Using time tracking software is a lot like exercising. You know it has many benefits. You know you should probably be doing it, but getting started can feel overwhelming. That’s why this list of time tracker apps for freelancers seeks to answer the more important questions: What features really matter when it comes to these software options, and what time tracking tool best suits your position—and budget?
10 Common Problems Freelance Time Trackers Can Solve
Whether you’re a virtual worker yourself or you manage them, time trackers can be logistical lifesavers. As more and more people learn the benefits of working remotely, it’s becoming less common to punch a physical time clock. However, the need to accurately track those hours (and get paid for them) is as real as ever.10 Common Problems Freelance Time Trackers Can Solve Click To Tweet
With that in mind, here are ten common problems that time trackers directly address:
- Not getting paid in a timely manner for offsite work.
Nothing is worse for a freelancer or remote employee than wondering if you are going to get paid for work completed. Time tracking software can help you quickly and easily create invoices, and it can help your employer streamline the process for paying them. This means you’re more likely to get paid—in full and on time.
- Losing good virtual employees due to human error.
When your payroll system is done manually, some level of human error is inevitable, and if you’re consistently not paying your remote employees on time, rest assured, you will lose good workers due to this disorganization. Work tracking software can help automate this invoicing and payment process, thereby minimizing the chance of an invoice going astray or not getting paid in the correct amount.
- Not having the data necessary to operate efficiently and fairly.
Say you run a cleaning service and have a crew of workers who travel to various locations. A time-tracking app would allow your employees to run the clock during travel to and from different locations. Data related to travel times can help you determine when is most efficient to travel (saving your employees gas and saving you billable hours), and it also allows your employees to be paid accurately for that travel time.
- Not knowing where your employees are during the workday.
For some remote workers, it doesn’t matter where they are—so long as they get the job done. However, for operations such as delivery businesses or moving companies, it’s often imperative for a manager to know where his or her crew is at all times. A time tracking app with GPS location capability lets you confirm your crew’s location, and it also offers insight, such as which employee is nearest to a potential job. In this way, a time tracking app can increase accountability and logistical efficiency.
- Mistrusting, fearing, and avoiding freelancers or consultants.
You’ve read all the articles. You’ve heard all the benefits. Remote workers are great, and they can add a lot to a professional team. However, you’re reluctant to use them because you will ultimately have to trust that these workers (whom you never meet face to face) are going to bill accurately and honestly. It’s a common—and valid—concern, and many time tracking software platforms address this. In addition to logging the exact time you start and stop work, some also provide periodic desktop screenshots. This allows managers and employers to gauge whether all hours billed for were spent doing work-related tasks. Some platforms also log keystroke and mouse activity, which alerts managers to any significant amount of inactivity.
- Exceeding your budget on a project.
Nothing makes your higher-ups more displeased than running over your allotted budget! By inputting limits within the system itself, time tracking software can ensure this doesn’t happen. When you’ve reached your stated budget or number of billable hours, some software options will no longer allow time to be tracked for that particular project.
- Determining which remote employees are high achievers.
When you exclusively work from home, one particular challenge is never meeting your boss face to face. This can make distinguishing yourself a challenge. With time tracking software, though, it will log and save your hours worked. This helps managers, executives, and team leaders see exactly who is being most productive and who has the self-discipline to operate efficiently (without a lot of oversight or external motivation). When higher-ups recognize these qualities in you, it puts you top of the list for additional projects, higher pay rates, and increased responsibility.
- Not accurately tracking (or invoicing) for hours worked.
In today’s remote landscape, it’s very likely any consultant or freelancer is going to have multiple clients, and those clients are likely billed at different rates. This can make the logistics of tracking your time a nightmare—especially when you work for several clients in the same day. These time tracking apps, however, make it seamless and easy to toggle between jobs, all while accurately tracking your time. Many also integrate (internally or externally) with an invoicing program, so you don’t have to manually enter anything, which saves you time and the possibility of data input mistakes.
- Dealing with an unmotivated remote team.
