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Best Invoicing Software for Freelancers: Harvest vs. FreshBooks

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You didn’t become a freelancer to also become an accountant. However, you’ve got to take care of your books if you want to get paid. And let’s be honest, if you’re a freelancer, you know what it’s like to not get paid. You provide a service for a customer and they come back to you with all sorts of excuses that delay payment. You don’t want to get screwed over. You want to get paid not played. And your hope is that you never have to be in the position to tell a customer “F*ck you. Pay me.” But if you take the proper precautions and focus on ways to get paid faster, you can become as good at running your books as the actual service you provide. A great place to start is to make sure you have the best invoicing software in place. When it comes to freelancers, you’ll find the invoicing software Harvest and Freshbooks recommended to you most often. Both are excellent invoicing software but you have to decide which is right for you. Take a look at Harvest vs. FreshBooks below to help you decide.

Best Invoicing Software for Freelancers: Harvest vs. Freshbooks

HARVEST

Features:

• Simple Time Tracking — With simplified timesheets, an easier timesheet approval process and an extremely user-friendly interface, the invoicing software Harvest lets you manage and estimate your projects effectively. Having used both FreshBooks and Harvest for his business, Stuart Bowness holds a similar opinion, writing, “You can create tasks on a given project, and then estimate hours on tasks. When you log hours against that task it will automatically subtract the hours you have worked from the hours you estimated. If you go over the estimate it highlights how many hours you are over in red. This feature has kept our projects increasingly within budget and on-time. It has also kept our clients happier since we can tell them exactly how far they are into a project in a snap.” With this as well, Harvest lets you start and stop timers throughout the day, track and monitor time disbursement and even approve the timesheets of your employees online from anywhere in the world. Furthermore, and maybe most important for the topic at hand, you can easily create invoices that automatically sift through your project hours and expenses to determine a final bill.

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Example of a Harvest Timesheet via theultralinx.com and getharvest.com

• Easy, Fast and Customizable Invoices — This invoicing software allows you, in less than a minute, to automatically create invoices to send electronically to your clients.
• PDF and Web Invoice options — When sending an invoice, Harvest allows you to send both a PDF version as well as a link to the Web Invoice, so that your customers can pay online.
• Online payment options — This invoicing software has the ability to link your account to payment gateways such as PayPal, TrustCommerce, Authorize.net and LinkPoint. Your clients will be able to pay their invoices with a few simple clicks, saving time, money and speeding up the entire payment process.
Create a retainer for specific clients or projects
• Nice, clean reports — Harvest will give you a real time detailed report of your uninvoiced hours, earned income, billable and unbillable time and overall budget for your business. As John Sunderberg, owner and chief blogger at Black Hills Web Works, points out, “Harvest has invested a lot of time in their reporting capability and the look of their reports, and it shows. The reports are interactive allowing you to “drill down” into the details, and they are very readable.” If you currently don’t use reports, it might be a good thing to consider. While not necessarily helping you with the particular invoice in hand, good reports will definitely provide you with a much better set of information when making those crucial decisions for your business.
• Friendly Pricing — Harvest’s pricing is based on users, rather than the number of clients and ranges from $0 to $90 dollars a month, depending on the plan.

invoicing-software-harvest-pricing

Harvest’s Pricing Plan via getharvest.com

• Estimate Capabilities — The options on this invoicing software are only to “Accept” or to “Decline” a proposal.
• Excellent Integration — Allows easy integration with Harvest Co-op, Basecamp, HighRise, GoogleDocs, Excel and Outright.

Be aware:

• There is no ability to search or sort through recurring invoices, which, as Bowness mentions, could be a problem for companies’ that continually do business with many frequent clients.
• There is no way to adjust PayPal settings from invoice to invoice.
• It is unable to show when an invoice has actually been reviewed by a client.
• The reports are not as detailed as reports relative to FreshBooks.

