Basecamp Personal: The Original Online Project Manager, Without Monthly Fees

Productivity web apps are everywhere these days, promising to make it easier to collaborate on to-dos, notes, and more from your browser for just a low monthly fee. That makes sense for businesses when you’re using the app to make money, but if you’re looking for something for your own personal use, paying $9-$20/month isn’t an attractive option at all. It’s enough to send you screaming to your nearest App Store for a native app, even if you’d actually prefer to use a web app.

But what if you could have all of Basecamp’s features – arguably one of the best productivity web apps – for $25? No monthly payments, just a one-time purchase like buying an app from the App Store?

That’s what the new Basecamp Personal offers. 1 Basecamp project with up to 5 extra collaborators and 1Gb storage, for a one-time payment of $25. Sounds like that might be the perfect option for a personal productivity web app.

Web Apps For the Rest of Us

The 37signals team is on a roll lately, after fully revamping Basecamp last year and then two weeks ago releasing Basecamp Breeze, the simplest way to make email lists. Today, they’ve just unveiled Basecamp Personal, a new edition of Basecamp designed to fit the gap most productivity web apps have left. It gives you all of Basecamp’s features – minus the calendar and timeline – for $25 per project.

For a collaborative web app, Basecamp is already quite a good deal, since most apps cargo per user but Basecamp only charges in tiers of projects that can each have unlimited users. Still, at $20/month, it’s a steep price if you’re just getting started. 37signals used to offer a free one-project version of Basecamp, but that’s been removed in the new version (although existing free users can keep using their accounts for now). This new option bridges the gap, giving you one project for a lower price that you’ll only pay once.

Buying Basecamp by the Project

Why Would I Use Basecamp Personal?

The first 37signals app I used was Backpack, which was basically a free-form app that let you put to-dos, notes, and more on a page. You could drag things around on the page to the order you wanted, or move them to other pages. You could collaborate with others, or even share a page online. I tried out Basecamp, but it never clicked until I was actually managing real projects with a team and deadlines. Basecamp meant business, while Backpack let you find your own way to productivity.

The new Basecamp is like the best of Basecamp’s scheduling, delegation, and structure mixed with the best of Backpack’s free-form productivity. From the first day I tried it, it felt like the direct successor to Backpack – though Backpack gave you 5 pages for free, and Basecamp started at $20/month. That $20/month account is pretty generous; we use it to plan and collaborate across all of AppStorm, with our large team of writers. But if you’re wanting a web app to pull your own personal projects together, that’s a bit steep.

Basecamp Personal fills that gap by giving you a 1 project account for a one-time fee that’s comparable in price to a solid productivity app from an App Store. It looks just like a single project inside a normal Basecamp account, and as such, has no timeline, project templates, or calendar. It’s designed for one-off projects, and is focused just on that – which makes it all the more like the old Backpack. It will show up in your 37signals Dashboard, though, so you can easily jump between your work and personal account. And you can still use Basecamp add-ons and 3rd party apps, just like the full accounts.

Your own personal Basecamp (called “Your Name”‘s Project at first, though you can change that)

Your Stuff In One Place

So how might you put Basecamp Personal to use for your own productivity? First, it’s a great to-do list app. You can add to-dos quickly, schedule them, and Basecamp will automatically email you to remind you what’s due. You can add notes to your tasks, as well as file attachments (as long as you don’t go over your 1Gb file storage limit). Drag-and-drop tasks to the order you want, or make new lists to store other tasks. It’s simple to use.

Todos, rich text notes, files, and emails – everything you need for your projects, together

You can also add rich-text notes, which gives you a way to, perhaps, use it as an online notebook, if you’d like. It’s at least a nice place to write online, if you want a private place to keep more info about your projects together. Or, say you’re doing a design project, you could upload individual files to Basecamp for safe-keeping. Then, quickly search through your whole account – even inside the notes on completed tasks – to find any info you need.

