There are lots of useful tools out there for freelancers, but it can be overwhelming when you’re trying to pick the best ones. In this article, I’ll go through what I think are the best tools for freelancers and why you should use them.
The 20 best tools for freelancers in 2023 are:
- Google Drive
- Adobe Creative Cloud
I’ve made sure to include some free and some paid tools in this list (a lot of them offer both options). I’ve split it up into various sections, but first I’ll give you a quick table summarizing what I think are the best tools for different purposes. Some clearly offer many different features, but I tried to put them where I think they are best suited.
Editor’s Note: While I aim to keep this updated over time, pricing does change quite a lot, and you might be able to save some money by paying annually instead of monthly. These prices are correct as of June 2023.
Best Freelancing Tools At A Glance
|Best All-In-One Tool||Bonsai|
|Creation||Adobe Creative Cloud|
Project Management Tools For Freelancers
Prices: Free or $8-$15/mo for teams
Ideal tool for: Freelancers of all kinds looking to organize their workflow
The first entry on our list of the best tools for freelancers in 2023 is Notion. This is a time management/productivity/workflow organizer that is great for all types of freelancers. The app is free (although you can pay to unlock some non-essential, but handy features), so it’s very accessible for those on a budget. Plus, there are lots of great freelancing templates out there you can benefit from as well.
Notion allows you to create boards, lists, tables, calendars and more. This means it functions well as a workflow management tool, or as a project tracker. You can collaborate with others (although you’ll need to pay if you want to have unlimited “team members” rather than “guests”) or you can use it as a personal freelance dashboard.
It’s a great note taking app too, and you’ll be able to use this for many aspects of your business as well as your personal life. It’s particularly useful for tracking different stages of a project. Using the board view, for example, you can move things around depending on what stage it’s at, who’s working on it, or what its priority level is.
Notion is one of the most versatile apps out there, and it’s a great tool for freelancers.
- Kanban boards, list views, calendars and more
- You can collaborate with others
- Useful for your work and personal life
- It’s a powerful tool, and so it can become a bit complex
- Collaboration can become a bit tricky depending on the project
Prices: Free or $5 – $17.50/mo
Ideal tool for: Freelancers who want to keep track of small projects (cheaper plans) as well as big collaborative teams (more expensive plans)
Trello is a user-friendly, intuitive app that helps freelancers organize, coordinate and track every step of their work. It relies on a Kanban-type framework, meaning that it allows for real-time communication and provides full transparency of the work you’re doing. It does this by visually representing all the pieces of your work on a dashboard.
This drag-and-drop task management tool will help you visualize how you’re progressing through your work pipeline. Many features make Trello stand out, including Butler, a bot that helps you automate desired actions, along with integrations with Google Drive, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams. It also has a powerful mobile app, meaning you can take it on the go with you as a remote freelancer!
- Flexible and customizable Kanban app
- Good desktop and mobile options
- Intuitive and easy-to-use UI
- Many features require add-ons (like time-tracking and billing)
Prices: Free or $8 – $16/mo for teams
Ideal tool for: Freelancers looking for a simple client booking solution
Next up we have Calendly, which while not as comprehensive a project management tool as Notion or Trello, still offers a great solution for booking more freelance clients. Calendly allows you to send people a link to schedule a call with you, or you can let them come to you by implementing your Calendly availability on your website.
The platform has several features built in to make it even easier to deal with client meetings, such as time zone detection to avoid confusion of when you’re actually meeting with them, and the option to make clients confirm meetings so you don’t end up with no-shows. While a relatively simple tool in terms of functionality, Calendly definitely fills a useful role for freelancers that work with a lot of different clients.
