20+ Useful Web Apps for Freelance Content and Social Media Marketers
Freelancing is not for the lazy. You need to be extremely self-motivated to work through the tough times without someone to guide you. In this post, we have compiled a cherry-picked list of the finest web apps and tools that’ll help you thrive as a freelance content or social media marketer.
More and more millennials today are opting out of the corporate 9-to-5 grind and choosing to be their own bosses. And why not? The freedom to work from anywhere in the world, pick your working hours, take on projects that align with your interests, and charge a fair price you think you actually deserve, beats any typical corporate job.
Of course, freelancing is not for the lazy. You need to be extremely self-motivated to work through the tough times without someone to guide you. Forget the unsung benefits of being a salaried employee, too. You’ll have to look after the business and accounting side of things apart from your actual client work.
Simply put, freelancing has a lot of moving parts, and you cannot survive, let alone thrive, without the right tools. That said, you don’t want to sign up for every free tool there is and end up getting bogged down with a glut of futile tools. And so, in this post, we have compiled a cherry-picked list of the finest web apps and tools that’ll help you thrive as a freelance content or social media marketer.
Web App for Ranking Your Freelance Business
If you haven’t already, the first thing you need to do is build yourself a portfolio website to highlight your strengths, skills, and experience. There’s no way around this if you wish to stand out of the crowd and exude professionalism.
It goes without saying that marketing your freelance services is pivotal to the success of your venture. Getting new clients on a consistent basis is by far the biggest challenge for most freelancers.
Now, when it comes to marketing, organic search results from Google are the biggest source of traffic and leads for freelancers and e-commerce businesses. Consequently, once you have a portfolio website ready, start optimizing it for search using the following tools:
- SEMrush: This is the complete search engine marketing toolkit you’ll ever need to rank higher. You can perform keyword research, site audits, on-page SEO, link building, monitor your social media for mentions, and much more.
- Google Search Console: Rendered by Google themselves, Search Console will give you rich insights into keyword performance, indexation issues, mobile usability, sitemap status, and much more.
- Yoast SEO Plugin: If you’re using WordPress for your portfolio, this is an absolute must-have plugin for on-page SEO of your portfolio.
In essence, if you truly wish to grow your freelance business to new heights in the long run, you must take SEO seriously.
Websites for Free Images and Illustrations
Your content and/or social media marketing business will demand a lot of visuals on a daily basis. But this doesn’t mean you have to shell out your profits on subscription plans on sites like Shutterstock. Fortunately, first-rate, free-to-use stock photos and illustrations are available on websites like:
- Unsplash: Nothing beats this website in terms of quality of free stock photos.
- Pixabay: If you’re looking for both stock photos and illustrations, then you should try this website.
- unDraw: For free, customizable, and modern scalable vector graphics, this is the place to be.
- Pexels: If you can’t find your desired image on Unsplash or Pixabay, then check out Pexels.
You don’t need to create an account in these sites, so the process of downloading free images is totally hassle-free. The images can be used for commercial purposes and it is not mandatory to credit the artist, although, it wouldn’t hurt to give them the recognition they deserve.
If you're specifically marketing a product on social media, then stock photographs won't be useful. In this case, you might need to do some photography yourself.
Web Apps for Better Communication
Communication is key in your day-to-day freelance operations, be it with collaborators, prospective clients or existing ones. The top two picks, as you’d probably expect, are:
- Slack: Sooner or later, you will land a client that'll ask you to use Slack for all communications, especially for long-term projects. Slack has almost become the standard for work-related communication. It supports instant messaging, 1-to-1 voice calling, video calling, integration with other major apps such as Google Docs and Trello, among other features. The best part? Its free version should be enough for your needs.
- Skype: A popular alternative to Slack, Skype is good for instant messaging and voice calling, and especially great for video calling.
Besides direct communication, you’ll need to hunt prospects and leads via old-school email pitching. Hunter and Voila Norbert are perfect for the job of hunting down email addresses of potential clients.
Web Apps for Easy Design
As you know, social media is all about visuals. Outsourcing your graphic design needs to a professional designer can cut out a huge chunk of your profits. But you don’t need to do that thanks to these easy-to-use web apps:
- Canva: Making elegant graphics for social media and blog posts is super easy with Canva. With hundreds of ready-made templates, icons, illustrations, and an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, all you need is a bit of creativity to create professional-looking visuals such as infographics, illustrations, and so on.
- AutoClipping: You’ll often want to remove the background of your image or separate one particular element of the image from the rest. You can either learn complicated and costly tools like Photoshop for this simple job or do it directly in a couple of clicks using this web app.
