One of the perks of freelancing is the freedom to create your own schedule. However, the downside is that there is nobody to tell you what to do and when to do it.
With so many pitches, proposals, drafts, and tasks to take care of, things can sometimes get overwhelming. Managing it all in a spreadsheet can be time-consuming and inefficient.
Fortunately, there are many client management software tools that freelancers can use to organize their tasks, streamline their projects, and make everything much simpler.
Today, we will be looking at the top 11 client management software for freelancers.
1. Hello Bonsai
Hello Bonsai, or simply Bonsai, is one of the most popular freelance management software. It lets you manage all of your proposals, contracts, and more.
In your main dashboard, you will see a graph detailing your income and expenses. You can choose your currency and time frame for the graph, and you will also get totals for each month, such as your expenses and total profit.
You will also get a list of action items, a project overview chart, an event timeline, and the total working time you tracked over the past week.
On the left-hand side, you will see a menu where you can further manage your workloads. Some of the options in this menu include:
Proposals: This section is where you can create and send your proposals to clients. There are pre-made templates you can use for your pitches; just enter your custom details as needed.
You can even create various package options for your clients. Once a client has seen and read your proposal, you will be notified through the read receipt feature.
Bonsai also makes it easy for clients to approve your proposals with just a single click.
Contracts: Here is where you can create and sign contracts electronically. Just choose from different contract templates based on your profession; there are contracts for designers, photographers, videographers, consultants, and more.
All of these templates have been reviewed by lawyers, so you know that they are solid.
After you sign your contract yourself, you can send them to your client to sign automatically. Once they do so, it will be stored online so you can access it whenever you need to.
As with proposals, you will be notified when your client views and signs your contract.
Time tracking: As a freelancer who doesn’t have to clock in and out every day, it is important that you track and manage your own time.
You can set up different projects and track your total time worked for each one. You can easily switch between projects, and you will also get a total overview list with all of your projects that you can manually edit.
Expenses: You can also track how much you are spending. You can either enter expenses manually or connect your bank account so that all expenses are automatically tracked.
Invoices and Payments: As a freelancer, getting paid for your work probably involves sending invoices to clients and following up with them if they are not paid in time. Although this can often be a hassle, the entire process is streamlined with Bonsai.
You can create invoices manually or have them automatically created from your contracts, proposals, and time sheets. You will get notified when your clients do any action (such as viewing your invoice).
As mentioned, following up with clients can be a hassle, but with Bonsai, follow-up messages are sent automatically.
You can get paid however you like. You can set up direct deposit transfers, Paypal payments, and even Bitcoin wallet payments.
You can also set up recurring payments so that you get paid automatically without any hassles. Payments can be accepted from 180 countries and currencies.
Taxes: Preparing taxes as a freelancer can involve a lot of tasks: Calculating your taxable income, deducting your expenses, etc.
Fortunately, with Bonsai, you will get a report of how much tax you owe based on your taxable income. You can also quickly calculate and deduct any expenses.
If you are paying quarterly estimated tax payments, you can calculate them in Bonsai as well.
Resources: Bonsai has a number of resources, such as a directory of freelance tools and a tool you can use to calculate how much you should be charging clients.
There is a Chrome extension and a mobile app you can use to track expenses and working time on the go.
Bonsai starts at just $16/month, and it offers a free trial.
Freshbooks is a small business accounting software that is also great for freelancers. It’s pretty easy to use and does not have a big learning curve.
You can easily create professional-looking invoices, complete with business headers. The Freshbooks Payment system lets clients pay invoices directly on the platform; all payments will be recorded and tracked.
Freshbooks lets you accept all major credit cards. US customers can also accept ACH bank deposits and Stripe payments.
However, unlike Hello Bonsai, there seems to be no option for accepting payments via Paypal.
The Advanced Payment Terminal lets you set up recurring and automatic payments from clients. You can even accept credit cards over the phone.
The Freshbooks Accounting system evaluates all of your expenses and their related revenue. This way, you can get an accurate picture of your total profit.
You will also get access to things such as a balance sheet, a chart of accounts, journal entries, ledger, and much more.
Although you can enter expenses manually, you can also have them tracked automatically by connecting your bank account or credit card. You can also snap pictures of receipts and upload them to have their details automatically entered.
You can forward your business expenses to clients; you can even place a markup on them.