- Great for scheduling meetings with clients
- Simple interface
- Can schedule unlimited meetings on the free plan
- Reminders and follow-ups only available on paid plans
Payment & Accounting Tools
Prices: Free (fees apply to transactions)
Ideal tool for: Freelancers looking for low-fee cross-border payments solution
Wise is a great option for freelancers that deal with payments in foreign currencies. Their business centers around their low-fee transfers, and I love how they tell you how much you’ll save when choosing Wise over other payment processors. It’s free to use, and while they do charge small fees, they’re usually one of the best in terms of exchange rates too.
For freelancers, Wise also offers invoice generation, and they have a handy template you can use as well. There’s a mobile app for transferring money on the go, and they have a business account you can opt for as well. I think most freelancers will only need the personal account though. You can find out more in our article on how good Wise is for freelancers.
- Low fees and usually great exchange rates compared to other options
- Very easy to use
- Handy business account available with extra features (also free)
- They’re not always the cheapest
Prices: $17 – $55/mo (you can get 50% off your first 3 months)
Ideal tool for: Freelancers that need an all-in-one accounting tool
Freshbooks is a piece of accounting software designed to handle all aspects of your business accounting needs. It’s a super easy to use platform, and it’s very beginner friendly. Accounting can be a daunting task for freelancers, but Freshbooks makes things easy for you. From tracking your expenses to sending invoices, this is an all-in-one accounting tool that covers all your bases.
It’s quite affordable considering the features on offer, and you can often get some money off for your first few months as well. The invoicing function is particularly useful for beginner freelancers, as it keeps everything in one place when dealing with payments. There will be fees for this of course, but it does keep things simple and organized.
- Great all-in-one accounting tool
- Makes managing your finances easier as a beginner
- Handy invoicing function built in
- Not the most customizable option out there
Ideal tool for: Freelancers that need an easy way to invoice and accept payments
PayPal is the most popular tool for sending and receiving money with ease. Creating a PayPal account is free, and within a few minutes you can add credit cards, debit cards, or even a checking account.
PayPal also provides an invoicing service, so you can easily document all of your business transactions. The platform allows you to select a template, customize it, fill it with your client’s information, and send it with ease.
Other features include setting up recurring invoices, sending payment reminders to clients, tracking outstanding payments, providing transaction records, and more. Check out our other article to learn more about how PayPal is extremely useful for freelancers. One drawback is the fees and exchange rates are often not the best, so I’d recommend checking Wise out instead if possible.
- Easy to use
- Professional invoices
- Completely free
- Not the best option for mass invoicing
- Fees and exchange rates are often less favorable than the likes of Wise
Prices: Free (more advanced features like payroll come with fees)
Ideal tool for: Freelancers that want an easy way to keep track of their finances
Wave Accounting is a great tool to help freelancers manage their finances. It takes care of things like invoicing, billing, and payment tracking. But it also has a few more advanced features, like credit card processing, payroll management, and receipt scanning.
You can manage all of your information in real-time, keep track of sales tax, cash flow, balance sheets, profit/loss reports, and customize pre-made invoice templates based on your unique needs.
My favorite part of using Wave is that a lot of the features are completely free! All of the accounting and invoicing features are free of hidden charges or monthly fees. However, when you want to accept online payments made by credit cards, Wave does charge a processing fee. Features like payroll also come with monthly costs, but most freelancers won’t need that functionality anyway.
- Lots of the useful features are free to use
- Excellent invoice and transaction management
- Multi-currency support
- Credit card payments incur fees
- Limited invoice customization
Legal & Contract Tools For Freelancers
Prices: $24 – $79/mo
Ideal tool for: Freelancers in need of client, project, and financial management tools
Bonsai could have gone into the project management group, and indeed many of the other groups, but here I’m going to focus on what I think are the best features of Bonsai for freelancers. The first of these is the contract manager. With this tool, you can create professional freelancing contracts using their range of templates, apply electronic signing, and even set it up so that your clients have to pay a deposit when they approve the contract.
But before you start signing contracts, you can also make use of Bonsai’s proposal creator. With this, you can put together proposals for your clients that showcase why you’re the right person for the job. You can do all of this and more, as the tool comes with CRM software, a client portal, scheduling, time tracking, and much more.
