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Why time trackers are essential freelancer tools

Written 16 March, 2018, 3 minutes to read

Certain tools are essential for the job. For freelancers, that means investing in a fast, reliable laptop, first and foremost. But it should also mean getting a robust time tracker. For freelancers, they assure accurate compensation and ongoing profitability. For clients, they mark the difference between a reliable professional and an amateur. We’ve broken down exactly why time trackers are an essential tool for every freelancer.

Get an accurate timesheet

Clearly, if you bill for your time, you need a good record of how it’s spent for invoicing. But humans are pretty bad at tracking time – we’re busy, we put it off, we multitask, we can’t remember every detail, so a lot of our time become guestimates on our timesheets. Tracking different hourly rates across clients can also be difficult, making the margin for error huge. By using a time tracking app, all freelance work is captured and translated into highly accurate, reliable timesheets.

Capture “invisible” work

Many freelancers don’t track time spent on small tasks like answering emails, tweaking finished work, taking calls and managing clients. Business consultant Austin Church estimates that 25% of freelance income alone is lost as a result. Even if you don’t bill it, it’s important to know how much time you spend on essential business admin to address your own efficiency and operational costs. Time trackers like Timely capture all the small details, like time spent on client calls, traveling or using work management apps. It’s particularly useful for tracking when meetings are delayed or overrun.

Cement your client relationship

Time tracking is essential for creating a positive client experience. It lets you provide greater transparency with itemized invoices breaking down exactly where a client’s money goes. It helps clients manage their own records and expedite payment, while setting a tone of accountability and trust to your business. The best time tracking apps offer customized reporting, so you can quickly share project status updates, and improve the accuracy of future budget estimates. It all helps cement a reliable and robust professional relationship, essential for repeat business, recommendation and reputation.

Improve your performance and profitability

Only time tracking can show you where you can improve workflow and operations to boost profitability. You can see where your bottlenecks are, where you waste time, and where you’re spending too much time on certain tasks. By tracking how long projects take, future budget and time estimations for similar projects become more accurate -- great for the client, essential for your own time and schedule management. It also lets you perform client analysis to work out who’s profitable and whether your hourly rates are realistic. Time trackers also have an immediate efficiency payoff – you’re completely free to focus on productive work!

Manage and develop your business

The data collected by time tracking apps is a goldmine for managing your freelance future. You have a whole history of hours, job lengths, budget performance, work frequency, client profitability to help you structure your business goals. Are you growing at the right rate? Does income outweigh operational expense? Do you have time for more work? What’s your average weekly capacity? Should you take on another client? Your tracking tool can help answer all of these. Reporting can also help you establish a sense of progress and set targets for the future, keeping you motivated and focused.

Find the right time tracker

If it’s going to become one of your most dependable freelancer tools, it better do the job well. For us at Timely, that means as little workflow intrusion as possible. Try out fully automatic time tracking free for 14 days and see if it could be the perfect match for you.

If you're still not sure where to start, read our guide on how to choose the best time tracking app for you.

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