50 Essential Web Apps for Freelancers

When you make the decision to go out on your own, you are faced with many choices. Should you work from home or rent a space? Bill hourly or by the job? What kind of hours should you assign as ‘work time’?

Amidst all those decisions that have to be made, you also have to choose what tools you’re going to use to actually do your job. And the web is both a blessing and a curse in this regard. It’s a blessing in that it gives you a plethora of choices for the different categories of applications. But it can be a curse because there are so many good options to choose from.

What’s a poor, green-behind-the-ears freelancer to do? Well, you can start by letting us whittle down the list a little for you. Separate some of the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. You’ll still have find which of the tools below best fit your needs and style, but this is the right place to start.

We’ve broken down the apps into larger categories, highlighted the best or most interesting in each category, and included the best of the rest. Click away — each image will take you to the app listed. Enjoy!

Invoicing and Time Tracking

First things first — you need to get paid. And so you need to bill your customers. And if you bill by the hour, you need to track your time. Whether it’s sending professional looking invoices or easily tracking your hours, these apps are the best available and a pleasure to use.

the Invoice Machine

Invoice Machine

A beautifully designed application that focuses on simplicity, the Invoice Machine is one of the nicer invoicing tools available. A professional looking invoice says a lot to your client — Invoice Machine can help complete a great impression.

Ballpark

The better way to send invoices.

The better way to send invoices.

Harvest

Harvest

Sleek, intuitive, fast.

FreshBooks

Freshbooks

Track your time and send invoices.

LessTimeSpent

LessTimeSpent

A simple time tracking solution.

Blinksale

Blinksale

A focus on ease of use.

Tempo

Simple time tracking, powerful reporting.

Simple time tracking, powerful reporting.

Financial/Accounting

Once you start getting paid, you have to do something with the money. Taking care of the finances — bookkeeping, accounting, taxes included — is probably one of the least enjoyed aspects of working for yourself. But it has to be done, so you’re best off finding a tool that makes these tasks easy and efficient.

Mint

Mint

One of the more refreshing apps to come along recently, Mint was changing the way people were able to manage their finances. With their recent sale to Intuit — makers of Quicken — there has been a bit of a backlash and a lot of people deleting their accounts.

Regardless, Mint is still one of the nicest tools to keep on top of your finances.

Wesabe

Wesabe

Your money. Your community.

LessAccounting

Accounting made simple.

Accounting made simple.

Geezeo

Make sense of your money.

Make sense of your money.

e-conomic

Online accounting for novices.

Online accounting for novices.

Pulse

Monitor the heartbeat of your business.

Monitor the heartbeat of your business.

Project/Task Management

Once you’ve gotten the business side of things out of the way, you need to manage the actual work. Projects, recurring tasks, and sharing tasks are all part of the life of a freelancer. Whether you’re looking for a full fledged project management tool or a simple way to track your own work, there are many tools available.

Use any of these top applications to stay on top of what you do.

Basecamp

Basecamp

Despite a lot of other sites copying their style, 37signals still lead the way in the project management space. Basecamp is simply the best application to manage your work. With a focus on simplicity and communication, it’s an enjoyable tool to use.

Ad with so many other web based applications integrating with Basecamp, it doesn’t appear that it’ll be knocked off its perch anytime soon.

Staction

Stop managing projects, start managing people.

Stop managing projects, start managing people.

Remember the Milk

The best way to manage your tasks.

The best way to manage your tasks.

Subernova

Project management for rockstars.

Project management for rockstars.

task.fm

Outsource your memory.

Outsource your memory.

Action Method Online

Too many ideas. Not enough action.

Too many ideas. Not enough action.

Huddle

Work better together.

Work better together.

Comindwork

Manage projects online.

Manage projects online.

Remindr

Dead simple reminders.

Dead simple reminders.

TaskBin

Managing tasks for groups.

Managing tasks for groups.

FIle Management

After you spend the time figuring out what needs to get done — and start doing — the result will in many cases involve files to manage or share. Some of the project management tools above include file management and online storage. But many do not.

Not to worry though. There are lots of options for storing, sharing and backing up your data. Here’s some tools focused on this essential aspect of your business.

Dropbox

Dropbox

I’ve talked here recently about Dropbox and I have to confess — this is one of my favourite tools. It has been a great boon to my business and makes collaboration a cinch. Add the peace of mind with its file revisions and tight integration with the operating system and it simply fades into the background.