Basecamp could be your online notebook

Personal Email Productivity

One of the best things about Basecamp is how great it works with email, and that’s the same in Basecamp Personal – and is one of its best use cases. With just a simple email, you can create new to-do lists and documents, upload files, and even forward emails you’ve received to archive conversations and important info. It’s simple, and works great from any device. Just save the unique email address in your Basecamp account to your address book, then send all the info you need to keep up with to that address.

Basecamp’s email integration is pretty powerful

Collaboration

While I’ve mostly talked about how you can use Basecamp Personal on your own, it’s also great for collaboration with others. If your team no more than 6 people including yourself, then you could use Basecamp Personal for full collaboration on the project, just like you would with a normal Basecamp account. This would be a great way, say, for a freelancer to purchase a new Basecamp Personal project for a client’s project, then loop them in to see the changes. With it just being a one-time fee, you could likely include it as an expense in the project. It’d also be great for student projects; you could get a project to work with your college classmates online, something I used to use Backpack for in the past.

Better yet, you can add people to conversations just by adding their email address. This gives you a way to collaborate with more people over email, say to get someone else’s advice on your project without having to add them to your Basecamp. When they reply to the email, or you post a discussion comment on Basecamp, it’ll all come through correctly, and your email collaborator will even get the full conversation in their messages.

Collaborate over email with more people

Conclusion

So there you have it: Basecamp Personal is Basecamp, for personal or small team use, at a fraction of the original price (over time, at least). Sounds good enough to sell itself to me.

Basecamp Personal signup is only open to people who already have a Basecamp account, perhaps to make sure people already know how to use it to make it easier to support at first. If you’ve ever used the older version of Basecamp or Backpack, or use Basecamp already at work and want to use it on your own, you can go signup for your own Basecamp Personal project today.

If you start using Basecamp for your own projects, we’d love to hear how you’re putting it to use in unique ways. There’s a lot of ways I could think of to use Basecamp productively with an individual account, and it’s exciting that it’s now affordable to do so.


Summary

An individual project on Basecamp for a one-time fee.

10
  • Jesse Wallace

    Horribly overpriced software, especially when there are similar or better feature-filled software available for free: Trello, Asana, Freedcamp, Podio, Teambox…the list goes on. Entirely undeserving of a 10/10.

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      I found this interesting because it’s a one-time fee. That in itself makes it far cheaper than the premium version of most other web apps, and way cheaper than Basecamp’s own normal price. Combine that with its features, and I felt like that makes it a win.

  • jwatsonb

    CRAZILY OVERPRICED! Stopped reading the article to go look at the official page. $25 per project!?! LOL! Does Basecamp not realize just how many projects average Joes (aka, not me) have already? Anyone stupid enough to fork over $25 p/project either 1) Will be drowning in debt or 2) Someone you only needs one or two…but then why use a PMS at all vs free apps like Wunderlist 2? Also agree with Jesse Wallace, many good free alternatives (both OCS and proprietary) out there.

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      Well, compare that to many other services that charge per month. Almost every other web service out there has a paid version that costs $9+/month. Run that over time, and this is way cheaper. It depends on how you’ll use it.

      Compare this to, say, Flow that costs $9.99/month for task management. That’s pricey … but our editor at that time gave it a 10 because he felt it was useful enough and nicely designed enough to be worth it (http://web.appstorm.net/reviews/project-management/flow-task-management-with-mac-sex-appeal/).

      I think Basecamp is nice enough to be worth it. And for what it’s worth, at AppStorm we manage each site with an individual, ongoing Basecamp project. 6 sites, 6 projects.

  • Chris Yeh

    Matthew, you might be interested to learn that PBworks just launched its free, no-time-limit Basecamp alternative, Project Hub (http://www.getprojecthub.com). You can run up to 5 projects with up to 20 collaborators for free, and there’s no time limit.

    And since PBworks has been in the collaboration business since 2005, even though this is a new product, there’s plenty of track record behind it. We’d love to have you sign up and try it out!

    If you want to talk afterwards, I’m certainly available. Just DM me at @chrisyeh.

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