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I’ve asked a lot of freelancers which invoicing software they use, and the most common response has always been, Freshbooks. For that reason, I thought it was time for an in-depth review of this popular accounting software. So, whether it’s top notch invoicing you’re looking for, or a platform that can handle all of your accounting needs, keep reading to find out if Freshbooks lives up to the hype.
What Is Freshbooks?
Freshbooks is a cloud-based accounting and invoicing software program that caters to freelancers and other small businesses. It’s been around for over a decade, when it first launched as an online invoicing application. Since then, it’s grown into a full-featured software platform, capable of handling just about any small business accounting need. Freshbooks connects to over 2,000 3rd party apps, and boasts a highly intuitive mobile app, making it easy to manage invoicing and business transactions on the go.
Getting Started with Freshbooks
Opening a Freshbooks account is easy, in fact, you don’t even need a credit card up front. You do need to provide them with an email address and password. From there, Freshbooks will send you an email to verify your account. This is where you’ll provide some basic personal information ie. name and address, and respond to a short questionnaire about your business.
Once verified, you’ll receive a link to download the Freshbooks app onto your iPhone or Android device. This only takes a minute. The Freshbooks dashboard acts as your landing page on both the mobile and desktop versions. It displays key metrics, such as your outstanding revenue, total profit, and your spending. From the dashboard, you can access key tools with one click, like the invoice generator and the expense and time trackers.
Whether you’re using the desktop or mobile app, one of the first things you’ll notice is that any data you enter syncs instantly between your devices. It’s pretty impressive.
Opening A Freshbooks Account In 3 Easy Steps
- Enter your email address and create a secure password.
- Complete your personal profile to verify your account.
- Download the Freshbooks mobile app.
Freshbooks is jam-packed with tools and resources for freelancers. To give you an idea of all that’s available, let’s take a closer look at some of it’s primary features:
With Freshbooks, you can create customized invoices with ease. This includes adding your company logo along with a personalized thank you note to your client. It’s a nice touch that’s bound to impress.
Freshbooks makes it easy for you to get paid, by enabling clients to pay online using their Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or Apple Pay. Payment can be made directly from the invoice.
Depending on the Freshbooks plan you choose, invoices can also be automated to recur at regular intervals, send reminders, and charge late fees. They can even be converted into a foreigh language or currency.
There are times that you may want to negotiate an up front deposit with your client. This can be included in the invoice and sent for payment prior to your work being started. Another thing I like about Freshbooks Invoicing are the built in tools to track your time and expenses. This ensures that you receive full payment for the work you’re doing.
For more information on Freshbooks Invoicing, check out this video:
As a freelancer, I know how valuable my time is, so whenever a task can be automated, I’m all for it. When you connect your bank and credit card accounts to Freshbooks, all of your bank transactions are automatically uploaded for you. After you make a purchase in a store, you can take a picture of the receipt with your phone, and upload it directly into Freshbooks for secure storage. These are the kinds of features that will make things easier come tax time.
Freshbooks Time Tracking
Included in Freshbooks is a built in timer that you can set whenever you start working. This allows you to keep an accurate count of your hours worked. Once finished, you can transfer the data directly into a client invoice. If you manage a virtual assistant or small team, time tracking allows you to see where they are spending their time.
Freshbooks is well equipped to handle all of your accounting needs. They have added a Double Entry accounting method along with automatic checks and balances, which helps to keep errors to a minimum. You can give your accountant access to your Freshbooks account, so that they can access your financial information any time they need it. Your banking transactions are automatically uploaded into Freshbooks, matched and categorized. Freshbooks will alert you of items that need to be matched, allowing you to sign off with a quick approval.
Freshbooks Mobile App
As a freelancer, you’re often on the move. And while you’ll often have a laptop at your disposal, Freshbooks has a mobile app (iOS and Android) that manages most key functions with ease. You can use the Freshbooks app to create invoices, upload store receipts, chat with clients in real time, and receive automatic updates, such as when a client sends you a payment. It also stays in sync with the desktop software, so you’re always up to date.
You can use Freshbooks to communicate with clients or collaborate with a team on project details. Assign project due dates, invite interested parties to a project, share and manage files inside Freshbooks, and control permissions (what others can and cannot access). Personally, I prefer to stick to a dedicated project management application like Asana or Trello for this purpose, but it’s nice to know the functionality is there.
Freshbooks Estimates and Proposals
If you’ve created an estimate for a client using Freshbooks, you can convert it to a final invoice with just a few clicks. Freshbooks Proposals allows you to draw up an outline of the project for a client within Freshbooks. This prevents you from having to use another program, saving time.
In addition to the online payment options I mentioned earlier, clients can pay with one click directly on the invoice. You can also set up checkouts on your website, or other locations online, to accept payment.
Freshbooks has a colorful dashboard which puts the data at your fingertips. You can also download a number of reports, including Profit and Loss, Sales Tax Summary, Payments Collected, Expense, Invoice Details, and more. Giving your accountant access to your Freshbooks account means that they can access the same reporting with ease.
When you open a Freshbooks account, you’ll choose from 4 different service plans: Lite, Plus, Premium, and Select. In my opinion, most freelancers will opt for either Lite or Plus, depending on the number of clients they are working with. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at Freshbooks pricing and what’s offered in the different plans. (Prices listed are in US dollars)
Freshbooks Promotional Offer (until January 20, 2021)
Until January 20th, Freshbooks is offering a 70% discount for 3 months on the Lite, Plus, and Premium Plans. This applies to both the monthly and annual billing options. When the 3 month period ends, standard pricing resumes. The offer is for new customers only, and cannot be combined with other offers. The offer is subject to change at any time.
