15 Free Tools to Manage Your Freelance Design Business

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Managing a freelance design business takes a lot of work. A freelance designer has to manage their projects, their clients, their files, and many more.

It’s a lot to do for one person. There are many ways you can manage your freelance design business, such as hiring a virtual assistant or investing in expensive software, but as freelancers, we are on a limited to budget.

Luckily, there are many free tools you can use today to manage your business. Take a look at these free tools below and become a more organized freelancer.

Project Management

  • Collabtive is a modern Web application that allows teams to collaborate on projects, manage tasks, milestones, and files, and send instant messages to each other.
  • Retrospectiva is a powerful open-source project management tool, designed towards agile software development teams. It features a solid core with ticket system, code review and milestones, but it also has powerful add-ons like wiki, blog or agile project management.
  • Teambox is developed as an open source application and it benefits from a simple and clean user interface similar to Twitter. It supports multiple projects, statuses, document attachments.

To Do Lists

  • Ta-da Lists is the web’s easiest to-do list tool. Make lists for yourself or share them with others. It couldn’t be simpler.
  • Doomi is a desktop application run by Adobe Air to simplify your tasks and get them done. You can create tasks, trash them after their done, and set alarms for them.
  • Remember the Milk is a more feature packed task management solution. It allows you to organize your tasks into tabs and tags, make time specific tasks with automatic reminders and repeat intervals, and it even has collaborative features.
  • Toodledo allows you to organize your tasks into different folders or projects, assign due-dates and priorities, and attach notes to tasks.


  • Billing Boss is a totally free invoicing application with pretty features. The user can easily keep track of billings and payments.
  • Intuit Billing Manager is also a free and intuitive online invoicing application. You can easily create and send invoices. The application gives you a review of what is overdue and what has been paid. The user can send reminders to customers if there is an outstanding payment.
  • BambooInvoice is a free and open source application to send and manage professional invoices. One has to install it on its own servers before using it though.
  • Simple invoices is another free and open source invoicing system which you can use to get money from different clients. You have to install in on your own server to use. You can also email your prepared invoice as pdf.


  • Dropbox is a service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. The free plan lets you store up to 2GB.
  • YouSendIt puts an end to that trouble by sending files up to 2GB to your clients.
  • Flickr is a place where you can store, share, and organize photos and save space on your hard drive.
  • DivShare is a file hosting service that you can use to email files to clients or store them in a folder for shared access later.

What about you?

Do you have any free tools you would like to share? Have you used any of these before? If so, discuss in the comments section of this post.

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About Nicole Foster

Nicole Foster is a professional website designer from New York that loves meeting new people. At Nicole Foster Designs, she offers website, wordpress, and ecommerce services to unique businesses. In her free time, she enjoys meditating and chatting with other designers.

  • http://www.upbeatdesign.co.uk Neil Duckmanton

    I’m trying out a free CRM cloud based offering by Really Simple Systems http://www.reallysimplesystems.com/
    The FREE version allows up to 100 accounts and unlimited contacts.

  • http://katydwyerdesign.com/ Katy

    Although it’s not completely free, an essential tool for me is Paypal so that I can accept credit card payments (Paypal does take a small percentage of the amount, but my policy is that the customer pays that). These days, many of my smaller clients are looking to charge their work rather than pay cash or check. I can’t say I love using Paypal, though. So I’m curious if you, or anyone else, know of any other free or minimal-cost services that are useful in allowing clients to make credit card payments? I’d rather not go through the trouble/cost of setting up a merchant account.

    • http://www.wedidyoursite.com Wayne

      @Katy, Amazon offers basically the same service that PayPal does. Their fees are also identical to PayPal’s, so the only reason to switch would be if you just simply did not like PayPal.


    • Amber

      “Square” is a really awesome tool that lets you use credit card transactions!

  • http://www.wedidyoursite.com Wayne

    This is pretty good list and there are few gems among them. Remember the Milk looks like a pretty good list management tool for advanced features, but for the simpler list management I think https://workflowy.com/ is a bit nicer than the Ta-da List.

    Also, as far as brainstorming tools for project management, https://bubbl.us/ is pretty nifty tool with a nice interface.

    Thanks for the tips!

  • http://www.cashewstyle.com Alicia

    Just a heads up, the Intuit Billing Manager is being discontinued. :(


    • http://www.nicolefosterdesigns.com Nicole Foster

      @Alicia, I didn’t find that in my initial research, but thank you for pointing that out.

