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It’s never been easier to hire freelancers to grow your business.
The number of independent workers is rising. And, new online platforms make it easy to find experienced freelance help.
Plus, rather than take on the overhead associated with additional full-time employees, using freelancers allows you to get the skills you need when you need it. When the project is complete, you and your freelancers part ways.
However, you probably know that working with freelancers isn’t necessarily as easy as we made it out to be.
Top Challenges For Managing Freelancers
It’s true: there is less overhead associated with independent workers than with employees. But managing freelancers can come with its own set of problems. Here are some of the most common ones.
Communication is vital for collaborating successfully. But remote work can pose communication challenges.
If you’re not using video conferencing, non-verbal cues are missed. You also need effective ways of sharing important information and internal documents.
Different types of media require different tools. If your project has a specification that needs Google Docs, a project plan that requires Microsoft Project, and images that require Adobe Photoshop, solving for easy communication may become trickier.
Managing time is crucial to make sure your project is a success, but remote work can be quite different from traditional work. Without accounting for these differences, you might have estimates that are meaningless.
For example, a decision that could be resolved with a quick 15 minute meeting in an office setting might not get resolved for a day or two when you’re dealing with a remote workforce (especially given the limitations of communication tools and differing time zones).
These delays can be quite a big deal, especially if one or more of your freelancers are waiting for a decision before they proceed with additional work.
You already know that projects have lots of moving parts that require tracking and management, and adding freelancers to the mix makes things more complicated.
You might not already have the appropriate tools to effectively manage this complexity. Even if you do, your software might not be equipped to handle the challenges raised by introducing a freelance workforce.
When you’re in an office, and there’s someone who isn’t pulling their weight, it becomes obvious even if that person isn’t behaving in a completely transparent manner.
Now, if this happens with a freelance pool, you may not be aware of this until it becomes a major problem and project blocker.
Luckily, with the rise in popularity of remote work, there are tools that you can use to streamline the management of your team and facilitate the progress of your projects.
Below we’ll take you through some of the best freelancing tools available today. We’ll also tell you how much each one costs and whether they are cost-effective versus other tools, especially if the company charges per-team instead of per-seat.
Team Collaboration Apps
Miscommunication is one of the biggest causes of wasted time, energy, and resources. That’s why we’re starting this list with tools designed to improve collaboration between you and your freelancers.
When you’re working in the same place as someone else, you can pull that person aside and show them your screen. When you’re not, you’ll have to get creative.
CloudApp allows you to capture anything on your screen, including screenshots, images to create GIFs, and screen, voice, and webcam recordings. You can easily annotate your content and add items to emphasize things of importance (or hide/blur sensitive content).
Sharing the content you’ve created is easy; you can upload your files to the CloudApp cloud, and send just the link needed to access these files to your colleagues. You can also use the provided cloud space for your files, such as code snippets, documents, and ZIP archives.
You’ll also get built-in analytics tools, so you can see who’s viewed your files and where they’re located.
Cloud App Pricing
CloudApp offers a free 14-day trial for all new users. Once that period is over, CloudApp has three different plan types, as well as a custom enterprise-level solution. All licenses are billed on a per-user basis, and you can pay monthly or annually. Annual subscribers get 10% off their subscriptions.
You’ve probably heard about Slack, since it’s become one of the most popular communication and collaboration tools for remote teams all over.
As a messaging app, Slack is infinitely flexible. You can have as many teams as you’d like, and you can easily control who joins which team(s). The ability to create channels means that you can collect conversations about different topics in an organized way.
You can also create ad hoc channels, which is useful if you need a way to communicate with someone, yet you don’t necessarily want them to join your permanent business channels.
Everything that gets sent is saved and easily searchable, and it’s built-in sharing tools mean that you can easily send files to your colleagues.
What makes Slack stand out amongst its peers is its broad support for integrations with third-party tools.
Slack claims that it “integrates with nearly every enterprise and productivity product available.”
If you’re using a few tools, Slack can manage them all, acting like a dashboard. For example, you can integrate with Trello so that every time a new card is created, Slack sends a message to the appropriate parties. You could also hook up an incoming inbox so that you’re notified whenever you receive new messages.
If you’d like to try Slack out before you commit, you can do so with the free plan. You’re limited in terms of the number of messages Slack stores for you, as well as the number of apps/services you can integrate with your account.
