Whether your an individual, small or growing business, invoicing can be a pain. Luckily, there is a free and easy solution to create professional invoices that make you look like you are a Fortune 500 company. Freshbooks is a web-based service that helps you deliver fast and simple invoices and provides time tracking services. Freshbooks manages invoicing for your first three clients for free, and offers cost-effective packages if you or your business invoices more than three clients. Freshbooks is secure, encrypted, and backs up your data, and invoices and timesheets can be accessed 24/7 from anywhere, with any computer.

To start using Fresbhooks to create an invoice, first sign up with Freshbooks:

  1. Go to Freshbooks.com and click the big green “Try It for Free” button.
  2. Register your account. Type in your Company Name, which may just be your first and last name. Then, type in your email address.
  3. You can also change your secure login page “username” if you want, though FreshBooks might just use your “Company Name”. Note that this URL is where you will login to your Freshbooks account, so make it something YOU can remember – no one else needs to know this URL, so it doesn’t need to be catchy or a trendy URL.

Then, login to Freshbooks:

You will then be directed to your login page. Freshbooks will set you up with a temporary password, which will have been entered in the login form on the next page for you. Simply click “Login” to enter your account. You should also bookmark this page so you can easily login to Freshbooks in the future.

Finally, setup Freshbooks:

  1. Freshbooks will ask you to quickly setup your account.¬†Enter your Company information, which should just be your personal address and phone number. Make sure your timezone is accurate, and then fill in what you do (such as “blogger”) and how you heard about Freshbooks.
  2. Then, choose a username and password. You will need to remember your username and password to login to Freshbooks in the future, along with that unique secure login page URL you created a few minutes ago.
  3. Finally, confirm you agree to Freshbook’s Terms of Service and Privacy and click Get Started!

Welcome to Freshbooks! Here’s how to use Freshbooks to invoice:

First, Create a Client. As a free account, you are allowed to bill three clients at any given time for free. To bill your first a client, click “Create a Client” to get started. On the next page, enter your client’s name as the Organization Name. Then, enter your client’s email address as the email. You can leave everything else blank if you want, scroll down, and click “Save.”

use freshbooks to create an invoice

Second, Track your Time – Create a Project. You will then want to start tracking your hours. You might track your time by pay periods or by batches of projects if you freelance. Either way, Freshbooks calls these “Projects.” After you create your client, click the “Home” button and then click “Create a Project.” Then, type in the date range if you bill by pay period (for example, “April 1-14, 2011”) or the name of the project, and choose your client’s name from the dropdown Client list. You can choose the billing method appropriate to you. Then, choose the assigned tasks for this project. If you only write blog posts, for example, you may want to remove all tasks from this group and assign a task called “blogs.” If you do many different things that you might include in your invoice, you can delete and add them from and to this list here, too. For now, just ignore the Team Members section. Then, click “Save”.

Third, Track your Time – Use Timesheets. You can then manage the details of your timesheet for each Project by visiting your Timesheet. You can go directly to your timesheet after you make the Project, or when you login to Freshbooks by clicking on the Time Tracking tab. Then, choose which project you are working on and choose which tasks you worked on for which days, for how long, along with any additional notes (such as URLs for blogs posted.)

Finally, Send Your Invoice. When you are ready to send your Invoice to your client:

  1. Click the Time Tracking tab, and underneath that select the Generate Invoice tab.
  2. Select your client, and choose which project to invoice.
  3. Check the box to include unbilled expenses, and choose the Detailed format (the green box.) Freshbooks then asks, “What would you like included in the description for each time entry?” Choose which options are best for you and your client. Then, click Create Invoice. In the popup, choose whether time or item headings works best for you.
  4. You will then see a draft of your Invoice. Make sure everything looks good, then scroll down and choose to Send by email.

That’s it! You’re all set up now to use Freshbooks to invoice your clients. You can do some other things with Freshbooks like upload your own logo to your invoices and change your color scheme – check out the options under “Brand Your System” on the home page of Freshbooks for these, and more, options.