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Invoices, so exciting!

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Yes, time to step into the dry numerical world of billing and invoices. Actually, I'm pretty excited about this new find http://www.billingmanager.com/ It's a simple and FREE online billing system by Intuit, that is in my opinion, the perfect solution for freelance designers. It's got the simplicity of other services (like Blinksale or Freshbooks) but without any limitations on invoices or contacts. It supposedly will remain free forever, with Intuit making money by upselling users to accepting credit cards (something that we designers don't need since we are perfectly happy accepting bad checks). But you never have to actually use their credit card service, and they even say so on their site.

 

Other nice perks: The invoices look clean and elegant, there are a few templates to choose from, and you can use your own logo. You can quickly see a snapshot of how much those bastard clients of yours owe you at any given time (Just kidding! I love my clients!) something that is impossible if you're invoices consist of a folder with a few hundred illustrator documents.

 

I'm a big advocate of using billing software like this. If you don't already, I think you'll find it makes your life easier, clients tend to respect your invoices more (IMO, they see that you're using billing software, and they know you know they haven't paid you yet), and if you just enter hours in your line items, it makes for a pretty good time tracking system.

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I've been using Quickbooks which I have no complaints about other than that my bank doesn't allow you to dload data to Quickbooks files, so I have to enter all my transactions in manually.

 

And yeah, having an organized invoice system is key. I was building my invoices in Illustrator before. It's also nice to open up Quickbooks and see just how much your clients owe you! Don't think it's gonna make 'em pay any sooner though. That's what late fees are for!

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Good timing. I just hit (again) 25 active clients on Freshbooks and I am getting prodded to upgrade. Rather than weed through and delete someone that I've not worked with in a while, I'd rather find an alternative.

 

Looks cool, although I did like the Basecamp integration in Freshbooks. This could use some sort of time tracking, that's my only complaint.

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I don't really understand why people have to buy programs in order to invoice clients. I just set up one invoice in word, and keep adjusting it for each new job.

Is it that you are having to keep track of a large volume of accounts?

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I don't really understand why people have to buy programs in order to invoice clients. I just set up one invoice in word, and keep adjusting it for each new job.

Is it that you are having to keep track of a large volume of accounts?

 

I did this for the first few invoices after going freelance. I found myself quickly getting very confused as to which jobs I had billed, what was still owed (and for how long). Pulling reports on how much I had earned at any given point (to make sure I was on track for taxes) was a pain in the ass. Plus, when you simply email an invoice, that's an unsecure document going out over the interweb, which matters to some.

 

I simply find it worth a few bucks each month to have a billing system I can access from anywhere that tracks all the things that I need to know at any given time; how much I currently have billed out, who is late, what I've made so far, etc. Late notices are sent out automatically and when I receive a payment, the client is notified that I've been paid and that their account is up to date. I can, with the click of a button, turn an estimate into an invoice or even turn my timesheet into an invoice for hourly jobs. With Freshbooks, I can even track deductions on a per-job basis. Plus, the service itself a tax deduction.

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I don't really understand why people have to buy programs in order to invoice clients. I just set up one invoice in word, and keep adjusting it for each new job.

Is it that you are having to keep track of a large volume of accounts?

 

I do the same...but at the same time I only freelance part time. So I'm really never dealing with more than 5 freelance clients at a time.

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I don't really understand why people have to buy programs in order to invoice clients. I just set up one invoice in word, and keep adjusting it for each new job.

Is it that you are having to keep track of a large volume of accounts?

 

I used to do it this way too, but the advantage to using software is that you can see a snapshot of the total for your open and overdue invoices, which you can't do with a bunch of word docs. Another advantage is that it does all the math for you, so if you have a bunch of line items there's no chance of messing up the math for your hours and the total. I used to think invoicing software would just slow me down, but in my experience it has actually sped up and simplified the whole process.

 

On top of that, this one is free, so there's no harm in checking it out.

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On The Job is what I use. It's not that fancy really but does everything I need and makes invoices from time sheets. I just keep an invoices sent folder and invoices paid folder and move the jobs there when appropriate. That way I can get a quick total of outstanding invoices and invoices paid.

 

http://stuntsoftware.com/OnTheJob/

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I signed up and looked around and it does look like a very nice system. I'll probably give it a go. The only pain will be bringing all of this years invoices so far into the system so I have a good tally of the year.

 

Thanks for the tip!

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I used quickbooks for a bit (even paid for training, in a fit of bizarre organisational madness) and have ended up going back to knocking up PDF invoices and entering all my accounts into a home made spreadsheet. I just name my submitted invoices logically and have them all sitting in one folder which gives me most of the things I need to know quickly (ie: who owes, and how much)...

 

"13 OMNICOMPRODUCTS030_ROBOTCOP_1000_00.pdf"

 

 

13 is my invoice number so I can list em in chronological order

 

OMNICOM030 is the invoice name, based on client's name how many times they've been invoiced - in this case, this is OCP's third.

 

ROBOCOP is the project name

 

1000_00 is the total charge of my fees

 

 

I stick an X after the invoice number until it's paid so I know which payments are outstanding.

 

It seems to work for me, but I'm only firing 2 or 3 invoices a month...

 

Red wine. I'm rambling.

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