If you’re doing any kind of business or freelancing online, then you’ve got to have some kind of system.
I’ve done a lot of exploration on this topic. I’ve looked at over a dozen different systems, and all my struggle trying things out means that you can save yourself a major headache. There’s one I’ve been using diligently for over five years and I’ve been loving it: Freshbooks.
Before even getting into some of the practical day-to-day in my use, the overall concept that’s especially important is this: it’s easy. There isn’t a week that goes by that I’m not using it, and when I do, I use it quickly and freely and hardly miss a beat.
Is it the “absolute best”? Hard to say. You could waste a lot of time weighing alternatives. The short answer is probably that Freshbooks is popular because it gets things done reasonably simply for a wide range of people.
So that’s the spirit: simplicity. Here are some of the brass tacks in my day-to-day use.
Coordinating with a team and logging time
You may not have people helping you yet. When you do, you’ll appreciate that this system is a breeze: they log time, and you see a progress bar that tells you how you’re doing with your project budget: super clear at a glance.
The time that they log is easily converted into invoices for clients with a click: billable hours go in, a clear-cut invoice goes out.
If you work on a fixed-price basis, it’s even easier. Just make line items for milestones and voilà — you’re done. (And their book, Breaking The Time Barrier makes a great case for a fixed-price approach — check that out too.)
Invoicing and payments
This part has gotten better and better over time, too. You generate invoices whenever you like: you can populate them with hours from the team, or manually create line items. We use generally go by milestones, and send them out when we reach certain points in projects.
A nice touch is that you can show a complete project cost and request a percentage for a deposit. This makes things really clear, and easy to manage.
Also, I’m a huge fan of recurring invoices. If you offer ongoing services (monthly, yearly, etc) this works like a charm. Set it up once, and then they go out regularly from then on.
It’s easy to try out
They’ve got a nice free trial and the learning curve is very smooth. In addition to the 30-day free trial, I’ve got a special deal that gives you a free month if you decide to upgrade (and I get a free month, too).
Anyway, go ahead and give it a try — and let me know how it goes!
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