Part of growing your website design practice as a freelancer is knowing that you have the right tech stack or tools that you need to build and grow your freelance practice.
Let’s get into the five tools I use almost every day to run the studio.
Before we dive into this, I want you to know there are thousands of tools out there that can do almost the same as the ones I am about to mention. But always look for what works best for you and where you are in the business journey.
In the last ten years, I have found that having the right tools makes a big difference, and being organized, easing the communication process with clients, and getting good at a few tools can make an impact on your freelance journey.
So let’s go!
Use Notion for management
Notion is an amazing tool to help you get your entire freelance practice organized. You can build to-do lists, knowledge base pages, project management tools and so much more.
I even use Notion to create project management tools that are shared with my clients the moment we start a project. And so far they loved how easy it is to interact with it and be up-to-date with what is happening during a project.
You can get started for Free and if you see the need for more features/space, you can sign up for a paid account and unlock a lot more flexibility. I will recommend that if you can, pay for a year subscription and not on a month-by-month subscription as you will be saving some good money!
Use Slack for communication
We want to communicate easily with clients and anyone involved in a project.
Have you ever gone over an email thread trying to find something you discussed months ago? Emails get lost!
So I used slack!
Once a client signs up to work with me, I will create a new slack private channel with their name on it. And since most of my clients are already using slack, I get added to their channels, making it easier for them.
Use Google Drive or Dropbox for sharing files
I am constantly sharing files with clients. So what I do is once a project starts I will create a shared folder on Google Drive. By default, you get 15GB on Google Drive with any Gmail account.
These folders are privately shared with clients and added to my Notion project management page for this project. There, the client will be able to get all the files they need. This is something I don’t delete, so even if I am no longer working with them, they can get access to it.
Use Figma for design
For design, there are many tools you can use. Even Photoshop if you’d like.
But if you are working with clients and need feedback easily, without them needing to do much, I will recommend Figma.
Most of Figma is free, and there a lot of plugins to help you design even faster. And to me, it is one of those software that as a designer, you need to learn to master. You will be surprised on how much you can do with it!
There are also paid versions of Figma, in case you need to add more people and use pages the way they intended and not just artboards. But so far, I have only done that for product design projects. For everything else the free version works just as well!
Use Webflow to build your websites
It is not that I think other website tools aren’t good. They all are, including WordPress. But as a designer and developer I am more interested in what makes my life easier as a designer, than having to worry about stuff breaking for no reason.
Most of the websites I design are not simple to develop, since everything is designed from scratch to match my clients need, it is very difficult to find a template that I can use. And with creative freedom during the design process, you need to have creative freedom during your development process.
The learning curve for Webflow is more challenging that other tools, as it requires that you know the basics of building a website. I’d recommend to read some books about HTML, CSS and JS before you dive into it.
Webflow is not completely free. If you want to unlock features you need a paid account plan and hosting plan if you want to use their CMS within your live website. But to me it has been totally worth it.
And if you don’t know this, 2 years ago I stopped working and offering WP websites, and the results by using Webflow only have been quite amazing.
Use Pastel for QA
Do you know that not many ppl QA their work? If you are not too sure on what this is, it simply means Quality Assurance. Where you go over your work to ensure everything is as it should be.
I normally use “Usepastel” for this as it allows multiple people to view the website and leave comments on things I might have missed and then I can mark them as fixed once I have fixed them on Webflow.
The only thing to keep in mind is that it seems like the software doesn’t support JS interactions. So there might be a chance that if you are doing a scroll interaction, your website will show as a blank page. But don’t worry there are other ways to do this, and it can be done easily with a table in Notion.
Use pastel has a paid and free plan, so you can choose what you need.
Use QuickBooks to manage your finances
Managing your finances over on Notion or on a spreadsheet is just not enough. You need an actual accounting software. And this one is mainly for those that are bringing in a bit more of income and are working with accountants.
You are going to need to file taxes, and manage your business. And whether you call yourself a freelancer or not, you are still a business owner. The better you have this organized and the sooner you start the best it will be.
With QuickBooks, you can choose a simple paid account package. You don’t really need that much.
These are just some of the tools I use everyday to run my design studio as a Freelancer. If any of these tools grabbed your attention and you’d like me to go into any of them in-depth let me know in the comments sections.