You get most of the essential functionality in the cheapest pricing tier, but you get more integration and automation capabilities with the more expensive options.
- Lots of handy tools in one piece of software
- Great for creating contracts and proposals
- You can set up automations on higher price tiers
- Some of the best features (automation) can get quite expensive
Prices: $15 – $65/mo
Ideal tool for: Freelancers looking for an electronic signing tool for contracts
If you’re just looking for a tool that allows you to handle signing contracts online, DocuSign is worth considering. It’s a simple but brilliant tool that takes care of a lot of the stress of signing contracts, making client interactions smooth and pain-free.
You can choose from a range of plans, with the most basic offering up to 5 eSignature documents per month. The more expensive plans offer unlimited document sending, and they come with extra features like shared templates, customized branding, and the ability to draw signatures in the document.
I will say this tool is expensive for what you get, especially on the cheapest tier. But if you only handle a few different clients each month, it can be cost-effective. But if you need contract signing and much more, I’d recommend checking out Bonsai above instead.
- Useful contract signing tool
- Can send automated reminders to clients
- Comes with a range of default signatures to choose from
- It is quite pricey for what you get
Freelance Time Tracking Tools
Prices: Free or $10 – $20/mo for teams
Ideal tool for: Freelancers who need to keep track of billable hours and overall improve their productivity
Toggl is a user-friendly tool designed to allow freelancers to track and manage their time with ease. You can use Toggl in your browser or you can install it on your computer or phone, and track time directly using the app.
With Toggl, you can track time using the built-in timer, or you can choose to enter times manually, or even sync it with your Google calendar. You don’t need to worry about forgetting to stop the timer because it comes with an idle time detection function that will send you reminders.
Other features include a Pomodoro timer and detailed reporting of your usage. The free version works very well for individuals or teams of up to five collaborators, making it the ideal option for freelancers. For more specific tools, you’ll likely want to check out the paid plans.
- Available on all platforms
- Integrates with other apps
- Good variety of features on the free plan
- Some features are not that intuitive
Prices: Free or $12/mo for teams
Ideal tool for: Freelancers who want to be better at tracking their working time
Harvest is a time-tracking tool that has freelancers in mind. Besides helping freelancers keep track of their billable hours, it also comes with invoicing, expense tracking, and other management features too. This means that freelancers can control all of these aspects of their business from one place.
This tool provides insightful and easy-to-read reports that detail how you’re spending your time on particular clients and projects. It’s also a great way to manage a team and keep tabs on their productivity and work capacity. This is great if you really want to optimize the entire operation.
The free plan is limited to one user and two projects. But the Solo plan removes the limit on how many projects you can work on, and the Team plan allows for several users and projects.
- Includes invoicing and expense tools
- Offers team management and scheduling
- Decent integration options
- No desktop option for Linux
Storage Tools For Freelancers
12. Google Drive
Prices: Free (15GB) or various prices for extra storage
Ideal tool for: Any freelancer in need of a cloud-based storage solution
Google Drive is one of the most popular storage options out there, and you can either access it through Google Workspace or Google One. It’s where you can save things like Docs, Sheets, images and other files without taking up space on your device. As a free user, you can store up to 15GB of data, which is fine for things like word documents.
However, you’ll need to pay at least a few dollars a month to increase this to either 100GB or 200GB, and there is a 2TB option available too. The exact pricing will depend on whether you get it through Google Workspace or Google One, with Google Workspace being the one to go for if you want to get a business email address and separate storage for different users on your plan.
- Simple storage solution for familiar apps
- Very easy to use
- Can get a business email with a Workspace plan
- You’ll likely need to pay for additional storage
Prices: Free or $3 – $4/mo
Ideal tool for: Freelancers that need a simple password manager
LastPass is an easy-to-use password manager that offers a reliable and secure way to manage all of your passwords. With cybersecurity continuing to become a more important issue in the modern world, keeping track of all of your passwords in a secure but easily accessed way is essential for many freelancers.
