrictions you want on your work.
  6. Blinksale: Send invoices online with this handy tool. You can also use it to create recurring templates and keep track of your invoices and purchases.
  7. XE: Freelancers with overseas clients know that a good currency converter is a must-have. This tool does just that with accurate calculations and up-to-the-minute rates.
  8. Business Credit Card: Whether you’re waiting on clients to stop dragging their feet on payments or could use a little extra capital, a good business credit card is essential when you’re in a pinch.
  9. Escrow: Save yourself from non-paying clients by requiring that they place funds in escrow.
  10. Freelance Switch Rates Calculator: Trying to figure out how much to charge for a job? Give this calculator a whirl.
  11. MoneyManager: Track transactions that you make away from your computer with this reporting tool.
  12. PayPal: PayPal goes beyond eBay by allowing you to accept electronic payments from anyone, even using credit cards.
  13. CCH Calculators: If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty numbers of taking on a new venture, or figure out the profitability of working with a certain client, take these calculators for a spin.
  14. Freshbooks: Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of freelancing is invoicing and getting your clients to pay. Freshbooks promises to make billing "painless," and offers a way to track both invoices and time easily.


Hitting the road to meet with clients may leave you feeling a little harried and out of your element. Get back to good with these tools.

  1. TripIt: Email TripIt your travel plans, and they’ll build a master itinerary with your plans that’s printable and shareable from anywhere.
  2. Bear Trap Guide: If you’re visiting clients on the road, the last thing you need is to rack up a speeding ticket on the way. Avoid speed traps with this guide.
  3. FlightStats: Use FlightStats to get up to date information on your flight, so you’ll always be able to let your clients know if you’ll be running a little late.
  4. AirPower Wiki: So you’ve gotten hooked up with some airport WiFi. Great, but what happens when you drain your laptop’s battery? Locate an outlet in loads of major airports with this wiki.
  5. PublicRoutes: When you’re visiting clients in a big city, public transportation is often the best way to get around. This tool maps out routes for public transportation, so you can get there quick without taking a cab.
  6. Travel Rewards Credit Card: Travel gets expensive, so a good travel rewards program is essential if you want to save a little money on getting from point A to point B.
  7. If you’re going to earn travel rewards, keep track of them in a handy tool like this one.
  8. AboutAirportParking: Find the best airport parking lots on this site, plus delay and security times for the airport at the same time.
  9. TripWiser: Micromanage your travel time using this tool.
  10. Google Transit: Plan public transit trips in 20 popular regions with this cool Google tool.
  11. Farecast: Save yourself some travel cash by using Farecast to find the right time to buy your airfare.
  12. Trippish: On a road trip, weather can make a big difference. Use this app that studies the weather forecast to let you know when it’s a good time to leave.


Even if you think you’re a genius, chances are you could stand to learn something from others. Get ideas for streamlining business, attracting clients, and more with these blogs and news outlets. We’ve also include a couple tools that make reading these resources a little more handy.

  1. Freelance Switch: Freelance Switch keeps readers up to date on the latest resources and developments for people who work freelance.
  2. FreelanceVenue: Get advice, tips, and a heads up on available jobs on this blog.
  3. RSS2PDF: Your online time is valuable, so turn your RSS feeds into PDFs and read them later when you’re offline.
  4. All Freelance: Get helpful tips on taxes, finances, working at home, and more on this blog.
  5. Web Worker Daily: This blog is aimed at freelancers whose work is web-based, like bloggers and developers.
  6. Chief Home Officer: If you’re in a home office, read Chief Home Officer for tips on how to stay sane and improve the way you work.
  7. Visit Entrepreneur to get hooked up with some awesome resources and some of the best small business articles online.
  8. Freelance Parent: Learn how to handle freelancing and parenting at the same time on this blog.
  9. Ninja Freelance: Stay on the "cutting edge" of freelance news and articles with this blog.
  10. Coroflot’s Creative Seeds: Learn how to find creative work and get advice on freelancing on Creative Seeds.
  11. Working Solo: Working Solo is a great information source for freelancers, and it’s chock full of resources.
  12. WorkHappy: Stay on top of the latest apps and other resources for freelancers on this site.
  13. Contract Worker: Contract Worker has some great ideas for making work better, highlighting interviews and useful tools online.


