Guest Blog Post: Financial apps for freelancers for requesting and managing money

Jun 29, 2011
Real estate

Doniree Walker is a yogini, blogger, and recent transplant to Portland, Oregon. She loves wine, cheese plates, travel, connecting with people, and crossing things off of her life list. She’s currently pouring herself into learning how to cook from scratch, live with intention, rock self-employment, and how to navigate all of Portland’s Farmers’ Markets. As a location independent freelancer, there […]

Doniree Walker is a yogini, blogger, and recent transplant to Portland, Oregon. She loves wine, cheese plates, travel, connecting with people, and crossing things off of her life list. She’s currently pouring herself into learning how to cook from scratch, live with intention, rock self-employment, and how to navigate all of Portland’s Farmers’ Markets.

As a location independent freelancer, there are systems I have to keep in place in order to keep myself organized. I work non-traditional hours from home (and from coffee shops, and when I travel…), so staying organized and on top of my income is crucial.

When you’ve set up your home office, configured all of your Google Apps Accounts (Mail, Calendar, Docs, etc.), and gotten the work done, there are plenty of resources out there for freelancers who need some income-management assistance.

These are my favorite financial tracking and management apps for freelancers. I’ve learned a lot in the past year and a half about the finances of freelancing, including:

  • Freelancers are supposed to pay taxes quarterly. I didn’t know that until the end of my first full year freelancing. Whoops? Is there an app for this?
  • There’s a lot to know about setting up your own business, should you choose to incorporate. I’m still learning. Is there an app for this, too?
  • There are all kinds of programs, apps, and ideas out there that are awesome resources for freelancers, full- and part-time alike.

Time & Expense Tracking, Managing Invoices, and Getting Paid

There are a plethora of invoicing, time-tracking, and expense-tracking apps out there. FreshBooks (iPhone app), BallPark (Mobile browser), and Toggl (iPhone app). In fact, LifeHacker has a whole post dedicated to five totally different time-tracker apps than the ones I’ve mentioned here.

Harvest Time & Expense Tracker

Thanks free trial periods, I’ve sampled a few of these and have finally landed on Harvest Time & Expense Tracker. Obviously, you’re going to need to sign up for Harvest to reap the full benefits of the app, and well, I suggest you do so.

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I use Harvest for time-tracking, expense-tracking, and sending/managing invoices for all of my clients (except for blog advertisers. They like PayPal, and I’m cool with that). One of the selling points for me was that I could set up automatic recurring invoices, so the clients who pay retainers or monthly fees are set up once and then run without me having to remember to invoice monthly. It’s super convenient.

Other pros: use a timer to track your time spent on projects, sorted and organized by client. Run reports when it’s time to invoice for all un-invoiced hours, then send the invoice via email (sends a .pdf) to your client. Your client has payment options that include [obviously] sending you a check, or paying via PayPal, Authorize.net, TrustCommerce, and others. (I’m on the edge of my seat for Square integration). Also, Harvest tracks expenses. For me this is great, because I pay (out of my own pocket!) for some social media tools and reporting apps for some of my clients, and then they reimburse me. For freelancers and independent contractors who travel for business, this is also an amazing tool and resource for tracking expenses and when payment is received.

Another bonus, for clients who aren’t into getting invoiced via web apps, you can always create an invoice, save it as a .pdf and send it on as an email attachment or [God forbid] a hard copy.

Harvest offers a web app, a dashboard widget for Macs and PCs, and smart phone apps for both iPhone and Android.

Getting Paid – PayPal App

OK, so now that you’ve invoiced your clients, you need a way to manage their payments. For me, the #1 app for this is the PayPal app. I’d say I love Square, but to be honest, right now I want to love Square*, but I haven’t used it so I can’t speak from experience.

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I love PayPal the most because I have push notifications set up on my iPhone, which means every time I get a payment, I see a little notification. Being alerted that money just came in? Never a bad thing.

PayPal’s iPhone app also rocks because you can manage your account straight from the app: move money from PayPal into your bank account (cha-ching!), make a payment, request money. All of the things I need to do with or for a client online, I can do from the app.

Bonus: I also use the PayPal debit card, so with access to the app, I always know how much money is in that account, if I need to make any purchases with the debit card.

There are many, many apps for freelancers, including apps for organization, note-taking, online publishing, and small business management, and these two – Harvest and PayPal – make my life as a freelancer just that much easier.

*Square: accepts credit card payments directly to your iPhone. The cool thing about this is that your iPhone becomes a credit card reader with a handy little plug-in device they send you. The not-as-cool thing (for me anyway, with virtual clients) is that either the credit card has to be physically present, or my clients have to provide their credit card number. So this isn’t my primary mode of payment, though I’m dying to see farmers at the Portland Farmers’ Market bust it out so I can pay for my strawberries via Square. This is much more focused on in-person transactions, and I think would be great for small businesses and craft vendors alike.

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Doniree Walker

Doniree Walker is a yogini, blogger, and recent transplant to Portland, Oregon. She loves wine, cheese plates, travel, connecting with people, and crossing things off of her life list. She's currently pouring herself into learning how to cook from scratchlive with intention, rock self-employment, and how to navigate all of Portland's Farmers' Markets.

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