Does “freelancing project management” sound like an oxymoron such as “jumbo shrimp” or “alone together” to you?
If so, you might be selling yourself way too short. Just because you’re your own boss and fly solo doesn’t mean that project management tools are a waste of time, money, and effort.
Because what freelance project management software delivers, including improved productivity, easy collaboration, and time management, aren’t only important for large companies with hundreds of employees — it’s what can make or break your business, too.
In fact, I’d argue that we Unemployable types juggle more than most managers on a regular basis. From creating proposals and estimates to executing agreements, handling client work, invoicing, making sure you pay your quarterly taxes on time, and countless other tasks, you’ve got quite a bit to remember and get done.
What’s more — knowing how to get more done in a day while simultaneously producing your best work is what sets you apart from others. A little competitive edge goes a long way.
Is Project Management Software That Important?
You’ve likely used or heard of several freelance project management software options that claim to help you bring some order to your chaotic to-do list, but how helpful are they really?
According to the Project Management Institute’s Pulse of the Profession, for every 1 billion dollars invested in the U.S., $102 million was wasted due to lacking project performance. With that being said, 77% of high-performing projects use some kind of project management software.
The numbers don’t lie. Poor time and project management is a costly mistake that can significantly impact not only your business but also your work/life balance. Managing your time well affects virtually every aspect of your business and will influence whether clients will want to work with you in the future.
After all, who would you rather hire? The freelancer who is organized, meets deadlines, and produces excellent work, or the freelancer who is always begging for extensions, can’t keep details straight, and doesn’t seem to have a grasp on the project?
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Freelance project management software can help you keep track of everything you need to run your freelance business all in one place. Having a solid grasp on your business empowers you to run things more efficiently, which means you can allocate more time to creating your best work—whether it be for a client or your own business.
Here are a few things the best project management software for freelancers can help you do:
- Keep track of important deadlines and documents.
- Manage your project availability better by having a clear picture of what is already on your plate.
- Easily communicate and collaborate with clients or other freelancers. Integrate with your web conferencing tools and make it easy to jump in calls and cross files.
- Set reminders, share files, and wrangle your to-do list.
Not only can it help you manage your current workload, but it also enables you to plan for future projects, fosters better communication with clients or other freelancers you’re working with, and alleviates time that would be spent going back and forth in your inbox.
Paper to-do lists don’t stand a chance.
The Best Project Management Software for Freelancers
You understand the importance of using a virtual project management tool, but which one is the one for you?
Let’s take a look at the options that top our list of best project management software for freelancers.
If you’re looking for a tool that streamlines communication, makes sharing files a no-brainer, and has impressive app integrations that help simplify your workflow, Slack is not one to miss.
Slack prides itself on being “your hub for teamwork by helping you spend less time in your inbox weeding through email threads and more time checking things off your to-do list.”
What makes Slack unique is its channel feature, which is where all communication on the platform occurs. You can organize your channels by project, client, team, or whatever is best for your situation. Channels are searchable and allow you to send files, set reminders, and connect your favorite tools to maximize your productivity.
Having a centralized place where you can send clients updates, ask questions, oversee tasks, or share the latest version of the project you’re working on is possible with Slack.
Who should use Slack?
Freelancers who are constantly communicating and sharing files with clients or other freelancers regarding projects.
- Basic — Free
- Standard — $6.67/user/month
For a detailed look at Slack’s pricing and features, check out their website.
As the name suggests, Basecamp is best described as your home base for project management. Gone are the days of weeding through your inbox looking for that important document or missing a deadline because it was lost somewhere in an email thread.
Basecamp is the ultimate project management system that makes assigning projects, ticking off to-do list items, and seeing the progress of a project easier than ever. You can create different projects within your Basecamp account and add clients or other freelancers accordingly— without having to worry about your client seeing chats with your subcontractors or vice-versa.
Use the Message Board to post announcements or update people on your progress and group chat for more casual conversations.
Never miss a deadline again with the To-dos feature that lets you quickly see what’s complete and what items you still need to tackle. The Schedule feature puts essential dates and deadlines front and center. Lastly, all files and documents are located in one easy-to-search place, so you can find what you’re looking for faster.
One of the coolest parts of Basecamp has to be the Automatic Check-Ins feature. At the end of each workday, everyone assigned to the project is prompted to share what they’ve completed that day. The responses are fed into the Automatic Check-Ins section of the project, eliminating the need for status calls. Pretty great, huh?
Basecamp takes the guesswork out of project management by serving as the central location for any project-related communication or file-sharing. Keeping things in one place may be the best thing about most project management for freelancers.
Who should use Basecamp?
Freelancers who work with other freelancers often or who need to communicate between several client contacts on a project.
- Basecamp Personal – Free (up to 3 projects and 20 users)
- All-inclusive — $99/month (unlimited users, no per-user fee)
For a detailed breakdown of what you get for the paid plan, check out the Basecamp website.
Like Basecamp, Trello acts as a centralized place where all documents, files, to-do lists, status updates, and project communications live. Whether you want to manage a project more efficiently or want a better way to organize your potential client outreach, Trello can help make that a reality.
Trello uses a boards, lists, and cards system that keeps every project organized. You can create a board for each project and assign the corresponding team members. Within each board, you then create lists that serve as steps in your workflow.