Whether you’re sharing your writing or giving a presentation, these document tools are essential.

  1. Qlipboard: Create online slide presentations in which you can record your own voice with this free tool.
  2. CutePDF: Print nearly any Windows application to PDF with this app that can be installed as a printer.
  3. CZ Document Converter: If you’ve got a bunch of documents in Word that need to get converted to PDF before you send them off, use this batch document converter to automate the process and make it easier.
  4. RapidoWrite: Freelance writers can cut down on repetitive text with this tool.
  5. NoteSake: Put an end to scribbled meeting notes with this app. Put them online, and make them searchable, printable, and organized.
  6. SlideRocket: For presentation software in a slick, beautiful package, consider using SlideRocket. In addition to its presentation capabilities, it has built-in web meeting tools.
  7. Skim: Take notes directly on a PDF file as you read it with Skim.
  8. Google Documents: Word and Excel are pretty much one-user programs. You enter information, send it, and there’s not a lot of back and forth. With Google Documents, your documents take on a whole new collaborative life, which clients are sure to love.

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  1. What a fantastic group of resources! Thanks for posting. I’ll be sure to link to this and add it to my bookmarks for constant reference.


    Comment by Kristen King — October 15, 2007 @ 4:27 pm

  2. Wow, this is such a comprehensive list! We’re really pleased to be a part of it. I’ll be bookmarking this for sure!

    Comment by lornadoone — October 15, 2007 @ 4:42 pm

  3. Certainly a very good list. It will easily pass as resource for many freelancers. It also saves important time which, otherwise, would be spent on search.

    Comment by Mihaela "Mig" Lica — October 15, 2007 @ 5:10 pm

  4. I love snnotated lists of productivity resources. This one is particularly rich. THANKS.


    Comment by Tom Colvin — October 15, 2007 @ 6:56 pm

  5. For travel, you should also try a website called Yapta tracks airfares even after you book your ticket and will send an email about a significant price drop, along with info about how to claim a travel voucher or refund from your airline. I’ve used it with great success.

    Comment by Joni McDougall — October 15, 2007 @ 6:59 pm

  6. So many great tools! Thanks for this list. I’d add ClickTime (web-based time tracking), QuickBase (customizable web-based database) and VerticalResponse (for emailing out your newsletter or bulk mail)

    Comment by TedinIowa — October 16, 2007 @ 12:29 am

  7. And organize your information in landscapes — 3D Topicscape.


    Comment by Roy — October 16, 2007 @ 7:14 am

  8. Hi Jessica,

    Just a quick word to say a big “Thank you” for recommending us in your extremely well put together list of tools. I have circulated your blog list to our staff and we are already contemplating how we can “mash-up” as many of these tools on the list as possible…integrating these functions into our own suite….

    Also, just to note for your subscribers we are currently offering 10 businesses the opportunity to have their websites designed, developed and hosted for free, and use the business suite for a year…..all they need to do is register with us on before 5pm on 15th November 2007. Its as easy as that..

    Thanks again,


    Ultan O Brien
    Managing Director

    Comment by Ultan O Brien — October 16, 2007 @ 12:42 pm

  9. Wow! What a great list! A lot of them are items I use every day without even thinking of them in a “list” context. Each day I fire up Firefox, log on to Google Mail and check my email. My wife (hotel management consultant) uses Craigslist for both finding opportunities and buying other peoples stuff. We both use PayPal to drain our bank account:)

    At work (Pervasive DataSolutions) my team builds an integration that connects QiuckBooks and Salesforce. How cool is it that we touch, not one, but two of the applications on your list.

    I probably now need to spend time looking at the other 94 items since my top 6 are in your top 100!

    Comment by bjacaruso — October 16, 2007 @ 2:03 pm

  10. Hi, This is Steve from Less Accounting. First I’d like to say thanks for including us to this great list. Secondly I’d like to mention that TouristR ( might help you find things to do or places to eat when traveling for fun or business.

