Each month I invoice about six clients. While that doesn’t seem like much, it’s frankly a real pain. Until recently, I used QuickBooks to generate the invoice and track payments. The problem is that QuickBooks is a fairly convoluted program, particularly for a small operation like mine. On top of that, it’s difficult to delegate this task to others without giving them access to QuickBooks. Recently, I started using FreshBooks to send out invoices and track payments. Having used the tool now for almost a month, I thought it would be a good time to share my experience with FreshBooks through this review.
FreshBooks is an online invoicing tool, time management, and expense tracking tool (although I use it just for invoicing). When you open up a FreshBooks account and login, you’ll land on a page that has the above navigation. The tabs you see are pretty straightforward:
- Homepage – Provides you a detailed record of how many outstanding invoices you have and for how much, as well as a history of paid invoices.
- People – This section of the navigation will house all of your contacts, so whenever you plan to add a new client, make sure to enter their information here.
- Invoices – Here you’ll find all of the invoices you’ve created, as well as the place to start a new invoice. You can see if an invoice has been received by the other party, as well as if they’ve opened the email you sent. When payment is received for an invoice, it should be noted.
- Estimates – Even though this is an area I have yet to use, anyone in need of sending professional looking estimates can do so here. Those estimates can easily be turned into invoices if needed.
- Expenses – Also more useful to someone in another industry, a specific invoice created for expenses can be sent to your clients with ease.
- Time Tracking – If you’re someone who bills your clients based on hours and not jobs, you can use this tool to keep track of all the times spent working.
- Reports – Finally, everything I mentioned above can be found in the reports tab. Estimates, Invoices, Time Sheets and all other paperwork pertaining to clients, jobs and costs are listed within.
So what does a FreshBooks invoice look like?
I’ve grabbed an invoice I recently sent, removed all the sensitive data and stripped it down to its core. You can see that invoices from FreshBooks have just about everything you’d expect. Adding your logo is a nice touch, too.
One great feature of FreshBooks is that everything can happen within the application. I can create a invoice and email it to the contacts I’ve already set up without having to save the invoice and attach it to a separate email.
You can also create other users in FreshBooks. In this way, it’s very easy to delegate the task of creating and sending invoices to an employee or virtual assistant. That’s one of the biggest plusses for me.
FreshBooks also comes with a number of other features. For example, they have an iPhone App that let’s you take FreshBooks on the go. This is ideal if you are going to use it to track time. You can create automatically recurring invoices. You can setup online bill pay through PayPal and other providers, all integrated directly into FreshBooks. And you can easily send reminder notices if a customer is late paying an invoice.
FreshBooks Plans and Costs
If FreshBooks were free, I’d hope that every single person in need of invoicing on the planet would use them. But like any service that saves time, it’s going to cost you. In my opinion, the plans are reasonable because of the amount of time you save, but I’ll let you decide whether or not they fit your budget. Current plans are as follows:
Signing up for the free plan is a great way to give these guys a try at your business. If you like what you see, consider bumping up the plan to take advantage of all the features FreshBooks has to offer.
Published or updated December 12, 2011.