Billing clients was the last thing on my mind when I first became a freelancer. The majority of my focus was on the transcripts, so I didn’t give invoicing the attention it deserved. I tried using QuickBooks because it was what “small businesses used,” but it was more than I needed and terribly frustrating. It wasn’t long before I was back to creating simple invoices in Word and trying to keep them organized in folders. While it did what I needed it to (mostly), I was spending too much time typing up invoices, and I spent even more time twiddling my thumbs, waiting to get paid. I knew things needed to change, and soon, so I started researching the best invoicing program for my scoping business.
I started using FreshBooks in 2013 and haven’t looked back.
What is FreshBooks?
FreshBooks is a cloud-based accounting software designed for freelancers and small businesses. While its primary function is to help “make billing painless,” it also does an excellent job of keeping track of my time and expenses.
My Favorite Features
While FreshBooks prides themselves on keeping things simple, it’s also packed with some killer features. Here are some of my favorites:
1. FreshBooks Is Free For Up To Three Clients.
FreshBooks offers a tiered pricing plan, but you can try it free for 30 days, no credit card required. If you end up loving it, you can continue to use it for free for up to 3 clients.
If you need more than three clients, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan, which is $9.95 a month for five clients. If the five-client offer doesn’t show up on their pricing page, you can contact them, and they’ll send you a link to that plan.
Down the road, if you find you don’t need the paid version, you also have the option to downgrade to the free account.
Things to keep in mind with the free account
- Your invoices will say “sent using FreshBooks.” Not a huge deal, but it’s good to know. Once you’ve upgraded, you can choose to use your own logo or remove the FreshBooks brand.
- You’ll have to manually import expenses from your bank account and credit cards. Automated importing is only available for paid accounts.
- You’re limited to 3 clients.
2. Alerts You When Your Invoice Has Been Viewed
And now my favorite peace-of-mind feature when it comes to working with new clients: FreshBooks shows you when your client has viewed the invoice. Before FreshBooks, I can’t tell you how many clients claimed they never received my invoices.
3. Automatic Late Payment Reminders
Writing late payment e-mails can be uncomfortable and can leave you feeling drained. Plus, it’s just plain time-consuming. But thanks to FreshBooks, you can create up to three customized reminders that automatically send if your client doesn’t pay within the agreed-upon time frame. Most of the time, if a client just forgot, it simply reminds them to pay.
As a freelancer, sometimes it’s hard not to take it personally when a client doesn’t prioritize my invoices. Enabling this feature helps me keep my emotions out of it and leaves more time for the important things.
4. Customer Review
Asking for feedback from a client can be, well, awkward. With FreshBooks, you have the option to ask your clients to review and rate their experience with you on a scale of 0-10, complete with a section for comments. Receiving this feedback is crucial to your business. You can even compile all of your glowing reviews and use them on your website.
So no more biting your nails, wondering if they were happy with your work product. You now have the proof in an e-mail.
5. Integrates With Other Accounting And Payment Applications
FreshBooks easily integrates with other accounting applications such as QuickBooks, which is pretty convenient when tax time rolls around. It also integrates with payment gateways like PayPal and Stripe.
6. Reports And Graphs
It’s important to know what’s going on with your business, especially when it comes to your money. And sometimes you just want to see it all at a glance. FreshBooks offers easy-to-use reports and beautiful graphs that do just that. I love how I’m able to see a graph of my income status right when I log in, and having easy access to my reports is convenient.
Some of the most popular ones are:
- Accounts Aging – Find out which clients are taking a long time to pay.
- Expense Report – See how much money you’re spending, and where you’re spending it.
- Invoice Details – A detailed history of all invoices you’ve sent over any period of time.
- Profit and Loss – Find out if you’re making more money than you’re spending.
- Tax Summary – See the details of taxes you’ve paid and collected between any period.
- Timesheet Details – Get the details on how much time you and/or your teammates tracked.
7. FreshBooks Values Their Customers
A company’s customer service is either a deal maker or a deal breaker. Thankfully, in this case, FreshBooks passed with flying colors. I’ve had nothing but good experiences with their program and their award-winning support service.
If you have a great billing system, keeping track of invoices can be a breeze. If not, invoicing can take up many of your non-billable hours, leaving you less time to make money. If you can relate to the latter, it might be time for you to reevaluate how you’re invoicing clients.
So would I recommend FreshBooks for scopists? Definitely. But don’t take my word for it. Check out their site, do some research, and decide for yourself. Every freelancer is different and has different preferences.
Whatever billing system you choose, though, I think we can all agree: The end goal is to spend more time growing your scoping business and less time dealing with accounting and chasing down clients for payment.
If you’re interested in taking FreshBooks for a test drive, simply click the link below: