For many writers, creating clear, descriptive prose comes naturally. But keeping track of money? Not so easy. For that, you can turn to the internet. There are hundreds of financial tools out there, but the following are some of the best out there for freelance writers.
- Freelance Switch Hourly Rate Calculator
As a freelancer, you will need to know how much money you need to charge to survive. You simply plug in your costs, number of billable hours and amount of profit you’d like to make. The calculator then estimates how much you’d need to charge to cover all of those things.
Mint is a website that keeps all your financial accounts in one place (Ed. note: I didn’t tell Julie to include this one but for the sake of full disclosure, I should note that I’ve written for the Mint’s blog and several other websites owned by Intuit, which owns Mint). You sync the site up with all your banking accounts, including savings and investments. With all of that information in one place, you can see what you spend your money on, how much is in your account and generally keep close tabs on your money. It also has a feature that lets you keep track of your money on your phone, so you can stay on top of your finances, even if you’re on location working on a story.
- Google currency conversion tool
At some point, you will probably write for a company in another country, and you will need to convert what you charge from one form of currency to another. If you know the abbreviation of the currency, you can use a simple Google search function to determine how much it is worth in your own currency. For example, if you live in the United States and you work for someone in Australia, you simply put “convert 150USD to AUD” to find out how much to charge your Australian employer in their own currency. In this case, it would be AUD$145.86. If you don’t know the abbreviation, you can, well, Google it.
Even if you use these financial tools, you may find yourself needing to do some more hardcore calculations. You can use Instacalc for those. It is an advanced online calculator that is more than just typing in numbers. You can build spread sheets and save calculations that you need to make all the time. What makes it great for writers is that you even use words. Simply type, say, “25mph in feet/min” to find out how fast that would be. It can help you calculate things for your finances, but it can also help you with some numeric research for your articles.
Toggl is one of the top time tracking and billing sites on the internet. It allows you to track your time with a desktop widget. You name a project and put it against one of your clients’ names, then press a large red button. It then keeps track of your billing and syncs automatically with your online account. It could not be easier to keep track of how long you’ve been working on a project, ensuring you don’t work so long that it no longer becomes profitable for you.
You might prefer to use something like CurdBee to track your time and send out invoices. You can also draw up estimates, record your expenses, and accept online payments. It’s kind of like Toggl and PayPal, all in one site.
- Invoice Journal
If you want to send as many professional-looking invoices as you want to a company anywhere in the world, Invoice Journal is perfect. It is completely free to use, and the invoices are completely customizable. You can even match it to the rest of your business design.
- Side Job Track
All of these tools are useful, but they aren’t all made specifically for freelancers. Side Job Track is, however. You can track jobs, send invoices, prepare reports and manage your projects, all with a tool that is specifically designed for the unique needs of freelancers – or as they say, “part-time independent contractors”.
Writers, have you used any of these tools? Which would you recommend?
This is a guest post contributed by Julie Pena. She writes on behalf of Printerinks. Julie enjoys sharing her experiences of freelancing.
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