Josh Williams

Josh Williams

Designer at JW Design

Fan of emoji. Brand + Product Designer. Formerly at Facebook, Gowalla, and Blinksale. Married to a chef. 🌮😎👌🏼

13 action items

Software to use for billing and contracts

    • When it comes to software and services, there's never been a better time to be a freelancer. While it may be unlikely you'll find a "one stop shop", the variety and ease of available services has never been better.

    • Use a service like Blinksale or Harvest to send invoices and track payments.

      I'm partial to Blinksale (because I co-founded the company a decade ago, though I am no longer involved), but Harvest is fantastic if you need time-tracking or integrations with project managements software. I've used both of these with my freelance businesses. Both have free-to-start plans.... See more

    • Graduate to Xero when you need a full-fledged bookkeeping solution.

      Like Blinksale or Harvest, Xero can do your invoicing. But it's also syncs with your bank accounts and helps keep your books balanced. Your accountant will thank you. You might still want to use a service like Harvest for your time-tracking though.... See more

    • If the idea of bookkeeping scares you, check out Bench. is a bookkeeper on-demand, with plans that start at $125 a month. That's more than what you'll pay for Xero, but you won't have to do the work. Just sync your bank account, then upload your receipts and invoices. A real life accountant on the other end will take care of your mess!... See more

    • Contracts are still tough, but HelloSign eliminates some pain.

      You'll still want an attorney to help you with your basic contract templates, but once those are in place, a service like HelloSign can eliminate 90% of the hassle and help you keep track of your signed paperwork.

    • Take a look at Airtable.

      Airtable is a simple but powerful database product that works like a spreadsheet. You can use it to create forms, record time, manage inventory, track contacts, or just about any other small business function you might need. It takes a little up front work, but you might find you can create your own set of tools with Airtable, then automate them with a service like Zapier.... See more

    • Use Google Services.

      Set up Google Services for your business, even if it's just you. The small monthly fee you'll pay for email and calendar support is worth it just to unlock all the other benefits the Google Services ecosystem brings along with it.

    • Use a password manager like 1Password.

      This seems obvious, but since we don't like in a one-stop-shop world, you're going to be using several logins. Don't leave yourself exposed by using the same credentials across multiple services.

    • Don't be shy about feedback.

      Many small-business services were started by small-business owners or freelancers themselves, built out of a desire to solve their own problems. Tools evolve and improve based on feedback from users, and your feedback might just make your tools even better — or inspire new solutions altogether.... See more

Calculate your freelance rate

    • A simple formula for determining your freelance rate is: (Salary + Expenses) / Annual Billable Hours Salary: Treat this like the salary you would earn as a full-time employee elsewhere. Let's say $100,000/year. Expenses: Don't forget taxes and insurance. Maybe this is $30,000/year. Annual Billable Hours: You work 40 hours a week, 48 weeks a year, because you take vacation. That's 1920 hours. But 35% of your time is spent on office overhead and marketing yourself. So really 1248 hours. ($100,000 + $30,000) / 1248 = $104 This looks good, but we forgot your profit. Round that puppy up to $120/hour for good measure!

    • How much do you want your salary to be?

      Treat yourself right. It's better for all of us.

    • What are your annual expenses?

      Insurance, equipment, software, subscriptions, font licenses, and the occasional conference add up. Don't forget taxes!

    • How many billable hours do you have in a year?

      Be honest. You'll spend 30-50% of your time on non-billable work. And you'll need a vacation.

    • Pad that rate.

      An extra 10-15% helps your grow and gives you a little cushion when things go sideways. And they will.

    • Be bold.

      If a client questions your rate, remind them that you're running a business too. You have taxes, insurance, and equipment that you are providing so that they can pay a simple inclusive rate.