Being a freelancer involves a lot more than just creating or providing a service, as all the responsibilities behind the work itself also fall on your shoulders. Communication, organisation, invoicing, note-taking, time management, and finances are some of the things a freelancer has to take care of daily. This can get tough, but that’s where our list of the best tools for freelancers comes in!
The 15 best tools for freelancers in 2023 are:
- Boomerang (for Gmail)
- Adobe Illustrator
These are some great tools online that will help you manage all your tasks and make your work a lot easier, less stressful, and leave you with more time to focus on your craft.
This list of the best tools for freelancers is in no particular order, and we’ll keep adding to it over time as we find more! We’ve made sure to include some free and some paid tools as well. All pricing correct as of January 2022. Final note – None of the links below are affiliate links, these are just what we think are the best tools for freelancers, and we have no affiliations with any of the products mentioned.
So, let’s get into it!
The 15 Best Tools for Freelancers in 2023
Price: Starter – Free | Unlimited – $11.99 (~ £8.80)/month | Teams – $19.99 (~ £14.60)/month
Ideal tool for: Freelancers who want to be able to track client info, time spent on products, invoices, and contracts in one place.
Hectic is the first entry on our list of the best tools for freelancers in 2023. Hectic is a project/work management tool that understands the needs of freelancers and entrepreneurs, as it was designed by them, for them. The team behind this tool aims to help freelancers grow their businesses and is also receptive to feedback that’ll help improve the app.
This tool allows freelancers to keep some of the most important aspects of their businesses in one place. Instead of using one app to manage projects, another for time tracking, and another for invoicing, Hectic gives you access to all of that and much more all in one place.
Some other great features that come with this tool are client info sections, invoicing tools, contract drafting, and access to various stats like received payments and tasks left to complete. There is a free plan of Hectic, but if you have more than one client you’ll need to upgrade to a paid version.
- All-in-one tool
- Easy to use
- Great customer service
- Free plan only allows 1 customer
2. Boomerang (for Gmail)
Prices: Basic – Free | Personal – $4.98 (~ £3.65)/month | Pro – $14.98 (~ £10.95)/month | Premium – $49.98 (~ £36.50)/month
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 ten credits per month (meaning that, for example, you can only get ten read receipts each month), but with paid plans, there are no credit limits.
- Email scheduling
- You can choose to pause the arrival of new emails
- 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 | Standard – $5 (~ £3.70)/month | Premium – $10 (~ £7.30)/month | Enterprise – $17.50 (~ £12.80)/month
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 organise, 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 visualise 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.
- Flexible and customisable Kanban app
- Good desktop and mobile options
- Intuitive and easy-to-use UI
- Many features require add-ons (like time-tracking and billing)
- No Kanban swimlanes
Prices: Free | Plus – $10 (~ £7.30)/month | Pro – $20 (~ £14.60)/month
Ideal tool for: Freelancers or teams who need a solid work management tool.
Airtable is an effective database that also works as an online collaborative tool. Freelancers and small businesses can use it to manage their work, track and organise inventory, plan events, and more. It is an easy-to-use tool and also extremely customisable.
How exactly does a freelancer benefit from a database? Well, if you’re a freelance writer, for example, and you need to update articles on a website, you can use Airtable to create a database naming all the articles that need updating.
Then, you can add different information fields for each article (titles, URLs, publication dates, deadlines etc), and simply tick a checkbox once you’re done with a piece. You can even invite other editors and writers to work on some of the articles for you.
- User-friendly UI
- Customisable and versatile
- Allows for collaboration
- Integrates with lots of different services
- Has some formatting limitations
5. Crunch (UK)
Prices: Free | Pro for sole traders – £12.25/month | Pro for limited companies – £37.75/month | ‘Growth’ for small businesses – £98.25/month
Ideal tool for: Freelancers and sole traders with regular accounting and invoicing requirements.
Next on our list of the best tools for freelancers in 2023 is Crunch. Crunch is an online accounting tool that automatically gives users an account manager and access to several expert accountants. However, it is mostly used by freelancers for its invoicing features.
Invoicing is very easy with this tool. You can choose from several free invoice templates, send late payment reminders to clients, and save an unlimited amount of clients’ info for easy payment processing.
Besides creating and issuing very professional-looking invoices, the free plan allows you to access a complete accounting software that records and tracks your expenses and connects straight to your personal bank account. Other add-ons like dedicated client management, VAT filling, and a real-time tax dashboard only come with the paid versions.
