Best Project Management Tools for Freelancers

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As a freelancer, you know that keeping track of all the many moving parts of your business can be a challenge. From proposals to scope of work templates and pitches, contract template drafts to deadlines, there is so much track and manage. It’s no wonder that many successful developers, designers, writers and creators rely on at least one project management tool to keep everything sorted.

Even if you consider yourself perfectly organized, it’s a professional practice to have a project management system to help you document your work and see where your time is going. It’s easy to solve client issues when you have everything neatly displayed in one place! With so many apps for independent contractors out there, how can you choose? Start by reviewing our list of favorites – in no particular order.

Best Project Management Tools for Freelancers

1. Bonsai

You didn’t think we’d forget to mention it, did you?

This favorite among developers, marketers, and designers features one of the cleanest dashboards.

  • Expenses can be easily tracked and accounted for when imported directly into your client invoices.
  • Iron-clad contract templates make asking for what you want easy.
  • Free delivery and signing of documents.

Bonsai easily replaces several stand-alone freelancer tools to create one powerful – and affordable — project management solution.

Check out the main Bonsai dashboard below and familiarize yourself with the clean UI loved by 100,000+ freelancers worldwide

This app for independent contractors allows freelancers to see all their templates in one place, generate one from another (proposal from contract for example), and easily send them to clients:

  • Proposals
  • Contracts
  • Invoices
  • Expenses,
  • Time tracking
  • and the new Accounting and Taxes software product.

You can easily explore every feature and start creating your own templates by signing up to your free trial.

2. Trello

We’ve already shared how Trello makes a fantastic editorial calendar tool. You don’t need to be in content creation to make this work for you, however. If you’re frequently doing the same tasks, or you have a core group of clients that you work with often, Trello can be set up to track any number of tasks from conception to invoicing. It’s also a great way to keep track of every detail of a project, including supporting documentation, photo files, outbound links, and marketing copy. In fact, its index-card-inspired interface is an easy one for any freelancer to grasp quickly and master within weeks. It’s a favorite among creatives, marketer, and designers.

3. Asana

Perhaps one of the most popular project management tools out there, Asana has been around long enough to suffer through growing pains and come out even better than before. It features a simple user experience that needs no training to use competently. Teams can schedule, assign, and comment on any number of projects and tasks without a lot of complicated back and forth. The ability to highlight items by color is perfect for those who want to access tasks quickly from their mobile devices! Asana’s reminders to email are also a very popular feature for those who need an extra nudge to complete tasks on time. When tracking tasks in Asana, Tmetric is a great tool.

This article on BeeWits is a great review of Asana vs Wrike, another tool we mention below, so you can read and learn more about both of these tools and how they compare to each other.

4. Google Apps

Both small and large businesses run on Google these days, and the solo freelancer can benefit from the large suite of services offered. While it’s not exactly an “all-in-one” solution, there are enough tools here to cover most every project management need. From spreadsheets for time tracking and shared documents for invoicing to forms for collecting data, there’s something for everyone with full integration into all of Google’s owned properties. It’s especially useful for freelancers with Gmail accounts, Google calendars, and Android-based mobile operating systems. Need help? There are many free templates online to browse and copy for your own project organization inspiration.

5. Red Booth

Procrastinators adore this project management tool, which tracks your performance to give you a report of how you’re handling projects overall. Are you chronically late? Do you tend to get things done with time to spare? Red Booth will tell you and even track you down to send desktop notifications when you’ve missed a deadline! A very simplistic dashboard shows you how you’re doing.

6. Wrike

This task management platform is similar to Trello, in that you can create drag-and-drop fields to fill a project timeline. The ability to share that timeline, including time spent on each task, with anyone – even those outside of the organization – is pretty slick. It’s easy to collaborate with any number of team members, since it integrates with Google, Microsoft, Adobe® Creative Cloud®, Box, GitHub, JIRA, and more. Real-time reports show at a glance how many tasks are in each section of your project pipeline.