When you’re managing employees you don’t see every day, lack of motivation can be a persistent and insidious problem. Time tracking apps can help those workers feel as if they are actually “on the clock,” and this can eliminate some of those midday urges to zone out and watch YouTube clips. Many workers actually enjoy this because it helps them get more done in a shorter amount of time, leaving them with extra hours to dedicate to exercise, family, friends, or downtime. Increased efficiency and motivation is always a win-win, and the best apps for consultants and remote workers can help you get there!
- Not being able to provide clients with detailed work breakdowns.
If there’s ever a discrepancy or issue with a particular client or project, you want access to detailed reports and information about all work completed. Time tracking software can log this kind of information: hours worked (by project or specific dates), who completed the work, where it was completed, and so on. These kinds of reviewable project details could mean the difference between an easy dispute resolution and a messy—or costly—client battle.
Increase Productivity with Hubstaff
Free for 14 Days
Features You Want in Time Tracking Software
While every platform is going to offer slightly different capabilities and functionality, there are some features that make a given software option desirable.
|Ability to set individual pay or bill rates||This works well for contractors who charge different clients different amounts or employees who pay contractors or freelancers different rates.|
|Ability to integrate with invoicing capability (internally or with a third party)||This saves time for everyone, and it helps ensure employers get their contractors paid on time and in the right amount. Manually creating invoices can also lead to errors; automating the process minimizes that risk.|
|Ability to track time while working remotely (often via a mobile app)||A big perk of freelancing is often being able to work anywhere. The best apps for freelance designers, writers, and consultants can keep up with that mobile lifestyle!|
|GPS tracking||This ensure your team members are where they’re supposed to be, when they’re supposed to be there.|
|Activity accountability||These features include random desktop screenshots, URL and app usage breakdown during billing hours, and keyboard and mouse usage over time. These accountability features help freelancers prove what they’re doing, and they help managers ensure they’re not paying for hours where work wasn’t completed.|
|Ability to compile and view custom reports||Some time tracking apps will only show you hours logged in one lump sum for that day, week, or month. Opt for a platform that lets you filter and customize these reports by specific task and/or day.|
|Integration with global support||Because this is a work-related app, it’s all the more important to choose one with dedicated, knowledgeable, and helpful support. You should be able to get your questions answered—no matter where you are in the world.|
|Ability to manually enter time||Sometimes work is done outside the app, either because of timing or simply forgetting to run the clock. Choose an app that allows both automated and manual time entry.|
|Ability to switch seamlessly between clients or projects||It’s rare today for a consultant to sit down and work all day for one client. Instead, consultants and freelancers are usually bouncing between projects, answering calls and putting out unexpected fires. You want an app with the agility to keep up.|
|Budget or billable hour thresholds||Nobody likes going over budget (nobody!). Choose an app that allows you to set weekly or monthly limits (based on hours or cost) and offers alerts when you’re approaching those thresholds.|
|Scheduling tools||If you’re managing a team, select an app that allows you to set individual shifts (once or recurring)—and then see who adhered to the given schedule.|
|Team dashboard capabilities||This is another useful feature for team managers. At a glance, gauge activity levels and productivity for a given week. See when employees were last active or even who is currently online.|
What to Consider before Choosing an App
Before you dive into any particular platform, you should ask a few questions about that time tracking software:
- Does it integrate with the platforms I use (Android, iOS, PC, Mac, and so on)? Will it suit my desktop work, as well as my mobile needs?
- Is it the right price for my budget?
- Is the program scalable? That is, if I start with a free version, will the pay option address my potential needs as I continue to grow? (Consider factors here such as allowable number of users, projects, trackable hours, and so on.)
- Do the features match what I need and do? If I choose this higher-cost option, will I actually use all that functionality, or will I be paying for features I don’t require?
So…What’s the Best App for Tracking Work Hours?
Hopefully, by now, it’s clear this is not exactly a straightforward question! Theright app for you is going to depend on many factors: your job duties, budget, if you’re managing a team or going solo, where you work, and on and on.
