FreshBooks for Freelancers – My Review + Guide

Domenico Trimboli

By Domenico Trimboli


I still remember when I bought my first coffee capsule machine.

The design was so elegant, the coffee better than the one I used to make, and the convenience felt too good to be true. I mean, great coffee at the push of a button, without having to clean anything, in less than 30 seconds? One single cup and I was hooked. Needless to say, my old coffee machine has been gathering dust ever since.

FreshBooks to me was like that coffee capsule machine.

You see, even though I had been a freelancer for 12 years, I had always stuck to spreadsheets and Word docs. It feels embarassing to admit it, because FreshBooks is a much better solution from every single point of view.

If you are still using Excel and Word to do your invoicing, you may want to read this – it may change your business for the better.

FreshBooks for Freelancers

FreshBooks is an accounting software built for business owners and accountants. Their site says more than 30 million business owners use it, and yet their plans are easily affordable for freelancers.

FreshBooks allows you to:

  • Monitor how you spend your time, so that you know how much you are really making on every project
  • Track your expenses so you don’t have to keep receipts (and losing them) for a year
  • Add your tracked time to your invoices automatically to simplify your accounting
  • Create professional looking invoices that make you look like you run a $1M business

Plus, while they started as a simple accounting app, they have grown to be a giant in the space, and they are adding new stuff pretty often. Their contract templates are pretty great, and I’m curious to see what they have in store for the future as an all-in-one solution.

Effortless Time Tracking

Track your time easily and assign it to clients

Invoice Automation

Generate invoices in a few clicks to save hours

Beautiful Templates

Great-looking templates for your documents

Overall Rating:
4.9 / 5

FreshBooks Pros

  • 30 day free trial
  • Affordable pricing
  • Amazing interface
  • Deposit feature
  • Contract templates

FreshBooks Cons

  • Lite plan only comes with 5 clients
  • Retainers only available with the Pro plan
  • Profitability reports only for the Premium plan

PAID PLANS Start at $19/month

Core features: time tracking and invoicing

At its core, FreshBooks is a time tracking + invoicing solution.

While not the only time tracker for freelancers, FreshBooks is the best tool I’ve found to track your hours in the background and then add your time sheets to your invoices in a couple of clicks.

If you are looking for an all-in-one tool to manage your entire freelance business, you’d better look elsewhere. But if what you are looking is a time tracking and invoicing solution, honestly, look no further.

Here is how easy it is to track your time and create invoices on FreshBooks.

How to set up client profiles on FreshBooks

1. Set up client profiles

Once you have signed up on FreshBooks, create your clients’ profiles. It’s super easy and it only takes a minute or two.

You can include everything you need. As I’m based in the EU, for example, I have to add my clients’ VAT IDs to each and every invoice. I just added them to the client profile, and then FreshBooks uses them automatically at every new invoice.

2. Start tracking your time

The time tracker is the core feature of FreshBooks, so it makes sense that it works effortlessly.

You simply go to Time Tracking on the menu on the left handside, and then click on Start tracking.

You can select a client or a project for your time sheet, so that you have it ready for later when you go to create your invoice. And title your time sheet however you like. The title can go on the invoice, so if you need to include POs, or the client have any specific invoicing requirements, here is where you add a title.

You can also select ‘Internal’ if you want to track unbillable hours – time spent on marketing your services, discovery calls and the like.

Once done, click on Log time and that’s it – your time sheet is now saved and ready for invoicing.

Freshbooks for freelancers who want a time tracking + invoicing solution

3. Add your time sheets to your invoice

Whenever you are ready to invoice your client, just go to Invoices, then ‘Create new invoice’.

The magic is one click away – as soon as you click ‘Add new line’, you’ll be taken to the Unbilled time and expenses screen.

Select the time sheets you want to include and then customize the entries based on your requirements (there are several options), click ‘Add to invoice’, and that’s it – your invoice is now ready to be shipped to the client!

More than just time sheets

Not only FreshBooks creates your time sheets and adds them to your invoices in just a few clicks – it has integrations to follow the whole payment cycle, automatically send reminders if the client is late and mark payments as made when they land on your account.

I particularly liked their retainer option – if you have some clients on a fixed price retainer (more and more common, considering the rising popularity of productized services) you can also invoice them through FreshBooks.

Why should you?

Because FreshBooks automates these kinds of invoices particularly well – you can automate them so FreshBooks sends them every month, at a predetermined date, and you can totally forget invoicing.

Potentially, if you run a freelance business that’s entirely productized, you can set up FreshBooks in a way that allows you to never do your invoicing again (except for cancelling clients when they leave and adding the new ones you gain).

My experience with FreshBooks

If you have read this blog, you know I am a big fan of time-saving hacks. Time is one of the few things you can not buy, and I hate to waste it on tasks like invoicing. Sure, it’s important, but anyone can do it, and I’ve always hated it.

Even though I rarely use hourly rates, FreshBooks helps me to save 4 hours per month, every month. What used to take the whole Saturday morning on the first weekend of the month is now a simple one-hour task I can do at any time during the first week.

If you use hourly rates for most of your projects, I can easily see how you can save even more time.

Is it worth it?

Let’s do the math!

If FreshBooks can save you as little as 3 hours per month on invoicing (spoiler – it will), at $33 per month, you are paying $11 per hour.

That’s probably less than what you pay for basic household chores like cleaning and laundry, and much less than what you should be making as a successful freelancer, regardless of your niche.

For me, at this price, FreshBooks is a fantastic deal.

Frequently Asked Questions

FreshBooks is ideal for all freelancers who are interested in simplifying their time tracking and invoicing, but it will help you save even more time if you charge most of your clients on a per-hour basis or run a productized service business.

While QuickBooks may be a better alternative for small businesses, having tried both, I am confident when I say as a freelancer FreshBooks has everything you need, at a lower price.

Actually, it’s the contrary. While what you pay depends on your price plan, generally speaking FreshBooks is the cheapest option.

I have tried Xero, and I like it. However, I think FreshBooks is just better for freelancers. Some of the complex features of Xero may be helpful if you are running a SMB, but a freelancer doesn’t usually need them.

Similar Posts