The time tracking tool is especially useful for freelancers. You can manually enter time entries or simply turn on a timer whenever you start a task – your time and productivity will be tracked automatically.
Not only can you track your own time, but you can track your team members’ work hours and see their overall performance at a glance.
In Freshbooks, you can create proposals and job outlines, as well as cost estimates. You can later turn those estimates into invoices to send to clients.
The mobile app is particularly useful. You can create invoices on it, snap pictures of receipts, manage conversations and messages, and see updates about client activity.
Freshbooks is a little cheaper than Bonsai, with plans starting at $13.50/month with yearly billing. Plans go up to $50/month for 500 billable clients.
3. Harpoon App
Harpoon is a time management app that not only tracks your previous performance but also predicts your future performance and earnings.
One of its great features is the ability to set a yearly revenue goal. Set a goal that ensures that you are profitable and your expenses are covered.
You can use the Goal Calculator to calculate what this amount should be, based on your expenses and business goals.
Then, as you track your team’s performance over time, Harpoon will automatically forecast your future revenue, when it will come in, and how it stacks up against your goal.
Harpoon will also set monthly goals for you based on your yearly goal, and it will continually track your progress to see whether your performance is on par.
Sometimes, you will get paid late; if that happens, Harpoon will roll over your expected revenue to the next month.
You can also do this for individual projects. You can schedule different projects throughout the year on the calendar; Harpoon will predict the revenue of each project before you even start.
Harpoon will even calculate and recommend how many vacation days you should take each year, depending on your goals and current performance!
You can always adjust your goals manually.
Harpoon has a 14-day free trial. Plans start from $19/month and go up to $99/month.
Toggl is a simple and free time-tracking software that many freelancers will find useful. It doesn’t have advanced features like invoice creation and tax calculations, but it is perfect for freelancers who just want to track how much time they are working on each project.
Tracking your time with Toggl is easy.
Simply create a project name. Then, clock in when you start and clock out when you finish.
You can set dollar or revenue amounts for each project or for each hour you work. This makes it easy to track how much money you are making over time for each project.
You will get extensive downloadable reports you can use to ensure you are sticking to your goals.
There is a Chrome extension and a mobile app which syncs with your main account. This way, you can track your time on the go.
Although Toggl is free, premium plans are available.
The Starter plan includes additional features such as billable rates, rounding, your company logo, project time estimates and alerts, the ability to further break down projects into sub-tasks, unlimited team members, and more.
The Premium plan adds features like email reminders, scheduled reports sent to your email, time audits, a project dashboard, and more.
Trello offers a fun and interactive way to manage projects and team members. It doesn’t even have to be for work – you can use it to manage side projects and even a family vacation.
Start by creating a board. On each board, you can create different lists.
On each list, you can add interactive, fun cards – these can be tasks that need to be worked on. Then, customize the cards and add due dates, comments, and more.
Cards can be organized based on their progress state – To Do, Doing, and Done.
You can remove tasks automatically by creating due-date commands, rule-based triggers, and more.
The great part about Trello is that it integrates with apps your team might already be using. This includes Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox, and more.
Trello has mobile apps for Android and iOS to help you stay organized on the go.
As mentioned, Trello is free. However, there are premium plans as well, which start at $9.99/month.
Premium plans give you access to unlimited boards (as opposed to 10), board collections, 100+ app integrations, more or unlimited command runs, email notifications, advanced admin permissions, and much more.
Wrike is perfect for freelancers as well as small businesses and enterprises. For each project, you can create a board where you organize tasks into lists.
For each task, you will see a progress status, and you can open up any task to add notes, assign team members, and more.
Your team members can send you projects for review. Whenever you get a new message or task, you will get a notification from your inbox.
There are a number of project templates you can use to make things a bit quicker.
Using the calendar, you can get a quick overview of the different projects you are working on, when they are due, and more.
In short, Wrike focuses on making your big picture easily viewable and accessible. You can collaborate with team members and keep things moving so you make more progress towards your goal.
For freelancers, you can create different projects and collaborate with clients or other freelancers you may be outsourcing tasks to.
Wrike has an interactive product tour you can use to get a feel for how it works.
For freelancers and small teams of up to five people, Wrike is free. However, there are additional, premium plans if you want to add team members or gain access to the full project management and collaboration tool suite.
Premium plans start at $9.80/month for each user.
