The other day, I finally looked up the origins of the word “freelance,” and I was pleasantly surprised.
“Freelance” first came into English use in the early 1800s to describe a medieval soldier who would fight for whichever side paid the most (remember, “lance” is an old-timey weapon wielded by a horseman). It’s a synecdoche akin to the phrase “hired gun,” and it’s really just another word for “mercenary.”
As a freelancer, you are a professional mercenary, and it’s in your best interest to use all the tools you can to either make your life easier, increase the value of work, or both. In an effort to level the playing field for us solitary working stiffs, I’ve gathered a few sites that might help out along the way.
GoTranscript is particularly helpful for journalists, but transcription services come in handy in a variety of settings. Prices start at $.72 per minute, and there are many ways to customize your order. Transcribing on your own can take forever. If you can justify this time-saving expense for a particular job, it can make your life a whole lot easier.
Brought to you by the folks behind the Envato online marketplace for creative services, the Envato Market provides the building blocks for the people offering those creative services. This is a great place to get royalty-free music, clips, or images for a video promo you’re working on, or even pick up a theme for that website your client can’t seem to get quickly enough.
Clearbit is one of those magic technologies you never thought possible. In a broader sense, it is a data-solutions company for sales and marketing teams, providing them with information to use within their existing tools. But for Joe Freelancer, the most valuable function Clearbit has might be the Gmail Add-On that allows you to type in the name of any company and get direct emails to people in that organization. Wow. The future is now!
Whether you are “side hustlin’” with Lyft or Uber or need to keep track of mileage for another gig, Everlance keeps track of your driving distances and helps figure out tax deductions like gas and related expenses.
Grammarly is a free chrome add-on that corrects your grammar for you. It’s beautiful in its simplicity, and for those who struggle with writing, it can help make an otherwise bumbling email look downright professional.
Your Local Public Library
Results may vary on this one, but I live in San Francisco and the SF Public Library is a wellspring of free resources, not to mention a free Lynda.com subscription with which you can teach yourself just about anything. Trust me — I’m currently taking an Adobe Premiere class, and our “textbook” is a series of Lynda videos.
Many freelance jobs are paid hourly, and more times than not, you are required to keep track of your own time. Time-tracking software like Toggl helps you do that, but it can also provide some neat data-driven visual reports of your time usage in order to help you be more efficient in general.
If you’re working from home, it’s easy to zone out and forget to stretch, take a walk, or just step away from your desk for a moment. In an effort to promote daily wellness practices, TimeOut provides you with break reminders that can be customized to fit your needs.
(Cough) Seed (Cough)
If you are a freelancer, you might find that a traditional big bank isn’t your speed. Seed is an all-mobile bank account that’s designed for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and freelancers. You can make mobile deposits by snapping a picture of a check, keep track of all your transactions on a snazzy app, generate revenue and expense reports, and more. If you’re looking for a different banking experience, Seed might be for you.