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Freelancing

10 free tools to help creative freelancers get started

Tiphaine Bruel
February 6, 2019
February 6, 2019

Our 10 favourite free digital tools to make your first months a lot more organised and a lot less overwhelming.

COVID-19 UK FINANCIAL SUPPORT

Are you getting all the help available to you?

As creative practitioners, we are aware it can be difficult to navigate between financial
options available depending on your status. Make sure you are getting all the financial help
available to you by using the table below.
We will keep on updating it with new resources to always provide the most up-to-date financial support info for you!

* If you have another employment paid through PAYE your employer may be able to get support using the Job Retention Scheme.

COVID-19 UK FINANCIAL SUPPORT

Are you getting all the help available to you?

As creative practitioners, we are aware it can be difficult to navigate between financial
options available depending on your status. Make sure you are getting all the financial help
available to you by using the table below.
We will keep on updating it with new resources to always provide the most up-to-date financial support info for you!

* If you have another employment paid through PAYE your employer may be able to get support using the Job Retention Scheme.

The Creators

The Creative

No items found.

Universal Credit (1)

You may be able to get Universal Credit if:
• you’re on a low income or out of work
• you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
• you’re under State Pension age
• you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
• you live in the UK

MORE INFO

COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme (3)

If you have employees, you can claim for 80% of their wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions, if you have put them on furlough because of coronavirus. If you have an other employment paid through PAYE your employer may be able to get support using the Job Retention Scheme.

MORE INFO



Claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus (3)

The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either: have coronavirus, cannot work because they are self-isolating at home or are shielding in line with public health guidance.

MORE INFO

HMRC’s Time To Pay (5)

You can claim if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:
• have submitted your Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019
• traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020
• are trading when you apply, or would be except for coronavirus
• intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
• have lost trading pro ts due to coronavirus
• your trading profits must also be no more than £50,000 and more than half of your total income

MORE INFO

Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) & Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) (7)

Small Business Grant Fund Eligibility:
• Businesses with a property that on the 11 March 2020 were eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) Scheme.
• Businesses which on 11 March 2020 were eligible for relief under the Rural Rate Relief
• Scheme are also eligible for this scheme.
Eligible recipients will receive one grant per property.

Hospitality and Leisure Grand Fund Eligibility:
• Properties which on the 11 March 2020 had a rateable value of less than £51,000 and would have been eligible for a discount under the business rates
• Expanded Retail Discount Scheme had that scheme been in force are eligible for the grant.
• Charities which would otherwise meet this criteria but whose bill for 11 March had been reduced to nil by a local discretionary award should still be considered to be eligible for the RHL grant.
• Recipients will receive one grant per eligible property

No need to do anything you’ll be contacted by HRMC if you’re eligible

MORE INFO

Council Tax Reduction (2)

You could be eligible if you’re on a low income or claim benefits. Your bill could be reduced by up to 100%. You can apply if you own your home, rent, are unemployed or working.

MORE INFO

HRMC income support scheme (4)

You can claim if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:
• have submitted your Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019
• traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020
• are trading when you apply, or would be except for coronavirus
• intend to continue to trade in the tax year2020 to 2021
• have lost trading profits due to coronavirus

You will need to confirm to HMRC that your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus. HMRC will as usual use a risk based approach to compliance.

Your trading profits must also be no more than £50,000 and more than half of your total income for either:
• the tax year 2018 to 2019
• the average of the tax years 2016 to 2017, 2017 to 2018, and 2018 to 2019

MORE INFO

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (6)

You’re eligible if:
• your business is based in the UK
• your business has an annual turnover of up to £45 million
• your business has a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, if not for the coronavirus pandemic
• you can self-certify that your business has been adversely impacted by coronavirus

MORE INFO

Creative industry-specific Grants & Funds (8)

We've compiled a list of grants and prizes available to UK residents, which you can filter by creative industry, to make sure you're seeing grants that are relevant to your practice. We'll be doing our best to keep this list up-to-date with the latest grants and initiatives to support creatives around the UK. All grants listed are open for applications and are automatically removed after the deadline. 

If you are feeling anxious, wondering what the coronavirus crisis means for your practice, feel free to reach out to us at any time.

We’re not experts, but we’re happy to share our knowledge and to try to help you stay optimistic during these tough times. You can contact us from our website chat or on any social media.

