Best Project Management Software for Freelancers in 2023

When one works on a regular job, one has specific external frameworks that control productivity. On the other hand, freelancers do not have any frameworks, so a person either has the superpower of self-organisation or, sooner or later, finds some specialized project management software to use.

It seems as if freelancing is about freedom. Freelancers can choose their projects, regulate their time and plan their future. However, freelancing is just the opposite, accurate organisation and planning. A freelancer must manage work without outside help or guidance to make good money, stay productive, and avoid falling into an extreme workload.

The second stakeholder in streamlining a freelancer’s work is the client. Communication between the two parties must be managed for sustainable work and productive results. The best way to do this is to implement some management.

Why We Need Project Management Software 

A freelancer’s work can produce both excellent results and total headaches. 

When working with a freelancer, the client, for his part, should understand that he is hiring a specific specialist, such as a designer, an accountant, a copywriter, a developer, etc. More often than not, the freelancer will know precisely how to draw design, reconcile debit and credit, and write text or code. Usually, he cannot or is not required to draft the terms of reference, to be an excellent negotiator or a manager. At the same time, clients want the collaboration with a freelancer to include the following:

  • A high level of negotiation,
  • Fulfillment of obligations,
  • Control of work deadlines.

In companies, these functions are often performed by different people or even departments. The freelancer does everything himself. He can be the most talented performer and, simultaneously, a lousy negotiator, supervisor, and manager. In such cases, project management software comes to the rescue.

Key Criteria for Selecting Project Management Software for Freelancers

Today’s digital project management software for freelancers can solve many aspects of the interaction between the client and the contractor. There are plenty of them, and they are all suitable for one task or another. Let’s discuss the criteria for selecting tools worth paying attention to:

Cost and availability

Availability is the main criterion for choosing a tool for a freelancer. Many of them are free and have a wide range of functions. Therefore, payment is implied only if the user wants to apply additional features.

Budget tracking

Freelancers often work for many different clients with hourly rates, so being able to track hours, payment, or even the cost of a project is essential.


A unified communication system is critical because chaos occurs when some tasks are sent to messenger, others to e-mail, etc.

Time management

It’s about the importance of matching tasks to a deadline. The software development should have calendar functions, scheduling, reminders, and, if necessary, a time tracker.

Collaboration tools

For many remote activities, it’s vital to be able to share information in real-time to continue the course of the project. It’s also essential to track the progress of tasks, segmenting them by status, deadline, and priority.


Automated reporting allows the creation of a comprehensive understanding of the work process, analyzes it, and identifies problem areas.

Best Tools in 2023


This task manager is convenient when there are a lot of projects. The program is intuitive, and tasks start quickly. A user can assign each task a priority, an executor, and a time limit. Tasks are placed according to projects. For convenience, the user can give a detailed description of the task and subtasks in the “description” section. When the team works on tasks in Asana, they get all the news about updates in the feed.

Freelancers just starting to manage projects can take advantage of Asana’s basic free plan, which includes an unlimited number of tasks, projects, and storage. Up to 15 people can work together on this plan. A mobile version is also available.


It is one of the most popular project management software. The advantages of Basecamp are its simplicity and distribution of tasks and its intuitive interface. In addition, the software integrates into popular development services and allows you to create your add-ons.

Unfortunately, Beyscamp has a partially free version. However, a trial period will allow you to see if the software is convenient for the needs of a particular freelancer. 


ClickUp is a versatile project management software. The cloud-based tool allows you to work smoothly in real time. It includes all necessary functions: task creation and management, internal communication, documentation and reminders, and integration of third-party applications. The tool allows you to assign people responsible for tasks, work with repetitive tasks, exchange comments between team members, and so on. In addition, the software cares about the security of free users and offers them two-factor authentication.

The application has a free version with somewhat limited functionality, which is enough for freelancers. 


The feature of this project management tool is that it allows for managing contacts, tasks, events, and resources. In addition, it integrates with the most popular collaboration services.

Insightly has a free version and a 14-day trial period for paid packages.

It is an excellent tool for freelancers with minimal budgets for operational processes. It also provides the ability to visualize processes in the form of charts and tables in one of its low сost packages, which for many looks pretty convenient. In addition, the service has more than 70 templates for tasks of various kinds. Prepared board templates greatly facilitate the work because they already have a thought-out logistic algorithm for managing many tasks.

Thanks to a simple, intuitive interface, it is easy to work in, and the mobile version allows you to work on a smartphone or tablet.


Notion is a great all-in-one program for individual freelancers, as it allows them to create tasks, notes, and a mood board for art. 

The tool is completely free for individual use. However, a free limit of 1,000 blocks is available if you need to use it for teamwork. That’s enough to see if Notion is suitable for use.


Solo is a task manager literally made for freelancers. Because in addition to the standard features of many management software, Solo lets you view a list of deadlines, overdue invoices, invoicing projects, average hourly rate, and all major project data and then skip to the details of each aspect. You can send electronic invoices to your clients and view when they are due, overdue, or due to be sent. Turnover reports for the current year, month, or week are also available.

The program is available on iOs for $19 a month, which is not very cheap for freelancers, but it can provide a lot of helpful information for scaling.


TickTick is an indispensable to-do list app for a freelancer who works on different platforms. The app also has a web version. Tasks are created quickly and intuitively. The subtasks have as many features as the tasks. The program’s main advantage is the distribution lists with the ability to output tasks from them to a common list of tasks. It helps to distinguish operational work issues, household chores, and long-term tasks.

The application has a free version and a “premium” version. Feature-wise, they are almost similar, and the free one is reasonably competent in its functionality.


It is the task manager with one of the broadest functionalities for freelancers. It is available as an app and a web service. In addition to the standard features for such applications, ToDoist has a recurring deadline feature for tasks. The user can create priorities and delegate tasks to performers. To make sure users remember the charges for the day, ToDoist will notify each of them. Graphs clearly show how productively the user spent his day/week. ToDoist highlights several types of services for integration: automation, communication, email, file management, scheduling, productivity, and time tracking. 

ToDoist works on a subscription basis. There are three plans: Free, Premium, and Business.

Toggl Plan

It is a network solution for task scheduling, project planning, and team management. Tasks are created through a “drag-and-drop” interface, which is very convenient. Marking assignments as completed helps track progress and increases accountability in the team. Users can see all the tasks that need to be completed on a single project or get a simple overview of all the tasks that team members are working on. In addition, the Toggle Plan allows for project budgeting, risk management, and personal and team performance tracking. Conveniently, the service is available online and offline.

The free plan allows one to form a team of up to 5 people, create an unlimited number of projects, etc.


Wrike allows the creation of conditions for cooperation with high interaction. The program has excellent usability, good logistics, and a friendly interface. It integrates with third-party services. Everything is intuitive. No extra clicks are required to perform the targeted action. Suitable for managing remote employees and freelancers. Wrike contains a network schedule and project reports. It allows setting reminders and logging task times.

The tool is available for free for novice teams. The free plan includes mobile and desktop versions, project management, and a Kanban board view. Paid plans include Team, Business, Enterprise, and Pinnacle.

Have you used any of these tools? What is your opinion please write in the comments.


5 Challenges for a Freelance Developer

Thinking about becoming a Freelance Developer? Freelancing can provide overall freedom for you to decide your working hours and salary. Let’s go over some common challenges, pros, cons and trade-offs you may encounter choosing this career path. Hopefully, my experience will help you make an informed decision.

Challenge #1: Steady Income

A strong point in favour of a regular job is a steady income. As a freelance developer, you have to face reality. While there is no real cap to how much you can make, there will be peaks and troughs in your monthly income. 

High and low seasons won’t necessarily follow each other in fixed intervals. In other words, be prepared for long periods of low income especially during your first couple of years.

Pro Tips

Aside from the services you may provide, do your best to generate passive residual income. Maybe consider an app that sells revenue, unobtrusive ads on your website or even a channel on a streaming website. There are many options to choose from nowadays.

Save as much as you can when you are in the high season! Conduct yourself in a frugal manner and eventually, you’ll figure out how much you can add in your expenses without dipping into your savings. You can always use an app to help you manage your finances!

If you still live with your parents, do not rush to move out. Save as much as you can (and make sure to help your parents with the bills). When your savings and your base income are healthy enough, then plan accordingly to find your own space. As a freelance developer, you’ll have steady expenses but not a steady income. Getting involved in the finances of your home will give you firsthand knowledge of how things work. Even if you are fortunate enough and there is no need for you to assist in the household expenses, still offer to handle some of the bills, as this will be part of your learning process.

Challenge #2: Time Management

It’s in the name, Free-lancing! You are your own boss and you have total control over your time. This is a huge pitfall when it comes to freelancing. Indeed you can start your workday after 10 am but watch out. You may not be as productive as you’re hoping to be. Unexpected things come up. Your computer may break, your internet service may stop working and a number of other things could go wrong.

As developers, we pretty much get paid to figure things out and make them simpler and more accessible to everyone else. There are times when no matter how much planning you put into it, the beautifully crafted algorithm will not work and it doesn’t have to be a syntax error. It might be something far more insidious than that. For instance, back in 2006, I was working on an HTML project and wanted to track the checkboxes that were not checked by the user once a form was sent. It took me days to realize that unchecked checkboxes are simply not posted when the form is submitted. As simple it may sound, this was one of those things that you learn from a painful and time-consuming experience.

Pro Tips

Discipline is key for proper time management. Learn how to say “NO” when you have to. You love solving problems and helping people, I get that. However, don’t forget that your freelancing career is only as serious as you take it and your clients can sense that from a mile away. 

Set a working schedule for yourself and stick to it. It might not be easy but it will be totally worth it. If you have a strong reason to miss work, at least make sure you have some wiggle room to make up for that time. 

One tip to always keep in mind: Watch out for the holiday season. If you choose so, holidays may not limit your capacity to work but will probably limit your clients’ availability to answer your phone calls or emails, should you need anything from them.

*** Time Management is closely connected to productivity but we’ll cover that further in challenge #4

Challenge #3: Deliverables

Developers are responsible for solving problems. Many times very simple problems but others very complex ones. Your capacity to deliver such solutions will determine how successful you may be. Clients will do their best to communicate their needs to you. More often than not they will fail at getting their point across. Pay attention to every detail,- the context of the problem, the scope of the problem- and try to connect the dots between what they say, what they mean and what you understand.

Clients will do their best to communicate their needs to you. More often than not they will fail at getting their point across. Pay attention to every detail,- the context of the problem, the scope of the problem- and try to connect the dots between what they say, what they mean and what you understand.

Pro Tips

Be honest with your clients. If you can’t deliver a solution, let them know. You are not required to know everything. Mutual trust is something built over time and if you feel that -while you are not an expert in a subject- you may conquer the learning curve to deliver the solution, communicate it to your clients.

Communication is key. If a client hasn’t heard from you in weeks they may think that you have abandoned them. You do not need to email or contact them every day, but often enough to keep them up to date with the ongoing process of the contracted work.

Challenge #4: Being Productive as a Freelance Developer

This happens to be one of the toughest things to keep up with as a Freelance Developer.  It depends a lot on overcoming the previously mentioned challenges. Many times your productivity will peak when you need it the least (low season for example) and fail you when you need it the most.

In reality, this is a challenge for everyone, even people with steady full-time jobs. It puts extra weight and stress on a Freelance Developer because you’ll need to handle everything on your own, even more so at the beginning. You need to be your own boss, accountant, assistant, supervisor, public relations expert, customer support, and so many more. Say NO to yourself when you want to say YES, can be soul tempering as much as it can be disappointing, but it is critical.

Pro Tips

The road to a productive day is an exploratory journey. Know yourself, balance how much you demand and how much you reward yourself, do your best to be the boss you wish you had but also the employee you wish to have. Don’t forget to exercise, eat well, sleep and keep an eye on your health as your body and mind are the most important tools for you to provide your services. 

We tend to use our computers for everything we do: work, watch series and movies, play or stream games, catch up with friends and family, read and anything else possible., etc. I did it for a long time until I got my hands on an old console and noticed how much more productive I got. Separate these things. When your computer is your go-to for everything, you’ll want to play when it’s time to work and vice-versa. There’s nothing wrong with playing video games in an old console, reading an old book or switching to an old e-reader. Don’t let the trends make you waste money and time you don’t have. Every cent and every minute counts.

Challenge #5: Keeping up with the Industry

A new Javascript framework is born every day. Keeping up has to do with learning new things as it has to do with discerning which things are worth learning. Depending on your choice of stack or target for software development this can be very complicated and time-consuming.

Desktop, Web or Mobile, each have their own set of programming languages, database choices, architectures, distribution systems, update cycles and so much more.

Pro Tips

Choose a single target first and mature in it. Try to be a shark, a horse or an eagle, never a duck, yes the duck can fly, swim and run but never as good as the ones mentioned above. Master one domain before adding a second one. Trends can be very misleading, so be careful. Just because everyone loves or hates the “new” thing, that doesn’t mean you should do too. 

Be critical, read, compare, test, research and make informed decisions – at the end of this article, you’ll find some indicative useful links of sites and tools for that.  You’ll find an outstanding feeling of realization and meaning when you take your algorithms and carefully improve them, remember there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes. In reality, this is a core part of a healthy learning process. However small the step forward it may seem, it’s still a step forward. Code bases and apps are improved in tiny percentages in different areas which add up to a much larger percentage of improvement. 7% Faster on the client-side, 12% faster on the server-side, 16% faster and better-indexed queries switching png icons for SVG’s, removing unused assets and before you know it, your website, web-based or mobile app can be much faster and deliver a much better overall experience.

Conclusions from the Life of a Freelance Developer

As a freelance developer your path can be very rewarding and fulfilling as long as you always do your best. Even if getting the job done might not be enough sometimes, you will still have the certainty that you gave it your 100%. This will soon add up to your advantage.

The beautiful process of learning a new skill and putting it into practice, giving life to an idea, watching it unfold is pure science. This will provide you with a real and palpable sense of achievement and purpose. You start with a simple “hello world” in your first programming language and as you progress it gets more difficult but more interesting as well. Trial and error, you learn, you grow, you overcome or fail. Do it every day, code a little and become more competent.

The dynamics between the known, the unknown and the threshold you cross to narrow that gap is what’s so engaging about the freelance developer lifestyle. Conquer yourself as you conquer new skills.

Useful sites for reading and researching:

Useful sites and tools for testing & benchmarking:

Short Bio: Darwin Santos is a Web Developer from the Dominican Republic and has been a member of the Developer Economics Community since 2017. He specializes in web-based ERP/CRM hybrids and health care systems. He has been working with web technologies since the early 2000s. Several of his deployments have been running for years and are constantly improved and updated. He is also very experienced in database design, data normalization and data migration, with several successful migrations of 20+ years worth of data under his belt. He prefers functional and procedural programming over OOP.