In my 10 years of software implementation, I find that client success usually comes down to good ‘ol project management. This is why it comes as no surprise that big companies spend millions of dollars on project managers – it’s a valuable skill in its own right.
But if you’re a freelancer, a project manager is just one of the many hats you wear –no one will do it for you! That’s why I highly recommend freelancers invest in a good project management tool.
And having my fair share of project management experience, I wanted to tell you all about my favorites. Here are what I think, are the top 15 best project management tools for freelancers (ranked).
Editor’s Note: Prices and features listed are as of the time of this writing and are subject to change.
It is well known that ClickUp is a great CRM, but it is also an intuitive, easy-to-use project management tool with all the neat bells and whistles you’d expect.
Why freelancers should use ClickUp
- Easy start-up. The setup for ClickUp is straightforward. They navigate you through the most popular use cases so you’re ready to get started immediately.
- Dependencies. You can create tasks and subtasks to break down work into smaller, more manageable pieces.
- Document management. If you’ve ever used Quip, ClickUp has a similar document creator, so you can create and collaborate on interactive documents, drag images, import HTML, and more – perfect for creatives.
- Multiple views. Once you create your first few tasks, you can view the project in a list, board, calendar view, Gantt chart or table. I like having the flexibility to change how I view my tasks.
What I don’t like
- I was disappointed with how ‘slow’ it was. I found that it was always a few keystrokes behind. Admittedly, that may have just been me or my computer.
- Free. The free plan includes 100MB of storage, unlimited projects, collaborative docs, and a lot more.
- Unlimited ($7/mo/user). You get everything in the free plan plus unlimited storage and integrations. You also get to manage goals and portfolios and take advantage of email and teams.
- Business ($12/mo/user). This plan includes everything in the unlimited plan, but it also includes advanced sharing capabilities plus automation and interactive mind maps.
- Enterprise (Consultative). Pricing varies on this one. And it’s mainly for bigger teams but includes an enterprise API and single sign-on.
Notion is a tool that’s unlike the others on this list. Its free-form and super collaborative format makes it really fun and flexible to work with.
Why freelancers should use Notion
- Wikis. You can create your own engaging wiki for FAQs, project information and any relevant documentation to share with the team. Existing, pre-built templates for multiple uses make it easy to get started.
- Notion AI. If you need a quick summary of a document or need help brainstorming – for example, if you captured meeting notes – you can ask Notion AI to provide a brief summary of action items.
- Dozens of unique templates. Notion templates are so immersive and well done. You’ll save a ton of time on manually creating project management artifacts.
What I don’t like
- There’s a big learning curve. If you’ve used a tool like Quip before, It might not be that big of a learning curve. However, for most freelancers that are just looking for a straightforward project management tool, it might not be worth the time to learn.
- Free. This plan includes a collaborative workspace, Slack & GitHub integration, basic analytics, 7-day page history and the ability to invite up to 10 guests.
- Plus ($8/month). This plan includes unlimited blocks for teams, unlimited file uploads, a 30-day page history and the ability to invite 100 guests.
- Business ($15/month). This plan includes everything in the plus plan and SAML SSO, private team spaces, bulk PDF export, advanced page analytics, 90-day page history and the ability to invite up to 250 guests.
- Enterprise (Consultative). This includes everything in the business plan – plus user provisioning, advanced security, audit logs, a customer success manager, workspace analytics, unlimited page history and the ability to invite up to 250 guests.
Wrike is becoming quickly regarded as one of the best project management tools. It’s especially versatile and flexible for freelancers to fit almost any project timeline. As someone who’s managed a few projects, I find Wrike to be a charming user experience.
Why freelancers should use Wrike
- Automation. You don’t have to be an expert to create simple yet effective “if-else” statements with Wrike. For example, you can create an automation rule that assigns new tasks to a specific user or automatically create subtasks.
- Blueprints. Do your projects run through the same lifecycle for each client? Let’s say you run each client through the same onboarding steps – with Wrike, you can create a repeatable blueprint to create a series of standard tasks. Now, every time a new client is onboarded, you can just generate everything at once from the blueprint.
- Time tracking and workload. You can use Wrike to track time and view team workload if you’re working with a small team.