Lastly, create cards for tasks that need to be completed or for relevant information you need to keep close. What’s more, you can drag-and-drop cards and lists to optimize your workflow and keep things in order.
This project management software can help you build the perfect workflow, so you never miss a deadline or important date. Trello is easy to customize, has loads of templates to choose from, and integrates with other apps you know and love so you can create the ultimate project management system.
Who should use Trello?
Freelancers who need a better way to manage workflow and deadlines. If you’re into personal kanban (and you should be), you’ll find Trello’s features most excellent.
- Free — up to 10 boards
- Business — $10/user/month
To get the full breakdown of Trello’s pricing, check out their website.
Like other project management software, Asana empowers you to plan, execute and control tasks and projects efficiently. A simple, easy-on-the-eyeballs interface gives you multiple views so you can quickly take in your To-do’s and project status at a glance: list, board, calendar, and timeline.
With 100+ integrations, you can use your favorite apps for everything from time tracking to communication, collaboration, and coordination under one roof.
If you are juggling a lot of projects and would like a visual report, Asana makes it simple for you to export projects directly to Google Sheets. That way, you can track overdue assignments, incomplete tasks, and more.
Who should use Asana?
Freelancers focused on teamwork and interested in scaling — Asana is an excellent option for growing businesses.
- Basic Plan — Free
- Business —$10.99/user/month
To learn more about Asana’s features and pricing, check out their website.
If you’re a developer, coder, or in an IT-related field, you likely know Jira — the top software development tool for Agile teams. This means that it’s a very collaboration-centric project management tool, perfect for helping you plan, track, and release products like software.
If you noticed that Jira has a Trello-like vibe, it’s because Atlassian is the developer behind both of these powerful project management software products.
Ultimately Jira is best used to design workflows that organize tasks (called “issues” in Jira), minimizing miscommunications and missteps along the way. It has customizable scrum and kanban boards, which help optimize productivity, collaboration, and value to your client.
Who should use Jira?
Freelancers who are in software development, enjoy working with Agile tools like scrum and kanban boards, or both.
- Free — up to 10 users
- $7/user/month — up to 10,000 users(!)
For more about Jira’s features and pricing, check out their website.
If you’re looking for an intuitive, straightforward freelancing project management tool that makes it simple for you to think, organize, and write, Notion is for you.
From simple task lists that work just like the ones you’d use in a planner to pages that you create with subtopics, you can create a virtual filing system that keeps you organized. And like other project management apps, you can create boards that track project status.
Best of all, there are a number of user-friendly layouts that make you want to use Notion not only for work but also to organize your personal life. Plus, the app practically begs you to jot down your thoughts — it’s a handy answer to the eternal question of how to improve creativity when you’re juggling the mundane tasks of running a business.
Who should use Notion?
While Notion is great for freelancers of all kinds, writers will especially appreciate this tool. Fun fact: Notion’s founder, Founder Alex MacCaw wrote his first book in the app.
- Personal Use — Free
- Personal Plus —$4/month
- Team — $8/user/month
To learn more about Notion’s features and pricing, check out their website.
One of the nicest things about Podio (owned by Citrix) is they state a very compelling promise right up front:
“All the stuff in your daily work life that you wish could just go somewhere for your team to see, you can put on Podio. We’ll give it structure to help your team work better; less distractions, less confusion – more focus and clarity.”
I’ll take easy and straightforward, over muddled and confusing any day, especially when it comes to organizing projects.
Podio makes this a personal choice; you create an account and add functionality by choosing apps from an Apps Market or building your own apps (if you’re fancy). This makes it simple to customize the features based on your industry.
Additionally, Podio can go beyond simple freelancing project management as you grow. Their Premium option has CRM features that allow you to manage client relationships, track leads, and work with your salespeople.
Who should use Podio?
Freelancers in a specific industry who would like a more customized workflow. Also, it’s a good choice if you would like to manage your sales process from the same hub as your business grows.
- Free — up to 5 users, limited functionality
- Basic — $7.20/user/month
- Plus — $11.20/user/month (includes automated workflows)
- Premium — $19.20//user/month (includes contact sync and sales dashboard)
To get the full breakdown of Podio’s features and pricing, check out their website.
Like many of the other project management software for freelancers we’ve mentioned, Monday.com allows you to get granular with your organization using blank slates called “pulses.” It empowers you to track your tasks, visualize your progress, easily collaborate, and store and share documents.
One of the best things about Monday.com is you can see your progress on one interface (vs. toggling back and forth) using popular visualizations like Gantt charts, kanban boards, timelines, and more.
Who should use Monday.com?
Monday.com is best for those who frequently collaborate with other freelancers, as the starter (“Basic”) plan has you pay for up to three users, and there’s no free option (beyond a 14-day trial period).
- Basic — $8/seat/month ($24/month minimum)
- Business — $10/seat/month
To get the full breakdown of Monday.com’s features and pricing, check out their website.
Choose the Freelancing Project Management Software You’ll Use
Most freelancing project management tools come with similar features. The trick is to find the software that works best for you and with you, so you’ll use it every day and enjoy the benefits — organized projects and satisfied clients.
Having a reliable freelancing project management system can make a drastic impact on your productivity, client relationship management, and overall work/life balance. And don’t forget to check out our round-up of 42 other essential freelancer tools.
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