ClockifyMe is free time tracking software for freelancers and small businesses. It is entirely free to use and lets you add as many clients or team members as you want.
Your Clockify account will sync information entered on any device. There is a website, a desktop app, and a mobile app.
By tracking how much time you are spending on each project or for each client, you can get an idea of how much you should really be charging them. If you find that it takes more time than you expected to complete a project, for example, consider raising your rates.
You can even break down projects into billable and non-billable activities (for example, phone calls or commuting). By including non-billable activities that are essential for completing the project, you can see how much your “real” hourly rate is.
Reports can be downloaded and forwarded to clients as proof of how much time you are spending.
Redbooth is a great time management software that lets you track whether you are keeping up with your goals or are lagging behind.
Using drag-and-drop Kanban boards, you can organize your projects and see or edit each of them at a glance. You can assign users, set due dates, add comments, and much more.
The Gantt charts let you view your project timelines quickly. You will also get detailed productivity reports that will delve deep into task status, time spent, performance, and more.
Redbooth integrates with Zoom, which allows you to hold live video conferences straight from your Redbooth account. You can have virtual meetings with clients or collaborators at any time.
You can set up new projects within minutes by choosing from the premade, customizable project management templates. You can also save your workspaces as templates to be used in the future.
Various templates exist for categories such as marketing, IT, sales, and more.
Redbooth is free to use, but you are limited to basic features, two workspaces, and 2GB of storage.
There are two premium plans: $9/month per user and $15/month per user. These give you additional features, unlimited workspaces, and more storage.
Asana is a project management tool that features a simple, easy-to-use, clean layout design. Your projects can be managed on lists, boards, timelines, calendars, and more.
The list section lets you create projects and tasks for each project. Each task can be assigned to different users, and you will see progress updates and other relevant information.
The board section lets you organize tasks and projects on a virtual pinboard. You can drag and drop cards to put them in the correct place based on their progress status.
The timeline feature lets you map out a virtual timeline of your projects. You can place certain tasks under others to create a tree-like view of what you are currently working on.
You can use the calendar feature to see an overview of your current and upcoming projects and when you need to be working on them.
The calendar can be used across your entire team so you can keep track of everyone’s progress. You can even use it to organize events.
You can even use Asana for your Agile project needs, such as for bug tracking, sprint planning, product launches, product feedback, product roadmap, work requests, and more.
Asana is free to use for basic needs. This is best for freelancers who don’t have other team members to manage.
Premium plans start at just $10.99/month per user.
Wunderlist, which will transition into Microsoft To Do in March of 2020, is a great to-do and project management tool for freelancers, startups, and small business owners.
The smart daily planner is a great tool for making sure you get done what you want to get done every day. It can be accessed on the website and on any mobile phone or tablet.
On Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, you can also activate Dark Mode, which can make the interface easier on the eyes.
There are different background designs and themes to make it more fun and interesting as well.
The My Day planner comes with a suggestion feature that recommends the most important tasks to be done first.
You can create tasks, set due dates, and add sub-tasks and files. You can also create shareable personal and group lists.
Microsoft To Do is built by the same team that built Wunderlist, except that it is more enhanced and has additional features.
Wunderlist is free to use. However, there is a Pro plan that starts at $4.99/month per user for additional features.
Get Flow, or simply Flow, is a project, task, and workflow management tool.
You can create different projects with deadlines. On your dashboard, you will see a board with all of the projects you are currently running, organized into lists and with information such as how many tasks are left to complete and how many days you have to complete them.
You can click on each project to get a deeper look into what those tasks are.
A color-coded project timeline calendar helps you stay on track of your progress. There are also little pie charts for each project showing your progress.
You can manage your teams by seeing each team member’s remaining tasks in the team management dashboard. You can see who is busy and who is not; based on that, you can assign and re-assign tasks.
You can chat with team members and leave notes to keep them on track.
You can create private projects that are hidden from other team members. All projects can be archived once you are finished with them.
Unlike many of the other software tools mentioned in this list, Flow is not free to use. However, it is still pretty cheap.
The starter plan is just $5.95/month and gives you access to unlimited tasks and most features. The premium plan costs $11.95/month per user and includes additional features like task profiles and workgroups.
Wrapping It Up
Keeping track of the time you are working, your projects, your clients, and your expenses will help you be more productive overall.
Although there are many more tools you can use, you can likely find what you need in one of the above 11 tools.