Best CRM for freelancers

We’ve scoured the CRM landscape to find the best CRM suppliers for freelancers in 2020, and below will explain everything you need to know to pick the one that’s right for you.

Each system is cloud-based (so you can access them from any device, anywhere), and offer a free trial (letting you try before you buy).

But of course, the best way to find out which CRM system is your ideal fit is to talk to suppliers. Simply answer some questions to give us a better idea of what you’re looking for, and we’ll match you with up to four of the suppliers who are the best fit for you.

Which are the best CRM providers for freelancers?

Here’s how the seven best CRM systems compare in one digestible chunk.

Note: The price points of each CRM system will depend on the plan you opt with. This table shows the minimum and a maximum spend for each system, but for a more detailed price structure, see the individual break down in the below article.

If you already have in mind the CRM providers that most interest you, just click on their name below to jump straight to their section.

CRM system name Best for Not so great Price range Conversion
Insightly Ease of use Customisability $0 – $99/ user per month £0 – £76.45
Salesforce In-depth reporting Ease of use £20 – £240/ user per month n/a
Zoho Low budget Client support $0 – $99/ user per month £0 – £76.45
SugarCRM Customisability Platform integration $40 – $150/ user per month
£30.89 – £115.83
Pipedrive Sales focus Intuitive features £12 – £63/ user per month n/a
HubSpot Simple set-up Feature variety £0 – £41/ user per month n/a
Apptivo Freelance business growth Simple set-up $0 – $20/ user per month £15.44

What is CRM?

You may already know that CRM stands for client relationship management. But what does that mean exactly? CRM is simply the strategy freelancers use to keep their clients happy and coming back.

In the days before the internet, freelancers could do it all themselves. clients would pop into your shop, so it was easy to get to know their preferences, make the best recommendations, and take the time to answer their every query.

But that’s not what most freelancers look like today. Still, developing great client relationships is more important than ever.

Did you know it’s far less expensive to keep existing clients happy than to chase new ones? And that long-term clients are altogether more valuable?

How can CRM help me?

Nowadays, freelance businesses of all sizes are using CRM software to give their clients that same friendly, one-to-one client service, with just their computers and phones. And you don’t need to be a marketing guru or have bags of time and money to use one.


CRM providers give you a 360-degree view of all your clients’ data across one simple interface. This is the basic format, but most of our top picks below have a friendlier feel.

You may already use analytics tools like Google Analytics, marketing automation systems like Hootsuite and perhaps you are already an active merger thanks to MailChimp. But the best CRM software does the legwork for all your analytics, marketing and sales needs for you, and can integrate nicely with your existing platforms.

How does CRM work?

Essentially, CRM systems work by collecting client data, analysing it to understand their individual needs, and adjusting and automating marketing campaigns to help boost sales.

What data does it need? The most useful data might be your clients’ personal information (so you can personalise your emails to specific groups), or insights pulled from interactions they have had via your website, email and social media (which will help you work out who your biggest fans are, and who might be in need of a bit of attention).

Research has shown that freelance businesses who create personalised experiences for their clients see their revenues increase by 6% to 10%.

You can also save bags of time by automating many of your tasks. Try creating automated email responses for the most common queries, or start tailoring your communications to specific clients. You’re bound to see an uplift in sales.

Why is all this important?

Gone are the days when a person on the end of a phone counted as good client service. Today people are used to connecting with each other via a number of platforms – and they expect the same of the freelance businesses they use, no matter their size.

Everyone talks about the importance of data. But most people need a bit of help in making the most out of it. This can seem overwhelming for freelance businesses. But it doesn’t need to be.

Good CRM software takes the hassle out of keeping your clients happy and your sales healthy – and there are plans to suit all needs and budgets, even for when your business grows.

