Another hybrid tool that could fit into multiple categories, Funnel lets you easily add forms to your website to collect information from prospective clients. Once you get an inquiry, Funnel makes it easy to create a proposal and get the project moving.
Web Design Proposal Generator
We’re especially fond of Web Design Proposal Generator as it was made in Webflow CMS by Spreadshare cofounder Sidney Ottelohe. But all product bias aside, it’s a smart use of a content management system to generate and stylishly present your proposals to freelance clients — and you can customize every bit of it, without coding, so it reflects your brand perfectly.
Best platforms for finding freelance work
While I will always stand by referrals being the best way to find new clients, there are definitely some tools out there that can help you kickstart your client base, and continually add to it, if you so choose.
I’ve been hearing Toptal pop up in conversation a lot more as of late. They pride themselves on having only the best of the best freelance talent, which is why they have an application and screening process.
Having that high quality bar set also helps them attract some of the best companies in the world when they’re looking for freelancer help. And with great companies comes better compensation, so there’s no race to the bottom here.
New to the block is Webflow Experts, a freelancer marketplace specializing in Webflow-based projects. Like Toptal, Webflow Experts has an application and screening process before you can start working on projects.
The Webflow Experts profiles emphasize your work and skillset, and the site lets clients find you based on their needs. That helps match clients with just the right person — and keeps the noise down to a dull roar for the designers.
The site also strikes a careful balance for both sides of the marketplace, keeping a consistent stream of project proposals (and work) coming in.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or are new to freelancing), I’m sure you’ve heard of Upwork. Upwork can be invaluable in filling in the gaps between larger projects that I’m more passionate about.They’ve become so large that it’s just a reliable place to go for consistent, last-minute work.
The not-so-great part of Upwork is the bidding contests, which attract a certain kind of client – usually one looking for quick turnaround at bargain-basement prices. Given the large volume of requests on the platform, you can still sometimes find those clients who put more of a premium on quality than thrift, but in the end, it’s your call as to whether or not to give the platform a swing.
A newer, but increasingly popular design tool these days is Figma. Some even believe it’s going to supplant Sketch as the industry’s go-to UI design tool, including former Sketch fan Tom Johnson, who recently published the piece, You are going to switch to Figma.
People love it for a number of reasons, but one of the top reasons has to be its real-time collaboration feature, which allows several people to work simultaneously on the same design. And that isn’t just handy for working with your fellow designers — copywriters and content strategists can also jump in and update content! (Oh, and you Windows-using designers will be happy to hear that, unlike Sketch, you can use it on a Windows machine.)
Depending on the type of design you do, Figma may not be your cup of tea, but I’ll let you make the call, since they have a free plan.
Alright, time for a shameless plug: but I promise that as a freelancer, I really do love Webflow more than any other design tool. Primarily because I can manage my entire business through Webflow.
To start, designing in Webflow saves me tons of time and money. First, because Webflow writes production-ready code for me while I design, I don’t have to rely on a developer’s help to bring my design to life. I was sold on that alone when i first found Webflow (so much so I decided to come work here).
Second is the flexibility of the CMS. I have yet to find a CMS that’s easier or faster to customize, which is a huge factor when you have a wide range of clients. And I’ve definitely not seen a CMS that offers so much visual design flexibility without relying on templates.
Last is Client Billing. We all know that it can be hard at times to get paid as a freelancer. But with Client Billing, I just define a recurring fee, and Webflow handles the rest, so I don’t have to worry about invoicing and all that other baggage.
If you haven’t yet, definitely give Webflow a try. there’s a free version, but I think you’ll find the paid plans are more than worth it.
Design collaboration tools
Redpen allows you to get feedback on your designs, from as many people as you want, as annotations pinned to your designs. And if you can’t tell already, that makes it a solid alternative to InVision, only with more focus on speed and less on features.
I haven’t used Redpen a lot on my own design work, but I’ve given a ton of feedback through Redpen. My favorite part about it, is (as my colleague John Moore Williams mentions in a more in-depth post about design feedback tools) is just the feeling of being able to show people how your product works, rather than just telling them.
A rising star in the same space as Redpen, InVision fills the same need for asynchronous design feedback, but bolts on a whole host of other features. InVision is what I’ve been using lately for my design work, and I love it.
Like Redpen, it gives you the feeling of presenting your product by showing rather than telling. But it also works seamlessly with other applications, like Sketch, Dropbox, and Drive, which can really help take the pain out of managing file versions.
There’s a free plan for you to try it out, but it’s limited to one prototype.
Skitch is one of those tools that can quickly become such a go-to that, if you’re just learning about it from me, I can confidently say, “You’re welcome.”
It’s a simple way to take, annotate, and send screenshots, saving time for everyone involved in your feedback loops.
Though there are countless uses for this tool, it can be helpful to think of it as an InVision for sites that are already in production. Use it to send feedback on production designs, take notes for redesigns, or just to call attention to bugs. I can also say that the Webflow Support team relied on it for the creation of Help Center screenshots for quite some time.
My main alternative to Skitch is CloudApp. While it does much the same thing at base — i.e., create screenshots you can then annotate — it also simplifies sharing by letting you distribute your screenshots via a URL.
Though Skitch has many great features, I find CloudApp more robust, as it allows me to capture screen recordings, create GIFs, and integrate with the host of other file management and sharing apps I use.
The free plan lets you create and share 10 files per day, which may be enough for many — but know that you’ll probably lean on this one enough that you’ll quickly need more.
Content design tools
Whether you’re in the early information architecture (IA) planning stages or jamming on final copy, you’ll find a host of content design tools out there to streamline your collaboration with freelance clients. Here are a few of my faves.
While many designers and content strategists have made the leap to Dropbox Paper, I stand by Google Docs for content creation and collaboration.
With solid change tracking, a great automatic outline generator, the ability to turn comments into task assignments, and a host of formatting options you won’t find in Paper, it’s my go-to tool for writing — especially collaborative writing.
If you prefer a default-beautiful design to a highly customizable one, but still want all the collaborative bells and whistles, Paper could be your jam. Especially if you’re already living the Dropbox life for your other file management needs.
You know that feeling you get when you stumble across a new app and really want to use it but just don’t have a task it fits perfectly? Yeah — that’s exactly what I’ve been feeling for months now about Notion.
The folks at Notion made the genius move of unifying a writing app, wiki, and task management tool into one nicely designed space, making it ideal for those looking to centralize their team management and productivity tools. If our head of content hadn’t already built our content guidelines out in Webflow CMS, I might’ve bugged him to use Notion instead.
If you’re a fan of beautiful, multi-device, Markdown-driven writing apps, Bear’s for you. The cross-note linking and use of hashtags to organize and categorize your content are particularly handy for larger projects. Just keep in mind that it might not be the friendliest tool to collaborate with clients in — unless they’re fans of Markdown, that is.
When you’re brainstorming, designing a content strategy, defining a brand, or concepting your next sitemap, there’s nothing like a beautiful, easy-to-use mindmapping tool. And MindMeister is a great example of the type. It’s free for your first three maps, so give it a spin!
If any tool has ever been built specifically for content strategists, it’s GatherContent. As the name suggests, it’s built to help you handle the intake and management of content from a variety of sources with ease. It allows you to structure content to align with your CMS, build a sitemap and content inventory, and even integrates with several popular CMSs to streamline publishing.
Just remember: you are greater than your tools
Tools and resources can help alleviate the stress of freelancing, but they’ll only take you so far.
Your work ethic, dedication to finding new clients, and design skills will always be your most important assets. All these apps do is help you deliver all three.
Did we miss a favorite tool of yours? Let us know in the comments!