7. ProProfs Project (formerly Project Bubble)

This project management software (formerly known as Project Bubble) combines a very detailed dashboard with the ability utilize cloud storage apps such as Dropbox and Box. It’s especially popular among Zapier fans, since there is the possibility of connecting its 100’s of integrated apps, as well.  A handy progress bar always shows how far along you are on any given project.

8. Thrive

Formerly called “Solo”, this eye-catching app makes beautiful work of managing projects and analyzing data.  In addition to tracking projects, time, and invoicing, it stores all of your client data into a contact list that’s more user-friendly than most stand-alone CRM’s.  See at a glance who your best customers are (as well as many other useful stats) via one of the more elegant dashboards available.

Cost: Unlimited project plans start at $19 a month.

9. Pipefy

If you’re looking for a project management tool that also works as a customer communication channel, Pipefy may be for you. With the ability to solicit feedback from clients at any point in the process, it’s an effective way to incorporate edits and scope changes directly into the timeline of any project. The system also makes clever use of templates, offering a wide selection of pre-written emails to address common steps in the project pipeline.

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Cost: Up to 5 projects (or pipes) is free, then $9-18 a month for more advanced features

10. Podio

Owned by Citrix, Podio is a fan favorite among larger corporations, but it has some features solo entrepreneurs will like, too. The ability to replicate similar projects for repeat clients is a definite time saver and one of the most talked-about features. The freelancer plan allows for basic task management, without the ability to customize integrated apps or invite others to join the team. The enterprise plans, however, boast contact syncing, filing sharing, and contract signing features.

Best Project Management Tools for Freelancers

1. Hive

I’m not really one to gush about project management software programs – but I really think that Hive has cracked the code. Remember when I mentioned earlier that my clients all used their own project management systems? At one point, I had 5 clients assigning tasks to me from different PMs, and the only way I could wrangle all my assignments and not lose my head was through Hive.

Hive has built an extremely user-friendly project management system that works amazingly well – even in the free version. Considering that this platform was built for users by users, it makes sense that the usability and features I would like to see are available for my use. From a native chat to multiple project views and a helpful note-taking section, the free version of Hive gets the job done.

However, like some of the other versions on this list, you can unlock some pretty nifty features when you pay for your Hive subscription. From timesheets to analytics and more – the paid version is an excellent option for teams that need more features to streamline work. But for those of us with a limited (I mean zero) budget? The free version is simply the bee’s knees. If you want to check out their free version it includes the following:

  • Actions to-do list
  • Robust task and project management
  • Gantt, Kanban and calendar project views
  • Tasks and projects summary views
  • Project portfolio views
  • Project baselines
  • Project linking
  • Automated workflows for recurring tasks
  • Build and distribute forms
  • Collaborative Hive Notes for meetings
  • Hive Chat native messaging
  • Hive Mail integrated with task management
  • Two-factor authentication

2. Asana

Asana was the first project management software I ever used, and as a novice, I had a tough time. It has an insane amount of features and templates, and if you don’t know how to navigate the system, you could get overwhelmed with just the simplest of tasks.

However, once I got the hang of navigating the system, the free version had a ton of perks. From integrations with other apps to various board views, the free version of Asana was a good starting place for a small business owner like myself to get the hang of project management.

While Asana isn’t my top choice for a free project management software, they are beloved by many small businesses and freelancers alike. If you have less than 15 people on your team, need app integration, and have a budget is like mine – check out Asana. Other features that come with the free version include:

  • Unlimited essentials: Projects, tasks, activity log, storage, comments
  • Three project views: List, Board, and Calendar views
  • Basic workflows: Free integrations with 100+ apps, including Slack, Outlook, GSuite, and time tracking apps
  • Basic reporting: Status updates in Asana and export projects PDF or CSV
  • Security essentials: 15 user limit, 2FA, Google SSO, and SOC 2 Type II compliance
  • Community support: Community support through our forum, webinars, and guide

3. Teamwork

I’ve worked with three clients who have used Teamwork – and for a time there, I signed up for the free version to see if it could help with my workflow. Since I was happy with the paid version as a contractor, I thought the free version would check all the needed boxes for time and project tracking.