  • http://www.jadottedesign.com Stephanie

    WeTransfer.com is another excellent service that lets you send files up to 2GB to your clients. The site itself puts up visually creative imagery for you to look at while your files are uploading.

  • http://andreacanton.com Andrea Canton

    Simple, synced, multiplatform, free todo list app: http://www.wunderlist.com/

  • N. Leigh Dunlap

    I’ll probably have to be buried my android; I run my entire life (and do almost all my work) on it so, if we’re talking organizers, it’s got to be available as an android app. I love Agile Soup as a project and task organizer. It allows for tags, priorities, due dates, project phases, multiple users and more – it’s available as a desktop service with real-time sync to the android, so my life is complete. For simple daily to do lists, my absolute favorite is Do It Tomorrow; anything not completed today is automatically moved to tomorrow.

  • http://www.morganandme.net Website Design Singapore – Morgan & Me Creative

    @andrea canton, thanks for the info. Great app for those on the go (iPad version).

  • http://www.melissaottdesign.com Melissa Ot

    I see the appeal of free sites like this, and tried out many of them to avoid paying for time management, invoicing, billing, etc. I found it frustrating, though, having to visit a million different websites in order to accomplish tasks that should be able to be done by using one resource. All of that logging in and out and clicking bookmarks to get to the sites add up to a lot of time when you think about it. Plus, it’s hard to be able to look at what you’re earning vs quoting when you have to use multiple sites.

    I finally settled on Freshbooks because it’s still inexpensive at $20/mo when you factor in time saved…opportunity cost people!! It looks nice, it’s easy for me AND my clients to use and I honestly haven’t found anything better.

  • http://www.3-60.com 3-60

    Great list of resources. Going to check out some of them now. Thanks.

  • Chris

    I’d recommend taking a look at Approval Manager:

    It’s a great tool for proofing and reviewing design projects. I’ve used the free version for a while and have found it extremely helpful in boosting communication and collaboration with clients.

  • http://www.planningpod.com Jeff Kear

    Hey there everyone – Wanted to throw our app into the ring here – Planning Pod. We built it to help creative professionals more easily manage their small business, and it collapses 22 tools (like to-dos, file sharing, calendars, contacts, time tracking, etc.) into one online app. Check it out at http://www.planningpod.com .

  • Cherish Brown

    I want to add one more project management tool in this list i.e. proofhub. It contains features like time tracking, to-do’s, casper mode and assigning a task to multiple people. It seems to be the second best project management tool after basecamp.

  • Chris

    FreelanceSuite (http://freelancesuite.com) should be near the top of this list. It’s affordable, you own it after you buy the license, which means no monthly billing or subscription fees. It’s simple and the design is pretty good.

  • Yasmin

    Hello guys, I used Teambox but later on I switched to proofhub.com. Teambox is expensive than proofhub and it was not much useful to manage my all projects. Proofhub has made my work lot easier. To-do’s, time tracking, discussion, file sharing are just awesome. Now, I can do my work lot easier.

  • http://affinitylive.com Sarah Zorah

    Can’t believe AffinityLive isn’t on here! I use it to track time, projects, documents and tasks – it also has a client portal so clients can see & approve documents. http://affinitylive.com/products/projects

  • Maria

    Hi Guys! Take a look at http://www.creativesnap.co an online tool that do proposal, contracts, content collection, communication,online proofing and payments so check it out it’s very helpful for freelancers.

  • http://www.invoicera.com veronikatondon

    I would like to suggest one more name that you can add to the list i.e http://www.invoicera.com. It is an online invoicing tool with lot many feature like project management, time tracking, financial management, client management, etc. It is really an easy to use tool because of its user friendly interface.

  • http://www.dart-creations.com/ David Attard

    A good idea for Freelancers is to determine the billable hourly rate…and for that we strongly recommend: https://hourlyrate.beewits.com

  • Chris Froelich

    I actually think Zipbooks (https://zipbooks.com/) is a great option for online invoicing. It is new and completely free to use. Here are some awesome features:

    1. Unlimited clients- You can manage all your clients in one place with no cost. By adding the email of each client, you can email them a new invoice whenever you need to.

    2. Unlimited recurring invoice profiles- you can set up a recurring invoice logic for any and all of your clients, no limits. There is no cost for this feature.

    3. You can have an unlimited number of team members on your team. Each team member can have a different staff rate which can be very handy.

    4. Invoice customization – you can change the logo image and the company name.

    It has all the great features, but it is completely free to use.