Free Content Management Systems for Freelancers

A Content Management System (CMS) is a bunch of systems or procedures that can be used by freelancers to manage their workflow. It is software that freelancers can use to publish their content on the internet.

For instance, there are software, such as WordPress and Joomla and so on. Both technical and non-technical staff can use WCM for managing web pages that they have created. Such systems were developed to solve the problem of those who did not have highly trained technical staff. With the help of such systems, even non technical staff could amend web pages or create them.

Before selecting a web content management system for your site, you should consider the scope of the site and the kind of projects that the system is supposed to manage. There is nothing that can be considered as the ‘best’ CMS. The best can only be one that matches your needs, your budget and the scope of your project. Today, we have hundreds of options for CMS and one size does not fit all. They are tailored to suit different requirements.

The CMS or WCMS (Web CMS) is implemented as an application for creation and management of HTML content and can be used for controlling a collection of web material, such as HTML documents and images. It enables the freelancer to better manage content creation; editing and perform other web maintenance functions. Some of the FREE CMS options are listed here:

1. WordPress

instantShift - WordPress


This is a state-of-the-art platform for publishers. Its main attractions are the web standards it follows along with the usability it provides. It is also very aesthetic and is free. The basic software is also capable of adding thousands of themes and other plugins in order to help you transform your site in any way you wish. More than 60 million users have chosen this CMS.


  • You can use it to create exquisite websites or blogs.
  • A small business owner can start his business at a low price.
  • The thousands of plugins and themes available in WordPress help easy customization of the look of the website.
  • The plugins can also extend the functionality of the site. You can add functionalities, such as SEO, photo slideshows and share social media, etc.
  • It is very easy to update. You just need to create a word document and publish it on the WordPress website. You can update it whenever you want for connecting with visitors and also for search engine optimization purposes.
  • WordPress sites are favorites as far as Google is concerned, as they are often updated. The content is well structured; hence, a WordPress site gets ranked high quite quickly when compared to other static websites. In fact, Google has also recommended WordPress as a business site.
  • More than 8% of the internet sites are run by WordPress, with thousands of designers and developers ready to help you if there is any problem.


It is a free web CMS. If you are not able to set it up, you may need the services of a web host or a developer. The service is necessary for installing and customizing WordPress on the server you use for hosting your website. The standard charge for installation could vary between $500 to $1000 for standard installation and customization. However, the cost may vary according to the kind of template and the amount of customization needed.

Who Uses It?:

WordPress can be the perfect answer for companies that want an inexpensive web site, and which they can update by themselves. Freelance authors who want to start their own online publications can use this CMS. The process takes a very short time of a few days. Some of the top websites using WordPress are Mashable, TechCrunch, ThinkProgress, TheNextWeb, BoingBoing and several others.

2. Joomla

instantShift - Joomla


Joomla is a CMS that has won awards. It can help you build powerful websites and other online applications. It is easy to use and offers extensibility. It is very popular free software for creating and managing websites. Additionally, it is an open source solution and everyone can access it freely. It has about 4800 add-ons that can be used in your website.


  • You can develop any type of website with the use of Joomla platform, ranging from a personal and simple one to a more complex and commercial website.
  • You can use it to create highly interactive websites for e commerce.
  • It can be used for creating multi language websites and media portals as also for interacting with online communities.
  • Management of content is very easy.
  • Navigation is easy and quick.
  • Most CMS solutions are expensive, but Joomla is free.
  • It has several modules that can be added to the website.
  • Adding and editing of content can be done in real time even by those having no knowledge of HTML.
  • Installation is easy.
  • It supports many languages.

Who Uses It?:

Top sites, such as eBay and Pizza Hut use Joomla for building their sites. If you want a trusted and free CMS, you can use Joomla. Laymen who don’t have much knowledge of HTML can use it easily as it is simple and easy to maintain.