What I don’t like
- There’s no free version. While Wrike offers a 14-day free trial, they don’t offer a “free forever” version like most of the others on this list. However, Wrike won’t ask for a credit card during the 14-day free trial – so that’s a plus.
- Team ($9.80/mo/user). This plan includes 2-25 users, 20 additional collaborators and most project management features.
- Business ($24.80/mo/user). This plan includes everything in teams plus work schedules, folder hierarchy, branded workspace, and most automation and reporting capabilities.
- Enterprise (Consultative). This plan offers more access control for larger enterprises.
ToDoist’s value is in its simplicity – it is a simple checklist tool, but it also offers some neat features and integrations for busy freelancers.
Why freelancers should use ToDoist?
- Simple task management. You can add a task as quickly as it takes you to type it. Then, add a description, set a due date and add task dependencies.
- Productivity overview. See where you stand and how productive you’ve been with a productivity tracker overview. I find it pretty neat that the experience is gamified as well, you get to “level up” the more productive you are.
- Extensions. You’re able to enhance ToDoist by adding in-app extensions. For example, I added an extension that let me export my tasks to google sheets.
What I don’t like
- ToDoist’s simplicity is also its downside. If you’re looking for a real project management tool, especially one that factors in percentage done and multiple work streams, ToDoist might not be the best choice.
- Beginner Plan (Free). Up to 5 projects, 5 guests, and 5 MB of file uploads plus the regular task management capabilities.
- Pro Plan ($4/mo/user). For a small fee, you get 300 projects, unlimited filters and an activity history.
nTask is a powerful project management platform for freelancers and small to medium size businesses. I like that nTask seems to perfectly blend the simplicity of a checklist with the collaborative and integrative features of some of the more complex tools.
Why freelancers should use nTask
- Time tracking. One of the things I like about nTask is that you can use a timer to track the total time spent on a task. You must remember to stop the timer, but it’s a great way to measure the level of effort and manage capacity.
- Related meetings. Within tasks in nTask, you can create any related meetings. This is a cool feature because you get to track meeting efforts against tasks. In the meeting, you can capture action items, and meeting minutes, and attach relevant documents.
- Risks and issues. Surprisingly, only a few of the project management tools on this list allow you to track risks and issues. But nTask does.
- 7-day free free version. You get standard project management tools, which are pretty extensive for a free tool. Albeit for a limited time.
What I don’t like
- There are no integrations. If you want to integrate with Gmail, Slack or any other service, you’re out of luck.
- Premium ($3/mo/user). This plan includes everything in the free version plus more projects, Gantt charts, 5GB of storage and advanced filtering.
- Business ($8/mo/user). Everything is premium but includes more storage, and supports custom statuses and role-based permissions.
When I think of project management, I think of Jira – it’s just one of the best. Not only is Jira great for large-scale enterprises, but it is lightweight and easy enough to be used by small teams and freelancers.
Jira has been the go-to project management platform for years – especially when it comes to software development. Jira allows you to manage every aspect of a project – from the high-level timeline to the individual tasks. Jira also offers many ways to categorize, prioritize, and report on the health of your project.
Why freelancers should use Jira
- The master of Kanban Boards. Jira didn’t invent Kanban, but this easy-to-use view for task management makes project management fun. With Kanban, you can manage all tasks in a visual board and move them through their lifecycle, add comments and assign users. You can define your own process and get a glance at where each of your tasks falls.
- Inline editing. One thing I love about working with Jira is the simple way to make edits. You can edit almost any field with one click – Jira also saves your changes as drafts, so you can always come back if you forget to save.
- Integrates with plenty of other tools. If you’re using other professional tools like HubSpot or another CRM, you can search the Atlassian marketplace for a connected app.
What I don’t like
- It feels overwhelming. Jira has a lot of different configuration options to accommodate several processes. If you’re a freelancer of one, some of it might be overkill.
- Free. This plan is free for up to 10 users with unlimited project boards, backlog and timeline, reporting and insights, community support and 2 GB of storage.
- Standard ($7.75/mo/user). This plan includes everything in the free plan. Good for up to 25,000 users with role-based permissions, audit logs, data residency, business hour support and 250 GB of storage.