The free LastPass plan allows you to keep unlimited passwords secure with one account and on one device type. It allows for autofilling of passwords and it comes with a handy password generator. If you want to increase the number of devices or people that can use the account, it comes at a cost of $3-$4 per month.
- Free plan is ideal for freelancers
- Simple password manager
- Comes with a built-in strong password generator
- Need to pay to be able to use it across devices
Creative Freelancing Tools
Prices: Free or $12.99+/mo
Ideal tool for: Creative freelancers or anyone in need of a comprehensive graphic creation tool
I love Canva, because I’m not the most creative person but it makes creating things so easy! It has a very user-friendly interface and the free version comes packed with pretty much everything you need for basic designs. Obviously Canva Pro has even more functionality, elements and templates, but for creating basic custom graphics for your freelancing business, the free plan is enough.
You can use it for things like logo design, creating infographics, and even for putting things like CVs and business proposals together. This makes it a powerful competitor for more expensive options like Microsoft Word and Photoshop.
Clearly it’s not designed as a word or image processor. But if all you want to do is create a simple report that looks nice and is easy to tweak (looking at you Microsoft Word!), or add custom graphics or text to an image, Canva is a game changer!
- A highly versatile graphic creation tool
- You can use it for so many different things
- The free version is all many freelancers will need
- A lot of the elements are locked behind the Pro tier
- While easy to use, getting the most out of it takes some time and effort
15. Adobe Creative Cloud
Prices: $10 – $50+/mo depending on which apps you use
Ideal tool for: Creative freelancers, or those with a need for some graphic design/photo editing software
For a more powerful option than Canva, Adobe Creative Cloud is an all-in-one subscription to all of Adobe’s 20+ great apps. These include Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and many more. These apps are popular choices for creative freelancers, but you don’t need to be a graphic designer to benefit from them!
If you have a website for example, Adobe Illustrator is a powerful way to create stunning graphics for it. You can use the photo editing suites to transform your images, or even create some videos for your site or YouTube channel with Premiere Pro.
The full Creative Cloud suite is quite expensive, but you get a lot of software for this price. This makes it an especially good choice for creative freelancers that can see a need for many of the different apps. However, if you think you might just benefit from one or two of the apps, you can always just pay for them separately!
- Extremely versatile software
- Great file recovery system
- Excellent price for 20+ powerful apps
- Requires user training to get the most out of it
- Quite expensive
- Only worth it if you will use many of the apps
Other Useful Freelancing Tools
Prices: Free or up to $400+/mo (for 50k searches!)
Ideal tool for: Freelancers that want an easy way to get in touch with decision makers
Hunter.io is designed to provide you with a way to connect with decision makers at companies around the world. It takes the time and stress out of trying to connect with the right people by doing it for you. Instead of guessing the emails of people you want to get in touch with, Hunter.io does this for you, letting you find and verify emails with ease.
They offer a free plan that gives you 25 searches per month, but the paid plans give you 500+ depending on which one you go for. This does get pretty expensive, with the cheapest paid plan costing $40+ per month. This tool will definitely be invaluable for some freelancers, but only if you want to do a lot of outreach and use a tool to do so.
- Great email outreach tool
- Free plan comes with 25 searches
- Ideal for freelancers that want to perform mass outreach campaigns
- Not going to be a must for all freelancers
- The paid plans are quite expensive
Prices: Free or $4.98 – $49.98/mo
Ideal tool for: Freelancers who send a large volume of weekly emails
Boomerang is a great tool for Gmail that equips it with some functionalities you might wish were already part of it. This extension helps freelancers handle incoming and outgoing emails in various ways, all extremely valuable for anyone who depends on Gmail a lot.
