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Invoicing Doesn’t Have to be a Pain

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.

life before week-end. business scream

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.


8 Responses

  1. Hey Jeff!

    The service that I have seen used by VoiceOver actors and other performers is PerformerTrack, but I have yet to use it.

    I handle my own invoicing, but it does get overwhelming at times keeping up with overdue payments and tracking numbers. I believe it is time to upgrade, so I’ll go check this service out.

    Social Media Consulting. Now THAT sounds like fun!


  2. Thanks for the tip Stu. I’ll look into that one too, just to compare if nothing else.

  3. Jeff,

    I agree…I like the fact that they don’t try to do everything. They do one thing and they do it really well.

    Glad it’s working out for you.

  4. Yes, indeed, Christopher. Thanks again for recommending FreshBooks to me.

  5. Hi Jeff,

    There is a neat little desktop tool called Fanurio http://www.fanuriotimetracking.com . I love it! You can try it for free too. You can just click to start, pause it, etc and you can do nifty reports. I use it to track the time I spend on client projects.

    Even though I only bill hourly for consulting projects, it helps me to see how much time I’m spending to make sure my rates are in line. With Fanurio you can customize invoice templates using your own layouts and export them to HTML or PDF.

  6. Thanks Karen for the tip. I appreciate you visiting and spending time here.

    I’ve found that FreshBooks offers many if not all of those same features.

  7. HourDoc is tool for Time Tracking. http://www.HourDoc.com is right treatment for time and labor management processes has to be an easy-to-administer and affordable solution for Freelancers, supervisors, employees and HR and payroll managers. They offer free application to companies less than 50 employees. You must Try it!

  8. EXCELLENT article and info on Freshbooks, thank you for writing the piece Jeff. Wondering for you or your fans what you guys/gals use for payroll-like freshbooks is there something to automate pay stubs and the like, that like Freshbooks is both user and wallet friendly?

    Thanks very much for your time & insight,


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