- Premium ($15.25/mo/user). This plan includes everything in the standard plan plus advanced roadmaps, sandbox & release tracks, project archiving, guaranteed uptime SLA, unlimited storage and 24/7 premium support.
- Enterprise (custom pricing). This plan includes everything in the premium plan plus unlimited sites, centralized security controls, centralized user subscriptions and 24/7 enterprise support.
Hive is a great tool to manage that never-ending list of to-dos. You’ll like this one if you’re looking for an easy setup with some neat integrations.
Why freelancers should use Hive
- Flexible messaging options. Use your favorite messaging platform or Hive’s internal messaging tool to communicate with your team. Hive supports integration with both Slack and Zoom.
- Guided tour. I love the gamification of Hive’s guided tour. Although not a feature in and of itself, it really makes it fun and interactive to learn.
- App library. I know I mentioned that you can access Slack and Zoom. The App library offers many more integrations and features. Manage documents with Box, Dropbox, or Google Drive or use the Zapier integration to connect to almost anything.
- Risk and issues. In my experience, managing risks is what makes great project management. Hive’s risks and issues section allows you to manage and track a risk register.
What I don’t like
- There’s a lack of app integration. I like that there are some great integrations, but It would be nice if you could integrate with other messaging apps besides Slack.
- Free. The free forever plan includes unlimited tasks and notes and up to 200MB of storage and 10 users.
- Teams ($12/mo/user). This plan includes everything that’s in the free plan but you also get unlimited storage, users, time-tracking, additional add-ons and cloud storage integrations.
- Enterprise (Consultative). The enterprise plan is another consultative sale. It includes an enterprise API, custom analytics, and access to the professional services team.
This platform is like Excel, if Excel was made specifically for project management. Smartsheet is a dynamic work management platform that combines the familiar interface of spreadsheets with powerful project management capabilities.
Why freelancers should use Smartsheet
- Familiar feel. One thing that instantly won me over was Smartsheet’s familiarity. Even though I could be more experienced with it, we all know our way around a spreadsheet. From navigation to hotkeys, there are a lot of similarities.
- Automation. The automation capabilities are a game-changer for me. You can set up automatic notifications, reminders and updates based on specific triggers you define. Fewer manual follow-ups, and fewer maintenance tasks.
- Templates. Whatever your flavor of freelancing, there’s probably a template that matches your workflow or deliverables. Once you choose a template, Smartsheet creates a folder structure and provides some helpful documents, reports, and more. For example, if you’re a marketer, you can choose the campaign plan template and have the most common document templates automatically created.
What I don’t like
- You will need an understanding of Excel. If you’re not “good” at Excel, taking advantage of some of the reporting capabilities might be hard since it will rely on understanding formulas.
- Free. The free plan includes up to two editors, two sheets and 500 MB of storage.
- Pro ($7/mo/user). The pro plan includes unlimited sheets, unlimited free viewers, 20GB of storage and automation.
- Business ($25/mo/user). The business plan includes 1TB of storage, unlimited automation, a document builder and access to premier training.
- Enterprise (custom pricing). There’s also an Enterprise option available but frankly, as with most enterprise options, it’s more than a freelancer would ever need.
This platform has been part of the project management world for years – and it’s no wonder. Asana makes you feel like you’re on top of it, offering a 360-degree view of portfolios and projects.
Why freelancers should use Asana
- Smooth and customizable onboarding. Once you sign up for Asana, you get to choose exactly what you plan to use it for. For example, I was able to select that I’m a freelancer, choose my preferred view and start off with my first project. I was then able to jump right in and start my to-do list.
- Dedicated iOS and Android Apps. Whatever mobile device you are on, you get to take the seamless mobile experience with you. The mobile app, while it does have some limited features, offers most of the essentials like tasks, portfolios, conversations, and searches.
- Goals. Asana makes goals a big focus in their app. As a freelancer, I think it’s pretty cool to be able to track key metrics for both myself and my clients. With goals, you can set sub-goals, track the percentage completed and associate related work.
What I don’t like
- There’s no automation in the free plan. I know I shouldn’t complain if it’s free, right? But I would’ve liked to try out some advanced workflow automation.