Given all that, here are some industry leaders to check out. (They’re provided in alphabetical order.) By applying the information above and checking it against each option, you’ll have a great chance of finding the best freelance time tracker app…for you.
BQE Core is functional as a standalone time tracker or modular project management platform, but both elements have drawbacks. It doesn’t offer GPS locations, and project management quickly gets pricy.
Pros: For standalone time tracking, it’s an affordable option. It also offers great customization and reporting functionality.
Cons: When modules are added, it becomes quite expensive. There are no IP or GPS restrictions, so you have less knowledge about where your team is working.
$7.95 per user/month (paid every three years, or $9.95 per user/month annually, or $11.95 per user/month monthly) for time tracking and expense tracking, time off requests, time reporting, and more.
Approximately $20 per user per month/module for access to additional project management, workflow automation, and more.
Free trial is available.
Clarizen is a comprehensive project management tool and work management platform in one, and it is best suited to large organizations. Rather than focusing on the details of time tracking, this module is more integrated with project management, such as forecasting future staffing needs or delegating tasks based on availability.
Pros: Setup is quick and easy, and the platform includes a chat app.
Cons: This platform is not intended for or geared toward small businesses, and the price reflects that. It’s also not particularly responsive, fast, or modern. No GPS tracking capabilities, screen capture, or activity monitoring.
Enterprise: $45 per user/month (based on an up-front three-year payment)
Unlimited: $60 per user/month (based on an up-front three-year payment)
Free thirty-day trial is available.
While some companies manage to offer excellent time tracking capabilities or extensive project management, TimeSolv has both. The problem? It falls a bit short in both categories. It’s a good option, however, for anyone who needs both basic work management tools and time tracking.
Pros: TimeSolv combines basic project management and time tracking, so you get both features in one, and it’s more affordable than similar platforms.
Cons: The stopwatch feature is only available via a desktop widget, and it features closed API. The user interface is not intuitive or attractive.
$19.95 per user/month: up to nine users ($17.95 per user/month if paid annually)
Price adjusts with number of users, or timekeepers. For example, ten users equates to $14.95 per user/month ($13.45 per user/month when paid annually). Twenty-five users equates to $12.95 per user/month ($11.65 per user/month when paid annually).
Free trial is available.
VeriClock specializes in time tracking functionality, and the program is highly customizable. It is not a project management tool, so don’t look here for collaboration or project forecasting.
Pros: For all it offers, VeriClock is fairly priced. There are also many customizable settings.
Cons: User interface leaves much to be desired, and it only offers 1 GB of storage.
Base: $10/month account fee, plus $5 per active user/month
Optional add-on: $3 per user/month for phone call and SMS/text clocking
Thirty-day free trial available.
Best Free Time Tracking Options for Freelancers
Maybe you’re just starting out as a freelance web designer. Maybe money is tight this year. Maybe you simply don’t need a software option with all the bells and whistles.Whatever your reasons for wanting a free freelance time tracker option, here is an alphabetical list of some of the industry leaders.
AccountSight is designed with startups and growing businesses in mind. It includes basic project management, time tracking, invoicing, and resource management functionality.
Pros: Customer service is a point of pride with AccountSight, so questions are likely to be answered quickly.
Cons: Interface isn’t always entirely intuitive.
Free: one user, three clients, three projects
Basic: $10 per user/month, one to five users, unlimited clients and projects
Small Group: $9 per user/month, six to twenty users, unlimited clients and projects
Enterprise: $8 per user/month, more than twenty users, unlimited clients and projects
Free thirty-day trial is available.
Due.com is a free invoicing system that also features time tracking functionality. It’s great for freelancers, consultants, and remote workers.
Pros: Due.com allows you to work on multiple projects while it runs in the background. It supports multiple currencies, and it’s entirely free (so long as you don’t use their payment processing).
Cons: As of this writing, Due.com is not yet a registered independent sales organization (ISO). It’s also a relative newcomer, so reviews and comparative firsthand accounts from users are somewhat scarce. There is no associated mobile app.
Free, unless you utilize their payment processing. Processing fees start at 2.8 percent.
