I’ve come to discover that a great system for invoicing is necessary for any freelancer. I started out creating invoices in excel and as my client base grew, it began to be quite a nuisance. There was no great way to manage the invoices. I had to open them one at a time, I had no idea how many were outstanding and to boot, they always somehow looked weird. Recently my husband turned me on to Freshbooks. I’m sure there are lots of great invoicing systems out there, but this one has really changed things for me, so I thought I’d share!
Freshbooks was super easy to learn and simple to use (musts for someone like me!) It allows me to track all my clients and gives me detailed reports. Once I put in the client information, it saves it, so I never have to input it again and I’m now building a great client database. With the click of a button it sends a professional looking invoice via email or snail mail. It tells me if a client has viewed a particular invoice and when, which I find reassuring (I know they actually received it!) and useful (if I need to gently “remind” them, I know when they last viewed it). Freshbooks gives all kinds of detailed reports, showing me how much money I’ve earned for any given time period and what has been collected vs. what’s outstanding. It has a feature for creating estimates and there’s also a feature for tracking your expenses.
Freshbooks also allows me to easily track my time, which is proving to be an eye-opener. Recently I decided that I need to get a bit more specific about how I’m spending my work day. As a freelancer, there’s often a feeling that I’m “not doing enough”, or, conversely, I might think I’m working “a lot” but in reality it only amounts to a few hours. I am now starting to track my time on a daily basis. How much time do I actually spend on auditions (and how much of that time translates into jobs booked)? How much time do I actually spend per job (how much am I really making an hour)? How about practicing? How much practice time am I actually carving out on a regular basis? For promo? For video games? Knowledge is power. If I can track how much time I’m actually spending on my career and it’s various tasks, I’ll not only able to make better use of my time, but I can start making accurate projections and setting competitive goals for myself. It also gives me piece of mind, allowing me to focus on what actually is, as opposed to what I “think” or “feel” (or fear!) it might be.
I’d love to hear how others are managing things like invoicing and time tracking! If you’re looking for an easy and beneficial solution, I definitely recommend checking out Freshbooks! It’s well worth the $19.95/month (up to 25 clients) or $29.95/month (unlimited clients).