The freelance life has a lot going for it, but it isn’t all peaches and cream. Staying ahead of the competition is tough. The best project management software for freelancers can give you an edge and help put you on the road to solo success.
Many freelancers neglect organization, which can be a mistake. Every mistake presents an opportunity to improve, though, and better self-management can give you more time to work and sip lattes, rather than fiddling around with admin.
In this article, we’re going to look through some of the available project management tools to see how they can help you work better.
Best Project Management Software for Freelancers 2020
What Makes a Project Management Tool Right for Freelancers?
In our experience, freelancers range from rolling in cash to scrambling to pay the bills every month. Price will be a big factor, so we’ll look for tools that have a free or inexpensive option. Freelancers with less spare cash might also like to take a look at our best free project management tools article.
The usual things we care about, such as features and ease of use, are relevant to freelancers, too. We’re also considering security and support, but because freelancers may just be managing their own data, they may not be as bothered about security as, say, a business manager.
Team size and communication are less important. Many freelancers work alone or in small teams, so we’ll look more at the way projects are organized than the team features. That said, freelancers often have multiple things on the go, so we’ll favor platforms that accommodate that and let you create multiple projects easily.
Because freelancers tend to be self-starters, they may be fine with support options that lean toward fixing their own problems, too.
1. Best Project Management Software for Freelancers: Wrike
If you’re lounging around in your casual pants watching Netflix when you should be working, give Wrike a try. It does a good job of putting you in a business-like frame of mind. It has a learning curve, but once you get to know it, it’s a great way to help manage your projects. It has a free plan, too, so it doesn’t have to cost you a thing.
When you’ve finished your work and want to get back to streaming, our best Netflix hacks article is worth checking out, too.
Wrike lets you create tasks, break them into subtasks and add dependencies between them. That allows you to figure out which order things need to be done in. You can also make forms that let other people create tasks by filling them in. That might be a good way to capture client requirements, if used correctly.
It has several views, including a list, a basic kanban board, a Gantt chart and a stream. You can use it to store files and leave comments on them via its proofing feature. The interface is crowded and the navigation has a few quirks, but there’s a lot included.
Wrike’s integrations allow it to connect to several platforms freelancers are likely to use, such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Adobe Creative Cloud.
Wrike includes an assortment of templates, so you can set it up quickly. There’s also a selection of themes, letting you pick a look that suits you.
It has top-quality security, with two-factor authentication available via a Google app. It also has many support options, with an excellent knowledgebase complemented by fast, responsive support staff who will help you if you get stuck.
You can share your projects with a team of five for free. If you choose to upgrade, the paid plans start at $9.80 per user per month, which isn’t a lot, considering what it does for you.
With apps for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS, in addition to its browser version, freelancers can access Wrike wherever they are.
Wrike is a strong choice for freelancers, and everyone else. Learn more about it in our Wrike review.
- Dependency management & subtasks
- Top-notch security
- Free plan
- Has a learning curve
- Tricky navigation
- Expensive higher-tier plans
Airtable is a versatile tool that has unusual features. It lets you add data to “bases.” The “bases” represent projects, and you can set up templates for different kinds of them. Freelance developers will appreciate the bug tracker sample project, but there are sales, staff management and tracking systems, too.
Airtable’s main spreadsheet-like screen is complemented by kanban, calendar, form and gallery views. The interface is clear and responsive, and doing things is generally straightforward, but setting up from scratch without a template is tricky.
It doesn’t have many communication options but freelancers may not find that a problem if only organizing themselves.
It integrates with several platforms, such as Dropbox and WordPress, as well as fellow project management tools Asana, Basecamp and Trello. Like several of its competitors, it uses Zapier to share data with many apps.
Our favorite feature is its “blocks.” They give you all sorts of extra functionality. Some are relatively straightforward. There are chart blocks and one that integrates with Google Hangouts, for instance. Others give you advanced features, such as automatic translation and image recognition. If you need to do those things regularly, Airtable is going to be a big help.