FRESHBOOKS

Features:

• Automatic Invoicing, by Email or by Snail Mail — Just as with Harvest, the invoicing software FreshBooks allows you to easily auto-generate invoices with a click of a button. The difference is that, while FreshBooks does indeed let you send electronic invoices over email, it also provides the option to send them via snail mail (a good option for those customers who would prefer their bills the old fashioned way). Thus, for a small convenience fee, FreshBooks will print the invoice for you and send the hardcopy right to your customer’s door. Furthermore, when you receive the payment offline, you will be able to manually report it in the system for your records.

invoicing-software-freshbooks-invoice

Creating an invoice on Freshbooks via itzetta.com and freshbooks.com

• Many Online Payment Options — With over 13 payment gateways available, including PayPal, iTrasact and Google Checkout, your customers will be able to pay you quickly and easily.
• PayPal Flexibility — Unlike with Harvest, this invoicing software is able to adjust PayPal settings from invoice to invoice, depending on the preferences of your individual clients.
• Track Invoices — Because FreshBooks sends an electronic link to the invoice rather than the invoice itself, you will be able to track and see exactly when your customer views or approves his or her invoices. This could come in handy in case, let’s say, any disputes arise or if a customer happens to claim to have never received the bill before.
• Excellent Client Page — With this invoicing software, not only can you customize the look of the login area for you and your clients, but you will also have access to a Client Page that, in Sunderberg’s words, lets you “see the people you send or have sent your invoices to, how much the client owes you currently and how long it typically takes for them to pay you.”
• Very Detailed Reporting Capabilities — FreshBooks allows you to instantly see what accounts are past due, compile all your sales taxes from city to city, determine your key item/project performers, dive deep into your profits and losses and filter through all your expenses.
• Track Time — Though not to the degree of detail as Harvest, FreshBooks does indeed provide you tools, both built in and through ad-ons, to time you and your team members’ work, view unbilled hours and create different rates for various project hours.
• Track Expenses — FreshBooks allows you to input automatic recurring expenses, assign and bill expenses, save and attach pictures of receipts to invoices and even view and filter all of your own expenditures throughout the year. This is a really neat feature for an invoicing software.
• Late Payment Reminders and Late Payment Fees — When a customer seems to simply not be paying an invoice, FreshBooks will send them a reminder notification and even (if you deem it so) update the invoice to include relevant late payment fees.
•Integration — Great integration with Basecamp.
•Affordable Pricing —FreshBooks pricing can ranging from free to $40 a month, with each additional user costing $10.

invoicing-software-freshbooks-pricing

Freshbook’s Pricing via freshbooks.com

Be aware:

• There is no PDF invoice version. While there is something to be said for being able to track when a customer actually views an invoice, just sending the link doesn’t necessarily supply customers with the easy PDF version they might want. You do have the option to export the PDF version and email to a specific customer yourself, but that comes with a little extra work, whereas Harvest has it right there in the email to begin with.
• As an invoicing software, there are pretty “light” project management capabilities relative to Harvest, preferring instead to let partners such as Basecamp fill the gap.

 

Harvest and FreshBooks have a lot of similarities, but the slight differences are where you should turn to make a decision. If you are going to have a lot of users on your invoicing software, Harvest might be a better price choice. If you have an issue with late paying customers, FreshBooks might work for you, given you can see when a customer reviews the invoice and adjust invoices to include late fees. Harvest is great for project management, whereas FreshBooks produces incredible reports. Truthfully, when looking for an invoicing software, either Harvest or FreshBooks would be an excellent decision. It’s about learning the facts, giving them both a try and discovering which fits better with your business. Which invoicing software wins in your books? We would love to know in the comments below!

 

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5 Responses to Best Invoicing Software for Freelancers: Harvest vs. FreshBooks

  1. Andy Brown says:

    I use Salestastic. It’s actually pretty good. If you don’t invoice too often there’s a free for life plan too. Worth checking out: http://www.salestastic.com

  2. Hi Meredith,
    I great review. Thumbs up ! You are absolute right, it really depends on what you need. And if you only need some basic features there also might be other solutions out there ;o)
    So this is when http://www.beachcandynow.com
    Might be worth a try when you simply need to create invoices as pdf and send them by email.

  3. Meredith Wood says:

    This looks great Jochen! Thanks for sharing and thanks for stopping by :)

  4. Afshin says:

    Dear Meredith,

    Thank you for this review, it was great and very informative.

    Kind Regards,
    Afshin

  5. braden says:

    Nice info but a great time management tool that we had using is Replicon’s hassle free cloud based timesheet software – http://www.replicon.com

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