9 Best (Free) CRMs for Freelancers To Leverage in 2021

27 Nov 2023

As a freelancer, a free CRM should offer you a fully-integrated system, offering task and project management, time tracking, order and contract processing as well as accounting functionality—all in one, easy to use package.

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Free Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software has 2 main purposes:

  1. To help you run your business smoothly as a freelancer in all of its aspects, and;

  2.  To give you the tools to expand your business further.

The other advantage to using a free CRM is that it enables you to focus more of your energies on the core purpose of your business, rather than spending time on support functions which can be prone to human error or on tasks which are tedious. 

Choosing the right CRM enables you to focus more of your energies on the core purpose of your business either as a freelancer or self-employed person.

CRMs are beneficial to all kinds of businesses but are especially useful for freelancers. More often than not, freelancers are more constrained by time than larger businesses. 

Once you reach a certain number of clients, you will realize that time runs out, meaning you cannot take on any new customers because of the administrative effort needed to support existing work, such as creating invoices or managing all communication. 

These tasks require a great deal of resources to complete accurately. So we've explored 9 of the best free CRM suites for you to use and streamline your daily operations.

How do I choose a CRM for my freelancing venture?

Fiverr has built-in analytics software to  help you understand how much revenue you're brining in every month Select an Image

The best way to think about what you need from a CRM is to view your freelancing venture like a large business.

Most large firms have departments which handle the various elements that keep the company growing; sales, marketing, accounting, legal, or administration. 

Freelancers often must perform all of these duties by themselves, and this takes up a lot of time and effort.

Some freelancers think that if they sell services through a platform such as Fiverr or Upwork, these sites will take away a lot of the work, but it's not always true.

You will still need to work hard to attract clients and, in order to grow, you will need to organise your time with more and more care.

(There are only 6-8 working hours in a day!)

What to look for in a CRM as a freelancer 

Coretal focuses on unifying the experience in a seamless dashboard which is extremely easy to use Select an Image

As a freelancer, think about the areas of your business which take up a lot of time, or areas that you could improve on and seek out a CRM which will cater to these needs. 

The best CRM for freelancers would be the one which ticks as many boxes as possible while allowing you to keep everything under one roof.

Most CRMs will help you organise leads and clients, as well as schedule calls or emails to facilitate follow up and to-dos.

The best CRM for freelancers is the one which ticks as many boxes as possible while allowing you to keep everything under one roof.

Sales activities arising from successful leads can be streamlined too, and you should look for CRMs that allow you to draft proposals from within the tool. 

You will also want to consider the analytical capabilities a CRM provides, especially with time tracking since it's the key component which determines profitability. 

Lastly, CRMs do a great job at automating accounting practices such as creating invoices and prompting clients for payment.

This area of business management can be especially frustrating and presents a certain level of legal risk so you don't want to mess it up manually.

The 9 best CRM suites for freelancers in 2021

Many CRM software providers offer a free trial or service which means you can see what they offer without taking the plunge financially.

With this in mind, let’s explore some of the best free CRMs for freelancers and what they can offer you in 2021 and beyond:

Best CRM for freelancers #1: Coretal

Coretal is a CRM specifically-designed for freelancers and small agencies to use, and it includes a comprehensive forever free plan.

The tool aims to alleviate the frustration of needing to use—and pay for—various CRM platforms simply to work on a single project. 

With Coretal, you can streamline various tasks through a unified interface that combines the features of different tools into one.

This is great for freelancers who want calendar sync, team chat, proposals, contracting, invoicing, project management and time tracking all in one place.

With Coretal, you can streamline various tasks through a unified interface that combines the features of different tools into one.

You can use Coretal for all activities related to freelancing such as scheduling time, creating tasks and invoicing clients, with information featured on a single dashboard. 

Where other CRMs compromise on functionality or depth of service, Coretal can bring all these elements together in one free, easy to use package.

And starting doesn't cost you a cent!

Best CRM for freelancers #2: Bonsai

Bonsai is regarded as a good CRM option for freelancers as it combines a lot of features with simplicity in mind.

A freelancer who is new to the game will find that Bonsai offers a suite of useful tools from contract management, time tools, and a few analytics features as well. 

Bonsai is also reasonably affordable.

Seasoned freelancers, or those who desire a little more control over their business may find that Bonsai’s simplicity is a little too restrictive. 

The tool doesn't allow the user to build complex forms and workflows, and the contract writing functionality does not allow for a lot of customisation. 

Nevertheless, this is a good CRM to start with.

Best CRM for freelancers #3: And.co

And.co is primarily an invoicing tool which is marketed on its ease of use, great for freelancers who have a limited understanding of billing processes and/or wish to spend time on their business rather than finding the right invoicing template or approach. 

The software suite offers flexible invoice scheduling and project management, billing and contracting tool, and there is a decent time tracking function as well. 

And.co’s simplicity is a double-edged sword, as this means larger companies – or even freelancers with more than one client – may require more flexibility or features. 

It also doesn't offer related tools such as small team management; instead, it relies upon a distinctive interface that is clearly channelled at solo freelancers.

Best CRM for freelancers #4: FreshBooks

Like And.co, FreshBooks is geared to freelancers, but also small businesses in general. 

FreshBooks is focused on accounting, aiming to make the process as simple as possible, allowing freelancers to focus on their business and not get caught up in the numbers. 

With FreshBooks, you can create invoices, payment schedules and request deposits, as well as an option to request payments from FreshBooks’ own payment function. 

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In addition to a rich accounting system, FreshBooks also has a comprehensive project management tool, allowing you to assign tasks and projects to team members, as well as organising the billing accordingly.

FreshBooks might have a decent array of functions, but it still lacks complexity that some freelancers need to complete their projects in full. 

It's set as an accounting tool rather than a general suite of integrated CRM functions, and its dashboard lacks some information that could be useful to some. 

Despite its ease of use there is not much setup assistance which might frustrate some users as they get started with the tool.

Best CRM for freelancers #5: Pipedrive

Pipedrive offers freelancers a CRM suite which is focused on the sales experience, allowing them to set up and plan their sales or distribution process while analysing orders. 

The tool has a seamless email process which provides many templates and autofill options for efficiency as well as good integration with Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo. 

There is also a call and email tracking tool. 

Pipedrive’s high level of sales customisation is also easy to set up and use, which is an important consideration for freelancers looking to take their business to the next level.

The main drawback of Pipedrive is in its focus on the sales side of freelancing, which means that other functionality such as time/diary management or accounting is lacking. 

This means that freelancers who are looking for a more comprehensive tool or a broader suite of functions might find Pipedrive’s overall offering a little bare.

Best CRM for freelancers #6: Zoho CRM

Zoho is regarded as an effective CRM platform for freelancers. It boasts a wide range of features such as cloud-based file storage, and a comprehensive client billing system which can manage timesheets, quotes, invoices, and payments. 

The pricing is at the higher end of CRMs, but other features of Zoho add significant value, such as text analysis and suggesting good times to reach out to prospects.

Zoho offers a wealth of features and a few supplementary apps, however not all features are available on all apps, which makes the interface complicated to navigate.

This means that you might have to navigate between various Zoho apps.

Best CRM for freelancers #7: Agile CRM

Agile CRM is a good option for freelancers who have a fledgling eCommerce business which they are looking to scale up. The CRM is based around a variety of effective marketing tools, features to automate service delivery and workflow management.

There is also an intuitive mobile app which has a good integrated dashboard. 

Agile’s features might be a little wasted on freelancers that are trading services rather than goods, or those who are staying away from eCommerce altogether. 

Where its interface is very good and user-friendly, Agile CRM has limited reporting and metric tools, meaning that reviewing analytics can be challenging.

Best CRM for freelancers #7: Insightly CRM

Insightly focuses on tying gigs together through project management tools, as well as a suite of features to help freelancers market their offerings.

The standard plan allows freelancers to track their business such as leads and contacts and its key strength is allowing freelancers to manage their network and streamline the critical process of engaging prospects.

In recent years, Insightly has added more features, especially regarding project management. Whilst these features are welcomed, it moves the platform away from freelancers and more towards small businesses in terms of complexity, and also pricing.

You might find Insightly a little too complex or not completely aligned with what you are setting out to achieve, or with what you are willing to spend on a CRM.

Best CRM for freelancers 9: Dubsado

Dubsado is a CRM which specialises in collaboration, allowing customisable roles for each user and a flexible approach to invoicing, such as creating and sending payment advice and assigning hours to billing.

There are also a host of integrated payment options, such as PayPal and Stripe, as well as an option for customers to give a tip.

Dubsado doesn't link to other accounting platforms though, so this makes full integration a little challenging which can be a big problem for some.

Dubsado lacks functionality seen in other CRMs, such as project management and time logging. These are valued as they streamline clunky business operations.

Choosing the right CRM as a freelancer

CRM features available with Coretal's $3 SOLO plan

CRMs can be hugely beneficial to freelancers, in terms of enabling you to save time and focus on growing your business. The drawback to many CRM options is that they often come at a cost which is hard for freelancers to commit to. 

Yet there are many effective options for you to try. The key to selecting the best free CRM is understanding which one works for you as no two freelancers are the same. 

The key to selecting the best free CRM is understanding which one works for you as no two freelancers are the same. Coretal gives you all the tools you need in one unified dashboard which makes management simple and powerful.

The other thing to bear in mind is that it is never too early to start looking for a CRM; the best time to have one is before you actually need it, to continuously scale your business. 

Once you have figured out which CRM gives you the most flexibility and freedom, you may wish to consider going in for a more comprehensive, paid service.

Originally published May 3 2021

Frequently asked questions

What is the best free CRM?

It depends on what you're looking for. Freelancers often need to understand how much time they are spending on a specific project so it would be important to find a CRM that allows to track time while listing out the various tasks related to each customer.

Is there any free CRM?

There are a few free CRM options either offering a full, free service for limited users, or free trials which you can use to decide if it is the best option for you. Coretal is an example, offering a forever free account that you can use until you hit certain limits.

What is the easiest CRM to use?

The easiest CRM to use will always be the one with the most unified interface. You don't want your proposal to be "away" from your contacts; they need to be tied together. The same goes with your calendar, tasks, invoices, and so on.

What's the best CRM for a freelancer?

The best CRM for a freelancer is both the simplest one to use and the one that puts the most (useful) capabilities under one roof. Jumping around from tool to tool is not an efficient way to work for most freelancers so you'll want to pick the one that has it all.