One of my niches is technology. I didn't start out my freelance writing career with the intention to specialize in technology. Sort of just happened that way. One of my early gigs, a blog that I still write for by the way, focused on startups and new technology. I've used that gig as a springboard to new gigs, and it seems that technology is a topic that works for me.
Anyway, freelancers, like many other business people, can use technology to increase productivity, to improve efficiency, and to make life easier. So this week's tech tool of the week, of which I recommend to all freelancers is the online expense management program Freshbooks.
I found out about Freshbooks from an ad I saw on a web page. Prior to using Freshbooks, all my invoices were word documents, where with each new invoice I had to go through and change every line item, do my own math, then send it as an attachment. If I was creating an invoice for a new client, I had to change all the personal information myself as well.
With Freshbooks, for just a monthly $20 fee, I get professional-looking invoices that I can choose to send via email or snail mail, and the program does the work for me. The program also saves every line item I've ever used, which is handy for my clients that only pay for me to write blog posts. I don't have to go through and type in everything myself, or change anything from an old invoice to keep formatting consistent. I just have each line item as a blog post, which I pick from a drop down menu, put in all the other information, and it's done. When the client pays the invoice, I can mark off that as well, keeping track of how much the client paid and which method the client used to pay.
Freshbooks also comes with a time tracking feature, which is useful for clients who bill hourly. I haven't had any need for this feature, but it certainly is a better alternative than keeping track of time yourself. It also comes with the ability to do your own bookkeeping online. This is handy if you do all your invoicing through Facebook, but I do have a few clients who use Elance, oDesk, or their own methods for invoicing, so for the time being it's easier for me to use a separate program for bookkeeping.
I would highly recommend Freshbooks if you aren't yet using any time and billing management software for your work. For $20, you can have up to 25 clients on your account. There is a free version, which only allows you to have up to three clients. You can also create custom login pages for certain clients, if necessary.