Originally published November, 2010. Updated September 2013
The post is part of the on-going 2013 series on the apps I use for my writing and editing business. Over the last few years, I have tested or tried or sampled just about everything out there. It seems as if new apps appear every day! But I have to make my app decisions based on my business needs. I am updating posts as my apps matrix and the apps themselves change and improve.
Although I have part- and full-time independent contractors and administrative staff members on my team, I am essentially a one-person virtual business. This blog series and the apps I highlight will be geared towards what I call “VSMs”: Very Small Businesses, which include freelancers, SOHO (Small Office Home Office), and other solopreneurs.
This post describes the features I like for the application I use for invoicing my clients: Freshbooks. While this may seem like a strange choice for a writing blog, one of the things I love most about Freshbooks is that it integrates with almost every other app I use to run my business. As a matter of fact, if a business app DOESN’T integrate with Freshbooks, then I probably won’t use it.
I started using Freshbooks several years ago. The features and functionality of Freshbooks:
1) I can easily keep my contact data in the app and then quickly invoice my clients online. I have setup my PayPal link so that all my clients have to do when they receive their invoice in their email is to click the PayPal link and I am paid! Freshbooks will also send out increasingly less “gentle” reminders automatically at intervals I set up. As soon as payment is received, my clients receive an automatic receipt and “thank you for your payment” email.
2) All of my invoices are branded with my own company information and logo; they look very professional and consistent with everything else I send out. It is possible to send out estimates to your prospects; they can approve the estimates online and then you can turn the estimate into an invoice in one click. You can also download all estimates and invoices as pdfs.
3) I can track my expenses in my Freshbooks account, and generate all types of reports, including profit and loss statements, revenue by client, etc. I can re-bill my clients for any project-related expenses quickly and easily. Clients can be given permission to follow their projects and billings in your Freshbooks account; they can’t see anything unless you give them a special log-in.
4) Freshbooks has fully functional mobile apps for iOs and Android, so I can conduct business on-the-go. I can add or review my clients, projects, invoices, and reports wherever I am.
5) My contractors can log their hours and invoice their time for me in my Freshbooks account. To pay them, I click the PayPal link they’ve set up. Their cost goes into the expenses in my Freshbooks account.
6) I can import and download all of my other expenses from my business account. Everything takes just a few minutes. Who has hours and hours to track expenses?
7) There are several different pricing plans that start at *free*. As your business grows, you can upgrade quickly and easily. Paid as a monthly subscription, the Freshbooks fees are of course tax deductible.
8) Technical and feature upgrades are free and often; they happen in the background and usually overnight. Freshbooks has one of the best support divisions ever. Support is free for everyone and via email or phone. Freshbooks also sends out Twitter status updates if there does happen to be a glitch in the service–very much appreciated.
9) If you need to track your time, or the time of your contractors or team members, it can be done easily in Freshbooks, and then invoiced seamlessly.
10) Lastly, Freshbooks integrates with many different apps for mobile access, more advanced time tracking, advanced project management, other accounting and bookkeeping (if your business bills more than $300K, for example), expenses, CRM, email marketing, lead generation, ecommerce and much more. Available payment gateways include PayPal, Authorize.net, and Google Checkout.
The main purpose of having a for-profit business is to make a profit. Time is money. Time spent on one activity is time taken from another activity. And so on. After spending so much time producing excellent work for your clients, it can be a pleasure to invoice them with a cool app like Freshbooks. It’s time to get paid! Check out their website for even more information.