Actually, for a web tool, it feels like a part of your operating system. This still amazes me.

drop.io

Simple real-time sharing and collaborating.

Simple real-time sharing and collaborating.

UploadRobots

Upload, share and download files.

Upload, share and download files.

FileGears

File collaboration made easy.

File collaboration made easy.

Google Docs

File sharing from your Internet overlords.

File sharing from your Internet overlords.

KnowledgeTree

Connect your global workforce.

Connect your global workforce.

Fluxiom

Online media management.

Online media management.

CRM

One other vital aspect to your business is keeping track of customers. Tracking interactions, leads, tasks, meetings and follow-up’s is needed to make sure that your revenue streams are always flowing.

Gist

Gist

Still in beta, Gist is still working out the kinks. But for those who like to get the big picture, this is a tool with a lot of promise. How does it work? It takes your interactions with others from Twitter, Facebook, your email and others and analyzes who you talk to. It then tracks the online activity of those people and ranks the updates based on their importance to you.

This is a simplified overview — sign up to check it out for yourself. It’s probably not for everyone, but it is an interesting way for busy freelancers to stay on top of the people they depend on.

Highrise

Track your leads, contacts and deals.

Track your leads, contacts and deals.

SugarCRM

The cloud is open.

The cloud is open.

SixCentral

Client proposal organization and management.

Easily manage your proposals.

Salesforce

The right answer for right now.

The right answer for right now.

Social Tools

Anyone who has spent some time as a remote web worker knows that paying attention to your social life is important. When you don’t go to an office and interact face to face with other adults every day, you are exposed to the dangers of isolation.

Now, the tools below are not going to replace the physical interaction we all require, but they can help fill in for the banter that you’d participate in at a more traditional workspace. Whether keeping in touch with coworkers and partners or general internet friends, the apps listed here can help you feel in touch with the outside world.

Twitter

twitter

When Twitter first came on the scene, there sure seemed to be a lot of people saying they ‘didn’t get it’ or that it was a waste of time. A couple of years later and it seems that those people aren’t around anymore. Or they’re keeping quiet. Or they’re busy tweeting.

Twitter is the de facto standard for communicating online now.

life.io

Your life, your way.

Your life, your way.

Facebook

Connect and share with your people.

Connect and share with your people.

Campfire

Team collaboration with real time chat.

Team collaboration with real time chat.

Coop

Stay in tune with your co-workers.

Stay in tune with your co-workers.

Phone

Many web workers dislike using the phone, but there are going to be those times when email or IM just don’t cut it. Make sure you give your customers and/or teammates another avenue of getting your time and attention.

The following tools are aimed at mobility with flexibility.

Skype

Skype

People all over the world use Skype as their primary means of communicating. With instant messaging and voice services, including voicemail, huge long distance charges seem like a thing of the past century.

If the controversy and ownership of Skype’s technology ends well, this service will continue to be a mainstay in online business.

Jott

Three ways to make your mobile life easier.

Three ways to make your mobile life easier.

Google Voice

One number to rule them all.

One number to rule them all.

RingCentral

Your phone system, everywhere.

Your phone system, everywhere.

Resume/Portfolio

From many freelancers, in order to keep the work coming in, you need to be able to show potential customers who you are and what you’ve done. There are many web applications that now focus on this genre.

Here are two of our favourites.

Raveal

Raveal

A newer entrant in this category, Raveal shows a lot of promise. It’s intended to mix both your portfolio and resume into one entity. It’s an interesting approach.

CeeVee

The smarter way to create and share your resume.

The smarter way to create and share your resume.

Miscellaneous Tools

Lastly, here are a few other tools that are somewhat in a category of their own, but may help you in running a successful business.

cotweet

CoTweet

If you are going to interact with your clients via Twitter, than cotweet is a service that may be of interest. It makes managing a business account a little easier with support for dual accounts, assignment of tweets, and robust notifications.

Screenr

Instant screencasts for Twitter.

Instant screencasts for Twitter.

Moobiz

Easy online small business software.

Easy online small business software.

timebridge

Run great meetings.

Run great meetings.

That’s All for Now

There are plenty of other great web tools that could have been included here. Freelancers in this day and age certainly have no shortage of choices.

Take some time to consider your needs and then choose the tools that work for you.


  • René

    I prefer to use Pivotal Tracker instead of all 37 Signals together (Basecamp, etc.)

  • http://www.mooloop.com Matt Fenn

    Excellent list Chris, and thanks for including Moobiz…

  • Marc Bijl

    For accounting, I can recommend Freeagent Central:
    - http://www.freeagentcentral.com

  • http://adamnbowen.com Adam

    I just signed up for invoicemachine… it looks quite promising, and I like the free option–I don’t have a need for more than 3 invoices a month anyway.

  • http://www.rowlands-bcs.com Australian Web Developer

    If you’re looking for a web app that does most of this in one – try openGoo, you need to host it yourself (LAMP/WAMP/XAMMP etc based). It’s got email, calendar, tasks, project managment, time tracking, invoicing, documents and coming soon is spreadsheets. Best of all being open source php/js/html/css if you don’t like the way a particular feature works, you just change it.

    • Chad McCullough

      Awesome! As a person that only runs Linux and uses only open source applications, I appreciate you mentioning this.

  • http://human3rror.com John (Human3rror)

    sick list.

  • http://branchr.com Christian

    You guys totally forgot http://atomplan.com/ off of this…

  • Bob Smith

    Has anybody tried Pulse? It looks interesting but I can’t find any reviews of it.

    • http://web.appstorm.net Chris Bowler

      Come back on Monday ;)

  • http://www.diezjietal.be Greg

    what about Billings3: http://www.billingsapp.com/ ???

  • http://feint.me Anthony Feint

    great list Chris!

  • Luke

    Great list… You missed out Freelance Total though which is the perfect app for freelancers

    • http://www.axzm.com Web Design Dallas

      I have never heard of Freelance Total, how is it? I use market samurai and it works great for my sem stuff.

  • http://thepixelio.com Bhushan

    You missed out http://krop.com for Resume & portfolio?

    • http://unttld.com/ Derek

      I second this. Krop CDB is wonderful. There’s a few hosted portfolio services that lend themselves to certain styles of creatives. http://CargoCollective.com/ being an example.

  • http://www.comindwork.com Arturas

    Excellent post Chris! And thanks for mentioning Comindwork!

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  • Shane

    Great Post. Should give http://contentcube.com a look. Excellent online file storage and sharing for creative professionals.

  • http://www.myintervals.com John

    Great list. Another essential web app for freelancers who bill hourly is Intervals. It lets you track your time against your freelance projects, so you can bill accurately.

  • http://www.brushthis.com Liora

    Fabulous, thanks for this list, I’ll keep it for future reference.

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  • Dave

    Chris, great list, thanks! Might want to check out ClientSpot (http://www.myclientspot.com) for team project management and time tracking. Also really like Grasshopper/GotVMail for virtual phone systems.

  • http://www.desimagesparmilliers.com Titifrim

    Great list ! You may forgot http://yammer.com in the collaboration tools one.

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  • http://www.paymo.biz Jan

    Where’s Paymo (http://www.paymo.biz) ?:)

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  • http://1timetracking.com Derek Organ

    Check out 1time (http://1timetracking.com ) for time tracking

  • Leo

    http://www.easytasker.com is great too, especially for timesheets, projects and invoices. Neat iPhone version too.

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  • Jerome

    I have found http://worketc.com to be a one stop shop for crm, project management, billing, time tracking and has plenty of other features. I can’t believe that wasn’t on the list.

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  • busy_one

    forgot to write some words for all the links? yeah, don’t worry – i’m clicking through all of them – i’m a freelancer i got plenty of time.

    notice that all comments are linkdropping – wonder why? they’re also linkdroppers, that’s why.

  • http://www.madebyguerrilla.com Mike Smith

    Awesome list. I use http://outright.com/ for my accounting. It’s awesome + free :)

  • http://www.muloka.com/ Louis Muloka

    Accounting

    http://xero.com

    Social

    http://friendfeed.com/

    Resume/Portfolio

    http://linkedin.com/

    • http://blog.dahlindevelopment.com DahlinDev

      Yes, I can’t believe Linked in wasn’t mentioned.

  • http://www.traxor-designs.com/ Luke Jones

    Fantastic article, I’ve posted it on Twitter!

  • l8trg8r

    i cant believe toggl is not here

  • Adisa Collis

    I’ve been using http://goplanapp.com/ and I’m happy with it

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  • TGDStudios

    Hi,
    This is a great list that seems to continue to grow. I have been looking for Creative project management options for a while and this is such a great help! Thanks so much for taking the time to pull all of these together!

