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A customer relationship management system (or CRM) is often seen as a tool that only enterprises use. However, CRMs can be very useful for freelancers as well.
If you’re having trouble keeping track of all your customer interactions, accounting, and spend more time handling clients than actually working, you need a CRM.
This article features a list of the best CRM for freelancers plus more information to help you understand why and how to use a new CRM tool to maximize your freelance business efforts.
When you’re deciding on a freelance CRM, you have to take all of the factors above into account. Then, you need to factor in the price. Some CRMs are just too expensive for a freelancer and are more suited for corporations.
We’ve narrowed down the choices to 17, making the task of finding the right CRM for freelancers easier with this list:
Hectic is an awesome CRM solution for freelancers who treat client relationships like gold, want to grow their business, and most importantly, want to get paid for their services. Hectic allows you to take full control of your client relationships by keeping you super organized starting from project deadlines and deliverables to proposals and invoices.
It also keeps you in the loop by sending you real-time updates and collaboration between you and your clients and helps you monitor and measure your clients’ health. This is easily achievable because Hectic helps you calculate lifetime earnings, check past notes, reference your contracts, time tracked, and more. Learn more in our Hectic App review.
The free plan (suitable for new freelancers and those with a client) starts at $0/month with its unlimited plans starting at $11.99/month for freelancers with multiple clients and projects.
Click here to get started with Hectic.
Clientjoy is a fantastic ‘CRM first’ solution for managing the complete client life-cycle. It allows for quick streamlining of your proposals and leads without the many complicated tools and terms on other applications.
Ideal for small business owners, Clientjoy’s diverse feature set (including robust integrations with Global Payment Gateways for payment collections) helps reduce the time it takes for a lead to sign a proposal, to receive an invoice and ultimately, make payments.
The basic plan (suitable for freelancers) starts at $9/month with unlimited clients and all features included. Learn more in our full Clientjoy review.
Hello Bonsai has everything a freelancer CRM should have. It lets you handle all client interactions from outbound marketing to invoicing.
With Bonsai, you get an email template creator, an email marketing tool, a contract tool, a time management tool, and reports wrapped up in a sleek package. It also lets you handle payments in more than 180 currencies and file tax returns.
The price is only $19 a month, which is a bargain for the features Hello Bonsai offers. Read an in-depth review or get a free trial to learn more.
HoneyBook is a great time-management CRM that has some limited email automation features. You can send proposals with sleek-looking templates and automate what happens next.
If a client doesn’t respond, you send a follow-up. If they do, HoneyBook sends a contract and creates a task for you or your partners.
This CRM really shines when it comes to project management and invoices.
It has a mobile app that lets you manage tasks on the go, so it’s a great choice for freelancers who work in teams. If you don’t have to manage anybody but yourself, it may be overkill.
The pricing is lenient at $34 a month with 60 days money-back guarantee.
Bloom.io is a powerful business management and growth toolset that gives freelancers access to basically all of the features they need to run a business.
Gmail isn’t designed for client business relationships. Running a freelancing business requires rigorous organization of how you manage each client. Relationships require follow-up, attention to detail, and a personal touch.
With Bloom, you can track all of your client communication, associated projects, and client information.
Automate birthday emails and follow-up campaigns that ensure your clients remember who you are and where to find you if they need your services again.
We like the design of their dashboard and all of the options and even integrations that it provides.
Learn more in our full Bloom.io review.
Sendinblue is a great CRM, and it can do way more than that. It is the perfect all-in-one marketing tool with email, SMS, landing page, marketing automation, and ad capabilities.
If you send less than 300 emails a day, you can stay on the free plan. If you send more than that, it will vary between $25 and $66/month depending on the functionalities you will need.
Plutio is a sleek, powerful, CRM for freelancers—built by fellow freelancers who understand what it takes to thrive in your own solo business.
Their very simple pricing starts at just $15/mo where you get access to everything you’ll need to manage all the details of your freelance business.
They’ve also got a fantastic Facebook community of freelancers where they solicit feedback on the CRM software and add new features as freelancers request them.
8. Fiverr Business
Fiverr Business is the project management tool you’ve been looking for.
If you work with Fiverr freelancers a lot, this platform allows you to have a collaborative space to brainstorm, set tasks, and monitor goals of your projects with your freelance contractors. Additionally, it allows you to easily create a team from the pool of Fiverr professionals, helping you grow your business.
Try Fiverr Business for free for the first year.
9. GSuite by Google
Gsuite by Google is a very simple way to integrate your contact management into your pre-existing workflow—particularly if you use Gmail for your freelance business.
The reason GSuite makes such a good CRM for freelancers is your email interactions are automatically tracked for each contact and new contacts can be added with just one click after you’ve had an email exchange with them. It’s one of the most simple options you’ll find and may be a great place to start.
If you find yourself needing more features down the road, you can always export your Google Contacts and import them into a different CRM for freelancers of your choosing.
