If you do a general Google search for online accounting programs for freelancer, Freshbooks.com is one of the results you will get. Advertised as “painless billing” and offering a variety of packages as well as a free trial, FreshBooks is quite the interest of many freelancers – I being one of them.
FreshBooks.com at First Glance
FreshBooks is 100% online. You sign-up, create an account and get on with your business. You will have your own log-in page and can even create a logo and customize your invoices. At first, you will receive a 30 day free trial with FreshBooks. From there you will have to select from their packages that include $19.95, $29.95 and $39.95 per month. Now here is the issue for most freelancers. If you are a full-time freelance writer, you have multiple clients you need to juggle. In order to organize and actually use all of your client slots, you HAVE TO use the $39.95 per month feature. Though some can get away with the $29.95 per month, it is quite difficult.
Though the 30-day free trial is great, once it is up you are directed to a screen that FORCES you into upgrading. They do not even show you the free option – which FreshBooks.com does have. I had to actually call customer service to get them to put my account at “free” status. Apparently they don’t like offering out the free version.
FreshBooks.com has a project feature that allows you to enter projects, track status and even bill them out – all great. But for a person who also runs a copywriting company, the projects are very difficult. My writers found that the instructions were jumbled, even when you put clear paragraph spacing in between each instruction. Furthermore, they didn’t have a way to check off if a project was “pending”, “in review” or even “completed”, which doesn’t work well for me. My Microsoft Access spreadsheet can at least do that.
FreshBooks.com iPhone Application
iPhone and Blackberry users can get access to their FreshBooks by downloading an app, but it costs money to actually use the one that allows you to see all of your clients. $14.95 for the iPhone. So now I am paying $14.95 on top of my $39.95 per month for one billing program? Ouch.
FreshBooks.com versus QuickBooks Online
I have had other freelancers ask me which is better? Though I used FreshBooks.com for a good solid six months, I went back to QuickBooks Online. QuickBooks may not have a project feature, but in all honesty with the lack of features on FreshBooks part for that, my Access spreadsheet is just fine. Furthermore, the Basic QuickBooks Online costs $12.95 per month and I can have as many clients as I want or need. Furthermore, QuickBooks has an iPhone application that is FREE. No monthly charges to access my books online via my phone. The reporting features of QuickBooks, especially for tax time, are much better than FreshBooks.com. You can also track your checking account for your freelance business with QuickBooks – something FreshBooks.com doesn’t offer.
So my opinion? If you are a full-time freelance writer, your best option is QuickBooks online versus FreshBooks.com. You have most of the FreshBooks features with QuickBooks for less money, more accessibility and better features overall.