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  • AdamV

    I use pipelinedeals for CRM and project management, top notch customization and easy to use. :)

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  • Andy Chapman

    Time tracking, invoicing, expenses, rich desktop client, integration with Xero http://www.rypenow.com

  • http://thinkdiff.net Mahmud Ahsan

    Very helpful!

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  • http://www.cannybill.com/ Wladimir

    We’ve just launched http://www.cannybill.com. It’s an online invoicing and billing solution but has the added advantage that you can create web based order forms to sell your products and services.

    This can be anything from selling a membership or subscription to a software download or web hosting, domain names and SSLs.

    http://www.cannybill.com/tour_orderforms.html
    http://www.cannybill.com/tour_plugins.html

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  • Paul

    If you’re in the UK then http://www.crunch.co.uk/ looks pretty awesome. Takes care of everything from bookkeeping to a having real, personal accountant.

  • http://www.sharefile.com Dan

    http://www.ShareFile.com offers a large file transfer service geared towards businesses.

    I personally love Basecamp and Freshbooks. They play well together too!

    Google voice could make a pretty big play to taking down Skype, but i wonder how much money it will cost them?

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  • http://www.tractr.net Stefd

    What about the Zoho Suite ? http://www.zoho.com/
    Where using Zoho Invoice and just switched to the newly updated Zoho Projects.

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  • http://www.cdplayer-store.com ortlieb

    this is a real great list. There is also some features that I never hv though about ;o)

  • http://www.wedgeim.com Calgary web deisgn

    Great list i use a couple of these already but will checking into the others as well

  • http://www.YokoConsulting.com Chris Yoko

    Hoot Suite is another great free Twitter client – http://hootsuite.com.

  • http://www.transferum.com Mike Thomas

    http://www.transferum.com – an online file storage company.
    suitable for both business and individual use to share files with friends or business partners or to regularly back-up your data.
    1 GB FREE account that NEVER EXPIRES

    Thank you very much for this great list of online resources.

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  • http://seomanchester.org.uk SEO Manchester

    Great List. Going to give Basecamp a try.

  • https://www.timesheets.com Peggy Emch

    A little known secret in the freelancer world is that the powerful app Timesheets.com is free for single user freelancers. A good addition to your list?

  • http://blueprintds.com Chicago Web Design

    Excellent list! I would even say these are strictly for freelancers, small companies and even larger ones can (and do!) use some of these great tools. Awesome to see an excellent roundup as always!

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  • http://www.office123.net/ Online Small Business Suite

    This is a really good list. Lot of these are truly exceptional programs. DropBox has become a part of my computer experience. I thought it could not be replaced, but now there is an open source variant of Dropbox coming up called SparkleShare. Let’s see when it comes out.

  • http://www.wowwebsitedesigners.com Paul Alexander

    Extremely Helpful

  • http://www.fimedia.ca/ Calgary Web Design

    Good list of links – few suggestions to add from experience for others that I’ve found to be extremely useful:

    TweetDeck – help manage Twitter accounts, especially if you’re watching industries and providing multi-twitter posting support for clients.

    Jing – been playing with this lately, but allows you to quickly post screen captures and up-to 5 minute long videos which you can send users. Keeps things interactive with clients, especially if you aren’t within a quick meeting distance.

    Wrike – we use this extensively for project management of tasks. Costs a bit each month, but cost of not keeping track of stuff is a lot higher :-)

  • http://www.picciz.com Katrice Baylon

    Zune and iPod: Most people compare the Zune to the Touch, but after seeing how slim and surprisingly small and light it is, I consider it to be a rather unique hybrid that combines qualities of both the Touch and the Nano. It’s very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.

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  • http://www.green-and-energy.com Olmo Tomas Mezger

    Great content… aggain. as i will expect from this site!

    I just wanted to mention google calender. For me, it’s a great tool that works very professional. It has exchange integration for the iphone with push and works very nice with timebridge and doodle! even at the same time.
    thanks

  • James

    For freelance and full/part time work I also use http://devjobspl.us

  • http://www.tokyorepublik.com SEO Manchester

    Great list. I just wish mint.com was available for UK bank accounts. I use Basecamp all the time and love it.