Keep track of all your clients and prospects by using a CRM like Betterlance. Get access to analytics and reminders so you never keep track of your relationships.
And if you need help finding prospects, Betterlance can send you 5 leads guaranteed for $19/month. If you don’t need leads, the CRM is free to use!
Close is packed with features that would be useful for all types of freelancers. For the minimum price of $29 a month, you get a full-fledged email automation system, calling and SMS marketing features, pipeline management options, analytics, and loads of on-platform automation options.
On a basic plan, you can create up to 5 email templates and use them to contact new leads and follow up. You can personalize the templates and mass-email the lead database that is capped at 2,500 contacts on this plan.
Calling is also available on the cheapest plan, even though you’ll have to upgrade to the most expensive plan at $145 a month to be able to record calls.
On the downside, most of the automation Close offers is centered around calls. If you’re not calling your clients en masse, this would be a downer.
NetHunt is essentially email automation software with the basic CRM features built-in. Export contacts and segment them into mailing lists. Mass-send personalized emails to your leads and NetHunt will automatically update their status based on their response.
NetHunt’s most handy feature is that it’s integrated with G Suite. You’re probably using Gmail for email marketing already, so you won’t have to learn to navigate a completely new interface.
On the downside, you won’t get the custom template builder that other CRMs offer. The price for the basic plan is only $24 a month, so it may be worth it for you.
The most expensive plan costs $48 a month and grants you more workflow automation options. It’s mostly useful for teams, not individual freelancers, though.
17hats offers amazing CRM features but comes at the price of mediocre email automation. If you already have an email automation solution and need your freelance business to handle multiple leads, choose 17hats.
It offers more templates than any other CRM for freelancers out there. For the monthly price of $45, you’ll get access to a template builder that lets you create branded emails, invoices, quotes, and contracts.
You also get advanced CRM features that allow you to store all the information on the contact and related documents in one place.
On top of that, 17hats offers workflow and time-management management features and bookkeeping.
It’s a great solution for teams and freelancers who want to upgrade their game, but at $45 a month, this can be an overkill for individuals.
Dubsado is a great all-around CRM for freelancers. It allows you to do basic customer relationship management and handle automated email campaigns.
As if these two features combined in a cheap plan are not enough Dubsado gives you the ability to set up complicated workflows like this one.
The CRM will do everything for you from sending personalized email templates at certain times to dynamic grouping upon user actions.
On top of that, you get access to accounting and analytics. Set your financial goals and see how you perform on regular reports.
All of that costs $35 per month or $350 per year, which is a great price. You can test Dubsado with an unlimited free trial. However, you’ll only be able to add 3 contacts unless you upgrade to the paid plan.
If you purchase the standard Insightly plan that costs $29 a month, you’ll get a decent CRM for freelancers that allows you to track leads and contact information. You get access to the basic emailing features and advanced lead information that allows tracking opportunities.
It also allows you to understand relationships between leads from the same company by linking them together in a custom chart.
Insightly really starts to shine when you upgrade to the $49 per month plan. When you buy that, you will be able to set up advanced workflow automation like this.
Both plans allow you to integrate with G Suite and create business intelligence charts. The company also has an amazing marketing automation plant that comes at $299 per month, so you know you have room to grow.
Zoho is on the higher end of freelancer CRMs. It is between $12 and $45 per user per month. You don’t pay that much for nothing, this plan comes loaded with features.
Apart from the basic CRM features, Zoho offers automation features that will save you hours of time. It’s not just that, the CRM will calculate the best time to contact each prospect and even mark incoming emails as positive or negative based on the text analysis.
Zoho is heavy on analytics. There are dozens of dashboards with tons of reports that let you see how well your strategy performs.
However, many features this CRM offers are tied to website analysis, so you’ll be missing out if you don’t have one yet.
This is one of the cheapest feature-packed of all the CRM for freelancers. The basic plan is only $12 a month, and most freelancers will be able to afford the premium $24 a month plan.
For that price, you will get access to all the basic CRM features plus multiple pipeline management, email and workflow automation, and performance analytics. Both plans have calling and SMS marketing features, although it’s a bit limited on the cheaper plan.
All of these are fully customizable, so you can build a more convenient dashboard for you if the one SalesMate offers is not good enough.
You probably won’t change the email automation dashboard because it’s optimal for a freelancer. You can see all the campaigns you have going on and track performance at the same time.
Set up automated sequences of emails or notifications for personalized emails for select clients.
On the downside, you can’t email more than 500 people a day. It can be a bummer if you’re a real estate agent or a freelancer who measures the number of leads in the thousands.
What does CRM stand for?
CRM means customer relationship management. It’s software that helps you manage every step of the customer journey. It’s a tool that helps you keep track of every lead and every task. It helps you automate the boring part of your freelance business and focus on the important tasks.
