As freelance web developer, I like to avoid subscription fees for the tools whenever possible. However, there are several subscription-based tools I use that are worth the money. Here’s my top five:


I love tracking time with Harvest. The service offers multiple apps for quick access to timers whether I’m at my desk or on the go. When it’s time to bill, Harvest lets me generate itemized invoices with a couple clicks. In addition, these invoices sync with my online accounting software: QuickBooks Online.

Adobe Creative Cloud

I held off on purchasing Adobe Creative Cloud, preferring to use my older copy of Adobe Creative Suite. Once I switched, the frequent software updates and the access to their entire software lineup made my subscription well-worth the cost.

QuickBooks Online

Due to my accountant’s request, I’d been a QuickBooks desktop user since 2001. However, I certainly didn’t enjoy using it. Back in 2014, impressed with its modern interface, workflows, and features, I switched to QuickBooks Online. Now my accounting tasks are much smoother, quicker, and less arduous. I have my QuickBooks Online account connected to all my accounts and business accounting software. This virtually eliminates any manual data entry on my part. The time savings alone pays for the monthly subscription.


In the past I’ve developed and managed my own project management solutions. Ultimately, providing upkeep for my own systems has gotten in the way of my real work. Therefore, paying for Basecamp makes sense. It makes communicating with clients easy and often fun. Plus, it excels in being easy-to-use, a crucial component of any project management solution I employ with my sometimes technically challenged clients.

Freelancing tip: Basecamp 3 offers a $29/month “Basecamp For Us” subscription for “groups who aren’t doing client” work. They also offer a $79/month “Basecamp With Clients” option that includes a “Clientside” feature. Since I’m a one-man shop, I’ve found that the $29/month “Basecamp For Us” option works fine for me since when I’m interacting with my clients we’re generally “all on the same team”.


Mentioning Dropbox in this list is both a no-brainer. Dropbox is so integral to everyone’s setup that it probably goes without mentioning. I couldn’t imagine working without it.