Fresh Faces: Shawn Hesketh
August 13, 2007
I hate billing. Or at least I did, until about two weeks ago.
“Before FreshBooks, I frequently spent half an hour or more just creating an invoice.”
Like most graphic designers who freelance, I prefer to spend my time creating attention-getting logos, brochures and websites. Until two weeks ago, invoicing my clients was a tedious task, involving far too many steps, and entirely too much left-brained thinking for my taste. I frequently spent half an hour or more just creating an invoice for a completed project.
I’ve been in business for nearly twenty years and over the past two decades, I’ve used nearly every type of time-tracking and billing tool available. From purpose-built desktop software to expensive online applications, I never found a tool that truly “fit” my workflow, or one that fully integrated project management, estimating, timesheets and billing.
“Over the past two decades, I’ve used nearly every type of time-tracking and billing tool available… I never found a tool that truly ‘fit’ my workflow.”
Most recently, I had been using BaseCamp to manage my projects, iCal to track time, iBiz to generate PDFs of invoices which I then emailed to my clients, with a hand-coded link to PayPal so they could make payments online. This dizzying hybrid of programs and systems still couldn’t provide me with the items I most wanted in my workflow, such as a separate area for my clients to login and track our progress, approve estimates and pay invoices.
When I discovered that FreshBooks integrates with my favorite project management tool, I decided to give it a whirl. I found the interface to be completely intuitive, and in less than five minutes, I had completed the signup process, entered my client’s information and generated my first quote estimate!
“When I discovered that FreshBooks integrates with BaseCamp, I decided to give it a whirl.”
My client emailed me immediately to say how much he enjoyed the ability to approve the quote estimate online. Over the next few days, my client continued to comment on how impressed he was by “our” new billing system, especially the ability to view the real-time progress of our project and hours billed each day.
Since many of our clients still prefer to receive invoices via “snail mail,” I was thrilled to discover that this can be done with a single click in FreshBooks, just as easily as delivering estimates and invoices via email!
“My client continued to comment on how impressed he was by ‘our’ new billing system.”
If there is one lesson that I’ve learned as a designer, it is that a system must be easy to use, or no one will use it, including myself. Beyond merely being functional, it must also offer something for the senses. FreshBooks provides this in the way of extensive customization, allowing me to incorporate my own logo and color scheme, so that my clients enjoy a consistent experience. The only thing that I hope to see in the future is the ability to further customize the fonts used in the already well-thought-out invoices. But I couldn’t be happier with both the overall functionality and feel of FreshBooks!
“We simply couldn’t expand our business without the features that FreshBooks provides. I’m thrilled to have finally found an online time-tracking and invoicing tool that works the way I do.”
I think one of the most innovative features is the Report Card, which will allow me to compare my quarterly billing results with other designers in my industry. I look forward to viewing my results after the next fiscal quarter, and this data will no doubt prove invaluable as I expand my business over the coming months.
After 20 years of “flying solo”, we’ve begun to build a small team of designers and increase our sales and marketing efforts. As our team grows, one of the most critical features for us will be the ability for multiple team members to enter their billable hours from their own homes and offices. We simply couldn’t expand our business without the features that FreshBooks provides. I’m thrilled to have finally found an online time-tracking and invoicing tool that works the way I do, and I’m confident that FreshBooks will continue to scale with our expanding team in the months to come!