The exact set of features you can get depends on the CRM you’re using, but most will allow you to add leads either manually or via forms. You’ll be able to add information about them, sort them into categories, and schedule calls and meetings.
Many CRMs either have their own email marketing software or allow easy integrations with services like MailChimp or Zapier. You’ll be able to mass-email your leads or set up automated email campaigns that trigger on a specific request.
The software that stands on the higher end will also provide you with some advanced analytics features.
How to utilize a CRM for freelancers
So how do you make use of all this if you’re a freelancer? Most people who freelance encounter either of these two problems. If you’ve found a couple of great long-term clients, in a year or two, you find that you’ve reached your limits.
You understand that you can’t earn more money simply because a day doesn’t have more than 24 hours. Most likely, your productive day is around 6 hours. Even if you are able to work for 10 hours straight, there are limits to what you can do during that time.
You’re fully booked, and you would have to get a vacation to find new ambitious projects.
The other problem is completely the opposite. Most freelancers spend anywhere from 30% to 50% of their time looking for work or doing client relationship management. That would leave you in poor shape to do the actual work you’re getting paid for.
When you’re a freelancer, you’re not just a designer or IT specialist for hire. You are your own marketing manager, sales manager, customer success manager, and accountant.
All of these tasks steal half of your day. You could be using that time for making a profit or having a good time with family.
Get a CRM, spend a couple of days learning how to use it and automate it, and you can easily shave half of your daily workload. Here’s what a freelancer like you can do with a CRM.
First off, a CRM lets you have all the leads of your freelance business in one place. If you’re really doing client acquisition, you must have a ton of entry-level leads that stay on the first stage of the sales funnel.
Half a dozen business cards you got from the latest business conference, a couple of CEOs that you’ve talked to on LinkedIn, a referral you have to follow-up on, all the people who visited your webinar.
It can be a handful. Since you’re already short on time, these leads tend to end up being wasted opportunities.
Even a very basic CRM for freelancers will help you get a grip on this. You can add leads from your website if you have one or import from a CSV. Then, add information about each lead, sort them into categories with custom tags, and schedule calls and emails.
If you’re working together with other freelancers or companies, you have even more people to deal with. You constantly have to break your focus to remind a junior freelancer about the deadline or answer to an invoice you receive.
With CRM, you can throw these tasks from your operative memory and keep working.
How can you do that? Automate every aspect of email correspondence that you can. Not all CRMs have that feature from the start, but most basic plans have it. Also, you can integrate email automation software like MailChimp in some CRMs.
You don’t have to spend your time writing every individual letter to the customers and struggle to remember your previous conversation. With a decent CRM, all the conversations are kept in one place and you can schedule email templates.
It’s even better if the CRM has a free VPN to increase the number of automated emails you can send per day.
This is especially important if your freelance business relies on outbound marketing. Contacting hundreds of people a month manually is a tough job.
The average email open rate hovers around 15% and may increase as you follow up. But writing into the void is so daunting that even the salespeople avoid it.
You can avoid having to do it manually with a well-managed email automation campaign.
Write a series of emails, use personalization automation to mention the name of the lead and their company instead of placeholders, set the follow-up time, and leave it on autopilot.
You’ll save yourself dozens of hours and will be able to talk to the leads that react instead of following up on the ones that don’t.
Want even more engagement? Set up emails that are sent using a safe and free VPN on the leads’ birthday to improve client relationships and track the performance of your email campaigns.
Do you have a website or a blog that has a decent amount of traffic? A premium CRM for freelancers can help you see who is just browsing and who is ready for purchase.
The lead scoring system assigns scores to website visitors based on the actions they perform. Reading five blog posts in a row may get you 10 points, grabbing a freebie will be another 10, and viewing the price page would cost 15.
When a lead has a certain number of points, you either get a notification or the CRM automatically adds them to the list of hot leads and sends them a scripted email.
You can do accounting in a special app, but if a CRM offers accounting features, you should go for it. It doesn’t only allow you to assess your finances and file a tax return, it lets you see what services and what clients get you the most money.
That could potentially change the way you do business.
Apart from email automation, this is the most important thing CRM for freelancers allows you to do. Since you have all leads, conversations, and financial transactions in one place, you can analyze them and see how well do you perform.
Depending on a CRM, you can get very basic reports or receive advanced analytics that finds correlations between factors you’ve never thought about.
You’ll find the list of best CRMs for freelancers below, complete with features and pricing.
Every freelancer is different, so is the CRM that is best for you. Now you know the features a CRM can have and know your possibilities. Browse the list of our top choices for a CRM for freelancers and choose the one that fits your needs and budget perfectly.
Remember, the best time to start looking for a CRM is before you actually need one. When you have so many leads to contact, you won’t have a free minute to find a CRM.
Most apps on this list have a free trial that ranges from 14 to 60 days, and they won’t charge you if you bail on them.
Try a couple of CRMs now so that when the time comes you’ll make an informed decision.
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