The way things are working out for me, I have some odd bits of freelancing and I feel I need to do a better job tracking this (so I can immediately see everything I’m doing for other people) - and then there are the invoices associated with those projects too which definitely need some kind of system.
I was wondering what systems you are all using to keep track of things (projects and invoices)? I’m well aware there’s no magic bullet, but I’m sure those of you with more experience have some kind of system which I might be able to use as my framework
Me being me, I’d like to automate as much as possible, but a good system is a necessary foundation I can build off of!
The documents and so on are well taken care of, it’s the big picture view I’m struggling with, Client A’s Project 1 - I want something where I can see all the projects I’ve completed for client A, or all projects which haven’t yet been submitted, and ideally the invoice related to each project.
If you’re invoicing too, several online bookkeeping services, such as FreshBooks, QuickBooks, and Xero, help you manage projects. I know bookkeeping seems like an unnecessary expense, especially for a new freelancer, but it’s money you’ll be happy you spent at tax time (plus, at least in the US, you can deduct the fees as business expenses).
I’ve been using my own FileMaker Pro-based invoicing system for nearly 10 years and it works very well. FileMaker is great because you can use it for so many things and it’s very well suited to this sort of thing. I host the invoice database on my Mac but usually use it from FileMaker Mobile on my iPad. Another nice thing about FMP-based solutions is the ability to customize at any time. I can add new layouts or tweak existing ones to suit my purposes.
My current system is set-up with 3 tables: Clients, Invoices, Line items. Invoices are made up as many line items as needed. I can create an unlimited number of invoices per client. With a tap on a button the current invoice is sent to pdf, saved in iCloud and attached to a message already addressed to the client.
Projects and tasks are more of a mish/mash of Things and Notes.
I also have my own FileMaker based invoicing system. It has a timesheet database that I update every evening with the projects (billing codes) that I have worked on that day and how much time was spent. (I use Desktop Task Timer to keep track of that). At the end of each month I enter totals into the Client database and press a button which runs a script (I write lots of filemaker scripts) to generate an Invoice. I could do some more automation but it has been working for me for about 5 years and I just haven’t wanted to mess with it.
Specifically for invoicing and basic accounting (I have my own photography business so I don’t need anything super fancy), I use Wave
It will do invoicing, connect to your bank accounts, take credit card payments, and a lot of other things. It’s completely free and I’ve been happy with their service for years. I give them extra points since, like me, they’re from Canada.
I use Zoho Books for invoicing, banking, pricing, estimates etc. It does do time tracking but I haven’t tested this feature. They also have a host of other applications that integrate with each other. I’m going to look into the Zoho CRM as time permits. It is online, there is a mobile app and always in development.
I’ve also been looking at Zoho, their all in one deal sounds pretty good actually - $35/month for pretty much all of their products. They’ve been speedy with their responses to my requests too which has been nice.
Thanks for the advice everyone! So far I’ve set up an Airtable base with some basic information in (rather than Filemaker, though I might reconsider that), and will definitely be looking into invoicing software.
As I’m only storing vague data there (e.g. company name, my personal name for the project, etc.) it’s not an issue right now. I’ve actually been looking at a variety of solutions, but as most of my clients are US based or at least want to work in USD I should be safe in that regard. Good tip though!
Didn’t mean GDPR, but UGB/UStG/GewO/EStG and the multitude of legislation applying to your business. I guess your business is not located in the US, so “clients are US based” doesn’t change much (VAT gets more complicated). Or are are you doing business from the UK? Then just ignore my comment, not an expert in UK commerce laws.
It’s very complex! Thankfully a friend has a good accountant with experience in this area so I’ve already figured that out. UK citizen, resident in Austria, US customers would have been a tax nightmare if not!
Have you checked out Harvest yet? It works great as a standalone application or can integrate with accounting software such as QBO (QuickBooks Online) or Xero. They also have a companion site called Forecast that you can use to forecast time on projects as well.
I recently switched to wave accounting. It is not as fully featured as freshbooks or of course FreeAgent both of which I have used.
Wave does the invoicing bit well and I have a zapier zap to send a follow up task to OmniFocus every time an invoice is created. (I use recurring invoices a lot). If you have a SAL in OmniFocus for each client it is quite easy to keep track of work done.
I’m a big fan of Office Time which I discovered some many years ago like in 2002 or so. It’s really, really simple. It tracks projects - you can give project rates etc and then easily invoice. There’s an invoice template that you can modify. Best of all if you walk away from your computer and come back it pops up a window and asks what to do with that time. I’m sure it has made me lots of money that I otherwise wouldn’t have realized I should be billing to a project and it’s made me confident that when I do it is real numbers. Other apps may have more bells and whistles but this does what I’ve needed very well.