The paid subscriptions are charged per active user on a month-to-month or annual basis. You can choose from two different paid subscriptions, with the more expensive option offering extras such as single sign-on, guaranteed uptime, and other advanced security features.
- A simple text editor that makes it easy for everyone to contribute new knowledge
- Extends Slack functionality so that you can easily share information that’s already been documented without much effort
- A request feature so that you know what gaps there are in your knowledge base
New Tettra users get a free, 15-day trial. At the end of your trial, you can choose from four different paid subscription plans.
The primary determinant for which plan you choose is the number of users you have. Higher-end plans do come with extras such as concierge onboarding, custom data import, and phone support.
World Time Buddy
If you’re in San Francisco, your co-founder is in London, and your freelancer is in Bangkok, when is a good time for everybody to meet?
Instead of doing complicated time zone math, you can use World Time Buddy to easily set up a meeting time that works for everyone. You might end up with someone showing up at 7 AM local time and someone else showing up when it’s 10 PM where they are, but at least no one is showing up at 3 AM.
Bonus: this tool is free up to four locations.
Paying Your Freelancers
The following tools are designed to streamline the process of paying your freelancers.
You can also do things like track time and craft invoices for your clients, possibly eliminating the need for another tool you have to use and manage.
Strictly speaking, Due is a payment processor that targets those who are interested in receiving payments. However, you can also make payments with it.
In addition to working with a variety of payment methods, Due supports international payments and multiple currencies, which is useful if you work with people around the world.
Signing up for a Due account is free of charge, and you pay on a per-transaction basis. Fees vary, but they start at 2.8% per transaction.
For a simple, easy to use, inexpensive method to pay your freelancers, look no further than Dwolla. While Dwolla does offer a full API that you can use to connect your app to the banking system, they also have a simple transfer platform that you can get up and running in just minutes.
This platform allows you to send or request payments via email, as well as send mass payments with the CSV upload tool. You can think of Dwolla as a simple alternative to PayPal.
Dwolla operates on a pay-as-you-go basis. Your fees are equivalent to a percentage of the transaction total, but you’ll never pay more than $5 per ACH transfer.
Payoneer is a system that allows you to send payments to your payees worldwide. You can use it for one-time payments, or you can automate payments.
Record keeping is easy due to its reporting features, which include payment history, freelancer information, account history, and more. And at tax time, you can automatically generate the required tax forms.
You can make payments with credit cards, bank transfers, online wallets, and international checks, and you get free money transfers. Freelancers can withdraw funds that they receive directly into their bank accounts. You can also use Payoneer to make mass payouts.
Payoneer is registered and licensed to operate on a global basis so that you can pay freelancers around the world – the software supports payments in multiple currencies.
For your safety, Payoneer will handle any issues with payment going through — the company will work with the receiving bank and payee on your behalf. You’ll also get preemptive fraud protection and detection.
You can open up a Payoneer account free of charge. Afterward, you or your payee will incur a small fee, depending on the specifics of your transaction: the payment type, the type of receiving bank, and so on.
Customers that handle a high volume of transactions using Payoneer will receive a discount on fees.
These productivity tools are designed to make everyday tasks related to working with your freelancers easier.
15Five is a performance management suite that allows you to track and manage those who are working with you.
With 15Five, you can:
- Set up weekly check-ins
- Set up, share, and view your project objectives
- Track project progress
- Send brief messages to your team
- Plan one-on-one meetings
- Keep tabs on -and resolve issues – before they become showstoppers
15Five is priced per person per month, though you have to pay up-front for a year’s service. There are two pricing tiers available, though enterprise users can contact the 15Five sales team for a custom package.
If you’re working on software projects, Axure is a wire-framing and prototyping tool that allows you to create detailed and realistic mock-ups without coding.
You can also add conditional logic, dynamic content, animations, and more to make your prototype more realistic. As you build your mock-up, you can add notes that you can send to a Word document with your project’s specifications.
Axure offers three different pricing levels, and you pay per license on a monthly basis.
Cacoo is a cloud-based diagram maker. You can think of this as a cloud-based, collaboration-oriented version of Microsoft’s Visio.
If you need to work with your team to create diagrams, charts, or other visuals for your projects, Cacoo allows you to do so regardless of where each person is physically located. You can all edit and comment on others’ work.
When you’re ready to share, you can do so by:
- Social media
- Exporting your images to SVG, PDF
- Exporting images to your web pages and wikis.