    Comment by Steven A Bristol — October 16, 2007 @ 3:50 pm

  11. Excellent resources…great work.

    Comment by John — October 16, 2007 @ 5:44 pm

  12. Perhaps the title of this article should be “The 100 Tools PC Freelancers Can’t Live Without”.

    As a Mac user, I didn’t see any of the excellent tools that I use in my freelance work.

    Just my 2¢

    Comment by Scott — October 16, 2007 @ 10:07 pm

  13. What an awesome list, on behalf of independents everywhere, THANK YOU.
    Should you have a spare moment please take a peek at what we’re doing at Flying Solo…hopefully we might make it onto future such lists.

    Comment by robert gerrish — October 17, 2007 @ 7:43 am

  14. Thanks alot of compiling this list. I stumbled it and added it to

    You should sign up for firefox affiliate program so you can get in on the action when people download from this page.


    Comment by Bradley Woods — October 17, 2007 @ 3:53 pm

  15. Hi Jessica,

    Another tool for freelancers is Fanurio . It can do basic project management, time tracking and invoicing and it can be used both on Windows and Mac.


    Comment by Cosmina Stefanache — October 17, 2007 @ 4:24 pm

  16. Wow, that’s an impressive list of tools. I’m bookmarking this and will be back now and again to check a few of these out.

    Thanks very much for the post.

    Comment by Misses E. — October 17, 2007 @ 5:31 pm

  17. Just another note to thank you for the great list. I already use some of these and others are sure to become favorites.

    Another suggestion, JumpUp from intuit – the makers of QuickBooks. Lots of free business planning tools and a free online invoice generator. Creates invoices that can be printed or emailed. I use this all the time when working at client’s offices.

    Thanks again.

    Comment by Rachel — October 17, 2007 @ 9:07 pm

  18. Great List, I think it’s gonna save me lot’s of time!

    Another good resource is
    They aggregate freelance opportunities from a bunch of sites which saves me tons of time when searching for a project.

    Comment by Jenna — October 17, 2007 @ 9:55 pm

  19. Jessica:

    Thanks for putting our product on you list. I’m pleased to hear that you are finding it useful. Please do not hesitate to contact me as you use the product.

    Best Regards,
    Brad Meador

    Comment by Brad Meador — October 17, 2007 @ 11:35 pm

  20. You might also want to check out which is an invoicing site. During the beta it is completely free.


    Comment by James Avery — October 23, 2007 @ 1:11 pm

  21. Lots of absolutely stunning life savers. Thanks a heap!

    Comment by Philipp Schumann — October 23, 2007 @ 4:31 pm

  22. If you need to keep track of 100 tools you’ll be out of businees in no time.

    FFS, man, if you really are into businees make a choice.

    Comment by SadPanda — November 22, 2007 @ 8:09 pm

  23. Awesome list, thanks for the info!

    Comment by Chad Reitsma — November 22, 2007 @ 11:06 pm

  24. I started using http://Sleep.FM for my alarm clock, which my co-workers, friends or myself create audio reminder messages(voice-mails) that are my alarm tones. Beep, Beep, “Hey, don’t forget to get those papers to Jim.. see ya later for drinks!”

    Comment by Joe Tiller — November 23, 2007 @ 5:44 am

  25. Don’t forget us guys:


    We’re a podcast dedicated to the business of creative independence.

    sorry for the shameless plug but I hope some of your readers will find our information useful.

    Good luck Freelancers !!!
    your pals
    Bob And Chris

    Comment by bob — January 5, 2008 @ 9:27 pm

  26. i like using its fast and easy to find cheap flights

    Comment by johnny tsnuami — January 24, 2008 @ 11:34 pm

  27. Hi bro, nice article!

    But it’s even better if you can separate out free service freelancer network with paid service.
    Well, if you don’t mind, i can share you my freelancer network

    It also provided with freebies for freelancers & project hirers

    I am sure it will entertain project hirers & freelancers

    Comment by weilies — March 12, 2008 @ 6:03 am

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