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Best Accounting Software for Freelancers and Self-Employed of June 2024

Freelancers and the self-employed can typically subscribe to less expensive accounting software plans than other business owners.
By Hillary Crawford, Billie Anne Grigg
Last updated on April 5, 2024
Edited byChristine Aebischer
Fact checked and reviewed

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The best accounting software for freelancers and self-employed professionals is affordable, has strong invoicing features, can easily track expenses and may automatically track mileage. At a minimum, these products should help keep business and personal finances separate, while facilitating communication with clients to ensure you’re paid on time.
Some products are made specifically for freelancers, the self-employed and other microbusinesses, but more robust, multiplan small-business accounting software can work, too. Though higher-tier plans may be more suitable to small businesses with employees, the more basic plans are often adequate for freelancers and the self-employed.
Here are our picks for the top accounting software for freelancers and the self-employed.

Best Accounting Software for Freelancers and Self-Employed

Product
Promotion
Learn more

Xero

Learn more

on Xero's secure website

5.0/5

Best for Client management for freelancers

$15/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $42, $78.

30-day free trial

or monthly discount (terms vary).

Learn more

on Xero's secure website

Zoho Books

Learn more

on Zoho Books' secure website

4.5/5

Best for Mobile accounting app

$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $20, $50, $70, $150, $275.

14-day free trial

of the Premium plan.

Learn more

on Zoho Books' secure website

QuickBooks Online

Learn more

on QuickBooks Online's secure website

5.0/5

Best for Scalability

$30/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $60, $90, $200.

50% off

for first three months or free 30-day trial.

Learn more

on QuickBooks Online's secure website

Wave Accounting

3.5/5

Best for Free self-employed accounting software

$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $16

N/A

FreshBooks

Learn more

on FreshBooks' secure website

4.5/5

Best for Overall freelance accounting software

$19/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $33, $60, custom.

30-day free trial

or monthly discount (terms vary).

Learn more

on FreshBooks' secure website

Brightbook

Best for Unlimited invoicing

$0

N/A

TrulySmall Accounting

3.0/5

Best for Sole proprietorship accounting software

$20/month

14-day free trial

Our pick for

Client management for freelancers

Xero is a rising star in the accounting software space. With the exception of a couple of inventory-related features, it carries all the same primary accounting functions as QuickBooks Online but at a lower cost. If you’re a freelancer with multiple clients, Xero’s contact management tool can help you keep on top of communications; monitor the status of all your estimates, invoices and payments; and attach relevant documents to your contact listings.

Learn more

on Xero's secure website

Starting at
$15/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $42, $78.

Promotion
30-day free trial

or monthly discount (terms vary).

Our pick for

Mobile accounting app

Zoho Books packs its mobile app with useful features and even includes some unique ones like business card scanning to easily update your contacts, mileage tracking through your phone’s GPS and accounting-related Siri voice commands. It’s available for iOS, Android and Windows devices.

Zoho Books

Learn more

on Zoho Books' secure website

Starting at
$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $20, $50, $70, $150, $275.

Promotion
14-day free trial

of the Premium plan.

Our pick for

Scalability

Although QuickBooks is one of the highest priced accounting software solutions on our list, it’s also one of the most tried and true products. The company often offers a promotional discount for new users. And the upside to choosing QuickBooks Online as a freelancer or self-employed professional is that the software can grow with your business.

QuickBooks Online

Learn more

on QuickBooks Online's secure website

Starting at
$30/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $60, $90, $200.

Promotion
50% off

for first three months or free 30-day trial.

Our pick for

Free self-employed accounting software

For freelance and self-employed professionals in search of simple and free accounting software with strong invoicing features, Wave delivers. Both Wave Accounting and Wave Invoicing are offered at no cost, and if you want the option to easily accept online payment through your invoices, you can use Wave’s payment processing service (which involves a processing fee per transaction).

Wave Accounting

Starting at
$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $16

Promotion
N/A

Our pick for

Overall freelance accounting software

FreshBooks has reasonable pricing and its invoicing and client management tools are especially sharp. It also has one of the longer trial periods among others on this list, so take advantage of that if you’re interested in exploring all that FreshBooks has to offer freelancers and self-employed professionals.

FreshBooks

Learn more

on FreshBooks' secure website

Starting at
$19/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $33, $60, custom.

Promotion
30-day free trial

or monthly discount (terms vary).

Our pick for

Unlimited invoicing

Brightbook is another free accounting software product that’s particularly designed for businesses with one to five employees. The software interface appears more dated than many of the popular cloud accounting products on the market, but it includes all the invoicing, expense, payment and accounting features a very small business needs.

Brightbook

Starting at
$0
Promotion
N/A

Our pick for

Sole proprietorship accounting software

Single-owner freelance businesses that haven’t registered as an LLC, corporation or other formal entity are considered sole proprietorships. While many of the other accounting software products listed here are scalable, TrulySmall Accounting is made for sole proprietorships that plan to stay small and complete no more than 500 transactions per year.

TrulySmall Accounting

3.0
NerdWallet rating 
Starting at
$20/month
Promotion
14-day free trial

Our picks for the best self-employed accounting software

FreshBooks

Best for: Overall freelance accounting software
Why we like it: Freelancers often need to keep in touch with their clients from anywhere. FreshBooks, which was initially created as an invoicing solution, addresses this by letting you view invoices, respond to clients’ questions and send payment reminders all from its mobile app. You can also start a timer from within the mobile app to log hours spent on a particular project, or sync data from tools like Asana or Trello. It’s especially cost-effective for freelancers who can work within the confines of lower-tier plans’ billable client limits. Read our full FreshBooks review.

Wave Accounting

Best for: Free self-employed accounting software
Why we like it: Wave Accounting is a good solution for freelancers and self-employed professionals on a tight budget who need a simple way to invoice clients and separate business and personal expenses. You can create and send invoices through the app, as well as set up recurring invoices and track client communication and payment history. However, if you need mileage tracking, time tracking or a billable expense feature, it’s probably not the right choice. Read our complete Wave Accounting review.

Zoho Books

Best for: Mobile accounting app
Why we like it: Zoho Books is an affordable solution for freelancers and the self-employed, and an even better deal if you can work within its free plan’s limit of 1,000 invoices per year. Do note that the free plan doesn’t include timesheets or project expense tracking. Its mobile app features are what really set the software apart for freelancers and the self-employed, though. Take, for example, the ability to send invoices via iMessage or add widgets to your phone’s home screen so that you can easily access timers and overdue invoices. There’s also an Apple Watch app that lets you track time, send payment reminders and review outstanding invoices. Read our full Zoho Books review.

QuickBooks Online

Best for: Scalability
Why we like it: Freelancers and self-employed entrepreneurs who plan on potentially opening a storefront, hiring employees or expanding their business might consider QuickBooks Online because of its scalability and popularity among accountants. The software can be a good fit for a wide variety of small businesses and growth stages. Reporting capabilities scale up with each plan tier and the Plus plan includes additional useful features, like inventory and project tracking. QuickBooks Self-Employed is a pared-down version of QuickBooks Online and while it has convenient features, such as quarterly tax estimates, it doesn’t include basic capabilities, like double-entry accounting. Read our full QuickBooks Online review.

Xero

Best for: Client management
Why we like it: Managing relationships and communication with clients is a primary part of freelance work, and Xero’s affordable accounting software can help with that. Even the lowest-tier plan that Xero offers includes the software’s contact management tool, which helps you centralize all of your clients’ contact information, communications, invoices and other related documents. At a glance, you can view the total amount in invoices owed to you, the number of outstanding quotes still awaiting reply, and even bills you have due (the tool helps you manage suppliers as well). The feature is accessible through the Xero app on any device. Read our full Xero Accounting review.

Brightbook

Best for: Unlimited invoicing
Why we like it: Brightbook is free accounting software designed for freelancers, self-employed professionals and very small businesses. To that end, don’t expect a fancy interface, 24/7 customer support or some of the advanced features (like a mobile app) you’ll find with several of the more recognizable names. What you will get, however, is a decent list of features that includes invoicing, accounting, reporting and the ability to accept online payments. Invoicing is typically one of the most-needed features of accounting software for freelancers and the self-employed. With Brightbook, you’ll get to send an unlimited number of invoices. You can customize them with your business logo, convert a quote to an invoice, link your PayPal account to collect payment, invoice in multiple currencies and more.

TrulySmall Accounting

Best for: Sole proprietorship accounting software
Why we like it: Some freelance businesses end up establishing an LLC and hiring employees, while others remain small-scale operations or side gigs. TrulySmall Accounting is meant for the latter. It’s a simple, inexpensive solution for sole proprietorships that need to send invoices, keep track of income and expenses and automate part of the bookkeeping process. It supports unlimited invoicing, can send automatic payment reminders to clients and includes basic reports, like a profit and loss statement and balance sheet. The software imports transactions from your business checking and/or credit accounts, and you can use its mobile app to snap photos of receipts to generate new cash transactions.

What do freelancers and the self-employed need from their accounting software?

The best accounting software for freelancers and the self-employed should at least offer the following capabilities:

Invoicing

Freelancers and the self-employed should make sure their accounting software supports customer invoicing, as well as an easy way for clients to submit payment. The best accounting software lets you set up recurring invoices, automates late-payment reminders and may also have a mobile app so you can message with clients from anywhere. Freelancers and self-employed people who don’t need accounting software might consider free invoice software instead.

Billable expenses

Although freelancers and self-employed people do have some overhead costs, many of their expenses may also be billable to their clients. This means your freelance bookkeeping software must be able to not only record expenses but also easily pull them into invoices you can send to your clients. It should also let you easily markup those expenses to ensure profitability.

Mileage and time tracking

All small businesses can benefit from keeping a mileage log if the owner uses a personal vehicle for business. But, like with billable expenses, freelancers and the self-employed might need to track their mileage for billing. Your accounting software should have a built-in mileage tracker, or be able to easily integrate with one. The same goes for time tracking. Built-in timers, or integrated time tracking apps, make it easy to record hours and add them to invoices.

Tools for separating personal and business finances

It’s best practice to separate your business and personal finances. But if your business is very small, a side hustle or brand new, you might not want to open separate business banking and business credit card accounts right away. Regardless of its size, though, you’re still responsible for your freelance business’s taxes — so you need a way to clearly delineate between your business and personal expenses. The right accounting software for your business will help you do this with ease.
Last updated on April 5, 2024

Methodology

NerdWallet independently reviews accounting software products before determining our top picks. We collect the data for our software ratings from products’ public-facing websites and from company representatives. Information is gathered on a regular basis and reviewed by our editorial team for consistency and accuracy.
NerdWallet’s accounting software ratings favor products that are easy to use, reasonably priced, have a robust feature set and can grow with your business. The best accounting software received top marks when evaluated across 10 categories and more than 30 subcategories. Learn more about how we rate small-business accounting software.
These ratings are meant to provide clarity in the decision-making process, but what’s best for your business will depend on its size, growth trajectory and which features you need most. We encourage you to research and compare multiple accounting software products before choosing one.
NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.
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