It’s a tough time to run a business. New gigs are hard to find. And even keeping current jobs can be tough.

When there’s less money coming in, one way to stay afloat is to reduce expenses.

To help you find ways to save, we’ve rounded up the 21 best free apps, services, and classes for self-employed workers. Some of these products may replace tools you’re currently paying for, while others might provide a completely new service—allowing you to take advantage of their benefits without adding to your expenses.

Many of these apps and services are always free, but some are only free for a limited time. Dive into this list to find tools for increasing productivity, streamlining your business, and even picking up new skills.

Taxes and Finances

With self-employment, money management is crucial. You’re fully responsible for filing taxes and managing spending, just like any other entrepreneur. These free tools and services will help you do it.

1. Getyourrefund.org

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What is it: A free tax preparation and filing service for individuals and families earning less than $69,000 per year.

Why use it: Filing taxes is especially difficult when you’re self-employed. GetYourRefund makes filing easy by automatically finding tax credits and deductions for users.

The deal: Free year-round.

2. Mint

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What is it: A budgeting app that puts all your financial accounts, bills, and budgets in one place to help you meet your financial goals.

Why use it: When you own a business, your income can fluctuate from month to month. Mint makes it easy to create and stick to a budget, so you’re saving during the high times and are prepared for the leaner ones. Plus, it links to all of your bank accounts, so you don’t have to visit a dozen websites to check your finances.

The deal: Free year-round.

3. Wingspan

What is it: Wingspan supports self-employed workers by helping them get paid quicker through a seamless invoicing system. It’s rolling out new features like AI-enhanced real-time bookkeeping and will help you enroll in health insurance. 

Why use it: You need the freedom to work how you want. The administrative burden of running your own business can make that difficult. Wingspan does the heavy admin lifting so you can focus on working and living your way.

The deal: Free for 30 days.

Wingspan is here to offer advice on benefits, invoicing, taxes, and running your businesses. Sign up for a free 30-day trial here and let us know what questions you have.

Communication Tools

To complete projects, it helps to have a variety of ways to talk with clients. You might use instant messaging to ask a quick question but hop on a video call to discuss the scope of an assignment. Use these free tools, and you’ll have various ways to communicate at your fingertips.

4. Google Meet

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What is it: A video conference service. The premium version includes unlimited meeting times, real-time captions, and screen sharing.

Why use it: A video call lets you meet “face-to-face” for important meetings—even when everyone is working remotely.

The deal: The basic version is free year-round. The premium version of Google Meet is free until September 30, 2020.

5. Chanty

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What is it: An online chat platform with unlimited public and private messages and one-on-one audio calls.

Why use it: Unlike other messaging platforms, Chanty organizes all the files and links you share into folders, making it easy to refer to shared documents quickly.  

The deal: Free year-round.

6. Boomerang

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What is it: A virtual email assistant that lets you schedule emails, put your inbox on pause to minimize distractions, and track responses.

Why use it: Checking email throughout the day can interrupt your workflow, killing creativity and productivity. Boomerang’s response tracker will automatically notify you if an email hasn’t been replied to after a set time, so you don’t have to hover inside your inbox.

The deal: Free year-round.

Productivity

You juggle several projects, often with competing deadlines. Without a great system, some may get dropped. These tools will help keep busy solopreneurs on track.

7. Evernote

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What is it: A note-taking and organization app.

Why use it: Evernote lets you track ideas and assignments in ways that go beyond simple note-taking. Add PDFs and receipts and clip full pages and images from the web. Plus, you can create notebooks and tag notes, so it all stays organized.

The deal: Free year-round.

8. Asana

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What is it: A project- and task-management app.

Why use it: Asana’s visual task dashboard makes it really easy for solopreneurs to see all of their projects in one place. In Asana, you can break down large projects into smaller tasks and assign due dates to each one so you never miss a step or a deadline.

The deal: Free year-round.

9. Toggl

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What is it: A time-tracking app for both mobile and desktop.

Why use it: When you’re working by contract, you need to know how long a job takes so you can bill (and price) correctly. Toggl will automatically track how much time you spend on every job so you don’t have to.

The deal: Free year-round.

Marketing

These tools will help you expand your reach and keep track of it all.

10. GoDaddy

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What is it: A website builder with email marketing and social media support.

