Freelancers looking for the best project management software often get short shrift, as most roundups — including our own — focus on businesses with more than one worker. With this overview of the best project management software for freelancers, though, we hope to remedy that situation and get you managing your projects and tasks like a pro, even if you are just a one-man band.
If you are working on your own — either as a contractor, employee or true wild card who gets work wherever you can — you have a specific set of requirements that we at Cloudwards are all too familiar with. Between us, we have over a century of experience working from home offices and laptops all around the world.
- There are a lot of free apps out there, so there’s no need to pay for project management software as a freelancer.
- If you’re running a small shop with a straightforward workflow, you’re probably best off with a simple app like Todoist or TickTick
- If you’re managing more complex projects or overseeing other freelancers, tools like Asana and nTask are probably the way to go.
We’ve picked seven services, all with free plans, that should meet the needs of most freelancers and help you keep track of what you’re doing, with whom, and when it needs to be turned in. Our favorite is TickTick, though any of the other six may also meet your needs. The best way to find out which one is the best for you is to try out a few before settling for one.
12/02/2021 Facts checked
Added TickTick and Todoist to the list, changed the order of the ranking.
Chaotically minded freelancers keep track of their tasks using scraps of paper and poorly programmed reminders. Successful freelancers use at least a proper to-do list, and the really professional contractors probably use something more advanced than that.
As much as we like monday.com, we can’t say it’s all that great for freelancers. While it does rank on our list with the best project management software for freelancers, it’s in last place thanks to its price and the lack of a free plan.
Top Project Management Software for Freelancers
What Makes the Best Project Management Tool for Freelancers?
Our main criterion when picking good task management tools for freelancers is cost, or rather the absence of it. All our picks have solid free plans (though we’re not blown away by monday.com’s, truth be told). This way, if you’re only beginning with project management, you can experiment with different approaches without any financial risk.
If the free tier doesn’t scratch your itch, in all cases you can upgrade for a reasonable price, though nTask, TickTick and Todoist are by far the cheapest. Here’s a quick overview of our seven top project management tools for freelancers.
- TickTick — The best way to keep track of freelance projects
- Todoist — A simple and effective way to manage tasks
- Trello — For fans of kanban boards and mobile apps
- Notion — Simple tool with great note-taking abilities
- Asana — Powerhouse project management software
- nTask — Flexible task management with built-in time tracking
- monday.com — A project management tool with a bit of everything
Next up in our criteria, we figured that most freelancers juggle many different tasks and need overview more than anything. Kanban boards and lists are the best way to achieve that, and all entries have a strong showing here. We left advanced features like Gantt charts and workload-balancing out of the equation because they’re generally used for larger teams.
Lastly, we wanted project management apps that can do a lot of different things, or at least let you use integrations so you can manage as much as possible from a single application. Though our picks have different strengths and weaknesses, all of them have some kind of access to things like word processing, time tracking and managing due dates.
On top of that, all of our picks have an easy-to-use interface and decent mobile apps. However, do note that if you want to do a lot of planning on Android or iOS, you may want to get ready for some mild frustration: Most project management mobile apps aren’t that hot.
The Top 7 Best Project Management Tools for Freelancers
With all of the above criteria in mind, we selected the seven project management tools for freelancers below. Our overall favorite is TickTick, but we’re sure that if that doesn’t fit your needs, there’s another that will.
More Details About TickTick:
- Price: Free; $2.33 per month for the Premium plan
- Website: ticktick.com
- Easy to track tasks
- Cheap upgrade
- Great calendar
- Interface has small buttons
- Pop-ups on free version
TickTick is our favorite pick for freelancers thanks to its colorful interface, simple functionality and cheap upgrade. Though we generally prefer to recommend free project management software for small businesses, TickTick’s upgrade is so cheap we feel we can bend that rule a little.
Before we talk money, though, let’s talk a little more about what TickTick can do. At heart it’s just another to-do list app, but it has some nice little extras. One of them is that there are several ways to divide lists. You can split them up into different smaller lists, or add some tags. If you’re particularly precise, you can even do both, which gives you a lot of interesting options.
Manage Multiple Projects
This kind of granularity also makes it easy to see at a glance what’s going on using the calendar, which is probably TickTick’s most powerful tool. We praise it at length in our TickTick review, as it is what puts it above its direct competitors Todoist and Any.do by a country mile.