Airtable Free Plan
Airtable has a free plan, so you don’t have to pay to get started. You can have as many “bases” as you like, so you can assign one to each of your client projects if that’s how you do things. Its paid plans give you more storage and features. Blocks unlock on the Pro plan, for example.
You don’t have anything to worry about security-wise. Airtable has several certifications and uses strong 256-bit encryption. Read our description of encryption for more on the topic. You also get two-factor authentication and can see the IP addresses that have accessed your account. That’s useful if you’re worried someone else has logged in with your password.
It has a decent help section, with videos and webinars available to learn more about the platform. There’s an active community, too. The “Airtable Universe” lets you see what other users have done, which is a great way to get ideas.
There’s an email address and contact wizard there if you need to contact support, but the three-day response time we got isn’t the quickest we’ve seen. Read our ProWorkflow review to learn about a service that got back to us in six minutes.
Overall, Airtable is a likeable platform with excellent features. It has a lot to offer freelancers. Read more about it in our Airtable review.
- Blocks offer extra functionality
- Excellent security features
- Responsive interface
- Slow support
- Best features are expensive
- Limited communication options
Asana is a lot of fun to use because of its celebrations. It rewards you for getting things done by sending colorful animals flying across your screen. We’re not sure freelancers struggling to work, despite the temptations of the internet, need extra frivolity in their lives, though.
Still, Asana’s free tier won’t eat into your expenses. With it, you get to use its list and board views, as well as its calendar. You can use its conversation board for teams of up to 15 people, too, without having to upgrade.
It has a good design that gets the balance between usability and visual appeal right. It would be nice to see a few more customization options, such as user backgrounds and colors, but you can’t have everything.
If you get a paid plan, you can use its timeline, forms and other features. In addition to creating tasks, you can break them into subtasks and add dependencies. If you’re working with a team, you can assign things to other team members.
You can share files, but there’s a size limit of 100MB. If you need more than that, check out our best cloud storage for large files article.
Asana’s integrations include Zapier, which lets you use data from many sources. Like Wrike, it integrates with other services, such as Dropbox, Adobe Create Cloud and Microsoft Office 365.
If you’re using Asana in a coffee shop, its TLS v1.1 encryption will make it harder for eavesdroppers to pinch your work. Read our cybercrime article for more on the tricks wrongdoers get up to.
Asana’s support took a few hours to answer our queries, which is decent, if not the quickest we’ve seen. That honor goes to Basecamp, which got back to us in three minutes. Read about it in our Basecamp review.
Overall, Asana is an excellent choice for freelancers, with its free plan giving you plenty and its cheap paid plans offering even more. It’s easy to use and makes getting things done pleasant and enjoyable.
If you want to compare it to Wrike, check out our Wrike vs. Asana head-to-head.
- Bright, cheerful design
- Easy to use
- Free plan
- Slow support
- 100MB attachment limit
- Limited visual customization
If you’re watching the purse strings, you can’t go wrong with Freecamp. Not only does it have a free plan, but its paid offerings are good value, ranging from a meager $1.49 per month up to $16.99 for its Enterprise plan. It’s one of the best value platforms around.
Freedcamp has an attractive interface and is easy to use. There’s the odd bug here and there, but nothing earth-shattering, and in general, users are likely to enjoy working with it.
You can create tasks, break them into subtasks and add dependencies, showing you the relationships between them. You can assign people and dates to tasks, as well as make comments and attach files.
Freedcamp’s unlimited storage makes it a great choice for sharing project files with colleagues or clients. The file-size limit of just 10MB for free users is restrictive, though. It increases to 250MB on more expensive plans. Have a look at our best cloud storage services if you want to set up a dedicated service for that.
There are several views available. In addition to the vanilla task view, there’s a calendar, kanban board and Gantt view. There’s also a bookmark system to help you navigate the program.
If you want to share data with other platforms, you can do so via the popular Zapier, which works with many apps. Freedcamp also has an API, if you fancy coding.
Freedcamp complies with the General Data Protection Regulation, as described in our GDPR article. It also complies with the EU-U.S. and Swiss-U.S. privacy shields. Enterprise users can take advantage of two-factor authentication.
