In yesterday’s post I speculated on what I think will be the most requested virtual assistant services in 2013. To follow-up on that, let’s talk about some of my current favorite home business tools for the freelance industry. These online business tools cannot only be appreciated by virtual assistants, but a wide variety of home-based business owners.
Quickbooks Online – Keeping up on my business books is one of my least favorite tasks as a home business owner. But, it is imperative for not only profitability but also come tax time. QuickBooks Online is my preferred accounting software. I can invoice clients, allow them to pay online and once that payment has been made, QB will automatically update my records to reflect that. I can also link my bank accounts to my QB account for easy reconciling. And if your home business occasionally needs to accept payments offline, GoPayment is another QuickBooks tool that can come in handy.
Intuit PaymentNetwork – While PayPal is a popular payment processor for freelancers, the fees can become expensive when you are receiving a large sum of money on a monthly basis. As a QuickBooks Online user, I have been using Intuit PaymentNetwork for several months. Customers can pay by bank account or credit card and funds are directly deposited into your business bank account, usually within 1-2 business days. Not only does it integrate with my online accounting and invoicing system, I also only pay $.50 per bank account-funded transaction (credit card payments have a 3.25% transaction fee).
Google Drive is the new home of Google Docs. This is a great place for not only storing your files, but also sharing them with clients or team members.
PicMonkey is a simple online photo editor for those of us editing images for our own sites and our clients’. While a free version is available, PicMonkey also just introduced a paid version. For only $4.99 per month you will have access to current and future Royale features.
Carbonite – I cannot stress enough how important it is to have an automatic file backup system in place. If your computer crashes without one, how will you finish your current client projects? How will you contact your clients? It can take several days to recover data. If your computer files are lost to natural disaster or fire, that may not even be an option.
Skype – Occasionally you may want to hold a simple web conference with a client. Or maybe you would like to be available via Instant Message to certain people. Skype is a simple, free way to do both those things.
HootSuite is my favorite social media manager currently. I can leave it pinned in my browser for easy monitoring of my and my clients’ social profiles during the day. I can schedule updates in advance. I can follow and reply to customers and readers with the click of a mouse.
Screencast-o-matic is a great free tool for screen capturing and video sharing. I can record up to 15 minutes and then publish to YouTube, Vimeo, Google Drive and more. For only $15 per year you can upgrade to a Pro account and have access to editing tools and watermark-free publishing.
Self-Hosted Website – One of the best home-based business tools one can invest in is a self-hosted website, preferably on WordPress. This option is only going to cost you about $7 to $10 per month plus $15 per year for a domain name, but it is going to greatly increase your revenue potential with the SEO and possible advertising benefits.
What are your favorite home business tools right now?