17Hats vs. Motiv App: Comparison & Review For Your Freelance Process

This review was published on November 6, 2014. After nearly a year of 17hats being on the market, a lot has changed with the tool (and same with Motiv App). Check out the updated review of 17hats here, to see what’s new and what’s coming soon. 

If you hang out a lot on social media, you probably noticed a lot of hoopla recently about the launch of freelance systems software 17Hats. I personally tried it out quickly, but didn’t have time during the short trial period to go in-depth in my research. You know I like my systems…and especially software that helps streamline my business.

Luckily, my friend and talented designer Morgan of A Little Creative saved the day and spent a good chunk of time trying out 17Hats. She is currently using another similar program for her design business, called Motiv. So she generously offered to share with the FTF community a thorough review of both programs with us today.

If you’ve had your eye on either of these, read on! Not every program can solve all your systems troubles, but the more steps you can consolidate into one program, the better. Both 17Hats & Motiv have a lot of potential to do so. 

17Hats & Motiv Review

It’s no secret, freelancing is on the rise. Years of instability in the workplace and an emphasis to find one’s purpose have driven many to pursue entrepreneurship, tossing traditional full-time employment out the window.

According to recent stats from the Freelancers Union, “nearly one in three working Americans is an independent worker—that’s 53 million people.” And the numbers are growing!

Aside from flexible schedules and location-independence, freelancing isn’t all sunshine and roses. Though it comes with many perks, it’s far from perfect and does present its fair share of challenges.

Among them is client and project management, which is often regarded as one of the biggest issues among the self-employed.

Keeping all your information organized, be it your own internal activities or those for external clients, is a tall task. Email, payments, expenses, clients, contacts, projects, schedules, quotes, contracts, questionnaires, time tracking … ALL OF THE THINGS!

BONUS: Grab the Freelance Process Cheat Sheet to learn the 6 steps in your process you MUST automate and the tools to use to do so. Get it FREE!


Clearly, the need for an efficient management system has been established. As a young business myself, the topic of freelance management has been a big struggle for me. I consider myself a pretty skilled “finder of things” and from what I have found, there isn’t any one system that is going to have it all, and if there is, it is most certainly going to be cost prohibitive.

There are a number of different programs out there, some dedicated to specific functions like strictly bookkeeping, or file sharing and commenting, and recently, several that encompass a multitude of functions, allowing freelancers to kill two (or more) birds with one stone and organize their business effectively.

Two of these multi-functional programs are Motiv and 17hats, which you may or may not have heard of as they are both relatively new to the market.

Both offer a wide range of both client and project management functions, are geared specifically toward solo-preneurs and are well suited to those on a shoestring budget.

Following is a summary comparison of both programs, with feature highlights and pros/con, to hopefully help make choosing a system for your business a little easier.


MotivApp ReviewFounded by Dylan Fetus, a freelance web designer, Motiv’s goal is to streamline everyday business tasks and uncomplicate things like lengthy proposals and legal documents. Motiv is a browser based system with a simplified interface, and varying ways to perform the same task, making it very easy and intuitive to use and navigate.

Motiv’s basic features include:

  • Timetracking
  • Quotes
  • Proposals
  • Contracts
  • Invoicing
  • Billing (payments and expenses)
  • Notes


Motiv offers several levels of service with a tiered pricing model to accommodate freelancers at different levels. Their highest level of service includes all of the above in addition to some advanced features such as:

  • Personalized Domain
  • Branding Control, removing all Motiv branding
  • Premium Customer Support

For the freelancer wanting basic control over their billing and basic project information, Motiv is a great option. In its current state, I would actually call it more of a client management system rather than a project management system as project communication with clients and file sharing is currently not part of the program.

The other nice feature of Motiv is the use of templates to generate proposals and contracts, which can be saved for future use. An added bonus with the templates is that there are several samples to start from, which you can modify. Or you can start from scratch and build your own.

I’ve been using Motiv for a while now and have noted some pluses and minuses.

Here are my experiences, good and bad:


  • simple interface, easy to use & navigate
  • dashboard includes recent quotes, proposals, contracts and invoices for all clients/projects (quick snapshot of all activity)
  • multiple ways to perform the same function
  • self-contained signature ability in contracts, eliminating the need for a 3rd party program or the need to sign, scan and email
  • sample templates for proposals and contracts
  • 30 day free trial
  • affordable plans ($5, $10 or $20/month)
  • international currencies
  • mobile and desktop app for time tracking
  • ability to manage multiple companies from one account
  • auto generated quote & invoice numbers with ability to override (if desired)
  • color coded status indicators (Sent, Viewed, Draft, Signed, etc.)
  • invoice generation from timesheets (great if you bill anyone hourly)
  • future/planned features are publicized


  • no way to sort or filter data
  • no reporting functions for billing
    • no total for invoices or payments received
    • no import of existing information (if you migrate from another system)
    • no receipt images included with expenses
  • signature system is super buggy (my client signed and another name was recorded)
  • no formatting or description area available for quotes or invoices (only line items)
  • no complete mobile app
  • design and formatting limitations on all documents
  • no recurring invoices or expenses
  • no idle notification on time tracking (in case you forget the timer is on and walk away from your computer – oops)
  • no integration with actual project management tools like Basecamp
  • projects are somewhat disconnected and given low priority (system is organized more by documents associated with projects/clients)
  • no url for documents (can only send through Motiv or by downloading and emailing)

Overall, Motiv offers a range of services to get started managing your clients. Again, I’ve been using it and consider it a pretty good system to get you started organizing your information and reduce the number of programs required to do so.


17Hats17Hats Review is a collaborative effort between a group of international colleagues, and like Motiv, is built specifically for the solopreneur wearing many hats (17 of them to be exact).

17Hats is much more of an all-in-one system than Motiv, however, it too, lacks in program client communication and file sharing.

The program is currently in beta, having only been released in the last few weeks by invitation, with full public release coming soon. Aimed at simplifying the chaos of fulfilling multiple roles, 17Hats is also browser based with a multitude of functions.

Features include:

  • Contact Management with ability to categorize by Client, Prospect, Lead or Other (like personal)
  • Quotes
  • Contracts
  • Invoicing
  • Bookkeeping
  • Calendar
  • ToDo Lists
  • Email
  • Phone Log
  • Notes


17Hats offers a single level of service with a tiered pricing option, depending on how frequently you pay (monthly, annually, or semi-annually). The same features and options are provided regardless of which payment option you select. Like Motiv, 17Hats also offers the use of templates. You’re on your own with these however, as there is no sample data to start with.

Noting some of the issues I’ve experienced with Motiv, I was lucky enough to get in on 17Hats early and check it out.



  • simple, easy to navigate interface
  • dashboard includes a 3-day calendar snapshot
  • added features (calendar, to do lists, email)
  • easy calendar integration with outside systems like Google
  • contact management classifications (clients, leads, etc.)
  • self-contained signature ability in contracts, eliminating the need for a 3rd party program or the need to sign, scan and email
  • templates generation for all sorts of documents
  • international currencies
  • ability to add discounts to quotes
  • automatically generate invoice upon quote approval
  • available urls to provide to clients for invoices, contracts, quotes, etc. in addition emailing
  • bookkeeping with ability to link to banks and credit cards
  • reporting, including profit and loss, sales tax and receivables
  • questionnaires (also a con)
  • file upload (also a con)
  • ability to set up quotes with multiple choice
  • support responses have been incredibly fast and responsive


  • interface design and aesthetics (Jenna Sue kills me)
  • dashboard includes a lot of information and is somewhat confusing to prioritize
  • whole system is organized by projects, which you can only view the information for one at a time
  • design and formatting limitations on all documents (although it’s better than Motiv)
  • tiny input fields when creating documents
  • only a 2 week free trial
  • cost ($19/yr, $25/semi-annual, $29/mo)
    • I think the free trial is too short as is the monthly fee, thus forcing you into an annual plan which may not be the right solution
  • email is buggy
  • no mobile or desktop app
  • phone log does not include notes or description
  • a project must be set up in order to generate a quote
  • no sample data for templates
  • invoices are categorized only by client, with no specific project information hidden inside the invoice
  • no client portal
  • questionnaires live only in the browser with no way to save the data and return to it later
    • no logic questions
  • file upload is limited in that it lives in the system but it doesn’t appear you can actually do anything with it or share it

So let’s stack them side-by-side, feature-by-feature and see who comes out on top.

Based on my experience with the two, here’s who would win in a battle:

Timetracking: Motiv (17hats doesn’t have it currently)

Clients/Projects: 17hats (way more comprehensive)

Quotes: 17hats (more options in set up)

Proposals: Motiv (17hats doesn’t have it currently)

Contracts: 17hats/Motiv (they’re pretty equal)

Invoicing: Motiv (simply based on the included timetracking feature)

Billing / Bookkeeping: 17hats (no contest)

Notes: 17hats (they’re both lacking, but at least this is attached to a project)

Calendar: 17hats (Motiv doesn’t have it currently)

ToDo Lists: 17hats (Motiv doesn’t have it currently)

Email: 17hats (it’s buggy, but Motiv doesn’t have it currently)

Phone Log: 17hats (I don’t find it useful, but Motiv doesn’t have it currently)

Files: 17hats (not terribly useful, but Motiv doesn’t have it currently)

Price: Motiv

Free Trial: Motiv (30 days)

In Conclusion

Depending on your specific needs, either Motiv or 17hats would be a good option. Both programs have the necessary tools to help streamline any one-man (or woman) venture.

There are clearly up and downsides to both and depending on your requirements, one might be better suited than the other. Both are relatively young, with lots of upgrades frequently installed and additional features planned for the future. But even just out the box, they’ll help you automate your business and start to create some solid systems.

Whatever you choose, best of luck and God speed! Check back in and let us know your experience!


A Note From Leah:

If you’ve been trying out a lot of tools to streamline your process, read last week’s post on How To Choose Your Tools as a reminder that no one tool will solve all your problems and when you get stuck in analysis paralysis, do your research, then just choose! You can always adjust later.

Morgan Haines A graphic designer and brand advocate for small businesses committed to improving the lives of others, Morgan wants to live in a world where hugs, not tweets, are the norm, openly speaking your mind is not only accepted, but welcomed, animals can speak for themselves and cheese fries are actually good for you. Connect with Morgan on her site, a little creative and Twitter; see what she’s loving on Pinterest or get to know her dog on Instagram.


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{ 47 comments… add one }
  • This is SUPER helpful! I tried 17 Hats and wanted to like it so bad, but the toggling between projects and lack of an overall to-do list was just too short of what I needed. I couldn’t justify the price for how much I’d have to use it. Nothing has torn me from Basecamp yet but after reading this, I might have to give Motiv a try. Thanks for the in-depth review!

    • So glad you found it useful, Kimberly! I would caution you to move away from Basecamp as it does have a file sharing/communication capability that neither 17hats or Motiv have. If you’re already using Basecamp, you could supplement it. But I wouldn’t abandon it just yet 🙂

  • Thanks Leah & Morgan! I did a ton of research myself and the guys at 17hats are to helpful and open to updates that I went for it! Here’s what they’ve got in the pipeline as far as enhancements go http://17hats.uservoice.com/ – the BIGGIE for me is a client portal to be able to comment, assign tasks, share docs etc. looks like it is for everyone. Hoping it’ll be added soon 🙂

    • Agreed, Janet – the support that 17hats has implemented has been really great and they are receptive and responsive, which is not always the case! As with any new system, there are always kinks to work out.