Why use it: The web presence of your business matters—and GoDaddy’s Insights feature helps you keep track of it. Insights follows your social media channels and provides a single score based on the reviews, comments, and impressions you get.

The deal: Free year-round.

11. Buffer

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What is it: A social media management tool that allows you to schedule posts on multiple platforms.

Why use it: In a poll from FlexJobs, 35% of contract workers said they got gigs from social media. Buffer tracks the engagement from each of your posts, so you know which ones are attracting clients and which are overlooked. You can create a bunch of posts at one time and schedule them for later.

The deal: Free for 90 days.

12. Mailchimp

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What is it: An email marketing platform.

Why use it: As your business grows, you’ll have more clients to nurture and connect with over email. Mailchimp helps you save time sending these messages. Their free plan includes more than 100 templates, so you can quickly create professional emails and send them to groups of clients at once.

The deal: Free year-round.

Creative

These tools can help unlock new ways to create your best work.

13. Final Cut Pro

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What is it: An advanced video editing platform.

Why use it: If you use a Mac, you probably got the iMovie video editing software for free with it. Final Cut Pro is a huge step up from iMovie, helping you work better and faster. For example, the Magnetic Timeline automatically closes the gap when you remove a clip—saving you a ton of time over the course of a project.

The deal: Free for 90 days.

14. Affinity

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What is it: A suite of creative tools, including a photo editor, publishing software, and a design platform.

Why use it: Affinity’s tools are comparable in quality to Photoshop and InDesign but much more affordable. After the free trial, you can get the suite of tools for a one-time payment of $50—huge savings over Adobe products.

The deal: Free for 90 days.

15. Ableton Live

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What is it: A digital audio workstation and music sequencer.

Why use it: With Session View, you don’t take an existing track and edit it. Instead, you create a completely unique track from scratch using building blocks called clips—removing the constraints of linear editing.

The deal: Free for 90 days.

Online security

Clients trust you to keep their information safe. Protect their data—and your own business’s information—by using these free online security tools.

16. PandaDoc

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What is it: Document automation software for gathering e-signatures and processing payments.

Why use it: PandaDoc makes it easy to gather legally binding signatures on contracts virtually. While both DocuSign and PandaDoc offer similar free options, PandaDoc’s next tier up includes features the similarly priced DocuSign plan does not—like tracking, templates, and a drag-and-drop editor.

The deal: Free year-round.

17. Panda

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What is it: Cloud-based antivirus protection for your computer.

Why use it: A single malware attack can shut your computer down for days, leaving you with missed deadlines and compromised information. Panda is easy-to-install antivirus protection that works behind the scenes, so you’re protected without having to think about it.

The deal: Free year-round.

18. LastPass

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What is it: A password management tool that includes a password generator and multi-factor identification.

Why use it: Some solopreneurs, like social media managers and virtual assistants, may have access to clients’ passwords. LastPass keeps that sensitive information safe with 256-bit, local encryption and multi-factor identification. At the same time, LastPass will remember your passwords so you don’t have to locate them every time you log into your accounts.

The deal: Free year-round.

Education

These three companies are offering courses, certificates, and even degrees for free to help you build your knowledge.

19. Coursera

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What is it: A learning platform that offers individual classes, certificates, and even entire degrees online.

Why use it: Coursera allows you to audit (take a class without grades) many of their best classes. That means you can learn sought-after skills like C+ programming, business statistics, and even script writing for TV at no cost. These classes are created by instructors at institutions like Duke and the University of Michigan.

The deal: Free year-round.

20. Udacity

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What is it: An e-learning platform that offers online technology classes in AI, cloud computing, data science, and more.

Why use it: Udacity’s Nanodegrees are perfect for entrepreneurs who work in tech or work with clients in tech industries. The classes normally cost $1,000, so be sure to take advantage of the free month.

The deal: One month of free access to all Nanodegrees.

21. Skillshare

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What is it: An online learning portal that specializes in project-based, creative classes.

Why use it: Skillshare has a collection of more than 80 free classes to teach you all the aspects of running your creative business. The brand-building class, for example, has taught over 55,000 students the ins and outs of presenting a business through social media and portfolios. Check out more of their course offerings here.

The deal: Free for 60 days

Saving money is great, but getting paid is even better. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and let us show you how Wingspan takes invoicing and collections off your plate so you can focus on growing your business.

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