These days many of us are working from home. Freelancing is a great choice for many professions, and being your own boss and responsible for your own pay scale and working hours mean that you can get the flexibility that you need to live your life the way you want to.
Whether you're a working mother or a student, freelancing offers a great way to earn an income and still attend to your other responsibilities.
However, working from home isn't without its down sides. You're always at the office, and it can be tough to switch off. Keeping that work-life balance isn't as easy as it may sound. And for many of us the vast amounts of paperwork and bureaucracy that surrounds working for yourself are time-consuming and complicated.
Switching to online invoicing services may be the answer to your prayers if you're a home worker. By taking the pressure off you to do complicated paperwork and allowing you more time to earn, signing up for either paid or free online invoicing software might be the best business decision that you make this year. There are plenty of advantages to making this switch, so here are a few things that you might want to keep in mind...
Ease and Convenience
Basically, when you sign up for one of these services you choose the online invoice template that you want to use, and then fill in the blank fields with the appropriate information. Once this is done, these fields will auto-complete the next time, or you can simply save the invoice as a pre filled template, making your next invoice a cinch. You can import your own logo if you want to personalize your billing.
In most cases all you need to do is fill in a name, address and amount of money plus a description of services. There's no playing around with word processing software to get the look that you want, you get a simple, elegant and clear invoice in a matter of a minute or two. You can even set up regular invoicing for bills that go out monthly, meaning that they'll be filled in with the appropriate date and sent automatically each month. Invoicing really doesn't get much simpler than that, so you'll have more time to concentrate on the important things in life.
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Faster Payments with Online Invoicing
A huge advantage to many online invoicing programs is the number of payment methods that they allow. You can choose to enter payment information into your invoice, which will then allow your client to pay you immediately at the click of a button. Making payment easy means that you're going to get paid faster. And many programs will even send payment reminders after a set period of time, so you don't need to keep track of things yourself. This takes away the worry of chasing payments and saves you time too. You don't have to have an online payment system, but most online invoicing programs will support at least credit card, debit card and PayPal payment direct from the invoice itself.
Organization and Taxes
Whether you do your yearly taxes yourself, or pay an accountant to do them for you, keeping your paperwork organized is key to getting your tax return done quickly and easily. Using an online invoicing system will mean that you have everything you need in one place. Many programs will also allow you to export data into Excel files, so you can keep a simple reference list of all your invoices and payments. Some programs even let you import bank statements and credit card bills. Plus, many programs also support expense tracking too. This allows you to keep all your financial information in one place, making finding everything you need when tax time rolls around a breeze.
Most invoicing programs support time tracking, in fact many of the major programs started out as simple time-tracking programs before adding in invoice elements. This means automatic tracking of how many billable hours you are putting in, as well as optional status reports that can be sent to clients so that they know which stage the project is at and how many hours they're likely to be paying for. For people who work on an hourly basis, the time tracking element of an online invoice program can be a God send.
Finally, for those who frequently work for companies or clients that are outside of the country, a good online invoicing program will take the headache out of dealing with foreign currencies and exchange rates. Many programs will simply convert statements into local currencies using the latest available exchange rate, meaning that you get the most up to date rates available. Plus, many programs also support a wide range of payment options, including many online payment services. This is an issue since sending direct deposits to US bank accounts can be time consuming and also result in hefty transaction fees being subtracted from your income. In fact, even for people who work with in-country clients, many online payment services tend to charge lower fees than a bank to bank transfer, particularly if you and your client are members of different institutions.
Getting your invoicing, billing, and time tracking done online can be a huge time saving decision for home workers. The ease of use of the vast majority of these programs means that you'll be up and running in no time, and will gain valuable hours every month.
Is it a big investment? Not necessarily. There are both paid and free options available; though finding a completely free program that offers you all the features that you're looking for might be tough. But even paid options are going to cost you only five to ten bucks a month for a single user.
Still doing all your own paperwork?
Maybe it's time that you made the switch to online invoicing systems. You'll save yourself time, money and the frustrations of sitting down to do your monthly accounts.