As a freelancer, it’d be nice if you could just do your client work without worrying about the administrative stuff. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of said administrative tasks — and one of the most vital is billing and invoicing. Billing and invoicing are how you get paid. Thus, you should make it as frictionless a process as possible. That’s where online invoicing software comes in. Online invoicing software is basically mandatory for freelancers nowadays. To illustrate, check out these seven reasons why freelancers need this software.
1. Saves You Plenty of Time
You won’t be in business long if you don’t bill your clients, of course. But billing and invoicing happens to be one of the most tedious tasks in business, unfortunately. It takes away from revenue generation, despite its importance. Not with invoicing software, though. Online invoicing software has plenty of time-saving features. For one, you can duplicate invoices if you work with clients regularly. Just change the line items, and you’re good to go. Often, you can create invoices from templates, too, saving even more time.
2. Makes You Look Professional
The more professional you look, the more clients will take you seriously. Thus, you can land more clients — and charge them higher rates. However, freelancers are at a disadvantage when it comes to professionalism. Some clients may not hold a freelancer in as high regard as an agency or formal business, even if unconsciously. The word “freelancer” can, unfortunately, have a subtle negative, unprofessional connotation. One way to mitigate this is with custom invoices containing your logo and branding. These will make you look much more professional. Paper invoices could do this, sure, but creating the invoice in some software and sending it from your business email embodies professionalism.
3. Improves Cash Flows
Cash flows are vital as a freelancer since your time is tied to your money. Online invoicing maximizes your cash flows because invoices take much less time to generate and send to clients. Plus, software like Quickbooks includes buttons on invoices where clients can click to pay with their credit card or bank account.
Oh, and you can also follow up through automated reminders to make sure your clients pay early or on time. Some invoicing applications even let you tack on late fees.
4. Cuts Your Expenses
You might have to pay for online invoicing software (although there are nearly-free options like Melio Payments), but the small subscription fee saves you plenty of money in other areas. For example, you can save on all costs associated with paper invoices. That includes ink, toner, paper, a printer (or at least the amount you use your printer), and postage.
On top of that, you won’t have as much of a need to hire a virtual assistant or bookkeeper. You can handle more billing and invoicing in less time, saving you the cost of hiring those professionals. Oh, not to mention you can likely write off any of your invoicing software subscription fees on your taxes (another area where invoicing software helps — see reason #7).
5. Boosts Customer Satisfaction
Old school snail mail invoicing and similar methods are tedious and time-consuming. They’re also ripe for errors. If you make any errors, you have to resend the invoice. Disputes over payments and getting paid itself could take way too long and leave your customer unhappy. Invoicing software changes all that. Your clients can view their invoices whenever they please in their email. They’re less likely to lose it, and paying you is much easier.
Some invoicing applications, such as Vcita, even offer a client portal, making you look more professional (see #2) and making it easy for clients to see all outstanding invoices. Plus, questions, errors, and disputes are easy to rectify through email or the client portal. You can both access the electronic invoice at any time and work things out.
6. Helps You Handle Retainer Agreements
You don’t get a salary as a freelancer. In lieu of a steady paycheck, you may instead seek out a few retainer agreements. But along with retainer contracts comes the need to create and send an invoice for each of them every month (or in whatever interval you get paid). This can be a bit of an annoyance, and if you forget, it takes longer to get paid.
Of course, online invoicing software companies thought of that. Products like Freshbooks (which is actually designed with service businesses like yours in mind) allow you to create recurring invoices. Just set the terms and intervals, then forget about it. Freshbooks will send your retainer invoices on schedule, ensuring you receive your monthly income on time.
7. Simplifies Tax Time
Tax time is a pain, even for full-time employees whose only income stream is their paycheck and a couple of dollars in savings account interest. But as a freelancer, tax season is a lot more of a headache. You have to dig through your accounting records to ensure you’re claiming all your business expenses (and nothing more) while ensuring you’re not accidentally leaving out any business income.
Not to mention that freelancers face a higher chance of IRS audit. Online invoicing software helps here. You have an electronic paper trail of all your income — and if you have a broader accounting software application, you’ll know your expenses as well. This makes all tax matters easier, from preparing your taxes correctly to dealing with IRS audits.
Streamline Your Freelance Business With Online Invoicing Software
The best part about online invoicing software is that there is a wide range of options out there. Some are simple and low-cost (or even free), designed for freelancers who need little more than a way to get paid. Others require a larger investment but come with advanced features for freelancers who may earn higher revenues or manage a more complex freelance business. Either way, online invoicing software offers you plenty of benefits. Investing in some for yourself is well worth the cost.