CRM systems use client data to help you plan the best marketing and sales activities. This means you should:

  1. Get more emails read by personalising their content
  2. Save time by automating tasks
  3. Get to know your clients better by understanding their data

In a nutshell, CRM makes freelancers happy by driving new and repeat sales.

And it makes clients happy by improving the service they receive and their overall experience of your business. All this is the secret to better sales and loyal clients.

5 top tips when choosing your CRM

Your CRM needs will be as unique as your freelance business, and there is no one-size-fits-all provider. But to help you decide which CRM tool is best for you, here are some key questions you’ll want to ask yourself:

  1. How easy is the software to use? You don’t have much time to spare. All our picks are easy to learn and use, and we’ve highlighted which ones keep it simple, and which ones have more bells and whistles.
  2. Is it a team player? You want to know the CRM system you choose will get on well with the software you are already using. We’ve selected the top options for integration, so the process will be as hassle-free as possible.
  3. How mobile is it? You are mobile, and you need your software to be too. Everything on this page is cloud-based (meaning everything can be stored online, and accessed wherever and whenever your staff need it), and comes with a mobile app (to make using CRM easier than ever).
  4. What’s my budget? Price is always a big factor when choosing the right CRM provider, especially for start-up freelance businesses. Below you’ll find the most cost-effective options for all price points to help you get the most out of your budget, and all come with a free trial.
  5. Will it scale with my business? However small your freelance business may be now, you’ll want to think about where your CRM system will take you as you grow. To help you avoid starting all over again after a growth spurt, we’ve tracked down the CRM plans which will scale best in the long term.

In the current climate, personalisation is key to any successful marketing campaign. Clients want to feel like an individual and require a one-on-one relationship with a brand in order to stay loyal.

But tailoring marketing is tricky in the digital age. It’s not on a face-to-face basis that we come to know our clients, which makes establishing their specific wants and needs a labour-heavy and time consuming task.

A global survey analysing the ‘top organisational barriers to personalisation’ found that 74% of businesses said that ‘too few personal dedicated to personalisation’ was their biggest obstacle when it came to offering a fully individualised brand experience to their clients.

This is where a CRM system comes in. Saving freelance businesses time, money and resource by individualising marketing based on a client’s previous engagement with the brand.

Insightly CRM – is it for me?


With over 1.5 million users worldwide, Insightly is one of the most popular CRM systems around. It’s known as a user-friendly option and is often a favourite for freelance businesses.

You can access it online, or even on your mobile via its app, and it will integrate well with other online applications like Gmail, MailChimp, and Evernote. Its dashboard provides real-time information and a range of reports, but there is also the option of customising your own.

Overall, Insightly is a solid entry point into the world of CRM.

Great for: Freelancers wanting to hit the ground running with CRM and grow quickly

Pros: Easy to use, integrates well with other software, good interface, affordable

Cons: Not fully customisable, limited client care on free version

What can Insightly do?

  • Building client relationships – Discover new connections, plan your sales process, track organisations and partnerships.
  • Connecting to apps – Monitor all tools and manage them from one database with email and software integration.
  • Accelerating sales – Automate lead capture and generation to streamline and improve processes. Close deals faster and more efficiently.
  • Delivering projects – Manage assignments and projects, set schedules and share goals and objectives across teams.
  • Being enterprise ready – Safeguard with encryption and backups to ensure that your vital information is protected.

What will Insightly cost me?

Insightly offer CRM plans to match different budgets. In the table below we have included information about each plan, with prices and some specific features.Search:

Free Plus Professional Enterprise
$0 $29/user per month $49/user per month $99/user per month
Introductory package, ideal for a one or two person company Segment, communicate and monitor outreach efforts Add workflow automation and team security Scale your CRM to fit your business needs

Salesforce CRM – is it for me?


Salesforce is one of the oldest players in CRM and is still considered one of the best options for freelance businesses.

As you would expect, the tools are slick, and integrate nicely with any platforms you are already using. It has a jaw-dropping range of features, giving you the most in-depth insights into your clients.

But even for those who are just finding their feet with CRM, there is also great client support, an intuitive interface and tutorials to help you make the most of their impressive tools.

And because Salesforce caters for businesses of all sizes, you can be sure it will scale as you grow.

Great for: Freelancers wanting a slick user experience, scalability and in-depth reporting

Pros: Top-notch reports, integrates with most other tools, very flexible, feature-rich

Cons: Can be tricky to get to grips with

What can Salesforce do?

  • Sales – Improve, centralise and automate your sales process to save time and money, and get key insights into your clients.
  • Service – Keep your clients happy and coming back with its intuitive and customisable solutions.
  • Marketing – Understand your client journeys better to create personalised marketing communications across all your different channels.
  • Apps Builder – Build your own apps with point-and-click tools. Its unified platform means everything scales and integrates well.

What will Salesforce cost me?

Lightning essentials Lightning professional Lightning enterprise Lightning unlimited
£20/user per month £60/user per month £120/user per month £240/user per month
Out-of-the-box CRM for up to five users Complete CRM for any size team Deeply customisable sales CRM for your business Unlimited CRM power and support

Salesforce CRM products

Salesforce’s CRM product range is expansive and varied to adapt to different client needs. With everything included – from specialty sales functions to marketing feature.

The best way to understand what you need is to analyse your teams and to decide what your goals are. If you know that you want to improve sales figures, then this should be included in your decision-making process; likewise, if you know that you want to improve client retention rates, then you should consider this closely as part of the process too.

Salesforce is able to offer a huge number of plans, with various services designed to match different requirements. Included in their plans are:

  • Cloud services – offers expertise, data and innovation.
  • Success plans – offers a range of services to suit different goals and objectives.
  • Advisory services – provides consultation services to help your freelance business grow.

These three plans can be perfect for many freelance businesses, however, there are more options available too – it is important to consider the choices carefully before making a final decision.

Read more: Salesforce CRM UK Review

Zoho CRM – is it for me?


Zoho is a great option for freelancers who want to be up and running in CRM quickly, and are looking for an option that’s simple and affordable.

Most users pick Zoho because it’s reasonably priced, easy to use and very customisable. Plus, 2018 brought Zoho CRM a makeover, so it is now more user-friendly and powerful than ever.

Rather than struggling with a series of how-to videos, Zoho users have access to a conversational AI assistant, so you can ask it (in everyday language) to find whatever information you need for you.

Zoho gives a lot of bang for a few bucks and is one of the best low-budget CRM providers out there.

Great for: Freelancers with tight budgets who are after an intuitive way of using data

Pros: Affordable, easy to use

Cons: Client support can be slow to respond, limited features

What can Zoho CRM do?

  • Channels – Merge multiple channels for quick and streamlined conversations with clients.
  • Performance – Make things easier for your staff, and improve sales figures with help from advanced platforms.
  • Platforms – Use software that can be customised to suit your needs and goals.
  • Scale – Zoho’s CRM solution can be scaled as you grow.

What will Zoho CRM cost me?

Zoho offers a range of CRM plans to match different budgets. These plans are designed with different features included, allowing most businesses – including freelance businesses – to find a plan to suit their requirements.

The table below includes a small side-by-side comparison of the plans that are available from Zoho.

Free Standard Professional Enterprise Ultimate
$0/user per month $12/user per month $29/user per month $49/user per month $99/user per month
Basic CRM, all you need to start your freelance business Standard CRM, including sales forecasting and KPIs Standard CRM, with integration and workflow Advanced CRM, with custom modules Full package, with customisable and tracking options

Some of Zoho’s top promises are listed below:

  • Channels – merge multiple channels, allowing for quick and streamlined conversations with clients.
  • Performance – drive your teams forward and improve sales figures with help from advanced platforms.
  • Platforms – use software that can be customised to suit your needs and goals.
  • Scale – perfect for freelance businesses, Zoho’s CRM can be scaled as your operations grows.

As well as traditional CRM, Zoho have also continued to introduce high-value technical functions into their company, with new features like Zia – an AI sales assistant – among their latest developments.

You can find out our verdict in our full Zoho CRM review.

SugarCRM – is it for me?


Freelance businesses love SugarCRM for its low cost. It has a simple user interface, and a range of services to suit many sectors. This makes it ideal for companies with fairly straightforward sales processes, and little need for more complex processes (features like customisation are possible, but come with a learning curve and limited support).

Growth is at the heart of SugarCRM, so it will be difficult for businesses not to grow with this tool. But because it’s open source, you don’t have the support services offered by some of the larger providers.

Great for: Freelance businesses who are looking to grow, are budget-conscious and want to keep things simple

Pros: Very cost-effective, full control and customisation of features

Cons: Takes a bit of time to master, can be tricky to integrate with other systems

What can SugarCRM do?

  • Enterprise – Adaptable software and systems that can be scaled to suit your freelance business.
  • Sales – Schedule your system, and approach every sale with expertise.
  • Customer service – Handle all client relationships, complaints and workflow efficiently.
  • Marketing – Market effectively by integrating systems into one central dashboard.
  • Mobile – Mobile CRM from SugarCRM lets you get to work, wherever you are.

What will SugarCRM cost me?

The table below includes some information about SugarCRM’s various plans.

Sugar Professional Sugar Enterprise Sugar Ultimate
$40/user per month $65/user per month $150/user per month
Basic CRM, ideal for growing your freelance business (15GB storage) More CRM capabilities, best value for larger businesses (60GB storage) Most complete CRM, plus highest level of support (250GB storage)

The five main areas covered by SugarCRM’s products are:

  • Enterprise – providing adaptable software and systems that can be scaled to ensure the success of freelance businesses.
  • Sales – get the most out of each client, and provide them what they need too. Schedule with your system and approach every sale with expertise and resource.
  • Customer service – handle all client relationships with expertise and efficiency. Handle complaints and sales quickly and easily, by optimising workflow with a quality system.
  • Marketing – market effectively by integrating systems into one central dashboard. Launch campaigns with confidence.
  • Mobile – mobile CRM from SugarCRM lets you monitor and track, wherever you are. Stay connected and ensure quality, from top to bottom.

Pipedrive – is it for me?


Pipedrive is a leader in managing sales opportunities and is designed around activity-based selling. It is a great starter CRM, and its customisable and easy-to-use interface will appeal to freelance businesses looking to grow.

Don’t be fooled by its modest price tag – this is a powerful sales tool, and takes the pain out of managing sales and related activities. There are also a number of out-of-the-box integrations available, making it as easy as possible to adapt the software to your sales and marketing strategies.

Great for: Sales pros and sales-focused freelance businesses

Pros: Slick sales management, great integration with other software, high-level reporting

Cons: Not so intuitive, limited non-sales features

What can Pipedrive do?

  • Pipeline management – Stay on top of all your deals with a clear visual interface.
  • Email integration – Start sending and receiving emails from their platform to keep everything in one place.
  • Activities and goals – Reminders, notifications and alerts help to stop things falling through the cracks.
  • Sales reporting – See where you’re losing sales, and spot ways of tweaking your approach.
  • Sales forecasting – Forecast revenue, and pick the deals that are most likely to close.
  • Mobile apps – Work from anywhere with Android and iPhone apps.

What will Pipedrive cost me?

The table below includes some information about Pipedrive’s various plans.

Silver Gold Platinum
£12/user per month £24/user per month £63/user per month
Everything you need to create a clear sales process and get your team organised Optimise your sales process to spend less time on admin and have more sales conversations Manage teams, track performance, and adjust course when needed

HubSpot – is it for me?


It isn’t easy to find a great all-in-one provider that is absolutely free, but HubSpot is one of the best here.

CRM Free is not a trial – it’s free forever, but there are add-on services for when your business grows: Marketing Hub (£0-£655 / month) and Sales Hub (£0-£333 / month).

HubSpot is ideal for freelance businesses with limited business development and marketing resources, whereas fast-growing companies might find they soon outgrow its capabilities.

HubSpot is known as a one-stop platform for organising, tracking and nurturing your clients and potential clients, and a great option for freelance businesses looking to target specific persona groups with their sales and marketing campaigns.

Great for: Businesses who are ticking along nicely, and want a CRM software that’s free and will stay free

Pros: Free forever, simple to set up, a doddle to use

Cons: Risk of outgrowing its capabilities, limited features

What can HubSpot do?

  • Marketing automation – Integrate all the data you have on your current and potential clients into a workflow which helps you take the best care of them.
  • Email marketing – Create templated and customised emails, with automatic shifting, scheduling and robust reporting.
  • Social media marketing – Get basic social media contact and tracking capabilities.
  • Lead management – Market more efficiently with communications tailored to your clients.
  • Reporting and metrics – Understand your clients better with customised reports.
  • Site keyword tool – Help your pages rank better on search engines, by comparing you with your competition, and suggesting ways to improve.

What will HubSpot cost me?

The table below includes some information about HubSpot’s various plans.

CRM Free Plus Enterprise
£0/user per month £27/user per month £41/user per month
Out-of-the-box CRM for up to five users Complete CRM for any size team Deeply customisable sales CRM for your business

Apptivo – is it for me?


Apptivo is a cloud-based system of applications, specifically aimed at freelance businesses. It is also one of the most affordable CRM options on the market.

Unlike some other CRM suppliers, with Apptivo you get access to its entire platform of 40 apps (covering key areas like CRM, Project Management, and Invoicing) included in the monthly price.

It uses a graphic-heavy dashboard, which makes data management less intimidating for the less tech-savvy user, and they specialise in a range of fields, from financials to human resources and supply chain management.

Great for: Freelance businesses not wanting to fork out too much on CRM just yet, but keen to grow

Pros: Very responsive support, plenty of features

Cons: Can take a bit of work to get it set up

What can Apptivo do?

  • Marketing – Create targeted lists of contacts, build email marketing campaigns, and track analytics.
  • Sales – Complete CRM capability with robust contact management, sales pipeline, automation, and reporting.
  • Help Desk – A powerful ticketing system with email integration, web portal, and time tracking.
  • Project Management – Manage project schedules via gantt charts, track time and milestones, and invoice for effort spent.
  • Field Service – Work order assignment and dispatching, mobile photo, time, and materials capture, and billing.
  • Quoting and Billing – Build professional quotes and email them to clients with integrated billing and recurring invoice capabilities.
  • Order Management – Turn quotes into orders, track inventory and shipments, and bill your clients for products purchased.
  • Procurement and Supply Chain – Manage vendors, track purchase orders and invoicing, and manage inventory.

What will Apptivo cost me?

The table below includes some information about Apptivo’s various plans.

Starter Premium Enterprise Ultimate
$0/user per month $8/user per month $20/user per month $2 Flexible
Out-of-the-box CRM for up to five users Complete CRM for any size team Deeply customisable sales CRM for your business Perfect for growing businesses with unique requests

Freelance business CRM software

Freelance business CRM software offers a range of features that can significantly improve both internal and external processes. Many of the benefits have been repeated across the suppliers listed above, but should not be forgotten.

  • Service – CRM services allow freelance businesses to manage client relationships. As freelance businesses often have fewer resources than larger competitors, being able to manage the whole process using a CRM system can be a huge benefit.
  • Sales – Improving sales is an almost ubiquitous goal, with every business having to hit targets in one way or another. Employing a CRM system can help your business to hit these targets every month.
  • Collaborate – With a quality CRM system, your team can stay focused, with tasks managed centrally and easily. Never fall behind again with task management, workflows and auto-assign features.

The main benefit of freelance business CRM software though, is probably the versatility on offer and the adaptability that it provides. Being able to manage systems effectively relies on strong processes – a good CRM helps your business to create, develop and maintain these processes.

Summary: Best CRM system for freelance business

In this article, we have compared the best CRM systems for freelance businesses. Here is a review of our top providers:

  • Insightly – best for ease of use
  • Salesforce – best for in-depth reporting
  • Zoho – best for low budget

Freelance business CRM features

Many of the most common freelance business CRM features have already been mentioned throughout this page, however it is important to remember them in order to fully appreciate the benefit that a customer relationship management system could have for your operations.

The list below includes some of the top features, with more information about each included further down the page.

  • CRM database
  • Cloud-based CRM
  • CRM sales software
  • CRM client management
  • Email-based CRM

CRM database

A CRM database allows businesses to track a range of things. Data can come in many forms, and a CRM system offers analytics that can help your freelance business to monitor and manage information effectively.

The sort of data that can be tracked varies by system, but some of the most common forms of information include:

  • Client information
  • Sales figures
  • Team information
  • Goals and targets
  • Business information

The type of data included in your CRM will depend on the plan you have opted for, and also on the information you need.

Cloud-based CRM

Cloud-based systems have become more popular in almost every sector and form of technology, CRM is no different, with cloud-based CRM systems quickly becoming the ordinary choice for freelance businesses.

Cloud-based simply means that a whole system can be stored and accessed online – this frees up space within your own organisation, and allows for ease-of-use, wherever or whenever you need to use your customer relationship management system. And best of all, it’s a more affordable option.

CRM sales software

Sales is one of the key targets for any commercial business. Without sales – whether that be services or products – a business simply cannot continue operating.

A good CRM system will help freelance businesses to improve sales processes, adding efficiency and value in a huge range of areas. The sales software involved in many CRM systems can help to improve workflows, schedule calls or appointments, manage sales once they have been completed and track revenue.

Most modern sales-teams use CRM software to manage their processes – as a freelance business, it can be an excellent way to make sure you stay ahead of your competition.

CRM client management

Client management comes in many forms, with sales, complaints and assistance among a number of services that need to be handled efficiently in order to please paying clients.

A CRM system can significantly improve a freelance business’ ability to manage client processes. Unlike large businesses, where there are often whole teams dedicated to client service, freelance businesses will often have to make do with fewer staff – a CRM system can help to streamline this process.

Understanding your clients’ needs and requirements can be difficult, with a CRM system though, you can help your staff to get better at it. Various features allow for automated services to improve client retention, by scheduling calls automatically, providing information or feedback without the need for human input, as well as in several other ways.

Email-based CRM

Email is one of the processes that benefits most from a quality CRM system. With customer relationship management software you can automate processes that have, in the past, hampered marketing or sales efforts.

Employing email-based CRM can help to speed up and improve a huge range of tasks. Send bulk emails, automate replies for common queries, send receipts or instructions. The possibilities for email CRM are varied and can be a huge benefit in freelance business.

Benefits of CRM

Freelance business CRM software delivers a host of benefits – not just to your clients, but also to your bottom line, and even helps your staff work better.

Here are the main areas where you’ll see results with CRM:

  • Better service for your clients – Of course, improving client relationships is at the heart of CRM – just as it will be key to driving sales. By managing your client interactions over a single, easy-to-use interface, no one will get left behind.
  • More sales – Who doesn’t want a sales boost? CRM can help your business plan for, hit, and even grow your sales targets each month.
  • More productive staff – With quality CRM software, your team can stay focused, and task management features will help your team work smarter.

But the main benefit of CRM for freelance businesses is the versatility it offers you. The right CRM system for you will make managing client relationships a walk in the park.

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