- Basic (Free). The free plan features unlimited essentials like tasks, projects, storage, and comments, plus some basic reporting and community support.
- Premium ($10.99/mo/user). In this plan, you get everything in the basic version plus better reporting, automated workflow, and enhanced security with unlimited free guests.
- Business ($24.99/mo/user). This plan adds advanced reporting and the ability to manage resources, including time tracking, critical path and workload views.
Trello lives in the suite of Atlassian project management tools. In my assessment, it’s like a lighter version of Jira that’s more focused at the task level. If you’re a busy freelancer, Trello will definitely help you meet those deadlines.
Why freelancers should use Trello
- Straight to the point. If you’re a busy freelancer, you’ve got work to do. Trello cuts right to the chase so you can start managing your projects with a user-friendly interface.
- Templates. Everything in Trello revolves around the Kanban Board, but Trello has found a way to apply unique templates with pre-set statuses for different use cases. For example, you can create a new board based on a 1 on 1 meeting agenda. One of the cool things about templates is that Trello gives you instructions on how to use them.
- PowerUps. PowerUps are features, customizations, apps, and integrations you can quickly add to your workspace. For example, you can connect your cards to Confluence, Google Drive or Slack. Or enhance your experience by adding readmes, meeting minutes, and more.
Things I don’t like
- The view is limited. Unfortunately, in the free version, only the Kanban view is available. And Gaant charts are only available through PowerUps.
- Free ($0). Trello’s free plan is all most freelancers will ever need. It’s free for both you and your entire team. It includes unlimited cards, up to 10 boards per workspace, unlimited powerups, unlimited storage (10MB/file), 250 workspace command runs per month, custom backgrounds and stickers, unlimited activity log, assignee and due dates, 2-factor authentication plus iOS and Android mobile apps.
- Standard ($5/user/month). This plan includes everything from the free version plus unlimited boards, advanced checklists, custom fields, unlimited storage (250 MB/file), 1,000 workspace command runs per month, single board guests and saved searches.
- Premium ($10/user/month). This plan includes everything in standard plus additional views, unlimited workspace command runs, admin and security features, workspace-level templates, collections, observers, and data export.
- Enterprise ($17.50/user/month). This plan includes everything in premium plus unlimited workspaces, organization-wide permissions, organization-visible boards, public board management, multi-board guests, attachment permissions, power-up administration, and free SSO and user provisioning.
Basecamp helps freelancers and teams manage projects, work with clients and communicate in a centralized place. Offering rich features like project tracking, to-do lists, file sharing, messaging and scheduling, Basecamp is an exceptional tool for freelancers.
Why freelancers should use Basecamp
- Message board. Communicate with your project team in a flexible, fun and engaging forum. The message board is a Slack-like communication channel that is simply neat.
- Shared to-do’s. With any to-do, you can subscribe or add subscribers who serve as collaborators on the task.
- Specific search capabilities. It’s hard to juggle all the moving pieces but BaseCamp’s search feature lets you search by several criteria to can find those buried requests.
What I don’t like
- There’s no Gaant chart visualization. This was interesting, considering the Gaant chart is one of the most important views for projects.
- Basecamp ($15/mo/user). This plan includes 500GB of storage and is ideal for freelancers.
- Basecamp Pro ($299/mo). Unlock all Basecamp features with 5TB of storage and premium support.
Monday.com makes a great CRM, but it also makes an awesome freelance project management tool with Monday Projects. If you need both, Monday is a great option.
Why freelancers should use Monday.com
- Synergies with CRM. If you’re already using the CRM, it makes sense to continue using Monday.com for its project management capabilities.
- Templates. You can choose from a huge selection of templates from the template center. Including sprint calendars, waterfall portfolios, interactive calendars, and Kanban charts.
- Integrations. One thing that I love about Monday is you can integrate your board with a myriad of other technologies like Outlook, Slack, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Zendesk, Twilio and SOO many more.
What I don’t like
- Monday.com can be a bit overwhelming for freelancers who don’t need much.
- Monday ($0). up to 2 seats
- Basic ($8/seat). This plan includes simple project management, agile and Kanban view.