Unfortunately, Teamwork does not offer a very robust free project management software option. While it still has the same look and feel as paid version and provides the organization features such as internal messaging and milestone tracking, the free version is very basic compared to other more advanced tools.

If you want your project management program to have built-in collaboration, app integration, billing, invoicing, and time tracking – you should skip Teamwork’s free project management option. But, if you are looking for a simple, clean, easy-to-use project management tracker that will work for basic tracking – join up. The free version still offers the following features for up to 5 users:

  • Basic Project & Task Management
  • Milestones
  • Messages

4. ClickUp

If you have ever used any of the paid versions of ClickUp, you might agree with me when I say that it is an absolute project management behemoth. ClickUp can do almost everything you need in project management tasks, permissions, and goals. However, the free project management option feels like a watered-down version of a fantastic drink, and I want that fantastic drink instead.

Using the free version, there have been so many times when I would click on a feature I would want to use, but alas, it’s only available for the paid version. However, I would still recommend the free version of ClickUp over some other PMs on this list. While ClickUp feels watered down – it still offers many perks for small teams and can be a game-changer for your small business workflows. Clickup’s free project management software version includes:

  • 100MB Storage
  • Unlimited Tasks
  • Unlimited Members
  • Two-Factor Authentication
  • Collaborative Docs
  • Real-Time Chat
  • Email in ClickUp
  • Kanban Boards
  • Sprint Management
  • Native Time Tracking
  • In-App Video Recording
  • 24/7 Support
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5. Trello

Trello is a comfortable, easy-to-use, and straightforward project management platform for small businesses and teams. Its interface consists of a board that allows you to shuffle cards around for tasks. In addition, it has a built-in integration option for you to add “power-ups” and “automation” to every one of your processes.

While I have never used the paid version of Trello, the free version was my go-to for project management tasks for years. After so many clients kept telling me that they were going to “add me to their Trello board,” I just picked up the project management software, and its ease of use made it my go-to for over five years. That is until it was usurped by the free version of Hive. (Not a shameless plug, I seriously love Hive).

While I no longer use Trello as my personal project management software, I will always feel comfortable with the platform. It is easy to use, learn, and share with team members, and the free version offers a has a lot of bells and whistles that work well for small teams and freelancers like:

  • Unlimited cards
  • Up to 10 boards per Workspace
  • Unlimited Power-Ups per board
  • Unlimited storage (10MB/file)
  • 250 Workspace command runs per month
  • Custom backgrounds & stickers
  • Unlimited activity log
  • Assignee and due dates
  • iOS and Android mobile apps
  • 2-factor authentication

6. Basecamp

Basecamp is another option for you. They call themselves the “All-in-One Toolkit For Working Remotely.’ While I’ve never personally used this tool, I have other friends who have used it at their companies for managing projects, tasking outside vendors and freelancers with work, communicating with their colleagues and more. While it it not entirely free, they do offer a free 30-day trial to anyone who wants to try it out. Overall, the software includes:

  • Unlimited projects
  • Unlimited users
  • 500 GB personal storage
  • Company HQ
  • Team Projects
  • Unlimited clients
  • Advanced client access
  • Project templates
  • Priority support

So now that you have a collection of free project management software options to choose from, the ball is in your court! It’s just up to you to decide which one to pick. If you have suggestions for another platform that didn’t make the list, let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!

Best Project Management Software

1 ClickUp

Best for unlimited users/seats

ClickUp is a project management software tool with powerful features for managing and completing all your team’s projects in one platform. Users can plan projects, schedule tasks, and manage resources in a centralized workspace, as well as communicate and collaborate with team members and guests.

Task management features include task checklists, subtasks, and task templates, as well as the ability to filter, sort, search for, easily reorder, and view tasks in the manner most convenient for the team. Users can also create Gantt charts, calendars, and timelines to visualize tasks.

