by Al Sabado
How many times do we find the freelance tools we need but they're not offered for free? To that we'd probably say, “A number of times.” Too bad, isn't it? Not really. Purchasing freelance tools for our work isn't bad because we should invest in them, as they help us do our work efficiently. But now that most of us consider cutting down on spending, finding free online freelance tools helps stretch the monthly budget.
So before you think of buying something, make sure that you’ve first done your Google search for the freelance tools that you need. There are hundreds of freelance tools online. But don't get overwhelmed--let’s start with the basics.
Dictionary. For most online service providers, a standard desk dictionary (e.g., American Heritage, Collins, Merriam-Webster, and Oxford, among others) is acceptable. But when you don’t have a desk dictionary, there’s The Free Dictionary by Farlex to help you in your work. This online resource does not only have a free Dictionary / Thesaurus, it also has a Medical Dictionary, Legal Dictionary, Financial Dictionary, Acronyms, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia Encyclopedia, and The Free Library. My favorite about this free online dictionary by Farlex is the speaker icon that allows its users to hear how certain words are pronounced (e.g., in American or British accent).
Document converters. Have you received a document you need that just won’t open in your operating system? Once before there’s the ‘docx’ file that you might have thought of as nothing but a newly grown virus in cyberspace. But now, you may easily convert a docx file to doc file online, free by investintech.com. There’s also the free Document converter by Neevia. Simply bookmark these sites so that you can easily find them next time you need them. Free online document converters save you from installing applications that—when they accumulate in your Program Files folder—tend to slow down the computer.
For editorial freelancers, I'd also like to recommend other document handlers or checkers. With these, I mean the likes of Copyscape which isn't free, but it has been a trusted online tool that's convenient to use for only a minimal fee. There must be free counterparts of this tool online, but I haven't tried them. These online resources help check any written work for traces of plagiarism, which may have been intended or otherwise.
World clock. So, you’ve decided to offer your ingenious services to clients around the world. That's great! But please, don’t miss the deadline—set up your personal world clock to know exactly the time difference involved between you (in Cagayan de Oro City, perhaps) and your client (in the remotest part of Tibet).
Currency converters. Of course, when you understand the time difference as well as the distance involved between you and your client, currency converters is as important to add to your available tools. Exchange rates vary, but at least you'll have an idea about how much US$1, for instance, costs in your country. (So you charge US$1 per work hour--oh, please--reconsider raising the bar not only for your work quality but also for your work rate. A US$1-per-hour rate may not even buy you a dozen eggs. Note that intelligent clients don't always go for low-balled rates, but reasonably priced, high-quality work as well.) You may choose your bank’s currency converter or you may also opt to access the Yahoo! currency converter.
Rates chart. “How much should I charge?” My usual answer to that is, “What do you think is the worth of your work?” I once came across a website ad that says, “Cheap ---- Services.” Now, let me stress one thing here: Please, refrain from using ‘cheap’ to refer to your work or anything else such as labor cost. (Human labor is supposed to be special.) ‘Cheap,’ when referring to services, isn't a gracious term at all, and it can only mean one or two of these things: An underestimated rate and/or a poorly done work. Ang dami namang adjectives. (In English, "Please consult your thesaurus for a dignified word choice.") So choose the right words to describe your valuable services.
How do we know how much to charge? Let me answer that again with a question, "What's the current industry standard rate for your line of work?" Most editorial freelancers find the EFA rate chart helpful in determining their fees for editing and proofreading work, in particular. And yes, the rates in this chart apply to service providers around the world--regardless if one region has a higher or lower cost of living. Recognizing the industry standard rate in any profession helps level the playing field. The quality of service you provide will now help determine your niche in your industry.
If you can't still figure out your rate for the work that you do, then freely make a Google search on the current standard rate in your industry. Once you’re set in this aspect of your work, feel free to offer your clients negotiable rates. They’ll appreciate the gesture.
*This article has been written for the Freelancers' guide which also includes comprehensive articles on taxes and social benefits. Happy freelancing! ;)