There is no monthly or annual fee.
iTunes: Due.com does not currently have an iOS app
Google Play: Due.com does not currently have an Android app
Hubstaff is not so much a comprehensive project management tool as a pure play time tracking platform. This makes it great for individual consultants and small teams. It allows you to monitor progress, track time, create and pay invoices, and integrate with over thirty third-party platforms.
Pros: Hubstaff features screen capture, keystroke monitoring, and GPS tracking, making it ideal for insight into when and how your team is working. The free version gives a single freelancer or consultant accurate, intuitive time tracking. This is one of the highest-rated platforms out there!
Cons: The stopwatch feature requires a second app on the desktop, and there are no IP restrictions.
Solo Lite: Free for one user with limited screenshot storage
Basic: $5/month for one user with lite functionality plus support, keyboard and mouse activity, and more. (Monthly rate adjusts based on number of users.)
Premium: $9/month for one user with basic functionality plus app and URL tracking, automatic payroll, weekly limits, invoicing, third-party integrations, and more. (Monthly rate adjusts based on number of users.) Paying annually results in two months free.
Free fourteen-day trial is available.
Mavenlink is an online project management tool that centralizes tasks and communication. Time tracking capabilities are available at the Professional, Premier, and Enterprise levels, but this was not designed to be a standalone time tracker.
Pros: Mavenlink is a stable, feature-rich project management tool with good permission levels.
Cons: This platform is not ideal for small businesses or individuals and can be very expensive. There are no mobile app options or bonus communication tools. Website can be unintuitive and hard to navigate.
Free: Unlimited number of teammates can manage an unlimited number of projects with only 500 MB of storage. (This option is pretty well hidden on the site, but a free version is available!)
Teams: $19/month for up to five users; $4 per user/month beyond five. (Prices are based on annual payments.)
Professional: $39 per user/month. This is a contract; no month-to-month option is available.
Premier: Mavenlink must be contacted for pricing.
Enterprise: Mavenlink must be contacted for pricing.
Free ten-day trial is available.
iTunes: Mavenlink does not currently have an iOS app
Google Play: Mavenlink does not currently have an Android app
Tick offers full project management functionality, along with its time tracking tool, and it’s great for one-off circumstances—where you need this ability for one big project.
Pros: Tick is one of the highest-rated platforms around. Fans praise its ease of use, intuitive functionality, and customer service. Tick integrates directly with Basecamp.
Cons: Reporting functionality and customization are somewhat limited.
Free: unlimited users, one project
$19/month: unlimited users, ten projects
$49/month: unlimited users, thirty projects
$79/month: unlimited users, sixty projects
$149/month: unlimited users, unlimited projects
Free thirty-day trial is available.
Some platforms are full project management suites; others are purely time tracking tools. Time Doctor straddles the line between both.
Pros: Time Doctor is particularly adept at employee monitoring and includes screen capture and keystroke logging. It integrates with invoice creation and payment.
Cons: The interface is quite outdated, and the stopwatch feature requires a desktop app or Chrome extension.
Free: desktop-only option without access to reporting or employee monitoring
$5/month: one user with access to reports and dashboards
$9.99 per user/month: access to the entire suite
Volume discounts are available.
Free trial is available.
TSheets offers both time tracking and scheduling capabilities, and everything within this platform is cloud based. It’s less of a comprehensive project management suite and more of a pure time entry and reporting tool.
Pros: It tracks time and GPS points (even when out of cell or Internet range) and boasts a user-friendly interface.
Cons: It does not offer screen capture or keystroke recording. The base fee can also quickly make this a pricy option.
Free: one user with unlimited projects. (This includes scheduling capabilities.)
$4 per user/month, plus $16 base fee/month: two to ninety-nine users with unlimited projects. (Add scheduling capabilities for $1 per user/month.)
$4 per user/month, plus $80 base fee/month: one hundred users or more with unlimited projects. (Add scheduling capabilities for $1 per user/month.)
Note: prices listed here are for annual payments, and they reflect a 20 percent discount over monthly payments.
Free trial is available.