  • Nikki

    Thank you, Morgan and Leah!
    I was able to get in on the early price of 17Hats (guaranteed for life, $147/year). Because they seem super motivated to continue building it and improving it, I decided to give them a year and re-evaluate at that time. I appreciate reading your review because there are a couple points there I hadn’t considered yet. Thanks so much for this review!

    • So glad you found it useful, Nikki. I’d love to hear your experience working with it. I tested it but it wasn’t really enough time to utilize it with actual active clients at the time. Timekeeping is a big one for me so without that, I’m hesitant to dive in. What’s your favorite thing about it?

      • Nikki

        Hey Morgan – honestly, my favorite thing about 17Hats at this point is their customer service and interface. I like the existing function enough that I am willing to be a loyal follower for the time being, and see how much extra function gets added in. I’m just starting to properly use the different “hats” with clients, so I’ll see what my clients think, too!

    • Eurydice Moore

      What is the diference in using excel various tools vs 17 hats or motiv? How would either of the 2 be more beneficial to me. Thanks.

  • Awesome post. I have not heard of 17hats, but after this I wouldn’t mind signing up right now. The only thing I am hesitate on is that it doesn’t have a mobile app. That is a necessity especially when you or your client is on the go. However, it’s not to say they won’t add that later on and I absolutely love it. Integrations might be something that is in both of their futures (hopefully). Love this!

    • Yep, mobile app is key given how much time we all spend online. I know it’s planned for the future but no telling what the time frame is for implementation!

  • Thanks so much for the thorough review — so helpful to weed through the pros and cons!

  • So helpful to get a point by point run-down all in one place on both of these options. When you say there’s no perfect system that does everything…that seems to be the truth. My takeaway from this review is that neither of them will work for my needs, which is really good to know. Thank you!

  • This is so amazing and thorough!! I am shopping around right now for some software that will help me with project management, and 17Hats definitely caught my eye. I can’t believe how helpful this is. Thank you!!

  • Amazing review, thank you for putting the time into deciphering this 😉

    The one thing that I dislike about both, is that they don’t appear to give you the option to set up scheduled calls (booking) which is the other big missing link that I see here.

    • You’re correct, Anna. However, with 17hats, it does link to your calendar system (I use Google) and there are a number of scheduling systems out there that can also link to your calendar. So though it’s not integral to the system, you can use something that isn’t terribly cumbersome and not too many extra steps (depending on what information you need to communicate in the appointment schedule). I use Calendly which is a native Google app and it works great!

  • Jan

    I checked out 17Hats and the one thing I would say is that the book keeping system seems to be built around US tax systems, so to set it up similar to what is already done automatically in Xero (I’m in Australia) would take me a huge amount of time.

    • Ibi Jambol

      Hi Jan, I am also in Australia. Did you find another similar program like 17Hats suited for Australians? Would love to know! Thanks

      • I would also love to know this

        • Lindy

          I have been looking at WorkflowMax. I believe it is Australian-based. http://www.workflowmax.com
          More robust and complex than what I need, interfaces with a bunch of other apps, so in one way it’s useful, and in another, it gets more expensive. But certainly international.

  • Love this! I didn’t even know Motiv existed but it’s so helpful to see what else is out there. I’ve been using 17 Hats for about a month now. (And I totally agree that the aesthetics could be improved…) Excellently written and very appreciated! Thank you 🙂

  • Thank you Leah and Morgan for this great article. I love the details. This is great timing for me, since I planned to research 17Hats later this month. You saved me a ton of time.

  • Just when I was about to sign up for 17Hats. Thank you for saving our time in creating this comparative review.

    And thank you again for the help Leah 🙂

  • Great post – I think we can spend a lot of time searching for that one thing that will transform our business. I absolutely love Teamwork for my project management – I’ve tried numerous platforms but this was the only one I could really get on with!

  • Cynthia

    Thanks for this! I was thinking about jumping all into 17hats, but I think I’ll hold off until they’ve worked out some of the issues. I got excited about the idea of everything streamed-lined, but it looks like it would just add to my confusion.

  • I use 17hats, and while this is a fair article, it needs to be updated. 17hats now has time-tracking and custom workflows that you can automate or create to-do lists for a project. In addition, I’ve been very impressed with the openness of the development team. Even without being a customer, you can sign up at http://17hats.uservoice.com/ and ask for new features. The team has been very responsive and seems to be good about listening to the communities needs. They’ve got a good thing started, and I’ve been happy with it so far. Reading this article, I’m going to suggest project proposals on the 17hats board. Thanks.

  • I would highly advise anyone not to sign up for MotivApp, I should have just paid for 17hats. I have been trying to get help from Motiv for over 2 weeks and have not gotten a single response. I am actively trying to get a refund because there service is completely broken.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Oh I’m so sorry to hear that! Hopefully there is a reason and they will remedy it soon.

  • I also tested Motiv App and would NOT RECOMMEND it to anyone. Not yet at least. I did two projects in their app. Their support is non-existent. I’ve been waiting a month and have received no replies. With 17hats I get responses to my questions within an hour or so. 17hats isn’t perfect, there’s not much collaboration yet for team projects, but it’s better than most.

  • Paulina Redson

    Tried 17hats (it’s quiet nice), but then changed it for Bitrix24. It has free plan and a great mobile app.

  • James Seligman

    I was also another one that signed up for Motiv App and was quickly disappointed. Submitted a ticket and it was a least 2 weeks before I got a reply; and it wasn’t even a helpful reply. By that time I was done. I can’t do business with people that can’t even run their own business.

  • Thank you so much for the valuable information. I’m currently searching for a system and this was very helpful along with all the comments.

  • Thanks for the comparison! I tried 17hats and it had nice options, but it was a bit confusing and some things were unforgiving. If I made a mistake typing something, I had a terrible time figuring out how to change it. The organization of clients was a bit hard to follow, I’m sure I would have become comfortable with it if I had the time to try it out. I completely agree that the trial period is way to short. I didn’t have enough time to play and consider it a good investment for my needs. Thanks for the post!

    Pauline mentioned Bitrix24, it looks like it could work for me. Does anyone else have info on Bitrix24? How do you like it?

  • I spent a lot of time on 17Hats tutorials & think it will be perfect for my business. I am drawn to the organization of it & simplicity of use – especially for online payment & invoicing & online signature capabilities. I like the simplified accounting feature (so much better than Quickbooks although I’ve asked them for balance sheet capability which 17H doesn’t have). My bank is also not connected to their network but they are upgrading that soon so that may change. Meanwhile, I can manually upload data. If my very small bank doesn’t get included in the next round, I’d consider changing banks to make it work. As others have mentioned, excellent, responsive customer support – within 30 mins on a Sunday afternoon!

  • Emily

    I just completed my free trial with 17hats and I truly thought it was “THE ONE” – you know, that one that did it all! But, by the end of the two weeks Ifound myself back to pen and paper for my to-dos and calendar. The calendar is really why I am not signing up with them long term. I voted for the suggestion in their forums to get each project color-coded on the calendar but they need gantt charts or just a better calendar that doesn’t delete your previous work off the calendar once it is completed. Oi! Anyhow, I’ve been searching for the right software or combination of it. Has anyone here tried powerlancer.com? or proofhub? I use basecamp in my day job at the moment and it is OK but having a way to proof designs would be AUH-mazing!

    Thanks for this great post!

  • I’d like to know your thoughts (and others’) on another app called Freshbooks and how you feel it compares to the ones listed here?

  • I really like the concept of this software and would love to see it a bit more robust. I would be happy to pay the current fees or more if there was integration with Quickbooks and Gmail. I don’t think either software is ready for “Prime Time”? I am a buyer when it is.