Version control means that you can easily go back to an earlier iteration and that you’ll never lose your work.
You can get a single-user license, a multi-user plan, or an enterprise license that allows you to install Cacoo onto your private server. You can pay for your subscriptions monthly. If you pay upfront for an annual subscription, you’ll get two months of free service.
Microsoft Office might be one of the most well-known and popular productivity suites around, but Google’s G Suite productivity tools make much more sense for remote teams due to its robust sharing and collaboration features.
You’ll get email services, word processing, digital storage, calendar, spreadsheets, and more, all of which can be easily shared with and accessed by others.
It’s likely that you’re already familiar with the tools offered by Google — G Suite is simply a branded version with a few additional perks that professionals would find useful.
G Suite subscriptions come with access to Google Hangouts for chatting and video conferencing.
G Suite Pricing
If you’re a new user, you can get a free, 14-day trial. Afterward, G Suite is billed on a monthly basis based on the number of users you have, and you can choose from two different subscription plans.
InVision is a product design, workflow management, and collaboration tool. You can work with designs that you already have, or you can create new mock-ups using InVision.
Your designs can be for websites/web apps, mobile apps, wearables (such as the Apple Watch), Sketch, or Photoshop.
Once you have that done, you can share your work with your teammates, solicit feedback, and manage the process needed to bring your idea to life — all within the InVision interface.
InVision is priced based on the number of prototypes you’re managing. If you only have one prototype, you can use for InVision for free. If you need an unlimited number of prototypes or you’re working with more than five team members, contact Invision for a custom quote.
Toggl is a time tracking tool that’s designed for simplicity, speed, and ease of use.
Simply type in the task you’re doing and click Start to begin tracking the amount of time you spend on that task. You can easily label the tasks based on the project, so you can get time totals without doing any math yourself.
Toggl offers browser buttons and desktop apps, so you don’t have to stay on the Toggl website to track time. There are also Android and iPhone apps available.
Toggle offers a basic plan that will always be free. New users also get a free 30-day trial of the premium features available to those with paid subscriptions.
You can choose from three different subscription plans, and you can pay per user on a monthly or yearly basis. Annual billing cycles will receive discounts on their plan.
If you feel like you’re drowning in tools and apps and you want to streamline things, consider Zapier.
Zapier is an automation system that allows you to connect your apps and automate your workflows, reducing the amount of hands-on management that you have to do.
Here’s an example of a Zapier integration:
- You get an email
- The attachment with the email you received is copied to Dropbox
- You get an alert in Slack that there’s a new file for you in Dropbox
In this scenario, four tools (including Zapier) are involved, but when you’re ready to work on the task at hand, you just have to go to Dropbox to get started.
Zapier supports integrations with several different apps, tools, and software suites, so you’re likely to find support for whatever you’re using.
You can use Zapier for free for personal tasks. For work, you can get a 14-day trial that converts to a paid subscription. You’ll be able to create Zaps that support three or more steps, priority support, and full access to their supported apps.
If you need more, you can purchase the team plan, which gets you full Zap customization and all of Zapier’s premium features.
Project Management Tools
To help you keep track of all the moving bits and pieces required to execute a successful project, you might consider using one of the following project management tools.
Hubstaff is a multi-purpose project management suite that tracks time, monitors your employees’ activities, handles payroll, and integrates with other tools to provide you with increased flexibility.
With Hubstaff, you can:
- Track when and what your employees are working on using screenshots taken at periodic intervals
- Monitor your team’s activity levels and what applications they’re using
- See what URLs they’re navigating to while you are tracking their time spent working
- Manage the amount of time and money you’re spending on your projects
Hubstaff also lets you pay your team automatically, based on Hubstaff hours.
New Hubstaff users get a free, 14-day trial. If you’d like, you can continue to use a single-person license that gets you only time tracking, limited screenshot storage, and activity level monitoring.
With a paid subscription, there are two packages. Pricing is based on the number of freelancers you’re managing, as well as what features you’d like with your Hubstaff instance.
You can pay for your subscription either monthly or yearly, but if you opt to pay up-front for a year’s worth of service, you’ll receive a discount commensurate with two months of service.
Those who plan to use Hubstaff with over 200 users should contact the Hubstaff sales team for a customized enterprise quote.
I Done This
Silly name aside, I Done This is a task management system that makes it easy for people to provide quick daily status updates.
