We recently started using Freshbooks for quotes, invoicing, expenses and time tracking.
And love it!
It’s one of the easiest websites we’ve ever navigated and that’s because it’s really intuitive.
Initially, we noticed some differences with terminology, but then it’s created by Americans! For example, they use estimate and we use quote. Freshbooks enables the functionality to change the naming convention to whatever suits your business.
Your Time and Tracking It
You’ve got the option to manually log project time or use the pop-up timer to track and record time. The timer has the typical pause and play buttons, drop down menus to select your project and task, a box to generate the number of hours, and a big green “Log Hours Button”. There’s also a text field to include any project notes. We use this area to describe the project details, and what was accomplished during the logged hours. If you happen to forget to enter the project details, you can easily regain access under the Freshbooks Time Tracking tab. Then find the date on the calendar and scroll beneath it to locate the project the missing notes project and click the edit link! Easy peasy.
Your Freshbooks Settings
Establishing your Freshbooks settings is easy to do and we can’t emphasise the word easy enough! The layout is organised in a step-by-step process starting with Company, Taxes, Colors & Logo, Template, Permissions, Online Payment, Emails, Misc, but you’re free to select and edit content on any page at any time. Every page prompts you to populate fields with explanations in case you don’t really catch the Freshbooks drift. For example, you’re in the Company tab and you’ve been asked to populate a field marked “Profession”. There’s a handy link titled, What’s this used for? that redirects you to a information/help page.
Plus each required field is marked with a large red asterisks and it’s totally not possible to walk away without saving, because there’s a large green save button at the bottom of the page taunting you.
Before you leave the settings area, don’t forget to hit up the Taxes tab and include any tax info. But be sure to have your Tax number/ID info handy, since you’ll be required to enter this as well.
The seriously fun part was uploading our logo and adjusting the menu colour scheme to compliment our brand. It was easy enough to do since we’ve been making use of a white and black colour palette. But there’s still more customisation available for your company within the Email tab. You’ll have the option to send unbranded emails for estimates and invoices and a custom subject line.
Once you’ve got all that stuff completed, you can dig into the permissions for the Freshbooks Administrator and staff. If you’re an independent freelancer, you will simply edit the Administrator category, but if you’re like us at GrupoConway with more than one Freshbooks login, you’ll make a few adjustments in the staff category too.
Then there’s the Online Payments tab that can be customized with your PayPal or Authorize.net gateways. Although, if you are handling funds in any denomination other than USD you’ll be charged a handling fee with PayPal, so make sure to read the fine print and research all of your options. Regardless, we love the idea of the online payment gateway because our clients can pay us instantly.
The heart of Freshbooks is in the ability to track expenses. They really cared about offering the whole package when they incorporated this feature. There’s also an iPhone App for this! We downloaded it a few days ago and think it’s amazingly easy to use. The simplicity of the App may actually be better than Freshbooks! We like the availability the mobile app offers to track expenses since it’s a pretty easy way of getting things done on the go. Say, when you’re waiting in a coffee break line. It’s a supportive tool to help us busy professionals multi-task.
Estimates & Invoicing
The brilliance of Freshbooks is the ability to send out estimates and invoices. It truly confirms the beginning and end of your client projects. It also takes a load off by having to populate your pretty template and keep it filed accordingly. Plus, if you want, you can let Freshbooks manage the billing aspect too with recurring billing on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. There’s also other options for longer intervals.
If the recurring billing isn’t for you just yet, you can create your own invoice, add a flat fee or hourly rate, offer a discount, and include taxes. You have the option to enter in billable services and products under tasks or items. Just so we’re all clear, tasks are things you charge for on an hourly basis and items are specific items with a flat rate for services rendered. For example, you’ve purchased stock images or photos on behalf of a client, you’d enter this billable item under items. Same for something like travel time, which you might charge a flat rate of £30.00 instead of your normal flat rate of £95.00. The invoice also include payment options for your client. They can login to Freshbooks and send a payment notification stating the amount paid (hopefully it’s the full amount). You can also send invoices via email, that are unbranded without a Freshbook logo and with a customised subject line.
We know switching from something familiar can be tedious to do, especially when work lurks in the background, but we think it’s worth considering the free monthly trial. We were really excited to dive into Freshbooks!
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