Its support is fast and effective. It was easy to send a support request, and we got a response 30 minutes later. It also has a knowledgebase and a few YouTube videos to help if you get stuck.
It has mobile apps for Android and iOS. Its Windows and macOS desktop clients are buried in the depths of its website, so they may be out of date.
Overall, Freedcamp is an excellent choice if you’re on a budget. It has a few bugs, but there are plenty of good features to make up for it. For more details, check out our Freedcamp review.
- Attractive interface
- Unlimited storage
- Minor interface errors
- Low file-size limit for free users
- Gaps in its knowledgebase
If you want something that’s free, easy and simple, look no further than Trello. It’s a kanban-based tool, enabling you to create tasks and move them between columns. The columns could be labeled “to-do,” “doing” and “done” or have names representing any stage of your process.
You could use them to store client records, project information or anything else you can think of. You can create a board for each project, and perhaps a board for managing clients. Though simple, it’s a versatile and powerful tool.
Trello’s “inspiration” page has plenty of examples of how creative people have used it. In addition to managing projects, you can use it to present information to your clients. There are people using it to present restaurant menus and even seating plans for events.
It’s worth looking through the examples to get a few ideas of how you can use Trello to present information to your clients and allow them to work with you, too.
Though simple its “power-ups” allow you to add extra features. They are many and varied. Used wisely, you can turn Trello into a much more advanced platform and can pick and choose the functionality you need.
The “butler” power-up is notable because it allows you to automate tasks and create buttons to perform sequences of actions. That can save you a lot of time. “Butler” usage is limited on Trello’s free plan, but that may not trouble freelancers who want to use it a few times a week as projects move between stages.
If you want to use it more than that, it is likely the time you save from the removal of usage limits will more than justify the cost of a paid plan.
Though Trello’s core features are all on its free plan, there are benefits to upgrading. You get custom stickers, backgrounds and emoji. You also get to use more power-ups at once and use “butler” without usage restrictions.
- Simple & easy to use
- Powerful add-ons
- Gives you most features for free
- Limited without power-ups
- No live support
- No dependency management
There are a few other choices worth investigating that didn’t quite get into our top five. Let’s take a look at them.
Podio is a useful platform that has a free plan and a couple of interesting features. You can customize your workspaces and use its calculation field to perform complex operations on your data. If you want a tool that allows you to automatically combine and merge data for you, look no further than Podio.
Beyond that, it does most of what you’d expect from a project management tool. You can assign tasks and use different views to sort through your information. It also has unlimited storage. It doesn’t have subtasks or dependency management, though.
For more about it, read our Podio review.
Taskworld doesn’t have a free plan, but it allows you to create tasks easily by sending an email to a specific address. Those who want to get work done on the train will find that useful. It also has Android and iOS apps.
It has a snappy, easy-to-use interface and an excellent user guide showing you its ins and outs. There are also templates and a simple kanban board to manage tasks.
Taskworld doesn’t have a free plan, but there’s a free 15-day trial, after which it costs $10.99 per month. For a closer look, read our Taskworld review.
monday.com came in first in our list of the best project management software. Its interface is outstanding and helps you get the most out of its powerful, customizable structure.
If it’s that good, you might think it’d be higher on this list. Its pricing system doesn’t cater to individual users, though. You have to sign up for a team of at least five.
Since that costs $25 per month and there isn’t a free plan, we didn’t think it was the best option for freelancers. If you can afford that, though, it’s a platform to consider, and there’s a free trial if you want to check it out.
Freelancers are often too busy working and chasing clients to do much else, so they may not even think about how they organize themselves. That means project management software can help them a lot. If you don’t have time to organize, let software do it for you.
Even a simple kanban based platform like Trello can make a difference to a freelancer, and the more advanced tools offer more. There are plenty of other options beyond what we’ve looked at, too. If you’re a freelancer, we’d love to know what you think about our choices or if you have other recommendations. Please let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading.