Should you upgrade your project management platform?
If you’re a freelancer, you’ll know how hectic managing your day-to-day activities can be. One minute you’re having a call with a potential client — the next, you’re juggling two projects while writing up social media posts to promote your business. This constant back and forth between tasks can quickly lead to disorganized chaos, with client projects being neglected, marketing put on the back burner, and missed deadlines. That’s why most freelancers quickly realize the need for a project management platform to keep them on track. Most freelancers opt for a free version, but is it time to think about upgrading?
Although you may consider yourself a freelancer, you’ll need a business mindset to truly grow. If you’re outsourcing your accounting, admin, marketing, or work to other freelancers, you’ll need a collaborative space to organize files, delegate tasks, analyze business performance, and set goals.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the free and paid versions of some of the most popular project management platforms — Trello, Asana, Notion, and ClickUp — to find out which one is most worth upgrading.
Simplicity is key in Trello, and its ease of use and iconic cards have earned the platform a strong reputation among the freelance community. Its relatable sticky note formula involves assigning a Board to each task, and the seamless drag and drop functionality makes moving tasks from one status to another a breeze.
Trello is available in four versions: Free, Standard, Premium, and Enterprise. Many freelancers stick with the free version, which contains more than enough for basic project management, including unlimited cards, unlimited storage, up to ten boards per workspace, and even custom background and stickers.
Standard Trello is the next tier up from the free version and is an excellent value, at $5 per month. In addition to everything in Free, you get unlimited boards, advanced checklists, custom fields, unlimited storage (with an increase to 250MB/file), 1,000 workspace command runs per month, single-board guests, and saved searches. Standard is ideal if you have a team of around 10 to 20, as this is when you’ll start hitting limits with the free plan.
Ideal for freelancers who work in teams, this cloud-based project management solution allows people to collaborate and organize projects, so no task is left out. The virtual workspace can be adapted to suit the user’s preference, with list, timeline, and board views providing different perspectives. As well as being easy to use, Asana goes further with advanced features such as custom forms and fields, and rules-based automation.
Asana is available in three versions: Basic (free), Premium, and Business. There’s a lot to get excited about with the free version, with the ability to collaborate with up to 15 team members and unlimited tasks, projects, messages, and file storage (100MB per file).
Premium Asana allows you to track team projects with features and resources like Timeline, WorkFlow Builder, unlimited dashboards, reporting across unlimited projects, and more. Like Trello, the decision to upgrade mostly comes down to your team size and what features you need. Above 15 team members, and you should certainly consider upgrading. But if you’re a freelancer working solo and like simple drag-and-drop layouts, Trello might be more suitable.
Notion is an all-in-one workspace, and like Asana, is great for team collaboration and project management. The platform offers a wealth of flexible features that allow you to plan, track, and update projects from a single workspace. What’s more, Notion is great for uploading and managing various content such as videos, code, images, and bookmarks. Although the platform takes a while to set up, the software is user-friendly and continues to be a popular choice for freelancers.
Notion is available in four versions: Personal (free), Personal Pro, Team, and Enterprise. Its free version is incredibly generous, with no limits on the number of pages or blocks you can create, making it a great choice for budget-conscious freelancers. The Personal Pro plan adds unlimited file uploads and guests and a 30-day version history. The Team plan, as the name suggests, includes features that are great for collaboration and management.
Like many of its competitors, ClickUp is an all-in-one tool built for teams but can also be used for solo use. With a pleasing user interface and hundreds of customizable features, ClickUp has everything you need to plan, track and collaborate on any project across any industry.
ClickUp offers a Free Forever option targeted for personal use. And the quantity of features you get in the free version is undeniably impressive. We’re talking unlimited tasks, collaborative docs, whiteboards, real-time chat, kanban boards, native time tracking, and 24/7 support.
While the free plan provides more than enough for freelancers working on smaller projects, those looking to grow into an agency or need large storage requirements should consider the premium ClickUp plans. However, the true disadvantage of the free plan is that it only allows you to use up to 100 features. Yes, this means that even if you test a feature to see if you like it, that counts towards your 100 usage cap.
Freelancer or small business owner?
We’ve explored Trello, Asana, Notion, and ClickUp — some of the most popular freelance project management tools out there — and compared the free plans against some of their premium offerings. So, is it worth upgrading?
It mostly comes down to whether you’re a freelancer or a business owner looking to build a team. But those flying solo shouldn’t discount upgrading.
Clearly, the free versions of these platforms offer almost everything a freelancer needs for project management. However, after you’ve become comfortable with how they work, you might also discover their limitations. For example, ClickUp’s Free plan has a 100-use limit on its features, and Notion’s Personal plan includes an upload file size limit of 5MB.
Most of the first paid tiers of each management platform offer incredible value — most are around $5 per month — and add many new features while removing usage caps.
The plans beyond the entry-level premium options are better suited to larger teams, such as ClickUp’s Business plans and Tello’s Enterprise option.
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