If you’re like most people these days and you work for someone else, chances are you’ve at least considered doing a little moonlighting or venturing out on your own altogether, especially in this uncertain economy.
None of us knows if or when it might be our turn to get the axe, so it never hurts to have another iron or two in the fire. Only recently have I even given any thought to what I would do in that situation. “What’s my Plan B,” in other words.
For me, I’ve had a few close colleagues recently recommend I branch out by consulting other small businesses in social media, particularly in the area of brand monitoring. While I’ve not officially attempted that yet, I have seen requests increase recently in an area closer to my current profession: voice overs.
This was not something I planned or marketed in any way (when it rains it pours I guess). It’s picked up enough, though, that it was time to find a better way to keep track of it all. I was especially interested in an easy way to invoice and track payments from clients. Ultimately, I wanted to find a program I could use in the cloud. The ability to track payments, invoices and clients all online would be the perfect solution. If I could send invoices easily by e-mail, then all the better.
I began my research on Twitter, asking those that follow me – about 700 at the time – what they might recommend. I ended up with three different suggestions in all. The one that intrigued me the most though was FreshBooks.
I’ve been using it for just about three months now, and I’ve found it to be the perfect solution for my situation. If you’re just starting out as a freelancer or small business owner, or your business operates on just a handful of clients, then you may be able to use the free version. Once you reach 4 clients or more, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee.
I think the subscription-based pricing structure is very reasonable. If you manage anywhere between 4 and 25 clients, the cost to you is only $14 per month. 26 to 100 clients is just $27 per month. Prices go up from there, but I think it’s a pretty good deal. Having said that, I haven’t compared FreshBooks’ pricing with that of other, similar services. I do like their 30-day money back guarantee, and the fact they’re no contracts. You use it on a month-to-month basis and, if at any time you decide to stop using it, no problem.
The FreshBooks software even allows you to track by time. Personally, that’s not something I use, at least not yet. I especially like the professional look and the credibility I feel it adds to my over-all presentation. According to the FreshBooks website, it’s simply an online invoice and time tracking service that saves you time (I can attest to that).
With FreshBooks, you can:
- Create, send and manage invoices
- Track time (for you and your staff)
- Send invoices by e-mail or US post
- Accept payment with PayPal, Authorize.Net and more
- Automatically send invoices and late payment notices
- Create reports and import/export your data
I’ve been really happy with it. One of the aspects I liked most about the software was the ability to open an account and create and send my first invoice in the span of about 15 minutes. Not bad. Though I’m only using the free version now, I’m confident that once I add more clients, I’ll stick with FreshBooks and move up to the next tier.
What about you? What invoice software do you use? Have you used FreshBooks? If so, do you like it? If not, what are your gripes?
Note: Thanks to Christopher (@side3media on Twitter) for referring me to FreshBooks. I owe you one. Also, the FreshBooks links I’ve provided in this post are referrel links unique to me. If you prefer to by-pass this, simply go to freshbooks.com.