MORE INFO

Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) (9)

The scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover. The maximum loan available is £50,000. The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. After 12 months the interest rate will be 2.5% a year.
You can apply for a loan if your business:
• is based in the UK was established before 1 March 2020
• has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus

MORE INFO

Universal Credit (1)

You may be able to get Universal Credit if:
• you’re on a low income or out of work
• you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
• you’re under State Pension age
• you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
• you live in the UK

MORE INFO

Council Tax Reduction (2)

You could be eligible if you’re on a low income or claim benefits. Your bill could be reduced by up to 100%. You can apply if you own your home, rent, are unemployed or working.

MORE INFO

COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme (3)

If you have employees, you can claim for 80% of their wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions, if you have put them on furlough because of coronavirus. If you have an other employment paid through PAYE your employer may be able to get support using the Job Retention Scheme.

MORE INFO



Claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus (3)

The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either: have coronavirus, cannot work because they are self-isolating at home or are shielding in line with public health guidance.

MORE INFO

HRMC income support scheme (4)

You can claim if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:
• have submitted your Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019
• traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020
• are trading when you apply, or would be except for coronavirus
• intend to continue to trade in the tax year2020 to 2021
• have lost trading profits due to coronavirus

You will need to confirm to HMRC that your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus. HMRC will as usual use a risk based approach to compliance.

Your trading profits must also be no more than £50,000 and more than half of your total income for either:
• the tax year 2018 to 2019
• the average of the tax years 2016 to 2017, 2017 to 2018, and 2018 to 2019

MORE INFO

HMRC’s Time To Pay (5)

You can claim if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:
• have submitted your Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019
• traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020
• are trading when you apply, or would be except for coronavirus
• intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
• have lost trading pro ts due to coronavirus
• your trading profits must also be no more than £50,000 and more than half of your total income

MORE INFO

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (6)

You’re eligible if:
• your business is based in the UK
• your business has an annual turnover of up to £45 million
• your business has a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, if not for the coronavirus pandemic
• you can self-certify that your business has been adversely impacted by coronavirus

MORE INFO

Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) & Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) (7)

Small Business Grant Fund Eligibility:
• Businesses with a property that on the 11 March 2020 were eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) Scheme.
• Businesses which on 11 March 2020 were eligible for relief under the Rural Rate Relief
• Scheme are also eligible for this scheme.
Eligible recipients will receive one grant per property.

Hospitality and Leisure Grand Fund Eligibility:
• Properties which on the 11 March 2020 had a rateable value of less than £51,000 and would have been eligible for a discount under the business rates
• Expanded Retail Discount Scheme had that scheme been in force are eligible for the grant.
• Charities which would otherwise meet this criteria but whose bill for 11 March had been reduced to nil by a local discretionary award should still be considered to be eligible for the RHL grant.
• Recipients will receive one grant per eligible property

No need to do anything you’ll be contacted by HRMC if you’re eligible

MORE INFO

Creative industry-specific Grants & Funds (8)

We've compiled a list of grants and prizes available to UK residents, which you can filter by creative industry, to make sure you're seeing grants that are relevant to your practice. We'll be doing our best to keep this list up-to-date with the latest grants and initiatives to support creatives around the UK. All grants listed are open for applications and are automatically removed after the deadline. 

If you are feeling anxious, wondering what the coronavirus crisis means for your practice, feel free to reach out to us at any time.

We’re not experts, but we’re happy to share our knowledge and to try to help you stay optimistic during these tough times. You can contact us from our website chat or on any social media.

MORE INFO

Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) (9)

The scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover. The maximum loan available is £50,000. The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. After 12 months the interest rate will be 2.5% a year.
You can apply for a loan if your business:
• is based in the UK was established before 1 March 2020
• has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus

MORE INFO

Going freelance is a liberating but gutsy career step. It also means you’ve got the skills, the passion and the drive to make a living from your art. 👏

Freelancing isn’t without its risks and challenges though. So it’s important you have smart, time-saving tools on your side now you’re going solo. The most successful freelancers are great at prioritising, managing their time, and keeping their clients happy. This means time is sacred, so the more you can automate, organise, and simplify, the better. There are plenty of gems out there with no monthly subscription costs and lots of clever insights.

We gathered our 10 favourite digital tools that are completely free (or that have good free versions) to make your first months a lot more organised and a lot less overwhelming.

1. Trello

What is it? Super easy task management

Who’s going to love it? Those of us who like to keep it simple.

Bullet points on scrappy bits of paper might work for a while, but when your client list starts growing, you’ll need a smart place to manage them. Trello is a simple task management tool which helps you organise and order your jobs with clean, colourful cards and lists.

The free version has more than enough tools for a freelancer. If a deadline changes, you can move cards around. If you win a new client, you can create their very own list to keep everything in one place. It’s all dragging, dropping, and a bit of typing — easy!