The main features of this tool are the ability to see when a recipient has opened your email, an alert that tells you that your recipient still hasn’t opened your email after a certain period of time, email scheduling, and a meter that tells you how ‘respondable’ your email is.
I personally use this tool and I find it very useful whenever I’m pitching, talking with clients, or during other important correspondence, because it lets me know if I’m getting through to people or not. The free version gives you 10 credits per month (meaning that, for example, you can only get 10 read receipts each month), but with paid plans, there are no credit limits.
- Email scheduling
- Recipient read receipts
- Email readability measurement
- Lacks more broadly useful tools (it solves a niche problem)
- Very limited number of uses on the Basic plan
Prices: Free or up to $14.99/mo
Ideal tool for: Any freelancer who needs to keep track of notes, memos, and work samples
If you find yourself constantly trying to get your notes and to-do lists together and still end-up feeling disorganized, then you need Evernote!
This tool helps you stay organized and in control of your time by allowing you to write notes and sort them out all in one place. It’s one of the best note-taking tools out there with a free plan.
Besides taking care of your sporadic notes, Evernote also allows you to create to-do lists, clip online articles that you need to read later (you can read them offline), and easily search for notes you previously wrote. You can also use it to record voice memos and meetings, create business cards, resumes, and cover letters, and keep track of work samples and create a portfolio.
The more expensive plans come with better integrations (Slack, Outlook, Google Drive, and more), some collaborative options, and team administration tools. However, it’s worth giving the free version a try first.
- Great selection of free features
- Very effective and highly functional
- Saves web pages for offline use
- Limited storage and devices on free plan
Prices: Free (can vary depending on hosting choices)
Ideal tool for: Freelancers that want to build their own website
WordPress is one of the most powerful tools on this list, and it’s the ideal choice for freelancers that want to build their own website. While there are other options out there like Wix and Squarespace, WordPress is the most versatile, and there’s a reason 43% of all websites use this platform!
If you want to create a professional website for your freelancing business (which I highly recommend you do), WordPress is the best website builder to use. However, there is WordPress.com (which hosts your site under their various free and paid plans), or there is WordPress.org, commonly known as self-hosted WordPress.
I always recommend going with the latter option, and hosting your WordPress website elsewhere. This gives you much more flexibility, and it can often be cheaper too. With countless plugins and themes to choose from, WordPress is the best way to build your professional freelancing website!
- Extremely versatile website builder
- Lots of customizability
- Allows you to create a professional freelancing website to showcase your services
- Can get expensive depending on your hosting and plugins
- There is a bit of a learning curve
Prices: Free or up to $30/mo
Ideal tool for: Freelance writers, bloggers, marketers, and copywriters
Grammarly is a lifesaver for any type of writer. The writing assistant suggests the usual things, like spelling and grammar changes, and style suggestions too. It can even edit your text to suit specific genres if you need it to.
This is the perfect tool for newbie writers who need to better understand how the English language works, especially if English is not their native language. But it can also be a powerful proofreading tool for experts and professionals, because typos and errors are very easy to make while writing!
A few specific features available on Grammarly include best comma placement, word redundancy checks, adverb overuse checks, phrase and sentence structure suggestions, confusion of similar words (like lie/lay, for example), and many more.
Currently, Grammarly only fully supports the English language. However, it can recognize several spelling, grammar, and punctuation differences in British, American, Canadian, and Australian English. While I always recommend learning proper spelling and grammar to be able to edit your own work yourself, this can be a great tool to streamline the process. It also has a handy plagiarism checker too!
- Premium writing style tools
- Fast, accurate grammar and spell-checking
- Very useful for newbie writers
- Only supports English
- Not essential if you already have solid writing and editing skills
These Tools Can Help You Grow As A Freelancer
That does it for our list of the best tools for freelancers in 2023! Feel free to bookmark this post as a reference, and check back from time to time to see what’s new!
Check out these other guides too: