7 of the best tools for freelancers in 2020

Best software for freelancers

You've decided to become a freelancer. You're the boss of your own time, your business and the projects you choose to work on. There's a lot going on, from finding new clients to managing your workload. The truth is... you kind of have to do everything, especially when you're just starting out.

To maximize your chances of success, one of your first decisions as a freelancer is how to manage your processes – especially your invoices, accounting, clients and projects.

To find, retain and get glowing reviews from clients, you need an efficient and scalable way to stay on top of invoicing, accounting, time tracking and client management. Otherwise it's all too easy to neglect the billable tasks that build your business and always be playing catch-up.

After a lot of testing, here's our pick of the best freelancer apps to manage your business and prime your freelance career for max results.


The best apps for freelancers to manage invoices, accounting and projects

 

FreeAgent

FreeAgent is a popular all-round accounting tool to track your time, manage projects, send invoices and prep your tax return. It's especially powerful for freelancers and small businesses in the UK.

Although FreeAgent's user-experience is a bit more old-school than some of the other apps for freelancers in this post, it works remarkably well in a huge range of use cases.

If you're paid in multiple currencies and use an app like TransferWise to receive and convert money, FreeAgent provides an easy way to streamline accounting. It's simple to invoice clients in the right currency, then record payments in that currency and instantly convert to your home currency too.

As FreeAgent connects to many popular banks, it's easy to automatically add expenses made on a business card. Or you can import a CSV of bulk expenses.

On the FreeAgent dashboard, there's a quick overview of all of your freelance business's key metrics at a glance:

FreeAgent software for freelancers

FreeAgent has separate websites for the UK, the US and the rest of the world to give you the most relevant information.

For FreeAgent users in the UK, you can use the software to prepare your Self Assessment forms and view a handy timeline of your tax estimates at any time of year.

FreeAgent could be the best freelancer software for you if:

  • You're based in the UK and want built-in Self Assessment and tax timelines
  • You get paid in several currencies

Xero

Xero is one of the most popular accounting systems on the market, offering freelancers a higher-end solution to manage their pipeline and accounts.

Along with QuickBooks, Xero is one of the most popular accounting tools on the market. It's extremely user-friendly, beautifully designed, and is perfect for freelancers planning to scale up their business in the next few years. You can just switch to the next plan whenever you're ready for more power from Xero.

Xero is laser-focused on saving you time as a freelancer – connecting directly to your bank, creating and following up with invoices at speed, and integrating with your favorite business apps. With Xero's Hubdoc data capture and automatic entry tool, you can cut paperwork clutter and save even more time.

As a freelancer, you can choose between Xero's three plans: Early ($9/month), Growing ($30/month) and Established ($60/month). However, you'll likely need to choose the most expensive of those three tiers – the Established plan – as this is the only plan that includes multi-currency, time tracking and project cost tracking features. Ultimately, Xero is better suited for more established freelancers that can budget for this.

Xero for freelancers

Xero is also valuable for freelancers with a growing retail business. The accounting platform seamlessly connects with leading ecommerce apps for point of sale transactions (such as Square), inventory (such as CIN7), as well as payment systems like Stripe and PayPal.

Xero could be the best freelancer software for you if:

  • You want strong native integrations with your other favorite apps
  • You want instant bank reconciliation for transactions
  • You want retail app integrations
  • You have an accountant who is a Xero partner

QuickBooks Self-Employed

QuickBooks is the market leader in accounting software and a great fit for many small businesses, although freelancers can find it hard to find the perfect plan.

If I ask you to name an accounting software, there's a high chance QuickBooks will spring to mind. With QuickBooks Self-Employed, freelancers can access a lighter plan than the most popular cloud-based product (QuickBooks Online) offers.

However, QuickBooks Self-Employed has its limitations. Although you can send and track simple invoices, track mileage and separate business and personal expenses, there's limited scope for customization and no time tracking functionality in this plan. For this, you'll need to choose a QuickBooks Online plan for small businesses instead.

QuickBooks Self-Employed for freelancers

Once you choose a QuickBooks plan, your freelance business is in a great position to scale: you can switch plans and products as and when you need to.

QuickBooks is also one of your best choices if you want a wide range of integrations and a comprehensive feature set.

QuickBooks could be the best freelancer software for you if:

  • You're planning on scaling your freelance business in the next few years or becoming an agency
  • You want strong native integrations with your other favorite apps
  • You want instant bank reconciliation
  • You have an accountant who is a QuickBooks partner

Cushion

Designed to give freelancers a clearer view of their workload and availability, Cushion improves cash flow while offering strong invoicing and time tracking features.

Cushion promises "Peace of mind for freelancers", providing beautiful UX and unique features to help you avoid taking on too much work. It's easy to visualize future workload, earnings, expenses and invoices, so freelancers can anticipate their financial situation ahead of time.

Cushion app for freelancers to track earnings forecast

Where Cushion shines is as an app for freelancers to stay on top of their workload, improve cash flow and find valuable balance. It's also easy to track time and invoice clients with the app.

Cushion app for freelancers to avoid being overbooked

However, you'll need to use another app to manage core accounting needs such as compiling expenses and income for the tax year. Cushion handily integrates with FreeAgent, FreshBooks and Xero to enable this.

Cushion could be the best freelancer software for you if:

  • You don't need comprehensive accounting software right now, or you have another system that syncs with Cushion (FreshBooks, FreeAgent or Xero)
  • Your goal is to have a clearer view of your workload and avoid taking on too much work

FreshBooks

As a powerful all-in-one small solution for business accounting and invoicing, FreshBooks is a simple but mighty software choice for freelancers and entrepreneurs.

FreshBooks has a great all-round feature set while still being simple to use. For the $15/month Lite plan, you get unlimited customized invoices, expenses, time tracking, estimates, online card payments and bank transfers. You also get insightful Tax Time reports.

With the Plus plan (from $25/month), you can add more automation to your freelance business, such as with scheduled late payment reminders, recurring invoices and late fees. You can also access client retainers. The Premium plan is for growing businesses that need to manage up to 500 clients.

FreshBooks software for freelancers

FreshBooks could be the best freelancer software for you if:

  • You need time tracking functionality at a low price point
  • You want unlimited invoices, estimates and card payments
  • You prioritize simplicity and ease of use

AND.CO

AND.CO is a powerful all-in-one tool for freelancers to manage and grow their business. The platform was acquired by Fiverr in 2018.

AND.CO is an excellent fit for freelancers who are just getting started. Self-titled as "the one app to run your freelance business or studio", over 300,000 businesses use AND.CO to send proposals, invoice clients, get paid and manage their time, expenses and tasks.

Once dubbed "free forever", AND.CO changed tack and introduced paid plans after being acquired by Fiverr in 2018. You can still get started with their free plan, but this only supports one active client – which isn't going to cut it for most freelance businesses.

For $18/month you can manage unlimited clients, remove AND.CO branding, edit contracts and pay 2.9% + 30 cents for online payments. You can also connect up to six bank accounts to keep track of when invoices have been paid.

AND.CO software for freelancers

AND.CO neatly integrates with your other favorite freelance apps, including Mailchimp, Spotify and Stripe.

Extra tip: For extra value from AND.CO whether you're a customer or not, listen to The Six Figure Freelancer audio course for free. AND.CO opens up the mic to top professionals who share their formulas for success in starting, growing and maintaining six-figure freelance careers.

AND.CO could be the best freelancer software for you if:

  • You want to manage unlimited clients
  • You don't need advanced accounting features
  • You want a simple user-experience

Wave Accounting

Financial software that offers freelancers the most value at the lowest price point - you require exactly zero budget to get started.

Wave is a very popular tool for freelancers for good reason – it's free. The financial software for entrepreneurs offers the core accounting, invoicing and receipt scanning features you need to make running your freelance business a breeze. You can pay-per-use for access to online payments if required.

Here's a glimpse of the Wave integration with Stripe to track cash flow, profit and loss, and overdue invoices:

Wave Accounting integration with Stripe

 

Wave could be the best freelancer software for you if:

  • You have a limited budget and are looking for a free app to manage your freelance business
  • Your focus is on invoicing, basic accounting and receipt scanning
  • You don't need to track mileage, time or inventory

A quick comparison table

ProsConsBest forStarting price
FreeAgentMulti-currency compatibility, access all features with one price plan and pay more for payrollLimited integrations with other apps, although these are growingFreelancers wanting to access powerful features that scale at a good price point$24/mo with discount on first 6 months
XeroLoved by accountants and provides a huge range of features with fantastic UXTime tracking and project management only available on higher price planEstablished freelancers$11/mo (Early) from July 2020
QuickBooksThe accounting software market leaderLimited functionality in Self-Employed plan. Time tracking only in Essentials plan ($40/mo)Established freelancers planning on scaling to other QB plans and products$15/mo (Self-Employed)
CushionAn enjoyable way for freelancers to find balance and prevent overwork through cash and project forecastingDoesn't include full accounting functionalityFreelancers wanting to manage their workload and forecast cashflow$8/mo (Starter)
FreshBooksA clean and easy platform to stay ahead with your financesLess scope for complexity than alternatives like QuickBooks and XeroFreelancers wanting one of the best feature sets on the market at a compelling price$15/mo (Lite)
AND.COEasy to use with intuitive featuresLimited free plan, paid plan costs more than some comprehensive alternativesFreelancers that are just starting out$18/mo
Wave AccountingCore product is 100% freeDoesn't support time tracking or mileage trackingFreelancers looking for a free tool and not needing to track timeFree

Want to streamline your processes even more? To free up more time for billable tasks as a freelancer, get started with PieSync. The two-way data sync solution keeps data flowing freely to the right places in your small business, from your freelance management tool to your email marketing provider and CRM.

About Lucy Fuggle

Lucy Fuggle writes for PieSync, the two-way contact sync tool for hundreds of apps. She also works with her clients to make their brand matter with a content-rich marketing strategy.