Freelancing isn’t for the faint of heart, but for those who can hack it, it offers a flexible quality of life and the ability to determine your own schedule. It can be difficult to start out as a freelancer, and growing your presence is a challenge as well. This is why most successful freelancers these days are turning to CRM software to help them manage their contacts, their outreach to prospects, and streamline time-consuming administrative tasks, so they can get more done with less. Freelancers are a business of one, but a robust CRM can help them work like a team of five.
There are many options out there—hundreds to be exact. So how do you navigate the dizzying array of options? We’ve boiled it down to our top 10 suggested CRMs to help you narrow your search and focus your evaluation on the best options available. Every freelancer has different needs, so check out our recommendations below to help you identify the best fit for yours.
Agile CRM provides the most extensive feature set among those analyzed here. It is in fact a complete, end-to-end business management solution as it provides full CRM and sales enablement features, along with a full marketing automation suite and service capabilities. It has an open API and integrates with many third-party applications, so anything you can’t do out of the box can be accomplished with a quick widget. Its sales and CRM features offer a complete 360-degree contact view, customizable opportunity tracks, gamification to increase sales, and even built-in telephony. It delivers marketing automation features such as landing pages, forms, lead scoring, drip campaigns, email marketing and social CRM. You also get a helpdesk module; however, many freelancers will not need this. You would expect this expansive feature set to inflate the price tag considerably, but somehow Agile CRM offers all this free for up to 10 users. You get additional contacts and added features with their “Starter” package for $8.99/user/month. It’s our favorite on the list, especially for freelancers.
Base has dubbed its product as “next-generation CRM software for leading sales teams.” They have positioned themselves in the marketplace as an all-in-one sales platform. Let’s take a quick look to see if that claim stands up… Base offers a “Starter” version of its platform—starting at $45 per user, per month—that provides sales tracking and contact management. With that starter version, you get a customized sales pipeline, basic reporting and full mobile access. This may well be all that some freelancers need, depending on the nature of their business. Their next two tiers up—which come in at $95/user/month and $145/user/month, respectively—offer expanded sales functionality such as task automation, funnel forecasting and predictive sales analytics. Base also offers a host of add-on modules that provide things like communication and invoicing capabilities. However, most freelancers will be looking at their starter package only, due to the elevated price point of the higher tiers, which is likely cost-prohibitive for most freelancers.
BatchBook was developed for small businesses and is a suitable option for freelancers. Their “Essential” package is their base, and it offers partial functionality for $19.95/user/month. You can jump up from there and get full functionality for $39.95/user/month. The Essential plan gives you contact tracking and management, with the ability to tag contacts for better organization and execution of sales outreach. It also lets you create custom fields so that you can personalize the system to speak the same language that you do in your day-to-day. You get a nice visual view of your sales pipeline, as well as task automation to help you stay on top of your hottest leads. The ability to access the platform from your mobile device makes it a good choice for the freelancer on the go.
Capsule CRM is available for free in a stripped-down form, proving up to 10MB of online storage, a 250-contact database and unlimited opportunities for two users. When you bump it up to their “Professional” plan, you get 2GB of online storage and 50,000 contacts for $12/user/month. That plan gives you essential CRM functionality, such as contact management, pipeline reporting, and email tracking. Plus, you also get the ability to integrate with a number of third-party applications—including Xero, FreshBooks and MailChimp—which will let you use the system for more than just contact management. The price alone is enough to entice freelancers with the goal of expanding their prospecting and better organizing their administrative efforts.
Big Contacts delivers solid CRM software with additional, light marketing features. Its introductory version is quite limited, however, so we will focus on its second-tier (“Bigger”) package which will run you $15/user/month and gives you storage of 10,000 contacts in your database. You can import contacts and contact data from spreadsheets, as well as capture leads at trade shows by scanning business cards, and online via web forms. Its contact dashboard provides holistic views of your contacts and gives you the ability to queue automated tasks and task reminders around contacts. It also gives you opportunity tracking, limited email blast capabilities and the ability to monitor social media from within the system. With a relatively low price point and a few features that go beyond typical CRM functionality, Big Contacts’ Bigger package is a sound investment for freelancers with a limited budget looking to leverage a CRM.
Nutshell claims to be the “CRM your sales team will actually use.” It’s very likely also a CRM that freelancers will actually use, to be sure. With Nutshell you get your basic CRM features, such as tracking of lead and contact interactions, automated task creation and reporting. Where Nutshell looks to differentiate itself from the competition is through its intuitive interface; they promise that while many CRMs require extensive onboarding and training, with Nutshell you will be up and running in less than 24 hours. Ultimately, you will trade in some functionality typically offered by other solutions for a system that is easier to use, which is a strong selling point, particularly for freelancers. Their starter package will cost you $19/user/month.
Daylite scores well for the breadth of its contact profiles, allowing you to see extensive details about each contact, such as communications exchanged, call notes, upcoming appointments, tasks and pending follow-ups. It also offers project management features and lets you manage some of your marketing efforts from the system, including email blasts and list segmentation. With Nutshell you also get mobile access, so the $29/user/month price tag is attractive for freelancers. There is only one downside to Daylite—it is only available on Mac. While many freelancers will be using Mac, if you’re not, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Zoho has been gaining traction in recent years due to the massive amount of contacts you get with its “Standard” package—100,000 to be exact—which runs $12/user/month. For that price, you get sales forecasting, lead scoring, emailing, reporting and an attractive dashboard to provide you with the insight you need at a glance. If you want, you can pay more and also have social CRM features, email integration and smart workflows. The workflows will certainly help you increase your efficiency if you’re willing to pay a little more. But the Standard plan should be enough for most freelancers.
Streak is unique among the CRMs reviewed here today because rather than being a stand-alone, cloud-based application, it is actually a Google Chrome extension. While this means you must be using Chrome to use the system, it may be a good option for those who are less tech savvy and are accustomed to working with Google’s G Suite. You can use Streak to track the emails you send from Gmail, and the system depends on Google Contacts for working with your leads and customers. You get basic CRM features like a view of your pipeline, but overall it is not heavy on traditional CRM features. The value here comes from the ability to work in G Suite for your CRM needs. Its free package might just be enough for beginning freelancers who need CRM software but can’t shell out the money for a solution just yet.
Rounding out our list is Nimble, which positions itself as a social sales and marketing CRM. Indeed, the solution’s biggest draw is its social media capabilities, such as the ability to import contacts from various social networks into the CRM. It also replaces your need for Hootsuite by letting you post to those networks from within the system. Add to that your essential CRM capabilities and some limited marketing automation, and Nimble looks like a good option for freelancers, particularly starting out at $9/user/month for its “Contact” package.