Freshbooks – Invoicing made (almost) painless.

Image representing Freshbooks
Image via CrunchBase

[I no longer use Freshbooks, I now use Wave Accounting.]

For years I’ve done side work relating to my profession (Information Technologies) – systems design / implementation / support and web design / development / hosting. For years I’ve gotten the work done, but not always the billing. I hate billing. I hate invoices. I hate paperwork.

When I found Freshbooks – I thought I’d found a little bit of heaven…and I still think I have.

Freshbooks is free for a very simple, base account that lets you manage up to three clients, track time invested (for a single person), and create and send/email invoices. It works great! It makes recording my time easy, creating invoices easier, and mailing them out a cinch (whether postal or email!). You really couldn’t ask for much more…

Now, I’ve usually kept a pretty small client based and also worked solo by and large…but lately I’ve been getting a lot of leads…and I can see I’m going to either have to start turning down clients or start scaling out. So what do I do?…I’d like to upgrade my Freshbooks account, but the cost is a bit steep – $20/mo. for the first tier “seedling.”

Granted, this $20/mo. gets you basically the whole kit and kaboodle. You can add slightly expanded features by moving up to “evergreen” ($30/mo.) and get it all for $40/mo. with “mighty oak” – but for 90% of folks, I think seedling is going to cover it…

But, moving from $0/mo. to $20/mo. is a pretty big jump. I’d like to suggest that Freshbooks create an intermediary level between free and seedling. Yeah, yeah, it ruins the whole naming scheme – maybe they could call it: “runt seedling”. But naming apart, here is what I’d like to see in a $10/mo. plan:

Plan: “Runt” “Seedling”
# of Clients 10 25
# of invoices you can send Unlimited Unlimited
# of contractors that can track time and invoice you 25 Unlimited
Accept Online Payments X X
Invoice in multiple currencies and languages X
Send snail mail invoices by post X X
Customer Support X
Timesheets, Document Sharing, Support Ticketing X X
Firewall protection, SSL encryption, data backups X X
Your logo on invoices X X
Data import/export X X
Automatic Scheduled Invoice Creation X
Unbranded Emails X

If I had to I’d even be willing to give up logos on invoices, to be charged per instance for data imports/exports, to not be able to send snail mail invoices, and to not be able to accept online payments. When it comes down to it – the number of clients and the number of contractors are what really matters to me. I think something that stripped down might be “Sickly Seedling” (underneath runt) for $5 or $6/mo.

I wonder how many folks would convert to paying accounts at these sort of levels? It seems to me that while a select few might downgrade from the $20/mo. level, most would grab a $10/mo. account and as business expanded, continue to hop their way up the chain.

Alternatively – if FreshBooks doesn’t open up any lower tiers, does anyone have competitive solutions they’d recommend that offer free/lower prices?

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