Unless you’ve got a natural knack for self-organization, billing is one of the most tedious aspects of freelance work. Thankfully, there are a number of Internet tools to track, organize, and even bill freelance work for you.
Most are even free, with optional upgrades to pro features. If you’re spending too much time on scheduling, tracking and billing, it’s time to streamline your work life by incorporating an online scheduling/billing system. These are five favorites; any of them will make billing bearable.
MakeSomeTime is a solid all-around scheduling and management package. From the creation of work to your receipt of payment, MakeSomeTime is at your elbow. It includes a timer to log your freelance hours as you go, and an online permanent invoice and record system that can be accessed by your client at any time via a permanent URL. MakeSomeTime provides detailed reports on demand. The MakeSomeTime iPhone app makes it simple to log work hours on the go.
If you work on multiple short projects, and if you’re always on the run, or if you’re simply interested in the time logistics of your work efforts, Toggl might be the tool for you. It boasts a timer and tracking system that works on multiple platforms (including Linux!) and on multiple devices.
Toggl’s strength is its logistical management of team productivity and earnings; its billing system is less integrated than comparable packages such as MakeSomeTime.
The curiously named CurdBee’s claim to fame is simplicity — it boasts one of the friendliest user interfaces in the sea of scheduling tools. It also boasts a generous standard (free) account. You can manage an infinite number of clients and send an infinite number of invoices, using your own branding on the letterhead.
CurdBee handles billing and accepts online payments through PayPal and Google Checkout, and handles international currency as well. It does not include any tools to track your hours.
BlinkSale is another tool used primarily for billing rather than tracking, but it’s a startup standard. It handles all of the functionality of CurdBee, automates recurring billing, and provides it all within a professional, customizable invoice. Unfortunately, it has no free account option, but rather a 30-day trial.
It’s standard (free) membership provides relatively modest services, yet FreshBooks’ system is one of the most widely used by startups. FreshBooks’ pro packages grow as your business grows, allowing you to add professional-grade project management and collaborative functions as you add employees.
The free membership allows you three clients, e-mails with your personal logos, and accepts payments through the site. If you have dreams of your freelance business blossoming into a healthy firm, FreshBooks is the service for you.
Mismanaged scheduling, billing, and tracking time can cost you three to five hours a week. If you’re freelancing full-time, the unpaid time you waste on billing can eat up 12 percent of your billable hours. Try an Internet tool and take back your productive hours.
Guest author Sonia Mansfield is the content editor for PsPrint.com and editor of PsPrint Blog – an online printing solutions company, which you can follow on Twitter @PsPrint.