Congratulations! You have finally finished that huge project you have been working on for the past six months. It’s almost time to celebrate. Almost, but not quite yet. Better to save opening that champagne for when that sweet, sweet payment arrives. That is, if you remember to invoice your client. A freelancer, if he wants to get paid, will also need to invoice his clients. It’s a bother, I know, so here is are best invoice software choices you have as a freelancer, small business or startup.
What is an Invoice?
So what is an invoice in the first place? Investopedia defines invoice as:
A commercial document that itemizes a transaction between a buyer and seller.
Translated to freelancing, you are the seller, since you are providing (selling) a specific service, while the client is the buyer of that same service.
In other words, if you want to get paid for your work, you need to use an invoice software.
In general, an invoice, which can also be called a sales invoice, contains:
- Date. When was the invoice created? Provided you set the payment terms and late payment fees in your contract or statement of work (SOW) with the client, this part of the invoice will tell the client when his payment is due. So don’t forget it.
- Client’s name and information. Back in the day of paper invoicing and billing, you had to include the customer’s address and phone number. However, with the introduction of invoice software, all you need is his name and email address and the program will take care of the rest.
- Freelancer’s name and information. Pretty much the same deal as with the client’s name and info. Since everything is done online in freelancing as it is, there’s no need for giving your home/office address and phone number. An email will suffice.
- Description of services. This shows what services, in what quantity and at what price did you provide to the client.
- Terms of payment. Here all you need to do is follow what the contract says. For instance, if payment is within 30 days in the contract, that’s what it should say here as well.
Now that you know a bit more about what an invoice is, it’s time to see what are the best 5 invoice software options you can use.
Zoho actually has a whole suite of apps, including business process, marketing, HR and email tools, as well as invoice, of course. The app allows you to easily create, design and customize your invoices, even if you are using the free account. It also works on mobile, so it’s a good choice if you’re on the move and not always near your computer.
This invoice software comes in two variations. The free account can be used for up to five clients. If you need more than that, a paid plan starts at $7 per month and can be used for up to 50 clients. The service is integrated with PayPal, Google Checkout, Authorize.net, Stripe and other major payment gateways.
Freshbooks is a very wide-reaching invoice software. There are lots of features here that you’ll find extremely useful and Freshbooks allows you to really personalize and brand your invoices. That said, there are some features that are not that useful and can overwhelm the user.
However, if you want to accept deposits for the work you have not yet compelted, receive reminders and deal with late fees, thehn FreshBooks is a great option. You can also use it to track your invoices and, and I think many freelancers will love this, calculate your taxes.
Unfortunately, it comes with a price. There is a free version, yes, but you can only invoice one client per month. Not exactly useful. Paid plans start from $15 per month for five clients, $25 per month for 50 clients and $50 per month for 500 clients. If you are not sure, you can take it for a free trial and cancel at any time if you figure that it’s not for you or have a better option.
If FreshBooks is a little complicated (in that “help, I don’t know what I’m doing” way), then you’ll enjoy Simplybill much better. As the name tells you, this invoice software is simple to use. Everything is nicely (and more importantly logically) sectioned and it shouldn’t take you more than half an hour from when you first open it to start sending invoices to clients.
That said, Simplybill is only for invoicing and nothing more. Unlike Zoho or Freshbooks for instance, or some others on this list, you can’t use it for other tasks. Also, the free plan is a very limited for a basically stripped down invoice app and you can only send three invoices per month. Surprisingly, you can have unlimited clients with it. For $5 per month, you can send 25 invoices per month and if you want unlimited clients and unlimited invoices, you need to pay $25 per month.
PayPanther has one of the most intuitive dashboards of all invoice apps. There are “paid” “due” and “billable” sectors, a calendar page and even a “feeds” box if you want to communicate with your team. You can also sync it with your Google account (for Google calendar users), Outlook or iPad and iPhone (if you’re using Mac calendar).
The PayPal option is only available to users from the United States.
It also allows you to bill your clients in several ways, including per-project, flat, per item or per user.
The free plan can be used by one user for up to three clients. For $24 per month, you can have two users and 500 clients (when paid annually) and for $39 per month, you can have 5 users and 5,000 clients (wow!) paid annually.
The Invoice Machine has a very straightforward and easy-to-use interface. This makes creating and sending invoices very easy, even if you don’t have a lot of experience with this type of task (don’t worry, you’ll soon become a pro if you’re a freelancer).
You can also export your invoices as XML or CSV files.
The app is very simple. Perhaps too simple and that’s its only real fault. It doesn’t offer any other features other than invoicing and the report only shows “paid” and “unpaid” statuses. No other information (most of which could be very useful) is not visible.
The free plan is for one user and unlimited clients. However, you are limited to three invoices every month. For $12 per month, you can have two users and unlimited clients (30 invoices per month) and for $48 per month, you get unlimited users, clients and invoices.
What invoice app are you using? Let me know if there’s an invoice software I forgot to include in the comments below and share this post with your freelancing friends and colleagues. Also, if you need a useful tool or app for something other than invoicing, take a look at my pick of 33 tools and apps that will make your life as a freelance writer easier.