Tip: Take it a step further and automate your work and productivity. Trello integrates with dozens of your favourite apps through its Power-up section and you can also create more complex automation using Zapier (check out https://zapier.com/apps/trello/integrations) 🤓

2. Solna

What is it? Easy, smart, invoicing that does the admin for you.

Who’s going to love it? Freelancers with lots of invoices and no time to chase them

If you want to get paid on time, smart invoicing is the only way to go. Solna helps you create invoices, send automatic payment reminders to those annoying late payers, and track every invoice until it’s in your account.

It’s packed with smart features to protect freelancers whether they’re new to the game or not. You’ll get credit risk info on your clients, so you know who you’re doing business with, and make the best decisions when setting payment terms. No more chasing random accounting people either — all invoices come with read receipts.

Tips: Did you know giving your clients the option to pay you online could get you paid x3 faster? Solna lets your customers pay straight from the invoice. 🙌

3. The Noun Project

What is it? Free icons for everything

Who’s going to love it? Anyone who needs to use icons or symbols for their projects

Creating icons can be both time consuming and nerve racking, even if you’re a designer….and especially if you’re working against the clock on a project.

Icons designed by Made

The Noun Project is a massive library that contains an incredible number of icons and symbols for almost any word you can think of. Yes, even hufflepuff. The site crowdsources and catalogs symbols that have been created and uploaded by graphic designers from around the world. It has grown into a visual dictionary of universally recognised symbols.

Tips: If you’re a designer, upload your designs to feed the karma wheel (and your wallet as your icons can turn into profit)

4. Canva

What is it? Super handy online graphic-design tool for layouts

Who’s going to love it? Non-designers who need easy mood board templates

Moods, feelings and visions can be difficult to communicate. Mood boards allow others to get inside your head helping you to express what you’re thinking and feeling about a creative idea. From filmmakers to photographers, designers to illustrators, mood boards are an essential part of the creation of a project.

Even if designers might hate it, Canva is a pretty cool tool. It uses a drag-and-drop format and gives you access to over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts. It’s super easy to use and offers loads of flexibility thanks to its numerous features.

Tips: You can find mood board templates under ‘Personal’ > ‘Photo collage’ > ‘Mood board’ (yes, we know, it’s kinda hidden).

5. Wix and 6. Webflow

What is it? Free website builders

Who’s going to love it? Freelancers who are fed up with using social media for their portfolio and want something a little more professional

Wix is really easy to use: you can choose from the templates available or start from scratch. You just have to drag and drop your content to get started.

It’s 100% free as long as if you are happy to host it on their domain.

Webflow, another one of our favourites, feels like an Adobe platform and is an extremely powerful tool for web development. You can build responsive websites in your browser, then host it with them or export your code and host it somewhere else.

Just bear in mind that there is a learning curve before mastering the platform. So don’t hesitate to make use of the hundreds of tutorials available. Similar to Wix, if you are happy to host it on their platform, you can launch a website with 2 pages for free.

Tip: Use Wix if you want something quick and simple, and use Webflow if you want something completely personalised.

P.s: You also have Squarespace if you want an easy website builder. We decided not to include it as they don’t have any free version but feel free to check it out anyway!

7. Emma

What is it? A banking app that helps you keep track of your spendings

Who is going to love it? People who hate, or are not so great at, budgeting and tracking their spendings but know they’ve gotta do it.

Emma aggregates your bank accounts and credit cards to give you a full picture of your finances.

It’s like your personal finance adviser, keeping track of all your spendings, subscriptions, alerting you on overdrafts, tracking debt, AND it prompts you to save money.

If you’ve been buying one too many flat whites, it’ll spot that too. ☕️

Tip: Add both your personal and professional bank and credit card accounts so you are always on top of everything

8. Clockify

What is it? A time management tool which integrates with all your favourites.

Who’s going to love it? Anyone that dreads timesheets.

Track your time, break down the data, and turn timesheets into reports.

Clockify is really easy to use, and integrates with all the tools you’re already logged into — Gmail, Slack, Google Calendar, Basecamp, and over 80 others.

Even when you’re not tracking time for your clients, it’s a helpful insight for you too. You’ll know where your time’s going and be able to charge for jobs more accurately. And it’s 100% free.

Tip: Clockify is available as a mobile app, desktop app, and as a browser extension, so you really have no excuses.

9. Evernote

What is it? A note-taking tool that’s as useful as it is #aesthetic.

Who’s going to love it? Copywriters or creatives with lots and lots of ideas.

Evernote makes sure no good idea gets away from you. Collect notes, images, sketches, and voice memos in one place, keep your mood boards organised, and store all your projects separately. With the plug-in, you can even take clips and images from web pages you like.

