The onslaught of online applications means that there is probably a program that caters to our every financial and administrative whim. Invoicing programs are a great way to save on postage, faxing paper and time. They also keep the hard copy files down to a minimum. For freelancers, independent contractors and small businesses, chances are fair that you’re without the benefits of HR and accounting folk, so finding a quick and easy way to get the busy work done and getting paid is vital.
I chatted with Michael Leone, the Owner of Coastline Internet Marketing Group. He’s used FreshBooks.com for over three years. He pays $39 a month and checks his account once a week to review the status of his invoices. What does Leone like most about Freshbooks? How simple and easy the application is to use.
“I used to fax my invoices to 20+ customers a month, it took me hours. With Freshbooks, I'm done in 20 minutes,” says Leone. “Even if you're a small company like us, you can brand your invoices to look as professional as you want.”
Leone is a fan of a feature that allows clients to login and review their payment history. There is also the option to send the invoices from the program via snail mail for those who haven’t completely embraced digital.
I took advantage of the free 30-day trials for four other invoice programs in addition to Freshbooks to see how their billing and payment tracking compared. Note: I bill roughly 12 different employers as a freelancer each month.
+ LessAccounting sends and tracks invoices, connects to your banking information, and keeps all that data up to date for you. Cost: $20 a month post free-trial.
+ Cashboard: Besides invoicing, Cashboard also assists with estimation and time tracking. It’s compatible with the iPhone. They also have a very thorough FAQ page on the site. Price is $10 a month.
+ SimplyBill has the jazziest looking invoice templates. Along with time tracking, it also issues out email alerts and saves invoices as pdfs.
+ SimplyInvoices doesn’t limit the number of invoices you send out each month. Pick between 10 templates for $9 or 20 templates for $16! No need to back up your invoices either; they remain archived as long as you keep your account afloat.
I preferred LessAccounting’s format most. But beware: Don’t expect the transition to online billing to be flawless.
“It took a few months for our customers to get used to email invoices,” says Leone. “It is easy for the message to sit in the customer’s inbox. A paper invoice tends to get more attention, but 95% of our clients are billed monthly, so they are getting accustomed to our billing system.”