  • Meg

    Don’t use motiv app! I actually chose them over 17 hats for functionality and they double charged my account, I had multiple times when I couldn’t access my account (it would tell me my trial was up and I needed to pay, even though I was a paying subscriber). Right after that I canceled my account and was just charged for another month. Trying to report them! They have not responded to voicemails or emails! Be careful!

  • Dave

    Avoid Motiv App at all costs! They have completely abandoned offering support to users. You can email, phone, tweet, it won’t matter. You’ll never get a hold of anybody.

  • Recently, I came across a huge issue. It has to deal with the payment processing component.. For those that are like me that live check to check, we depend on the recycling of revenue to expenditures…

    I had sent my first payment out under the trial system….

    (1) Invoice generated, (2) client received, (3) client paid using 17hat’s “pay invoice” function, (4) client received “Paid” status, (5) I receive notification that client paid..


  • I have been looking for something for about 4 weeks now…Tave’, Pixifi and 17hats were the final. After a whole day of trying to set up Tave’..I threw in the towel and went with 17hats. My choice was made based on how simple it was to create a questionnaire and contract. Super simple…I do not like to have to spend extra time thinking about things that I can reach over and grab a pen and paper to do quickly. Any way, I can say I am getting frustrated with 17hats as it has some little glitches. But the worst part is getting help fixing them OR understanding what I need to do to make it NOT happen. I seem to have to screen shot everything that is a very basic thing (to me) and when I do…there is still not a clear understanding. I get – I am not sure why that is happening, or I cannot duplicate the issue. Super frustrating and a deal breaker if it keeps happening. I will say one thing that I found very irritating…before I made the financial commitment to 17hats and was in my trial phase…..in the bottom right hand corner there is the help box. You can chat live (biz hours) or call the posted 800#. After I said, this is the one I am gonna go for it…paid with a credit card and was getting rolling….the 800# disappeared. Completely. So write it down if you trial! When I do live Chat – it sucks they need to realize we need to TALK to someone not screen shot OVER AND OVER.

  • I found this post (Oct 2015) in search of a simple solution to send proposals, contracts and invoices. And have yet to find it. I started a trial for Motiv and was wary even during my initial visit to their website – there were page loading issues. Then I signed up and everything I’ve done so far has been a disaster. First a page full of error messages and then, after logging in for the first time, a full page of blank white! I emailed them thinking they’d be glad to hear about the errors but after reading the comments here, I suppose I won’t get a response.

    I guess I’ll try 17Hats – although it’s more than I need and want to pay for. Are there no other options?! Hard to believe…

  • Suraj

    I think you should give a trial to CloudBooks – online invoicing software. It’s far better than both. I am using CloudBooks from the last couple of years and really amazed with the features and pricing.

  • I’ve tried a few apps, but still haven’t found one that does what I need. 17Hats looked so promising, but after doing 2 trials, I just can’t reconcile the features with the pricing. As a brand designer, the inability to customize or add my own branding to any of the templates, proposals, invoices, emails, or lead generation form just won’t fly. I also found the lay of the land a bit confusing, and like others have mentioned, 14 days just isn’t enough to get comfortable with it. I tried Bitrix24 briefly and found it overwhelming, but I’m going to give it another try.

  • dee

    I purchased 17Hats in October of 2015 on the premise that they would offer me a refund if it proved to not meet my needs. Unfortunately, I tried the trial with one client that fit my needs, however, I was unable to use it with subsequent clients. I realized this after I paid my subscription, of course. I needed more robust application and found myself using other applications. I used 17Hats for that 1 client and only used the feature for one month hoping that they would add the features they indicated they were working on. I waited 3 months and still could not accomplish what I needed for multiple clients. I requested a refund of the remaining months in early January. I paid $179.00 and was offered a whopping $27.00 for 8 months. Beware, check the application thoroughly before purchasing and ask questions before buying. If they offer to refund the remainder, ask how it is computed. Based upon my experience the math seems fuzzy at best.

  • Thanks so much for this article! I found it helpful. However would you all be able to do an updated comparison of the two?

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