Overview: todo.vu is not only a time tracker but a CRM and project management tool, to boot. Freelancers and small businesses are likely to be most excited by these client-tracking capabilities.
Pros: todo.vu’s reporting feature is robust and covers time management and a range of analytics. You get lots of functionality—even with the free version.
Cons: Billing features are only unlocked at the Business Time level. There is currently no mobile app.
Solo Free: one user, 100 MB of storage
Team Premium: $5 per user/month (capped at $55/month), 2 GB of storage per user, priority support
Business Time: $9 per user/month (capped at $99/month), 2 GB of storage per user, access to reports and billing
Free fourteen-day trial is available.
Actions completed during the trial can result in credits, which are applicable toward your subscription cost.
iTunes: todo.vu does not currently have an iOS app
Google Play: todo.vu does not currently have an Android app
Hailed as an alternative to Trello, Asana, and Basecamp, Trigger is both a project management platform and a time tracking tool. There is also (free!) CRM functionality.
Pros: Trigger does it all—from project management to time tracking. The platform also allows for templates and storage, meaning managers don’t need to build everything from the ground up with every new project. Integrates with Basecamp, FreshBooks, Drive, Slack, Zapier, and more.
Cons: Invoicing and billing capabilities can be a bit convoluted.
Free: up to three users, five active projects
Standard: $15 AU (about $11 US dollars) per user/month: unlimited users, unlimited active projects
Premium: $20 AU (about $15 US dollars) per user/month: unlimited users, unlimited active projects, access to additional functionality
Free thirty-day trial is available.
iTunes: As of this writing, Trigger is rebuilding its app for a late 2017/early 2018 relaunch on iOS.
Google Play: As of this writing, Trigger is rebuilding its app for a later 2017/early 2018 relaunch on Android.
Wrike is a full project management solution. It provides planning and team collaboration for on-the-go work, and it includes time tracking with an automated timer.
Pros: Wrike is quick to set up and supports an unlimited number of projects. Dashboards and reports are customizable. It specifically offers time tracking capabilities, as well as more robust project management services.
Cons: The interface is not always intuitive or user friendly, and it’s one of the more expensive options.
Free: five users with limited capabilities and simple shared task list
Professional: $9.80 per user/month: five, ten, or fifteen users with full project planning and collaboration functionality (includes a free trial of “Proofing and Approval”)
Business: $24.80 per user/month: five to two hundred users with even more robust work management options (includes a free trial of “Proofing and Approval”)
Marketers: $34.60 per user/month: five to unlimited users with marketing-specific solutions (includes “Proofing and Approval,” a value of $9.80 per user/month)
Enterprise: For pricing options, call 1-877-7797453, five to unlimited users with the most comprehensive and advanced solutions and security controls (includes a free trial of “Proofing and Approval”)
Free trials are available.
Zoho Projects is a project management tool that also offers a well-received time tracking tool (albeit without GPS tracking functionality). With its bug-tracking feature, it’s an ideal choice for teams of software developers or anyone working on web-based projects.
Pros: With Zoho Projects, you pay a set monthly fee—not by the user. It offers a feature-rich platform and lots of integrations. Setup is quick and easy, and the program is generally responsive. Users can also track time for multiple projects at the same time.
Cons: Access to full bug-tracking functionality is an extra fee per month, and the drag and drop capabilities are limited. No GPS or IP address tracking for clock-ins.
Free: unlimited team members but only supports one project and 10 MB of storage (includes “IssueTracker” with limited functionality)
Express: $25/month for twenty projects and 10 GB of storage. (IssueTracker is an additional $25.)
Premium: $50/month for fifty projects and 100 GB of storage. (IssueTracker is an additional $50.)
Enterprise: $100/month for unlimited projects and 100 GB of storage. (IssueTracker is an additional $80.)
Free fifteen-day trial is available.
The perfect time tracking app might well be the white whale of the remote landscape, but with a bit of research and due diligence, you are nearly certain to find one that works perfectly for all your work-related needs!
Did we miss any apps that you think should be included? Let us know below!