- Free version is very comprehensive
- Easy to use
- Great invoicing tool
- Expense tracking
- Add-ons come with a cost
Ideal tool for: Freelancers and small businesses that need to easily put together customised, professional invoices.
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. PayPal allows you to select a template, customise 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.
- Easy to use
- Professional invoices
- Completely free
- Not the best option for mass invoicing
- May charge usage fees depending on how you accept payments
Prices: Free | Personal – $6.99 (£5.99)/month | Professional – $8.99 (£7.49)/month | Teams – $13.99 (£10.99)/month
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 post-it notes and to-do lists together and still end-up feeling disorganised, then you need Evernote!
This tool helps you stay organised 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 free features
- Very effective and highly functional
- Saves web pages for offline use
- Doesn’t integrate with Microsoft Office
Prices: Free | Pro – $1.49 (~ £1.10)/month or $14.99 (~ £11)/year
Ideal tool for: iOS users (writers, bloggers, or other professionals) in need of a note-taking tool to either draft quick notes or elaborate essays.
Bear is a versatile note-taking tool for Mac and iOS users that connects and syncs through various Apple devices using iCloud. You can create and arrange beautifully designed notes using Markdown editing (simple formatting that allows you to add links, images, bolding, italics, etc).
Some of Bear’s most helpful features include focus mode (designed to help you concentrate), premade themes and lettering to customise your experience, PDF and Word document converter, and hashtags to make searching and organisation a breeze.
The majority of Bear’s features are available with the free version. However, some additional themes and export options only come with the paid versions, which can be paid for monthly or annually.
- Advanced Markup editor
- Cross-linked notes (through iCloud)
- Most features available in free version
- iOS only
- Syncing requires a paid plan
Prices: Free | Starter – $10 (~ £7.30)/month | Premium – $20 (~ £14.60)/month (prices based on monthly plans)
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 this tool, 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. 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
- High prices
- Some features are not that intuitive
Prices: Free | Pro – $12 (~ £8.90)/month
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 optimise 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 expensing options
- Offers team management and scheduling
- Good integration options
- No desktop option for Windows or Linux
Prices: Free (credit card processing fees of 1.4%/2.9% + 20p depending on region)
Ideal tool for: Freelancers, small business owners, accountants, bookkeepers, and anyone else who wants to keep track of their finances.
Wave Accounting is a great tool to help small businesses and 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 customise premade invoice templates based on your unique needs.
The best part of using this software is that all of the features are completely free! All of the accounting and invoicing features are free of hidden charges or monthly fees. However, when accepting online payments made by credit cards, Wave does charge a processing fee.
- Excellent invoice and transaction management
- Multicurrency support
- Credit card payments incur fees
- Limitations on invoice customisation
12. FreeAgent (UK)
Prices: Sole Trader – £9.50/month | Partnerships & LLP – £12/month | Limited Company – £14.50/month
Ideal tool for: Project-based small businesses and freelancers.
FreeAgent is an accounting software designed for service providers and project-based businesses and freelancers. It’s a cloud-based tool, so you can access it from any browser, but it also comes with mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.
This tool’s key features include personalised invoices, expense tracking through bank statements and live bank feeds, account charts, billing, and inventory management. You can have unlimited access to all of these features, plus no limits on the number of users at the price of a flat monthly fee.
- Unlimited users, clients, and projects on all plans
- Intuitive platform
- Easy to learn how to use
- Reporting features are a bit limited if you’re into data analysis
- Inventory management features might be basic for bigger companies
13. Adobe Creative Cloud
Prices: £49.94 ($52.99)/month (individual apps can be purchased at a lower price, usually around £10-20 per month)
Ideal tool for: Creative freelancers, or those with a need for some graphic design/photo editing software.
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. 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+ apps
- Requires user training
- Quite expensive
- Only worth it if you will use many of the apps
Prices: Free | Premium – $30 (£23)/month
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 recognise several spelling, grammar, and punctuation differences in British, American, Canadian, and Australian English.
- Premium writing style tools
- Fast, accurate grammar and spell-checking
- Very useful for newbie writers
- Only supports English
- Not essential if you already have a good command of English
Prices: Free / $8-$15/month for teams
Ideal tool for: Freelancers of all kinds looking to organise their workflow.
The final entry on our list of the best tools for freelancers in 2023 is Notion. This is another time management/productivity/workflow organiser 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.
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 workspace manager.
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.
- 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
That does it for our list of the 15 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!
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