If you’re a freelancer using WordPress you’ll already know how great it can be as a CMS. If you’re smart you’ve probably already got your SEO maxed and you’re using your WordPress website as a marketing tool. But a freelancer often needs plugins and themes that provide different functions to the freelancer’s client. I’m going to take a look at some of my favorite plugins and themes that I think are fantastic tools for freelancers.
Part 1: Plugins
WP-Invoice is a plugin from TwinCitiesTech that lets you create invoices right in your WordPress Administration screen. An email is sent to your client with a unique link to the page containing the invoice. They click the link, get to view the invoice and then can pay you straight away into your PayPal account. Sweet! You can even set it up to send automated reminders to those pesky late-paying clients, can accept credit card payments through Authorize.net, manage your contact database and loads of other features.
Here’s a video from WP-Invoice on how to integrate it with Authorize.net:
WordPress 3 invoices is another WordPress invoicing plugin, designed specifically for web designers and developers – here’s the plugin website! It lets you create invoices and quotes and email them directly to your clients. It also has a customer database so that you can keep track of all of your clients, and statistics to help you to monitor your financials. You can even create custom templates located inside your theme.
CollabPress is a project and task management plugin for WordPress. It allows you to create, manage and edit tasks, right from your WordPress website. It uses built in user accounts to allow collaboration on group projects. The current version available in the WordPress Plugin Directory is only compatible up to WordPress 2.9.2 but the CollabPress blog assures us that an update will be released soon that uses custom post types and taxonomies. Can’t wait! We’ll keep you up to date on the progress.
Here’s a video while you wait for the update:
Technical Support adds a technical support to your WordPress dashboard. If you’re a freelancer developing and installing websites for your clients this can be a great way for them to contact you for support. It’s easy to set up and your clients will always be able to find it.
Testimonials are essential for any freelancer. When you start out freelancing and you don’t have any you’re all like “Arrgh! I don’t have any testimonials! No one will want to hire me!” But when you start to get good testimonials you find that the amount of work you have grows and grows and grows! The FV Testimonials plugin allows you to easily manage your testimonials and display them across your website.
Contact Form 7 is probably one of my favourite contact forms – and since it has been downloaded by more than 2 million people I think that there must be a lot of people who agree with me! A contact form is essential for any site to allow users to get in touch with the business. However, you can put your contact form to different uses. I have a contact form embedded in a private page for clients which they can visit and provide me with feedback at the end of a job. It’s a great way to collect data and comments!
I find coming up with post ideas very difficult. They always come to me at the wrong time and then I forget them. This plugin lets you collect post ideas on your dashboard along with descriptions, tags and priortity. It also adds a dashboard widget, letting you know your post ideas along with their priority.
The Availability Calendar Plugin lets you easily display your availability on your WordPress website. If you are a consultant or trainer and are regularly booked out for full days, this is a great way to give both clients and potential clients an idea of when they’ll be able to book you in the future. Unfortunately it’s only possible to book out whole days, as opposed to parts of days. I’d love to be able to block off half days in future updates (hint hint!)
Google Analytics is an important tool for any webmaster. For a freelancer it’s essential. You need to be able to track those referrals, find out who’s linking to you, maybe comment on their blog, thank them, or just add a link back. It’s also important to see if your SEO is working for you. The Google Analytics plugin is a popular plugin from Yoast that will integrate your Google Analytics account with your blog. Check out the video on how to set it up:
I don’t know about you, but I find the little red “Missed Schedule” message appearing beside my scheduled posts to be a total pain. Why have post scheduling when it doesn’t work? No matter how difficult it is to take one, every freelancer needs a holiday from time to time. And, in order to keep your blog ticking over it’s a good idea to schedule some posts to cover the period while you’re away. This plugin will fix that annoying “Missed Schedule”message, ensuring that your posted are posted, and that you don’t have to rush to any internet cafes while you’re trying o get that long-deserved tan on the beach.
Part 2: Themes
Brave Zeenat is a free theme from Dizeno that’s a great portfolio for photographers, artists and designers to showcase their work.
Suburbia is a clean, minimalist theme from WPshower. It’s grid layout style make it an excellent magazine-style theme and its compatible with all of WordPress 3.0’s features.
Blue Rooster is a free theme from Fearless Flyer. It integrates the TimThumb script for producing thumbnails and has a jQuery slideshow. It also gets rid the need for a Testimonials plugin – teismonials are already built in!
The Columnist is a grid based theme with a newspaper style layout. IT’s a beautiful theme that is extremely flexible, uses CSS3, jQuery and with an emphasis on typography.
Fotofoilo is a beautiful photography theme from WordsPop. It’s a great way to show off all of your photography and, of course, your glowing testimonials.
Smashing Multimedia is from the guys over at Smashing Magazine. It’s a great theme for freelancing artists, photographers and people working in multimedia freelancers.
WP Coda is a theme for those who love to code. It mimics the popular Panic – Coda website, making it a must for Mac and code lovers.
Blue bubble is a simple, clean portfolio theme which is great for artists and designers. It has an integrated contact form and automatic resizing for portfolio items.
SimpleFolio is another them from Smashing Magazine. It’s a simple but elegant portfolio theme which shows of your work in a professional and stylish manner.
WP-Creativix is a clean business portfolio theme, featuring a jQuery slider on the front page.