ClickUp also includes features for creating, sharing, and collaborative editing for Wikis and documents. Users can comment on documents and tasks, assign comments, and chat with other team members for increased communication and collaboration. Reporting features include the ability to create custom dashboards, as well as six built-in report types for team reporting.

ClickUp offers native integrations with Slack, G Suite, Dropbox, and many more tools, as well as over 1,000+ integrations through Zapier.

ClickUp’s free plan is robust and includes all primary features. The unlimited plan starts at $5/user/month and offers additional functionality.

Free forever with paid plans starting at $5/user/month

PROS

  • Free forever plan allows unlimited members
  • Unlimited file storage on all paid account tiers
  • Can email (set-up) a task directly from Outlook

CONS

  • Read-only guest permissions are limited to paid account
  • Reporting suite is limited to paid plans only
  • Granular customization options results in a time consuming set-up

2 Smartsheet

Best for flexibility & customizability

Smartsheet is a spreadsheet-like project management tool. It has won a few awards for quickly becoming a favorite business app. It’s a nice project management software if you’re comfortable working in Excel but wants a break from complicated formulas—Smartsheet performs all the calculations for you across multiple sheets. You can also add customized brand logos and set color themes for individual projects.

Smartsheet has useful project management features such as workflow automation and visualization of tasks in Gantt, calendar and card views. Team members get notified of critical changes in real-time, and the tool provides shared views, detail history, activity logs, automated alerts, reminders, and status reports to keep everyone aligned and informed. The Critical Path feature highlights all the tasks which directly impact your project completion date to keep an eye on important milestones. Reporting is a strong feature of this tool, with editable summary reports that you can easily export to Excel.

Smartsheet integrations include Microsoft and Google apps, as well as development essentials like Jira, and useful business apps like Salesforce, ServiceNow, Slack, Box, and Tableau. The platform is extensible through a REST API and webhooks.

Smartsheet costs from $7/user/month, with a minimum of 3 users and a maximum of 25 users. They also offer a 30-day free trial.

30 days free trial

From $7/user/month

PROS

  • Sheet-to-sheet linking
  • Many project templates & resources
  • Ease of sharing
  • Easily customizable dashboards

CONS

  • Jira, Salesforce, Dynamics connector limited to Premier plan
  • Changes don’t update in real-time
  • Can’t customize chart colors

3 Kintone

Best for building custom project workflows

Kintone is a customizable project tracking software platform used by teams at Volvo Trucks North America, Japan Airlines, Shiseido, and over 23,000 organizations worldwide. Their unique approach to project and task management lets you build a wide variety of customizable “apps” either from scratch, using templates or from your existing spreadsheets, for data management, business processes, and workflows. Kintone apps can be customized for project management, sales CRM, customer databases, expense reports, shared to-do lists, equipment management, product feedback, and much more.

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Kintone lets you build no-code project tracking apps by dragging and dropping elements that you want to see onto the page: rich text fields, date fields, drop-down menus, number fields with built-in calculations, spaces for attachments, user or group selection menus, related data from other apps, tables, and more.

Once you’ve built the app you want, you can use it to more easily manage whatever data and tasks you and your team need to track. And with custom notifications and reminders as well as detailed permissions settings, your project tracking solution can look and work however you want it to.

What makes Kintone particularly great for project tracking are the features to filter and prioritize tasks by data field or team member to generate custom reports or dashboard views, as well as the ability to automate reminders and handoffs between team members for multi-step workflows.

Kintone’s built-in communication features also allow teams to discuss projects directly in the app and in topic or project-based threads. Dedicated “spaces” organize everything your team needs for your project, including task-tracking apps and searchable conversation threads.

There are so many ways to customize Kintone it can be hard to know where to start. Read the starter blog “What Can You Build with Kintone?” or watch Creating an App from Scratch for a quick look at how the drag-and-drop builder works.