225 million people use it already to digitise their thoughts. You’ll love it too because it’s accessible from every device, stored safely in the cloud, and comes with easy-to-create to-do lists.

Tips: Add the Evernote Web Clipper extension to your browser so you can easily save stuff as you are reading them.

10. And last but not least… SSSHAKE

What is it? A platform to connect creators with opportunities, either freelance jobs or collaboration between artists

Who’s going to love it? Creators who want to receive opportunities and be part of an international network of like-minded people

SSSHAKE is on a mission to get creative freelancers working to their fullest creative and commercial potential. We are entirely inclusive, make selecting the right creative need straightforward and cut out unnecessary middleman costs, all to make creative collaboration and freelancing easier and more profitable.

We are defining a new standard for creative freelancing. SSSHAKE is more than just bringing the right creators and projects together. We work as a facilitator to push all projects to reach optimal possibilities by supporting all levels of freelance practices and complimentary projects.

Tips: You can also find teammates for your passion projects 😉

Thanks for reading!

Know a fellow freelancer who needs this list? Spread the love and share it with them!


Going freelance is a liberating but gutsy career step. It also means you’ve got the skills, the passion and the drive to make a living from your art. 👏

Freelancing isn’t without its risks and challenges though. So it’s important you have smart, time-saving tools on your side now you’re going solo. The most successful freelancers are great at prioritising, managing their time, and keeping their clients happy. This means time is sacred, so the more you can automate, organise, and simplify, the better. There are plenty of gems out there with no monthly subscription costs and lots of clever insights.

We gathered our 10 favourite digital tools that are completely free (or that have good free versions) to make your first months a lot more organised and a lot less overwhelming.

1. Trello

What is it? Super easy task management

Who’s going to love it? Those of us who like to keep it simple.

Bullet points on scrappy bits of paper might work for a while, but when your client list starts growing, you’ll need a smart place to manage them. Trello is a simple task management tool which helps you organise and order your jobs with clean, colourful cards and lists.

The free version has more than enough tools for a freelancer. If a deadline changes, you can move cards around. If you win a new client, you can create their very own list to keep everything in one place. It’s all dragging, dropping, and a bit of typing — easy!

Tip: Take it a step further and automate your work and productivity. Trello integrates with dozens of your favourite apps through its Power-up section and you can also create more complex automation using Zapier (check out https://zapier.com/apps/trello/integrations) 🤓

2. Solna

What is it? Easy, smart, invoicing that does the admin for you.

Who’s going to love it? Freelancers with lots of invoices and no time to chase them

If you want to get paid on time, smart invoicing is the only way to go. Solna helps you create invoices, send automatic payment reminders to those annoying late payers, and track every invoice until it’s in your account.

It’s packed with smart features to protect freelancers whether they’re new to the game or not. You’ll get credit risk info on your clients, so you know who you’re doing business with, and make the best decisions when setting payment terms. No more chasing random accounting people either — all invoices come with read receipts.

Tips: Did you know giving your clients the option to pay you online could get you paid x3 faster? Solna lets your customers pay straight from the invoice. 🙌

3. The Noun Project

What is it? Free icons for everything

Who’s going to love it? Anyone who needs to use icons or symbols for their projects

Creating icons can be both time consuming and nerve racking, even if you’re a designer….and especially if you’re working against the clock on a project.

Icons designed by Made

The Noun Project is a massive library that contains an incredible number of icons and symbols for almost any word you can think of. Yes, even hufflepuff. The site crowdsources and catalogs symbols that have been created and uploaded by graphic designers from around the world. It has grown into a visual dictionary of universally recognised symbols.

Tips: If you’re a designer, upload your designs to feed the karma wheel (and your wallet as your icons can turn into profit)

4. Canva

What is it? Super handy online graphic-design tool for layouts

Who’s going to love it? Non-designers who need easy mood board templates

Moods, feelings and visions can be difficult to communicate. Mood boards allow others to get inside your head helping you to express what you’re thinking and feeling about a creative idea. From filmmakers to photographers, designers to illustrators, mood boards are an essential part of the creation of a project.

Even if designers might hate it, Canva is a pretty cool tool. It uses a drag-and-drop format and gives you access to over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts. It’s super easy to use and offers loads of flexibility thanks to its numerous features.

Tips: You can find mood board templates under ‘Personal’ > ‘Photo collage’ > ‘Mood board’ (yes, we know, it’s kinda hidden).

5. Wix and 6. Webflow

What is it? Free website builders

Who’s going to love it? Freelancers who are fed up with using social media for their portfolio and want something a little more professional

Wix is really easy to use: you can choose from the templates available or start from scratch. You just have to drag and drop your content to get started.

