I've just discovered Coffitivity, a website that exists in this world solely to provide coffee house sounds for freelancers to play while working at home. Apparently the appeal has something to do with the ultimate level of background noise to aid concentration. Or just think of it as a way to tap into the communal hum of all the other freelancers - with the privacy to wear pyjamas.
Here are some other tools that make freelancing life better, most of them completely free.
* Feedly. Following the demise of Google Reader, Feedly has stepped up and filled its considerable shoes to manage the daily diet of multiple newspapers, magazines and favourite blogs. The default look is a magazine view, but with some quick adjustments, Feedly will deliver news to media junkies in the Reader format we know and love.
* Gmail; Google Drive. Say what you will about Google and their targeted ads, but those people run a heck of a spam filter. I've also been using Google Drive's writing software to write and store all my articles since getting the MacBook Air, an 11-inch darling that does everything and weighs about as much as a paperback. On the subject of storage, Dropbox is great for sharing big files such as images.
* Twitter. In addition to the chat and general good vibrations, you could theoretically stop reading the papers altogether as the biggest stories of the day inevitably float to the surface on Twitter. Regarding networks, I've also found LinkedIn to be surprisingly useful, as it shows you who can put you in touch with people you want to speak to.
* Tumblr; Wordpress. I like Tumblr for personal blogging as it's extremely easy to use, along with the dashboard adding a community aspect. It doesn't show up as reliably on web searches though, which is why Wordpress is better for portfolios. It's a bit trickier to work out at first, but provides much more design control.
* I use a dictaphone to record interviews, including off the speakerphone or Skype. And because you only muck up a recording without having a backup once, I use my phone's voice recorder to back up live interviews, and the AudioNote Pro desktop recorder to back up phone interviews. The ensuing transcribing, the most hated task, can be outsourced to Elance - a dirty little secret.
* Evernote. I love the Evernote web clipper, which lets you save web pages in dedicated folders - great for article research. You can also add text documents, photos (included snaps of handwritten notes) and other file formats to the folder. For the first time, the office is truly paperless.