  • http://www.fluidcreativity.co.uk seo manchester

    Basecamp and Dropbox are excellent web apps. Basecamp is quite intuitive and make project management that much easier

  • http://www.plastering-decorating-manchester.co.uk manchester handyman

    excellent list, that invoice maker is awsome, thanks for sharing, i have shared this wqith my whole contact list, cheers, stuart

  • http://www.ideadesignworks.co.uk oxford web design

    Quite a comprehensive list you’ve put together here! – Dropbox is an especially handy resource, and GoogleDocs has become invaluable in recent months. I’ll certainly be investigating some of the others you list too. Cheers! Ioan. IDW Design Oxford

  • Johny Smith

    We recently migrated from salesforce to workforcetrack.com because we didn’t need too many functions. And we are living on budget that’s why we should find smth cheaper. You can also check it out.

  • http://bloknot.in/ Patefon

    It very helpful. Thanks for Portfolio stuff

  • http://ppiinsuranceclaims.com reclaim ppi

    I get a problem subscribing to your RSS Feed… It says feed is active, nevertheless I never get updates in my feed reader… Any Thoughts?

  • http://www.arquila.com Sophie Alena

    Hi,

    Great roundup, could you please have a look at our product Insight, it is a business management application that I believe is worthy of your list ;)

    You can see it @ http://www.arquila.com – if you have any question about the product please let me know.

    Many thanks
    Sophie

  • http://www.billygomes.co.uk Manchester SEO

    Gist! For the win!

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  • http://www.mistral-finance.com/ Coach

    Gist is pretty good but Mint is great! Plus all there infographics are great also!

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  • http://iceboxdesigns.co.uk/services/seo.html SEO Manchester

    great list :)
    thanks for sharing, i have sent this to a few of our our freelancers :)

    Thanks for sharing

  • http://www.orologic.com Brian – Timesheet software – Logan

    Wow!!! Nice list and good work to regroup all these apps in the same page.

  • Tobias

    We are using Planthat for tasks/stories: http://www.planth.at

  • John Taylor

    In the UK, some online accountants like http://www.accountsnet.co.uk supply purpose built invoicing software as part of their accountancy services.

  • http://www.messagingservice.com/ Auto Attendants

    What voicemail options are out there for web applications?

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  • http://www.lamonts.co.uk Cheshire

    Gist is pretty amazing actually would definitely recommend it.

  • http://www.fluidcreativity.co.uk/ SEO Manchester

    Basecamp is an amazing tool especially for SEO’s. It makes many campaigns so much easier especially when working in large teams.

  • http://vovia.com Calgary SEO

    We already use dropbox, basecamp and Googledocs – but I’ll definitely be trying others!

  • http://www.globi.ca Globi Web Solutions

    Great list. Don’t forget about waveaccounting.com for those starting out on a small budget – it’s free.

  • http://www.dannycallan.com Danny Callan

    In my eyes drop box is absolutely awesome! but know that list has opened it up for me, might start trying some other services! Cheers Guys

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  • http://www.infaweb.com/seo_edinburgh.shtml Mr Edinburgh

    I like the look of the Mint APP, however not sure I’d trust sharing bank details using an APP on a smart phone. Dropbox is another potentially useful APP.

  • http://freshwatercreative.ca/web/seo Calgary SEO

    It’s crazy scrolling through the list and seeing how many I actually use. Never really thought about it until now! There’s still a lot of room for improvement though. Thanks for the list.

    Matt

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  • http://replicon.com Time Clock

    Actually I agree with you on Basecamp, Zoho, Invoicera, but the list would have been much better if you had added Replicon and Agilezen.

  • http://www.filecamp.com Rune

    Why is Filecamp.com not on the list for online File management?
    It´s a fantastic app which besides File Sharing and Image library features also let our clients to put annotations and comments on our artwork files … online. It’s pretty awesome!

  • http://webcontentdenver.com Kelly

    Hours Tracking is another great option for tracking billable hours. At $1/month, it’s one of the most affordable tools out there, and one-click timers make it super simple to use. http://hourstracking.com

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  • raj a

    just check our tool and add your list – Qualitypoint timesheet – http://qualitypointtech.net/webtimesheet/
    Thank You…

  • http://www.andykuiper.com/ Andy Kuiper – SEO Analyst

    This is a great list Chris – it validated some of my choices (basecamp, freshbooks, dropbox) and introduced me to some others to check out. Thanks for posting this :-)

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