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Designing and developing a web project is difficult enough, but adding project management, invoicing, hosting, file sharing, and staying on task to the mix? That’s exactly what freelancers do though. There are a ton of tools and apps out there designed to help freelancers complete projects and stay organized. Here is a few of my favorite apps and tools that I use on a daily basis.
Teux Deux is a great web app for staying on top of projects. Its got a great user interface and it is super easy to use. Just pick a day of the week and add a task. If you don’t get it done, it rolls over to the next day. There is no need to login every time you use the app and its free!
Wunderlist is another great, simple task management app. It’s basically just lists of stuff that you need to do. Just create a new list and start adding tasks, its really pretty simple and it’s also free. There is a web app or desktop version.
Knowapp is a great project management tool for allowing others to keep track of the projects your doing for them. Just set up a ‘board’, add your tasks to the board and share it publicly with your clients. Your client can then subscribe to the board and every time you update a task, they get notified. It’s really pretty slick and there are a lot of great features.
Everyone knows about Evernote, but that’s just because it’s a great versatile app that you can use for taking notes, writing up to do lists and sharing documents. Now, I generally just use it for note taking so I’ve never paid for it, but I hear there are even better features with a premium account.
I use Curbee, it’s great. Curbee is a simple web app that allows you to add unlimited clients, build invoices and bill clients. It also has a lot of other nice features like: SSL encryption, multiple currencies, data import/export and accept payment via Paypal or Google Checkout. There is a basic free package and a pro package for more tricks.
Harvest is another great billing app that also has a time tracker and report generator so you can really manage your freelance projects. It’s very simple and easy to use and comes packed full of features. There is a free trial to get you hooked, but freelance pricing is a steal at twelve bucks a month.
If you are not only managing yourself but other contractors who help you with your projects, might I suggest Ronin. This simple small business management app allows you to bill and time track as well as create estimates, manage clients and delegate tasks to staff or contractors.
File storage and transfer
Dropbox is awesome, if you don’t use it yet, sign up today. Dropbox is more than just a file storage app. You can use it to collaborate and share files as well as host images for sites, test sites and even host small sites. Dropbox can also be used for fully backing up your computer and files.
WeTransfer is a great way to share large files with clients, contractors or other designers. PSD and AI files are too large to share over the email, WeTransfer is a quick and easy way to email files and it’s got a real slick interface that won’t bore you as you upload and download files.
YouSendIt is another great file sharing app. YouSendIt can store up to 2gb and you can load and share entire files. It can also hook into other apps like Dropbox, Outlook, and Yahoo. You can download the desktop app, mobile app or just use the browser plugin or web app.
Bluehost is a great, in-expensive hosting service. Bluehost has my favorite Cpanel back-end that allows you to create and manage domains, files, databases, FTP clients and email services. Bluehost has unlimited domain hosting, unlimited file transfer and unlimited email accounts.
If you are looking for dedicated hosting, VPS hosting or even reseller hosting than HostGator is probably the place for you. As a freelancer you may have the need for dedicated hosting to host your own projects, portfolios and sites. HostGator offers great time saver tools for the freelancer also, like: easy install scripts, great 24/7 support, and my favorite, the Cpanel control panel.
Webhostingpad also has my favorite control panel, Cpanel but they also offer very inexpensive, unlimited hosting for your freelance projects. Webhostingpad also offers some great eCommerce tools for hooking up shopping carts.
If you need a little help troubleshooting photoshop, scripts, CSS, HTML or any other web related topics the createblog.com forum is a great place to start. They offer forums ranging from graphic design to coding to marketing.
Webdesignerforum.co.uk is a great forum for anything web design or development related. One thing I like most about webdesignerforum.co.uk is its user interface. The interface and design of this forum is very different than your typical forum and it’s really easy to use and navigate.
The sitepoint forums are a great place for expert advise. Whenever I’ve had a question about anything web design I always get some answers really quickly. The only bad thing about the sitepoint forums is the pop up windows, but they are not bad enough to warrant not visiting.
Lynda.com is by far the best place to learn all things web design and development. From taking full courses to just watching a few quick videos, Lynda.com offers a huge library of video tutorials on everything from photoshop to CSS to Word. It will cost you $25 a month but if you are in school you can probably get a significant discount. Trust me, the $25 a month is well worth the education, even if you only sign up for a few months and cancel.
NetTuts is another great place to learn. They offer tutorials on anything and everything web related. One great feature to netTuts is that they offer free tutorials as well as premium ones, and the free tutorials aren’t just garbage they are great, in-depth tutorials that is most case you can download and keep for future reference.