- Animoto: Being a social media or content marketing expert, you know the demand for video content is growing each year. But video editing is usually seen as a daunting task and still scares away many creative professionals. However, with Animoto, you can create powerful videos in minutes without any prior video editing experience.
Web Apps for Automating Social Media
Social media will play a huge role in your life as a creative freelancer. That is, Twitter and LinkedIn will likely be your primary source of networking with other freelancers and prospective clients. These platforms will be where you’ll want to build your personal brand and establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche.
Furthermore, apart from these two platforms, you’ll likely use Facebook for promoting your content. Even more so if you’re working as a social media marketer with a handful of clients under your belt.
So, whether it be for your own personal branding or client work, social media management can be made much simpler with the following apps:
- Hootsuite: Manage all your social media accounts with this one tool. Hootsuite allows you to easily schedule all your social posts in advance and provides actionable analytics for each platform to track and improve your performance. Curating content, scheduling posts, monitoring conversations about your brand, and tracking engagement and ROI, all under one roof.
- Post Planner: If you’re looking for a more affordable option, Post Planner is the way to go. It boasts similar features as Hootsuite, such as intuitive post-scheduling to post the right content at the right time. What’s more, with its content recommendation engine, consistently coming up with interesting ideas for social media is no longer a guessing game.
Web Apps for Better Writing
Blog posts, client emails, social media captions, you’ll be writing a lot as a creative freelancer. The one thing that totally turns off prospective (and even existing) clients is spelling mistakes and grammatical inaccuracies. Check out these apps to try and foolproof your writing:
- Grammarly: Sure, you can and should use the standard, built-in spellcheck functionality while writing docs. However, it won’t catch all mistakes. Grammarly is an advanced app that fixes grammatical errors, including modifier placement, subject-verb agreement, and punctuations. It can even detect correctly spelled words used in the wrong context. The free version might be sufficient for basic needs, but if your freelance business is solely focused on writing, you should consider getting the premium version.
- Hemingway App: Long, complex sentences and passive voice are signs of poor writing. This tool helps you correct that with ease.
- Capitalize My Title: As the name suggests, this snappy little tool takes the guesswork out of capitalizing titles of articles and social media posts.
- Word Counter: Easily check the word count of your competitor’s blog posts to plan the length of your content with this web app.
Web Apps for Project and Money Management
Once you have a steady flow of projects rolling in, your next challenge will be to manage them efficiently. Shuffling various projects at once can get extremely tricky for new and experienced freelancers alike. Setting priorities according to complexity and deadlines isn’t as simple as it sounds.
What you need is a Kanban approach to project management to get things in order. This strategy involves assigning a “Board” to each project and then splitting the board into columns marked as “To-do”, “In-progress”, and “Completed”. Each column then consists of “Cards”, where each card stipulates the individual tasks required to be done so as to complete the project.
This so-called Kanban approach is surely one of the most efficient techniques to run your projects. The following two tools are worth checking out for this purpose:
- Trello: This is probably the most popular Kanban tool out there. It is totally free and very easy-to-use. It integrates with other major apps such as Slack and Dropbox. This is as simple as it gets.
- Zenhub: This app is exactly the same as Trello in terms of features and feel, but unlike Trello, it also allows you to create burndown charts and estimates. It is free for small teams and public accounts.
You may eventually start to outsource some tasks which aren’t your cup of tea, so you’ll need to track those expenses, along with the usual ones (such as taxes). Also, you’ll need an invoicing solution to create professional-looking invoices to bill clients.
Consider using tools like Quickbooks for invoicing and easily tracking your income and business expenses. A free and good alternative for bookkeeping is Wave.
Web Apps for Tracking Productivity
As a freelancer, you would regularly take up projects that seem cut out for you at first, only to realize all the hidden intricacies at a later stage. Consequently, you’ll end up losing track of time. You’ll likely be working on multiple tasks/projects at any given moment, which greatly intensifies this problem. Besides, carefully tracking your billable hours is critical to avoid working for free.
As consistently high levels of productivity and discipline are key to success in your freelancing venture, you might want to use a simple time tracking tool such as Toggl (paid) or Clockify (free).
Ask any freelancer and they’ll promise you there’s more to freelancing than relaxing on a beach with a MacBook and a piña colada. Indeed, sustaining a work-life balance can get quite tricky when you’re engrossed in numerous projects. But with the correct frame of mind and some nifty tools, the hustle does get easier.
Which are your favorite web apps? Are we missing any major ones in this list? Let us know in the comments below!