Freshbooks Lite supports up to 5 billable clients, so it’s perfect for the freelancer who’s getting started and only has a handful of clients at any given time. Pricing is $15/month when billed monthly, or $13.50/month for annual billing (10% discount). Features include unlimited, customizable invoicing and expense entries, the ability to accept online payments via credit cards and ACH bank transfers, as well as automatic importing of bank transactions and unlimited time tracking.
- $15/month or $13.50/month with annual billing
- Max. 5 billable clients
- Unlimited, customizable invoices
- Unlimited expenses
- Online payments (credit card & ACH bank transfers)
- Auto import of banking transactions
- Unlimited time tracking
- Client estimates
- Over 200 integrations
- Team members ($10/person)
At $25/month, the Plus Plan offers support for up to 50 billable clients, which is a big jump from Lite. Plus adds some other useful features, including the ability to create client proposals, set up automatic recurring invoices, and late payment reminders. It also enables you to accept up front deposits from your clients using the invoicing system.
- $25/month, or $22.50/month with annual billing
- All Lite features, plus;
- Max. 50 billable clients
- Create proposals
- Set Auto Recurring Invoices
- Double Entry Accounting Reports
- Scheduled Late Fees
- Automated Late Payment Reminders
- Client Deposits
- Advanced Payments ($20/month)
Freshbooks Premium is more than most solopreneurs will ever need, however, if you’ve scaled your freelance business into a full blown agency, then it might be the plan for you. At $50/month ($45/mth billed annually), it’s a big jump from Plus, with the only added feature being support for up to 500 billable clients.
- $50/month, or $45/month with annual billing
- All Lite AND Plus features, plus;
- Max. 500 billable clients
Select is Freshbooks top tier, and it comes with custom pricing, which will likely vary depending on the needs of your business. What I can tell you is that you’ll have access to a personal Account Manager, customized training from Freshbooks for you and your staff, preferred transaction fees when your clients pay online, and integration with Quickbooks and Xero.
- Customized pricing
- Your own personal Account Manager
- Customized training
- Preferred credit card transaction rates
- QuickBooks and Xero integration
One of the things that makes Freshbooks so intuitive, is the number of 3rd party integrations they support. As a freelancer, you no doubt use a number of tools in your business, to manage your website, email, social media and your workflow. In no particular order, here’s a list of just some of the apps you connect to your Freshbooks account:
Freshbooks vs. Quickbooks
If you are wondering how Freshbooks stacks up against another accounting software giant, Quickbooks, the short answer is that both programs have plenty to offer. Perhaps the better question to ask, is which software is best suited for freelancers and solopreneurs?
Quickbooks recently increased their regular pricing, giving Freshbooks a slight edge on cost. Freshbooks Lite is $15/month while Plus, ideal for busy freelancers, is $25/month. Quickbooks equivalent plans are $25 and $40 respectively.
Freshbooks plans and pricing are based upon the number of billable clients you have, while Quickbooks seems more concerned with the number of users. To me this is more evidence of the types of clients each one is targeting.
I may be splitting hairs on this one, but I prefer the Freshbooks Invoice generator to the Quickbooks invoicing tool, as it’s more flexible and easy to use. I do wish both Freshbooks and Quickbooks offered a free invoicing option, with limited features.
Quickbooks has inventory tools to benefit retail and manufacturing businesses, where Freshbooks cannot manage inventory. Quickbooks also has built in payroll management, whereas Freshbooks relies on integration with 3rd party suppliers like Gusto.
So, is Freshbooks better than Quickbooks? In my opinion, Freshbooks is the better choice for freelancers and small, service-based businesses, while Quickbooks has more to offer traditional retail and manufacturing companies, due to their advanced payroll and inventory features.
Is Freshbooks Safe?
Anytime you’re dealing with cloud-based software, the question is bound to be asked: “Is it safe?” On their website privacy and security page, Freshbooks details the many ways they are keeping client information protected. This includes full, 256-bit SSL encryption, which is the same level of protection used by banks for their online banking platforms.
Freshbooks Customer Service
You can reach Freshbooks customer service between 8 AM and 8PM, Monday to Friday. Support is available via phone, email, and live chat. You can also get answers to questions right on the Freshbooks website, which has a powerful search support tool and a blog offering a huge number of articles on just about any accounting related topic you could think of.
Freshbooks Pros and Cons
As with any accounting software, Freshbooks has its strengths and weaknesses. Thankfully, the good far outweighs the bad. To help you I’ve compiled the following snapshot of Freshbook pros and cons:
- Easy-to-use, cloud based software
- Competitive pricing at Lite and Plus tiers
- Class leading invoicing tool is perfect for freelancers
- Online payment capability via credit cards and bank transfers
- Integrates seamlessly with hundreds of banks, and 3rd party software applications
- Mobile app is slick and intuitive
- Double Entry Accounting capability
- Unlimited Time Tracking
- Invoicing automation saves time
- Lags Quickbooks on features for larger businesses (ie. payroll, inventory)
- No free invoicing option available
- Unable to view reports on the mobile app
Freshbooks Software Review: The Verdict
Here at Zero To Freelance, we have one person in mind when reviewing tools like Freshbooks: you, the freelancer. So, with this in mind, Freshbooks is our top choice for accounting and invoicing software. Simply put, it feels as though it was designed specifically with the freelancer in mind.
Freshbooks invoicing is feature laden and intuitive, and functions seamlessly on both desktop or mobile. Throw in the capability for online payment, advanced time tracking features, and 3rd party integrations with platforms such as Shopify, Zoom, Dropbox or GSuite, and it all adds up to a winning package.
On the flipside, if you own a medium to large business which requires in depth payroll and inventory tracking, then Quickbooks may be the better way to go. If you decide to open a Freshbooks account, I recommend choosing the annual pricing option as a way to save money, if you can.
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