Upon logging in, you’ll see a list of your team members, as well as their lists of entries. Each entry comes with a visual marker indicating its status: done, goal, or blocker.
Done entries are those that have been completed. Goals are entries to be completed. Blockers are those that are hindering progress.
With I Done This, you can, at a glance, see the progress on tasks or why there’s a delay. Unfinished goals are automatically carried over to the next day.
I Done This Pricing
All plans come with a free 14-day trial. Afterward, you can choose from three different subscription plans.
I Done This is billed per user. You can pay on a monthly basis, or you can opt for an annual contract, which also gets you a discount on your subscription.
If you’re interested in using I Done This just for yourself, you can opt for the single-user hobby plan that is designed for personal use only.
MeisterTask is a visually stunning, intuitive project and task management tool that takes its cues from the Kanban productivity method. You can add as many team members as necessary and assign them tasks.
The dashboard allows you to keep tabs on what each person is doing, as well as the status of that task. Each task is logged on its own card, and the card allows you to track who it’s assigned to, attach relevant documents, and write comments relating to the task.
There are five columns on the dashboard: Open, In Progress, Review, Done, and Ideas. As each person makes progress on their card, they move it from one column to another.
Each of your users can filter and isolate their tasks so they can use their task cards to create daily schedules/to-do lists.
Meister Task also offers desktop and mobile apps in addition to their web-based interface, which means that your users have access to their lists no matter what device they’re using.
MeisterTask uses the freemium model, which means there will always be a free version available. However, if you want to integrate MeisterTask with any of your other task and productivity tools or take advantage of the workflow automation features, you’ll need to spring for a paid subscription.
These licenses are billed per user on a yearly basis.
Streamtime is a project management tool created with creative teams in mind.
With Streamtime, you can create:
- Timesheets: Provide your job plans that are used to populate to-do lists. Streamtime then tracks the amount of time your team spent on the items you have on your to-do lists.
- Schedules: Schedule your teams’ tasks based on order — if person A has to finish their tasks before person B can do theirs, you can see this with the visual schedules.
- Custom Quotes and Invoices: Use the information you’ve already provided about your project to generate invoices and requests for quotes. Integrate with QuickBooks for accounting purposes.
- Deep Data Dive: Get analytics on your projects to see what’s working, what’s not, and what could be improved.
You can get started with Streamtime with a free, two-week trial. Afterward, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid subscription, which is billed per user on a monthly or yearly basis (Streamtime offers discounts for those who pay up-front for an annual subscription).
There are two subscription levels from which you can choose. The more expensive option gets you detailed scheduling, team capacity/utilization management tools, ability to edit your team member’s to-do lists, and integrations with Xero and QuickBooks.
Todoist is a cross-platform, cross-device task and project management tool.
At heart, Todoist is a to-do list. But features allowing granular management of to-do items makes it supremely powerful.
Todoist features you can use to manage freelancers include:
- Set sub-tasks and sub-projects
- Set up recurring tasks
- Set up labels for organization (as well as reminders)
- Generate project plans with the provided templates
- Share your items with your teammates.
You can use Todoist for Free. If you’d like the collaboration and project management features – as well as extras like third-party integration/synchronization, automatic backups, and team billing – you’ll have to upgrade to a paid subscription. Subscriptions are based on the number of users and are paid on an annual basis.
Easily Manage Freelancers
Working with remote freelancers can be a great way to extend your business capacity, but they can be present some workflow and management challenges.
However, if you take advantage of the tools we listed above you’ll have a much smoother time working with your freelance team, making it easier and faster to achieve your business goals.
Here’s a detailed article if you need more guidance around how to decide which work to outsource, and where to find help.
Here are the most common questions we get asked about freelancer management tools. Have a question of your own? Leave it in the comments below and we’ll answer it!
What is the best freelance management platform?
The best tools for managing freelancers depends on your business need. There are applications for better communication, like Slack; improved productivity, like Zapier; and for processing payments – Payoneer.
Other software track time and schedule work hours. The best place to start is to figure out where you need help, and then check the tools that provide that service.
What is a good project management tool for freelancers?
With the increase in freelancer and remote teams, there are many project management tools on the market. Some help freelancers manage their own projects, while others work best for a team of contractors.
Hubstaff, I Done This, Todoist and Streamtime are some of the popular tools to help freelance teams keep track of projects.