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Survival of the Freelancer – Three Indispensable Tools

Written By Jacki Sturkie | Feb 12, 2015

Computer? Check. Cell phone? Check. Throw them in a messenger bag, and you’re ready to rock this freelance gig. Well, sort of. If you want to avoid some serious costly mistakes (like not having a written agreement with clients), make more money (by tracking and billing) and avoid disasters like losing a hard drive (remote backup), toss these three indispensable tools in your bag o’ tricks:

Get a CB

Not CB as in “breaker-one-nine.” CB as in Creative Business, a treasure trove of information for freelance creatives. There’s something for every budget. Some forms and articles are available for the low-low cost of FREE, but you can also purchase a Work-for-Hire Agreement form for $5, or an article called “Job Cancelled. How Much to Charge?” for $10. Buy a membership for $149 a year, and you’ll get a monthly newsletter and free advice from the owner, Cameron Foote. The guy knows his stuff and could save you a lot of trouble.

Backup on autopilot

Let’s just say I learned the hard drive way. That joke hurt me as much as it hurt you. Speaking of pain, ever had a hard drive crash or disappear? I’ve had one die in the middle of project. Once I saw a public speaker panic when her laptop got stolen before she delivered a presentation. I bought a Carbonite data protection system right away.

For $99.99 a year, Carbonite gives you unlimited, automatic butt storage, a mirror-image backup and remote access. Now my computer gets backed up automatically, keeping files safe and accessible from anywhere. Some jackleg plies your laptop? Log in at; your files are right there. With Carbonite, the public speaker could have borrowed a computer and accessed her slide show from their website.

Time equals money, duh

Without a time tracking system, you don’t know what you’re missing. Cash, that’s what. I’ve tried a few other trackers, but Harvest is by far the best. Harvest gives you an easy way to estimate, track and bill your hours from your computer or mobile device. Sign up for as little as $12/month. Then, track hours for multiple clients. When it’s time to bill, Harvest generates invoices you can send directly to clients. When you get paid, Harvest dispatches thank you notes. When you don’t, Harvest sends out thugs. They’re more like friendly reminders to pay your friendly freelancer, please. Harvest comes with many more tools; I’m just scratching the surface.

Happy freelancing to ya!

Jacki Sturkie is a freelance copywriter by day, stand up comic at night. She’s run across all sorts of situations while freelancing. That’s why she’s compelled to save you from experiencing disasters large and small.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.