- Standard ($10/seat). This plan includes milestones, automation and shareable boards.
- Pro ($16/mo/seat). This plan includes everything that’s in standard plus dependencies and resource allocation.
- Enterprise (Consultative). This one is reserved for large companies.
|Free||$0 (up to 2 seats)|
|Basic||$8/month per seat|
|Standard||$10/month per seat|
|Pro||$16/month per seat|
Airtable is more than just a project management tool – it’s a full-blown app builder. This tool gives you complete customization to create whatever management workflow you need.
Why freelancers should use Airtable
- Recommended templates. While most of the other tools on this list have templates, Airtable recommends templates based on your work. For example, a few seconds after creating a project for managing content, it recommended using the marketing campaign tracker which already included some key tasks and dashboards.
- Interface Designer. In Airtable, you can essentially create your app by layering a customizable UI on top of your base or source. Let’s say you have an Excel file that has a running list of tasks and due dates. You can import them and throw a Kanban interface over it, a summary dashboard, a calendar, or many other widgets. The customization can get a little complicated – but the point is you have tons of flexibility in how you want your workspace to look.
- Insanely Powerful Automation. Airtable provides a lot of options when it comes to automation. With their automation builder, you can create triggers that can send an email, post a message to Slack, update records, or send weekly digests.
What I don’t like
- Airtable is an enterprise tool, in my opinion. If you want a really custom tool, go for it – otherwise, it might get a bit confusing.
- Free. This plan is free for individuals and small teams of up to five. Includes the interface designer but only 1 sync per base.
- Plus ($10/month/user). This plan includes everything that’s in the free plan, plus more integrations, more records, more storage, and custom-branded forms.
- Pro ($20/mo/user). Includes everything in the plus plan and includes more views, more records, one year of revision history and more control over security and permissions.
- Enterprise. This is a consultative sale and is for large enterprise implementations of Airtable.
TickTick is a simple but effective to-do list application that allows you to create simple checklists and manage them in easy-to-manage views. With the paid plans, you get a few more features in this freelance project management software.
Why freelancers should use TickTick
- Super simple interface. What is easier than a checklist? We’re all familiar with writing down our tasks and crossing them off – in fact, there are few things more satisfying. With TickTick, you can easily create tasks, provide descriptions and add follow-up steps. Then you can view them in a calendar view.
- Tags. Tags provide a simple way to categorize tasks by common themes. Once you add a tag, you can view all tasks related to it.
- Filters. With the paid plans you can take advantage of filters, which basically enable you to further categorize tasks by ‘high priority’ and other indicators.
What I don’t like
- It has limited features. At its heart, it’s really just a to-do list. Even the premium plans don’t offer much.
- Free. Standard features include checklists, to-do lists and tags.
- Premium (27.99/yr). Everything that’s in free plus premium themes, white noise and email reminders.
|Premium*||$27/year (Less than $2.40/month)|
Toggl Plan is a neat project management app offered by Toggl that lets you manage your project timeline in an easy-to-use interface.
Why freelancers should use Toggl Plan
- It’s simple. It won’t take long to master Toggl. I enjoyed learning from their helpful walkthrough.
- Time Estimates. Toggl gives you the flexibility to add detailed time estimates by the hour or minute to each of your tasks. This is great if you need to provide detailed cost breakdowns to your clients.
- Export tasks. If you need to take your work offline or decide to use another system, you can export all of your tasks to a CSV.
What I don’t like
- The free plan has limitations. Toggl gives you a 14-day free trial. It’s generous, but it’s not enough for me to make a truly informed decision.
- Team ($8/mo/user). With the team plan, you get the basics plus team timelines, recurring tasks and a helpful progress overview.
- Business ($13.35/mo/user). With the business plan, you get everything that is included in teams including data exports, priority support and the ability to add guests.
|Toggl Plan Plans*||Price|
I’ve never seen a project succeed without great project management. If you’re a freelancer, solopreneur or small team, a good project management tool can mean the difference between success and an unhappy client.
What tool are you using? We’d love to hear about it! Let us know in the comments below. And don’t forget to connect with Morgan Media on social media.