Tim Aldred - The Frazzled Freelancer

Freelance commercial writer, successfully navigating self-employment one unexpected obstacle at a time. Contact me at twitter.com/tim_aldred

Top 7 things a freelancer can do for free on the internet

Get paid lots of money, spend very little money. That’s Business 101. But how exactly does a freelancer spend very little money? There are so many things to buy – from business cards to posh printer paper to filing cabinets and more. The list is endless.

Luckily, we’re living in the internet age and a whole bunch of things that would have cost money five or ten years ago are now available to freelancers for free, with no strings attached. Here’s seven that will get you started.

If you’ve got any you love, please let us know in the comments section below.


1. Keep in touch with Gmail

It’s not just in the olden days that people used to charge for using their email service, apparently you can still pay for it now. But you don’t need to, because Google offers everything you’ll need for free.

My own account has 10GB of free storage, comes with a free calendar, allows me to use my @timaldred.com address so I look like a pro and synchronises with my mobile phone so I’ve always got my emails and contacts with me wherever I go.


2. Back everything up with IDrive

The age-old saying is that there’s two types of computer users, those that back-up and those that’ll wish they had.

This used to be cumbersome, copying files onto a disc and taking them off-site on a regular basis. I use ‘the cloud’. At 3am every morning, a piece of software checks my computer for files I’ve added or updated over the last 24 hours and makes copies in another country. If ever my computer won’t switch on, or my house falls down and takes my office with it, I can simply log in to the IDrive website with my username and password from any computer and have full access to all of my stuff again.

The first 5GB is free, but you can pay for more if you need it.


3. Build a portfolio with WordPress

When you’re selling yourself as a freelancer, you’ll want to show the world what you’ve done. There’s a hundred websites out there that will work to display your work exactly how you want it. WordPress is a great blogging site that’s very flexible. There’s Behance if you’re into graphics, Flickr if you’re a photographer, Posterous if you’re more of a wordsmith, Tumblr if you don’t like fuss…

Whatever your industry, be it cupcakes, brilliantly written articles or fancy websites, grab a free account, put examples of your best work up and send the link to a potential customer.


4. Market yourself with Twitter

Twitter is the easiest way to start talking to people you know, want to get to know, or even didn’t know you didn’t know. Pick a username, upload your photo and start typing.

Anybody with an account can talk to anybody else with an account. You can be sociable, you can broadcast projects you’re working on or have completed or you can use it to research others.

Facebook is similar, and Google+ is an option. They’ll all put you in touch with people in your industry, potential customers and potential collaborators. And it’s all provided free of charge.



5. Share stuff with Dropbox

When I first started out, sending a photograph to somebody meant heading down to Boots, getting the one-hour counter to make a copy, paperclipping it to a piece of board so the mailman didn’t bend it and dropping it in the post. It would probably arrive over the next day or so.

These days, it’s drag-and-drop and done in a matter of seconds. I can type up a document, fiddle with a spreadsheet or snap a photo and have it half-way around the world (or down the road, that works just as well) in an instant.

I copy the file to my Dropbox account and email the other person to let them know it’s there. They download it and, well, that’s it really. Sharing made ridiculously easy.

You get 2GB to start with, then you can delete stuff when you’re done with it or pay to upgrade if you need more.



6. Organise your paperwork with Evernote

Evernote is where I keep all the things I need to know. It carries lumps of text, web links, pictures, files, pretty much everything, and stores them online so you’ve got access at your own computer, at someone else’s, or on your phone.

You can snap a photo and mark it ‘look into this later’ while you’re on the go, scan in your important contracts for easy access at an unknown point in the future, or use it as an ideas jotter.

Again, it’s another free service that offers more storage space than I’ve managed to fill yet.


7. Hum along to last.fm

The working day always goes that little bit better when there’s a tune to hum along to. Curating a backing track to your day is a fun little thing to do when you need a break and will keep you going when you’re not yet due a time-out.

Almost every radio station has an option to listen in live to their broadcasts, whilst Spotify lets you queue up your favourites in a playlist (although you’ll have to pay if you don’t want regular McDonald’s adverts interrupting) whilst last.fm asks for your favourite type of music then plays things it thinks you’ll like, which makes it a particular favourite for serious fans who love discovering new bands.

Either way, with so many options, you’ll definitely be able to find some to sing along to. Although if you share your office with someone else, beware that a poor taste in music may cause friction.

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Written by Tim Aldred on June 26, 2012 and filed in Featured, Frazzled Freelancer, Freelancers, Opinion , , ,

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