3. Drupal

instantShift - Drupal


It is also free CMS software through which freelancers and other users can publish and manage their content on their website. It comes with several tools for organizing and structuring the website. It has well documented APIs and is very flexible and scalable.


  • It is flexible and extendable requiring less programming than other CMS.
  • It is easy to add new features and reshape the website.
  • It is reliable and robust with a strong design structure.
  • Patches and updates can be done easily, as the system follows a simple set of rules.
  • It provides excellent security aspects for your website to protect it from attack.
  • It provides great options for new user accounts with users being assigned with either one or more roles.
  • Users can express their opinions and engage with each other.
  • Both internal and external facing websites can be built.

Who Uses It?:

You can use it for building and creating personal blogs as well as applications for enterprises and businesses. Anyone looking for websites that are feature rich can get a head start with Drupal CMS software. Those looking for building their online communities along with online stores and media portal can easily use it. Some of the big sites using Drupal are The White House and The Economist.

4. SilverStripe

instantShift - SilverStripe


It is an open source CMS that is flexible providing all the tools necessary for creating and managing your website. The code is neatly tucked away so that the programmers can easily access it but allows the content authors to work freely. It has several themes and widgets that allow for several extensions and customization.


  • It is a free software with an open source code base
  • It has an active developer community
  • Both free and paid additional themes are available
  • Ajax site is free
  • It is easy to customize
  • Has positive impact on SEO
  • Easy and quick to install
  • Images and files can be easily added suing a drag and drop interface.
  • Pages and templates are fully customizable.

Who Uses It?:

Some websites using SilverStripe are and Some other sites using SilverStripe CMS are YHA New Zealand, who is the largest backpacker in New Zealand; Plunket, which is a central hub for nurses and mothers; Westpac offering online banking solutions and so on.

It is most suitable for highly customized websites as well as for advanced developers. Those sites focused on aesthetics and some non ecommerce sites can also make use of this CMS.

5. Cushy CMS

instantShift - Cushy CMS


It is a fast and simple content management system that is free and makes life easy for web designers. It is free but you can go Pro if you wish by upgrading. It is a hosted service and allows change in content through a web interface which is then uploaded to the server. It is capable of handling different types of content that includes headlines, images, code and text.


  • There is no programming required and no software to install
  • It takes only a few minutes to setup
  • It produces content that is compliant to standards and is SEO friendly
  • Content can be safely edited by clients
  • Website can be updated without any technical knowledge


The CMS software is free but can be upgraded at $28 p/m.

Who Uses It?:

It is ideal for clients who wish to change content of a certain number of pages and for those who want a simple option without compromising on the design. It is ideal for those looking for ease of use, as there are not many instructions. Some of the websites built using Cushy CMS are 9G Design, which is a services company offering directional creativity for businesses to grow and progress; Daydream designs, a graphic and web design agency.

6. Frog CMS

instantShift - Frog CMS


It offers an elegant user interface, which is both flexible and simple to use. All tools necessary for file management are present. It is the PHP version of the Radiant CMS. It has a simple templating code.


  • PHP is not used in the pages, so the user is not disconcerted by it if he does not want to learn it.
  • It has a lightweight core offering many functions and an interface that is easy to use.
  • It allows three levels of access for user management, Administrator, developer and Editor.
  • It has a good selection of open source themes that are free and can be used for customizing the website.

Who Uses It?:

It is ideal for users who are comfortable with a system having design and development. It is also ideal for those looking to build their own sites or those of their clients, as it does not force the user to understand PHP. It has plugins and pre-made templates along with SEO features, including RSS feeds. Some of the website built using Frog CMS is Mystery Tin, Pioneer Project, Trefethen Family Vineyards.

7. MODx

instantShift - MODx


It works on an open source PHP based framework. It is compatible with several third party software platforms, such as AJAX. It is built on the basis of SEO functions and provides benefits with webpage ranking. Simple modifications can be made to any site using this CMS.


