Freelance Toolkit: A Micro-SaaS Solo Project - Devlog #001

28th Dec, 2022

What is Freelance Toolkit?

Freelance Toolkit provides the tools a B2B freelancer needs to manage their business & clients, without the fluff & huge price tag.

Why am I building another SaaS service to do X?

I've struggled to find an all-in-one solution to help freelancers manage their clients and projects.

I've experimented with various CRMs, project management tools, time trackers, and support help desk tools, which have all been great products in themselves, but there's a few issues.

Eye-watering pricing

Every tool has its own price. Some have limited free tiers, but in general you'd be expected to pay between $10-$60 USD a month for each tool (per seat).

For freelancers, this can quickly add up to a significant percentage of your monthly costs for doing business, for tools that don't bring in the money, but just help you stay organised.

Of course spreadsheets, long email chains, and a pen and notebook could do the job, but we're trying to be more efficient here.

Limited integrations

Some tools have excellent integrations, some you need a 3rd-party to handle the integrations (Zapier, IFTTT, n8n), and some you might need to build yourself - if there's an API available for both services.

I have yet been able to fully integrate all of my business processes across all of the tools I currently use.

Freelancers aren't the target audience

Tools to help manage clients and projects are usually targeted towards SMEs or enterprises.

All of the best features are locked behind 2nd and 3rd tier prices, which are prohibitively expensive for freelancers, unless it's a tool essential to their core business.

While most of the top tier features are targeted towards teams - which we can ignore for the most part - there's always one or two killer features which you just wish would be in the 1st tier. Things like automation rules, custom branding, client portals, etc.

What are my goals with Freelance Toolkit?

Providing freelancers with an affordable, all-in-one toolkit

Ok, so all-in-one and freelancer have a very broad definitions - let's narrow it down.

Freelancer: I'd like to focus on freelancers offering B2B services (not products). This is what I've been doing for the last 10 years, and I think it's best to stick with what you know initially.

All-in-one: Ok, so I'm not aiming to cover every business process. Besides being a monumental task, there are just some services which are really difficult to build as a one-man band.

I don't want to focus on marketing/advertising tools, utilities like design tools, website builders, or generally anything that's client-facing.

Instead I'd like to build a suite of tools that a B2B freelancer would most often be doing in a spreadsheet, email thread, or in a notebook. Things like:

  • Managing your prospecting and sales pipeline
  • Managing your address book
  • Managing your activities and notes for clients and projects
  • Tracking your time for projects and invoicing
  • Supporting your customers via email and chat

Honestly, it's quite a bit of work for just these five things, but I think it's enough - at least for starters - to be classified as an all-in-one product.

You can already find multiple SaaS services for each one of these bullet points - but see my points earlier about their pricing, integrations, and target audiences.

Growing as a Developer

My day job as a freelance web developer regularly exposes me to new challenges, but they are usually one-and-done websites, aside from ongoing support and management.

I'll be able to get a bit more involved with Laravel, React.js, and TypeScript - technologies I've used for a few projects, but not for something so involved.

One of my goals is to have something that I can call my own - a long term project. A project requiring a good amount of forethought and architecture decisions - partly why I'm writing a devlog series about it.

Secondary Revenue Stream

I'd like to build an affordable solution for other B2B freelancers in a similar position to me.

I believe that there's enough people out there that I can make a decent secondary income from this service, with the aim for it to become my primary source of income after a few years.

My current mindset is that I need this all-in-one tool for myself.

If I can get an MVP to a point where each of the key features is usable, I'll have a marketable product that others will want to use too.

Why am I documenting my journey?

Firstly, I'd like a bit of accountability.

As a freelancer and solopreneur, there's nobody pushing me to build this all-in-one toolkit.

I'm inspired by the Build in Public movement.

Reading public devlogs, progress updates, and looking at their metrics is motivating. If I started building and marketing this when they started their projects, where would I be now? It's not too late to get started.


So, that's all for now, thanks for reading!

In my next post, I'll go over how I'd like to architect the freelance toolkit.