It’s 100% free as long as if you are happy to host it on their domain.

Webflow, another one of our favourites, feels like an Adobe platform and is an extremely powerful tool for web development. You can build responsive websites in your browser, then host it with them or export your code and host it somewhere else.

Just bear in mind that there is a learning curve before mastering the platform. So don’t hesitate to make use of the hundreds of tutorials available. Similar to Wix, if you are happy to host it on their platform, you can launch a website with 2 pages for free.

Tip: Use Wix if you want something quick and simple, and use Webflow if you want something completely personalised.

P.s: You also have Squarespace if you want an easy website builder. We decided not to include it as they don’t have any free version but feel free to check it out anyway!

7. Emma

What is it? A banking app that helps you keep track of your spendings

Who is going to love it? People who hate, or are not so great at, budgeting and tracking their spendings but know they’ve gotta do it.

Emma aggregates your bank accounts and credit cards to give you a full picture of your finances.

It’s like your personal finance adviser, keeping track of all your spendings, subscriptions, alerting you on overdrafts, tracking debt, AND it prompts you to save money.

If you’ve been buying one too many flat whites, it’ll spot that too. ☕️

Tip: Add both your personal and professional bank and credit card accounts so you are always on top of everything

8. Clockify

What is it? A time management tool which integrates with all your favourites.

Who’s going to love it? Anyone that dreads timesheets.

Track your time, break down the data, and turn timesheets into reports.

Clockify is really easy to use, and integrates with all the tools you’re already logged into — Gmail, Slack, Google Calendar, Basecamp, and over 80 others.

Even when you’re not tracking time for your clients, it’s a helpful insight for you too. You’ll know where your time’s going and be able to charge for jobs more accurately. And it’s 100% free.

Tip: Clockify is available as a mobile app, desktop app, and as a browser extension, so you really have no excuses.

9. Evernote

What is it? A note-taking tool that’s as useful as it is #aesthetic.

Who’s going to love it? Copywriters or creatives with lots and lots of ideas.

Evernote makes sure no good idea gets away from you. Collect notes, images, sketches, and voice memos in one place, keep your mood boards organised, and store all your projects separately. With the plug-in, you can even take clips and images from web pages you like.

225 million people use it already to digitise their thoughts. You’ll love it too because it’s accessible from every device, stored safely in the cloud, and comes with easy-to-create to-do lists.

Tips: Add the Evernote Web Clipper extension to your browser so you can easily save stuff as you are reading them.

10. And last but not least… SSSHAKE

What is it? A platform to connect creators with opportunities, either freelance jobs or collaboration between artists

Who’s going to love it? Creators who want to receive opportunities and be part of an international network of like-minded people

SSSHAKE is on a mission to get creative freelancers working to their fullest creative and commercial potential. We are entirely inclusive, make selecting the right creative need straightforward and cut out unnecessary middleman costs, all to make creative collaboration and freelancing easier and more profitable.

We are defining a new standard for creative freelancing. SSSHAKE is more than just bringing the right creators and projects together. We work as a facilitator to push all projects to reach optimal possibilities by supporting all levels of freelance practices and complimentary projects.

Tips: You can also find teammates for your passion projects 😉

Thanks for reading!

Know a fellow freelancer who needs this list? Spread the love and share it with them!


BOOKS

MOVIES

And finally, if you can, donate, sign and share - it can go a long way. Here are links to relevant charities and petitions (donating if you can, or signing and sharing petitions is great immediate help).

BLACK LIVES MATTER, TODAY AND ALWAYS.

All
By
September 14, 2020
Rolling until further notice
Music

Help Musicians: Fusion Fund

How much can you get? £2,000-£5,000

For professional musicians to undertake UK-based projects that develop and test new work, ideas or potential career directions through inspiring periods of collaborative research and development. We want to highlight that in this round we welcome applications that will explore the above through the use of remote, digital or online collaboration tools or performance spaces. For example, the use of Skype rehearsals or live streamed performance.

Eligibility

• UK-resident

• In financial need

• Have an active career as a musician

• Also open to bands up to 6 people

LEARN MORE
By
July 14, 2020
Rolling until further notice
Photography
Illustration
Fine Art
Film
Music

The Culture of Solidarity Fund

How much can you get? €5,000-€50,000

The fund supports imaginative cultural initiatives, that in the midst of the global pandemic crisis reinforce European solidarity and the idea of Europe as a shared public space.

Applications open Monday, 22nd June, 2020

Eligibility

• Individuals or organisation in the creative sector

• Can be based anywhere in world

LEARN MORE
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