Kintone lets you expand its capabilities with both free native plugins built by the Kintone team as well as integrations with other tools like Slack, Gmail, Google Calendar, Outlook, Tableau, Dropbox, Salesforce, HubSpot, Eventbrite, WordPress, QuickBooks, MailChimp, and many more through a paid plan with Zapier or via API integrations.

Kintone costs $24/user/month with a minimum requirement of 5 users. They offer a 30-day free trial (no credit card required) and discounted prices for nonprofits and educators. Kintone’s team also offers a free custom app build as part of the free trial process.

30 days free trial

From $24/user/month

PROS

  • Flexible pricing that includes special deals for schools and NPOs
  • Admin accounts have access to tons of customization tools
  • Data is easy to pull and manipulate into good looking reports

CONS

  • No single-user plan available (minimum 5 users)
  • Limited to 5GB/user storage on every pricing tier
  • No native templates for common project types or documents

4 Forecast.app

Best AI-native project planning tool

Forecast is an all-in-one platform for resource and project management, used in 40+ countries worldwide, by agency, software, and consulting companies. It’s equipped with tools to manage everything from quote to invoice, plus it offers intelligent automation to predict project delivery dates, forecast capacity needs, and become more efficient. Their AI uses cumulative learnings from hundreds of thousands of projects and creates rules based on that user data.

Let’s talk about features. The Auto-Schedule feature is great for project scheduling, providing estimates, automatically assigning resources to tasks. It’s got a drag-and-drop module that lets you adjust plans and resources in an instant. Another cool feature is that the tool automatically builds a budget for every project with key financial metrics to track planned vs. actuals. It also supports various billing types (fixed price, time & materials) side-by-side and in real-time. It has advanced up-to-the-minute reports you can customize.

Forecast also introduced a one-of-its-kind feature to manage projects in a retainer setup. A dashboard with retainer periods and totals lets you track the financials of ongoing projects without losing sight of staff workloads and time spent on delivery.

Forecast integrations include several turnkey integrations with mainstream project management tools and two-way sync with Jira on the market. It also complements accounting systems like Quickbooks and Xero with PM capabilities.

Forecast costs from $31.76/user/month (€27/user/month) with a 10-seat minimum requirement. They offer a 14-day free trial.

14 days free trial

From $31.76/user/month

PROS

  • Predictive tasks for spreadsheets
  • Can manage resources across multiple projects
  • Easy to plan projects and timelines

CONS

  • Milestone data is lumped together rather than separated
  • Additional fee for onboarding/training
  • Higher learning curve

5 GanttPro

Best project management tool for planning and scheduling projects with an online Gantt chart

GanttPRO is a project management software based on Gantt charts and useful for managing all kinds of projects and teams from different spheres. It stands out for its intuitive interface and powerful features.

The software includes features for breaking down projects in an efficient manner into subtasks, sibling tasks, and subprojects, as well as set dependencies and milestones. To get more visibility, users can choose between the Gantt chart, Board views, and task dashboards. GanttPRO also offers handy task management features such as statuses, priorities, duration & estimation, progress, dates and deadlines, assignees, and more.

The Gantt chart maker allows teams to collaborate in real-time using comments, mentions, and attachments. Resource management and workload features for monitoring team members workload and tasks are also included.

You can integrate your projects with Jira, Google Drive, Slack, and other applications. GanttPRO is widely used in software development, construction, healthcare, finances, events, education, and many other spheres.

Basic plans for 1 user start at $7.99/month if billed annually.

14 days free trial

From $7.99/user/month

PROS

  • Intuitive interface with a short learning curve
  • Multiple and flexible project views
  • Professional Gantt chart templates

CONS

  • Light on integrations
  • Lack of options to create recurring tasks

6 Zoho Projects

Best for unique team collaboration features

Conclusion

As a freelance project manager, it’s important to keep your projects organized and on schedule. By using a good project management plan and keeping your projects organized and on schedule, you can make better work. Additionally, using your project management tools to make sure you have up-to-date information can help you stay aware of your progress and ensure that your projects are successful. If you’re looking for ways to manage freelance projects successfully, be sure to check out our recommended tools.

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