Add to that some extra doodads, like the ability to take notes — though Notion is a little better at that — plus its kanban board, and you’ve got a winner. Though TickTick may not scratch everybody’s itch, it’s definitely worth checking out.
That does bring us back to the main issue, though: namely, that TickTick’s advantages only shine when you pay for it. Luckily, it’s pretty cheap at just $27.99 per year, but it may be more than you’re willing to spend on a task-tracking app. However, give TickTick a spin and you’ll soon see it’s worth the money.
More Details About Todoist:
- Price: Free; $3 per month for the Pro plan
- Website: todoist.com
- Easy to use
- Kanban board
- Some lag
- Privacy issues
Our second pick is Todoist, which in terms of features is very close to TickTick. It may be slightly better in some ways; we recommend you check out our full Todoist review to see for yourself. The difference lies in how you use both services: TickTick lets you subdivide tasks, while Todoist is more limited in that respect.
This is what makes it our second pick as a project management app for freelancers: It’s just not as easy to see what’s urgent and what is less so with Todoist. Add to that the fact that it’s missing a built-in calendar (though it does integrate directly with Google Calendar) and there are some issues with tracking projects.
List-Based Project Management
Still, though, we can see a few scenarios where Todoist is the better choice over TickTick. If you keep a relatively simple schedule and you just need to complete tasks as you go along, it’s a great fit. It’s also good if you need to look just a week or so ahead, as Todoist offers tailored views for that.
Todoist is also a solid choice if you really don’t want to spend a single penny on project management. Its free plan is probably the best of all the simpler apps out there. It also has a plan for unlimited users if you decide to grow your business from a one-man shop to an actual company, making it an attractive choice for the more ambitious among us.
- : 1 main user 5 active projects 5 collaborators (per project) 5MB file uploads
- : 1 main user 300 active projects 25 collaborators (per project) 100MB file uploads
More Details About Trello:
- Pricing: Free, or $5 per month for the Standard plan.
- Website: trello.com
- Excellent kanban board
- Great drag & drop functionality
- Lots of integrations to choose from
- Limited add-ons on the free plan
- Upgrades aren’t great
Trello is the best kanban app out there, bar none, making it a perfect fit for freelance projects that need a board to track tasks. If all you need are some cards you can easily drag and drop to get some overview for free, we recommend above all others on this list — read our Trello review for more information.
However, that’s just part of the story for most freelancers, and when you step outside the board’s bounds, you’ll quickly realize that TickTick may be a better choice. For one, while Trello offers views other than the free board, it hides them behind a pretty pricey paywall. The Premium plan is $10 per user per month, which makes it uninteresting for most freelancers.
Even if you do have the money, it’s questionable how useful it will be. The main draws of the Premium plan are the new views. There’s also an intermediate step, called Standard, that adds some doodads, but still most of what a freelancer needs is already offered by TickTick or Todoist, and for free.
As such, we can’t really recommend that freelancers upgrade Trello. Still, though, Trello’s free plan is good enough that you probably won’t have to, thanks to offering unlimited users and a lot of functionality.
- : Unlimited users, 10 boards, Unlimited power-ups, Unlimited storage
- : Price is per user, Unlimited boards, Custom fields, Invite guests
- : Price is per user, Several new views
More Details About Notion:
- Pricing: Free; $4 per month for the Personal Pro plan
- Website: notion.so
- Combines note-taking & planning
- Great for creatives & marketers
- Creates advanced documentation
- Lacks advanced features
- Can’t track multiple projects
Notion is an interesting mix of note-taking app and task management solution that does something very few other hybrid tools do — it does a good job at all the parts it’s combining. As you can read in our full Notion review, it is both one of the best note-taking apps and a great way to wrangle projects.
It’s a solid pick for freelancers because it’s completely free, though you can choose to pay $4 per month — if paying annually — to get some extras, like inviting unlimited guests. That said, paying for it feels more like a way to support the developers than a fully fledged upgrade.
Getting Organized With Notion
Another reason we like it is because it combines note-taking, task planning, writing and the ability to attach files. For example, you could plan projects using Notion’s kanban board and lists, then link from each task directly to a directory within Notion where you keep both written notes as well as any uploaded images. It’s a one-stop shop.
However, if you’re running more complex operations or are planning to expand your business, Notion may not be the best pick, as it really only runs the basics. We wouldn’t recommend using it for more than scheduling straightforward workflows, or for use by people who don’t work with documents. Check out the free plan and see for yourself.
- : 1 user only, Up to five guests, 5MB file upload limit
- : 1 user only, Unlimited guests, Unlimited file uploads, Version history
- : Unlimited users, Unlocks workspace, User permission settings
- : Advanced security features
More Details About Asana:
- Pricing: Free; $10.99 per month for the Premium plan
- Website: asana.com
- Lots of free features
- Colorful, clear interface
- Feels professional
- Pricey upgrade
- Many superfluous options
We’ve placed Asana fifth here because, while it is the best free project management tool out there, it’s not as focused on freelancers as the rest of the list. That said, it will be the better option for some readers, simply because it offers more robust features and functionality, as you can read in our Asana review).
Asana Task Management
Still, though, even lone wolves will find there’s a lot to like about Asana. It offers a number of views, including a great kanban board and a very easy-to-use list view, and using it feels very smooth. It also has some great integrations, like with time-tracking app Harvest, and is in many ways a lot more flexible than Notion.
The downside of Asana is its price, though. While the free plan will cover most freelancers, if you do need to upgrade, you’ll be paying top dollar. Plans start at about $11 per month, so your choices are either paying nothing or jumping straight to a lot. If you can’t work around the free plan’s limitations and don’t like the price, you’re going to have to look for something else.
- : Up to 15 users
- : Price is per user. unlimited users, expanded features
- : Price is per user. unlimited users, even more features
- : Custom pricing, advanced security features
More Details About nTask:
- Pricing: Free; $3 per user per month for the annual Premium plan
- Website: ntaskmanager.com
- Inclusive free plan
- Cheap upgrade
- Great built-in time tracking system
- No kanban board in the free plan
- Lots of clicking around in the interface
In many ways, nTask would be a better pick for freelancers than Asana. The free plan is only a smidge worse than its rival’s, and its Premium plan is a lot cheaper too. However, there is an issue that prevents nTask from scoring higher here: There’s no kanban board on the free plan.
The Kanban Can’t
As we explain in our nTask review, we’re not completely sure why something as basic as a kanban board has been hidden behind a paywall, but we expect it has something to do with enticing people to come aboard.
At just $3 per user per month billed annually, nTask is the cheapest project management solution out there, or at least the cheapest one worth mentioning.
While $36 per year per user this isn’t a lot of money, we suspect it might still be a hurdle for freelancers, who generally prefer free stuff. Still, though, if you can live without a kanban board or can handle $36, we recommend giving nTask a spin.
- : Maximum 5 team members.
- : No minimum or maximum team members.
- : No minimum or maximum team members.
- : Self-hosted option. 50 team members minimum.
More Details About monday.com:
- Pricing: Free; $10 per month for the Standard plan
- Website: monday.com
- Easy to use
- Great list view
- Limited free plan
- Pricey upgrade for freelancers
We end this list with the project management tool that we start most others with: monday.com. While monday.com is our overall favorite project manager, the project management tool falls short for the average freelancer for a few reasons.
monday.com Free Plan
For one, its free plan offers just a list and a board. This makes it marginally more interesting than Trello, but unlike Trello, there’s no in-between when upgrading: either you go the whole hog and pay for the Standard plan, or nothing. The Basic plan is near useless, as all it adds to the free plan is a dashboard and some extra storage.
That said, as you can read in our monday.com review, it’s a very nice list and a great board. Add to that some of monday.com’s more interesting integrations and you may have a winning option on your hands. However, compared to our other contenders, monday.com won’t scratch a freelancer’s itch nearly as well, earning it last place.
- : Maximum users: 2, Kanban Board, & list
- : Minimum users: 3, Price per user, Basic features
- : Minimum users: 3, Price per user, Expanded features
- : Minimum users: 3, Price per user, Advanced features
- : Enterprise-level features.
Freelancers don’t always have it easy finding the best project management software, but hopefully our list can help you at least narrow down the field a little. Our favorite project management tool for freelancers is TickTick, but all other contenders have plenty going for them as well.
If you’re building a software stack to keep your gigs organized, be sure to check our best organization apps list. If you use macOS, check out our guide for the best project management software for Mac.
What did you think of our list? Did we miss any important contenders that you feel deserve a spot? Maybe our rankings could be improved? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thank you for reading.