Freelancing tools you need to know and use as a Web developer
I have been working remotely with both clients and as part of a developer team for more than 10 years and I wish that someone told me what I am about to tell you when I started out.
So here is my list of must-haves and also some that you need to know about and be able to use if needed.
- VScode – everyone has their own preferences about what tools to use when you code but my own experience is that most of the companies that I have worked with have been building an ecosystem around VScode and GitHub. So this one is my number one of Apps to use, and in my opinion, the best coding tool you can get. The best part is that it is free, you can use it on both Windows, Mac, and Linux and it integrates with GitHub seamlessly.
- GitHub – you need to know basic commands in the command-line tool and how to use Git. This opens up what I consider the number 2 knowledge you need to muster and that is to use and navigate GitHub through the command line. GitHub is the Dropbox for code and all companies worth mentioning use GitHub for their convenient Version control and also the branching and cloning features but primarily for storing code of course.
- MS Teams or Google Meet – you need to be able to talk with your clients or the remote team you work with and Video Conferencing capabilities are something that you need to be able to do. To discuss things face-to-face is never going away and it even exploded when we got hit by the pandemic and we all got forced to work from home. This hasn´t changed after they opened up again due to the convenience it gives and the swiftness to be able to spin up a meeting without needing to plan for a conference room where the team can meet or check so that all team members are on-site.
- Markup.io – To be able to give and get feedback on what you or someone else are doing visually is the best way to work effectively. This helps streamline the development process and shorten the time from development to production. As we all know time is money and ultimately if you can save time when working you automatically can save money due to that you don´t need to spend so much time going back and forth with the design and development. This type of tool comes with many different names and also what it can do but they all go under the feedback section of tools that I think is crucial in your development stack.
- Invoicing – You need a solution to be able to invoice your clients or your company if you work as an independent consultant for them. The way you do this depends on your workflow and also your experience with bookkeeping and such. Are your needs simple like mine was, in the beginning, you go with a company like Xolo. They have been specializing in helping freelancers to invoice their clients without a VAT number or an actual company through their Xolo Go plan. This is a convenient way to do business when you start out, but you will certainly benefit from having your own company when you evolve. One way is to have a borderless company, which means that it is location-independent. Xolo has Xolo Leap where you can start your borderless company through them and they help you with all things such as bookkeeping, tax reporting, VAT payment, and similar. They charge you a small fee each month for this and it is a lot cheaper than going about hiring your own bookkeeper.
- Online Banking with multi-currency – When I started to freelance with cross-border customers it was a pain to get paid, they usually paid me in Euro or dollars, and then I had to exchange that for my own currency. The only viable way was Paypal at the time and a bit later Payoneer. But today you have a vast majority of services catered towards us, freelancers. 2 major players here that I feel are worth mentioning are Revolut and Wise. They both have accounts where you can both have multi-currency accounts and pay and get paid in local currency for most countries. The money can then be deducted with a pre-paid Mastercard. Xolo even has a bank connection with both Wise and Revolut if you later wish to get the bank account for your real business.
These are the most important parts of your online business when you freelance. We often overcomplicate things. I believe that a simple approach is the best and put your efforts into delivering awesome code and projects instead.
I hope this small contribution can be of help to you when you start freelancing as a developer. Go big, dream, produce, elevate and evolve!
Good Luck coding!