There is an almost infinite number of advantages to being a freelancer. In addition to all the money you save on commuting, you have a great deal of freedom and flexibility in your schedule. Not to mention often having more freedom to pick and choose which clients you want to work with and which ones you don’t or choosing projects you are passionate about and leaving the rest behind. There are however, freelancers also face several challenges. The biggest benefits can often be a challenge too: you don’t have a boss or anyone looking over your shoulder to keep you productive. Another is that you have to keep yourself and all of your projects organized. Thankfully, the cloud can help. Here are 5 ways the cloud can help keep freelancers organized.
1. Access to All Your Documents, Data and Information Anywhere
As a freelancer, if you get to an important meeting and discover you don’t have an important document or even the slides for your presentation, you can’t just call the office and get someone to send them to you. With cloud storage, however, you don’t need to worry about that. Cloud storage allows you to access all your most important documents and files from wherever you are and on any device. Sometimes, you may be in a situation where you didn’t even know you would need certain things. For instance, if you are a freelance graphic designer and end up engaging in small talk in a coffee shop with a potential client, you can not only show them your online portfolio, but also any recent work you’ve completed or work in progress that you haven’t yet uploaded to your portfolio.
2. Automatically Pulls Data from One Program and Enters into Another
Perhaps one of the most time-saving and convenient features of recent cloud apps are the automation options. For instance, you can set them up to pull information from one program and enter it into another. As an example, you can automate the app to pull information from an email when a client sends you the details of an appointment, add it to your calendar and set a reminder. Most can even check the weather and traffic on the day of your appointment or find flight and hotel information when you need to travel. They can even offer suggestions as to where to dine or how to best get around the city.
3. Automatically Syncs Data Across Multiple Devices and Optimizes for Device
We’ve all experienced the frustration of downloading a document on our tablet and then having to transfer it to other devices manually. Today, most suites come with ample cloud storage, like Office 365 – you get 1TB of cloud storage on OneDrive as soon as you get a subscription. You can store all your work in one central location and access it with any device. As soon as you make changes, the changes are synced across all devices.
In addition, you can use dedicated cloud-based apps like Word or Excel to make edits on the go. They are optimized for the device they are being accessed from, so when you access your files remotely to edit them on your phone, the app will be optimized for mobile use. If you later continue to edit that same document on your laptop or desktop PC, you will work in the regular app. In addition, any changes you make are saved immediately, even if more people are working on the document or you have the same document opened on multiple devices. This allows you to always have access to the latest version no matter what device you are using.
4. Automates Invoicing, Billing, and Tracking
One drawback of being a freelancer is that you must be your own accounting department. This means keeping track of all your own hours and other expenses, or invoicing and billing your clients – not to mention keeping track of who has paid and who hasn’t. One of the best things about cloud services, however, is that they often work together seamlessly with other apps and programs. With cloud services, you can track your hours with an app like Timely or Toggl and send out an invoice via Wave Accounting. You can even set up an alert, so you know when your client has paid you. You can also set up automatic payments to pay your own bills and expenses, leaving you free to focus on landing your next big client or working on your next big project.
5. Helps You Track Multiple Projects
Most freelancers tend to have various projects in various stages of completion at any time. One project could be waiting for a green light from a client while another project may simply be awaiting final approval while you are right in the middle of a third. For this, there are a number of different productivity and project tracking apps such as Basecamp or Asana. If you are a big fan of the Kanban method, then Trello may be just right for you.
Freelancers are entrepreneurs and like all entrepreneurs, they must keep up with the latest trends to keep their competitive edge. Thankfully, technology can help you accomplish a wide range of tasks you might previously have needed employees or an assistant to help you accomplish. With the wide range of cloud-based services available, you can stay on top of your business while still getting your primary work done.