  • Quick and easy installation with minimal interaction required by user.
  • Navigation of the package browser is simple and just consists of dropdowns.
  • Easy modification
  • It provides compatibility with other platforms

Who Uses It?:

Some sites using MODx are HealthCentreFit4All, which is a Dutch center website created by MODx. Another medium sized website known as Science Fiction and Fantasy is also created with MODx.

8. TYPOlight (Now known as Contao)

instantShift - Contao


This is CMS software that makes use of AJAX and technologies of Web 2.0. There is a live update feature and this can be very useful for those having multiple blogs. There is also support for multiple languages. It also includes certain features that were once exclusive to paid CMS. It is now known as Contao CMS.


  • It is easy to maintain
  • A high security standard is offered
  • Search engine friendly websites can be created
  • It is free and can be expanded offering flexibility.
  • It has several integrated modules, such as calendar, forms and news and so on.

Who Uses It?:

It is definitely suitable for those who have more than one blog and who require a live updating feature. Some sites that used this CMS software are Ostbayerischer Online Marketing, Kurhauscasino, Jann de Vries, Schwederski, and several others.

9. Concrete5

instantShift - Concrete5


It is an open source CMS system that has a simple interface. Live web page editing is possible with the use of the editing toolbar that is offered to the administrator. View layers can be changed just be adding a custom template. A simple content site can be converted into an extranet or an intranet one.


  • You can change the content from anywhere in the world
  • Contains several add-ons and themes that are both free and commercial options, with just a onetime fee without any recurring costs.
  • You can make use of any developer and not just rely on a specialized consultant.

Who Uses It?:

Some of the websites using this CMS are 3form Design, 39steps, Gear Box Robots, Exabyzness, Sky Blue Sofa, Medifit among others. It can be used by anyone and everyone, as it can create vastly different websites.

10. Radiant CMS

instantShift - Radiant CMS


It is open source CMS software that is created for small teams. It has an elegant user interface and the templating is flexible. It has snippets and page parts along with custom tagging language. There is also an extension/plugin system with simple user management features. It has been built on the Ruby on Rails, which is a widely accepted web application development platform.


  • It allows you to arrange the pages of the website based on any hierarchy with a flexible site structure, such as child pages coming below parent pages.
  • The special macro language makes it very easy to include any content from other pages.
  • It has an intelligent page caching feature allowing content to be cached for up to 5 minutes, thereby making sure that the content is always fresh.
  • You can tweak the code to your heart’s content
  • It offers all the commonly used features
  • It is powered by Ruby on Rails

Who Uses It?:

Those who want to build a small sized website easily can use this CMS to be up and ready quickly. It is a no nonsense type of minimal CMS. Some of the notable sites using Radiant are Digital Pulp, Saturn Flyer.

Which One Should You Go For?

When selecting a Content management system most people only think of creating, deleting an editing functions. You must first consider the basic functionality that your website needs before selecting CMS software. Even if you don’t need the functionality of structuring and organizing pages now, you may need it in the future. Hence, select an option that allows you to do these core tasks.

While selecting CMS software, you should also see the ease of use, as there are literally thousands of content management systems available in the market today. The majority of them offer the core functionalities. However, they might differ in their usability. The system should be well designed in order to manage images and files effectively with good accessibility and usability. It should also have all the basic image editing tools, such as resizing, rotating and cropping. Flexibility for customization is also a major attribute of a good CMS, so that it allows flexibility to the way the content is presented or retrieved.

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  1. Great list! Thanks for the comparison!

    I work as a freelancer for 8 years and recently found the new content management system – It’s rather easy to use and I can create templates easily as they use Smarty template engine for their software.

    • Hi julia, looks promising. Worth a try.

  2. Wow! it is soo colorful and looking awesome. I liked the Silver Stripe and Joomla, its good.

  3. You should really check out Fork CMS too (, it doesn’t have a huge community yet but it’s the most advanced CMS I’ve ever seen.

  4. Hi,
    i´m missing processwire.

    Easy to learn, jQuery-inspired API.

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