When you first enter the world of online freelancers, there’s a lot to take in. How do I market my offer? How do I price my services? How do I find people beyond my personal network? And also… what the heck am I supposed to invest in first?
Invest, invest, invest, they say. In people, in courses, in programs & systems… invest in it all. But what’s actually worth it vs. just online hype? As someone who has spent money in lots of different places, I’ll tell you!
Here are my 4 favorite investments that, after clicking “purchase”, I saw immediate and measurable monetary results from.
After the shitstorm that was 2020 and being holed up in my cramped NYC apartment for over a year, a coworking space was just what the doctor ordered.
When I signed up, I thought it was an investment in my mental health & an excuse to get out of the house (finally). I thought it would inspire me to be more creative, to think outside of the box, and to treat myself like an actual business owner.
I was definitely right about all of that. But also, over time, I noticed that it helped other people see me as more “legit”, which helped me sign on higher paying clients.
(And if you’re thinking “well that sucks that people needed an office space to see you as an expert”, you’re right. But, consider that when I was conducting consult calls with clients beforehand, all they saw behind me was my camped and dimly lit NYC living room. Not cute.)
On top of all of that—which honestly, is enough—I get free coffee, printing, an excuse to go downtown, and new friends (I became besties with all the front desk people). So if your apartment or house isn’t cutting it anymore and your business has a couple hundred to spare monthly, consider a local coworking space.
While it is my biggest monthly bill, it is also my favorite thing ever.
At its core, Quickbooks is an accounting software meant to make tax season a breeze. But in practice? It is so much more than that.
If you’re a single member LLC or a sole proprietor, you can use Quickbooks Self Employed (that’s the one I use!). There are other versions too—for bigger businesses, for personal only, etc etc.
I love Quickbooks Self Employed because it lets me see my personal and business expenses together. From there, I can categorize them into one of two buckets: business or personal. And then from there, I can categorize further: is this a marketing expense? Office space fees? Software?
You can also generate reports: how much money went in vs. out? Where are all my expenses being spent? And my favorite part: how much do I owe for taxes so far?
I never wonder how much I’m going to owe at the end of the year because Quickbooks calculates it for me, taking into account all the expenses I’ve categorized as “business”. And while it’s never 100% correct, it’s usually within a couple hundred dollars. This way, I can make sure I’m saving enough for taxes throughout the year.
And then, when tax season comes, Quickbooks integrates with Turbotax so that you can smoothly transfer all that data right over. (Literally, my taxes took me 4 seconds this year. Lol.)
There’s a bit of a learning curve with Quickbooks but with all the anxiety and money it saves you, it’s incredibly worth it. Highly recommend!
By now, everyone is probably familiar with Loom. But if not: Loom is a screen share video recording software that makes it super easy to record your screen (and talk at the same time).
It feels wild to say this, but back when I started my business in 2020, I would send off website drafts to the client without explaining the why behind any of my design choices.
As soon as I discovered Loom, I was like “oh, maybe it would be helpful for me to make a quick video”. And lo and behold, my process improved immeasurably.
Not only were my clients happier because they understood more of what I did once I explained it, but it cut down on the number of revisions they asked for, which made the process easier for both of us. And as a result of that faster process, they were able to launch faster (and make more money sooner).
I truly could not believe the immediate shift I saw once I started filming videos for clients.
Loom has two tiers; free & premium. The free plan works for a lot of folks, but they cap you at 5 minutes per video. As a designer, I knew I’d need more talking time than that, so I opted for the premium version, which is less than $100/year.
If you don’t already incorporate some version of this in your process, try it out! It’s a gamechanger.
Search and Grow’s Dubsado Templates
This is more of a niche recommendation (for my Dubsado girlies!) so if you don’t already use Dubsado for your client management system, this won’t work the same. But if you do use Dubsado, I have to tell you all about Search and Grow.
You can read even more about it in my blog post about project proposals, but essentially, Search and Grow helps you make absolutely *stunning* proposals that you’ll feel confident AF to send to prospective clients. (Literally, before I bought this, I felt sooooo weird and insecure about proposals.)
Not only do the templates look dope, but the different sections also help to guide you through the process of writing an effective proposal. I felt like I got as much education from this purchase as I did a gorgeous product.
Also… a client literally told me one time that it was the most gorgeous proposal she has ever seen. She also then signed the proposal 5 minutes after seeing it. Soooooo. Thanks Search and Grow.
Investing in your business can be scary, and I won’t lie to you—sometimes it is completely not worth it. Buuuuuut these four purchases have made such an impact on my business that I feel confident they will make an impact on yours, too.
For more software, course, and service provider recommendations, visit the resources page.
Hey, I'm Sarah Kleist.
Brand builder, website designer, and performing artist on a mission to help creatives and business owners step into their digital spotlight.
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