Running your own business or monetizing your blog can be hard work, especially when it is time to get payment for advertisements or services rendered.
I have tested and reviewed several online invoicing tools that may be helpful to you. Each is rated up to 5 stars, with 5 stars being excellent.
1. Blinksale offers a several plans, including a free plan, which allows you to send up to 3 invoices each month. It is marketed as a monthly service, so you can upgrade and downgrade as your needs change. There is no long term contract.
The signup process was easy. I just had to put my information, create a personalized URL and that was it! To log in, I just have to visit http://myblinksaleID.blinksale.com. The only thing I didn’t understand was that after I finished an invoice and wanted to send it, Blinksale kept telling me that I hadn’t assigned it to a client. What I had to do was to go back into my client list and assign a “person” to the client name. That’s kind of silly when most of my clients are individuals, not businesses.
The site design is pretty intuitive, although it would be great if there was a flash video or help file that could walk you through everything you need to do to ensure Blinksale works the first time. Blinksale can work with Basecamp, a very popular online project management system and you can get payments sent to you via PayPal.
I sent an invoice to myself as a test – and the text was distorted. So, I did have to view it online. Not a major bug, but definitely something to look into in the future. Overall, Blinksale is pretty easy to use and with 8 templates (and the option to use your own CSS), you can customize the invoices to fit your needs.
(Blinksale offers free accounts, the option to use your own cascading style sheets to customize your invoices and integration with popular online project management system Basecamp.)
2. SimplifyThis is another online invoicing client that offers a free account with 3 invoices per month. Upon creating my account, I was greeted with a popup window. This window gave me information on how to get started. This window reappears every time I log in and log out, unless I ask it not to appear. This is a good idea if you have multiple people using the same account. With a free account, it is probably just the same person, so this is kind of unnecessary.
The site is run with Ajax, so there’s not a lot of reloading of the page as you navigate. On the main page, you can add clients easily (business name is optional), add services and items to invoice clients for, and a list of unbilled charges. SimplifyThis, like Blinksale, aims to help you manage invoices. But SimplifyThis goes a step further by providing you a way to manage your time and resources without leaving the SimplifyThis screen.
SimplifyThis is a little less cumbersome than Blinksale and fits in more with the current web trends of Ajax, fresh, clean colors and design. SimplifyThis also sent me a welcome email with instructions on how to get started (Blinksale did not and FreshBooks did).
There are 6 available templates for SimplifyThis invoices. You can also customize your payments to be sent to you via PayPal or Authorize.Net. The invoice from SimplifyThis was formatted properly in my email client. I was surprised to see a .pdf attachment of my invoice, too! This is great for sending to clients who need paper copies of everything.
A few days after signing up, my “SimplifyThis buddy” emailed me to offer his assistance to me in getting started with the program. (That’s kind of cool!)
An additional feature of note is SimplifyThis’ affiliate program. You can earn money by recruiting new users. You get paid 30% of their subscription fees for one year.
(SimplifyThis offers far more features, even for free accounts than some other online invoicing tools. The format and layout is fresh, and email invoices come to clients without being jumbled up.)
3. FreshBooks offers email and snail mail invoicing (you buy the stamps through FreshBooks). You can also manage time sheets and estimates via FreshBook’s interface. Unlike Blinksale and Simplifythis, FreshBooks does not email your clients an invoice. They receive a link to visit – where they can view, print or pay the invoice.
After signing in, you can manage your clients, invoices, time sheets, estimates and more. The screen you use is customizable. FreshBooks also offers far more payment options than Blinksale or Simplifythis. This is a great option for larger businesses or consultants who work with large businesses. However, it can be a little overwhelming to have so many choices if you are accepting payments mainly through PayPal.
The packages offered by FreshBooks are a little more expensive than the other options, but it is justifiable, given that FreshBooks offers an API and seems to be better suited for more complex organizations.
FreshBooks’ website is very utilitarian and can be difficult to navigate. If you don’t remember your assigned personal url of http://myfreshbooksid.freshbooks.com, you can enter your email address and get the URL. This is very nifty.
Adding clients is a little clunky, but clients can get their own personalized username and password to access their invoices from you via FreshBooks. Estimates can be converted into invoices, and you can generate over 10 different invoice or project reports for business or client use.
(A lot of the features would not be used to their potential by the typical web worker or consultant. The overall clunkiness of the website is also a detraction.)
If you have another invoicing program or solution that you really like, definitely let us know in the comments! ❗
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