Let's get paid!
Getting paid, however, requires billing. And billing requires effort. And postage stamps. Boy, do I hate postage stamps. There has to be a better way than drafting invoice-by-invoice, then printing, then mailing them with those stupid, easy-to-lose sticky stamps.
And no, the better way doesn't require you to spend hundreds of dollars on a dedicated accounting software suite.
Sporadic Work: Excel Templates
Back in my post-bar, pre-full time employment days, I handled occasional appearance gigs and contract work. It was a sporadic and unreliable income, and as such, it left me with a lot of free time.
Plenty of time for creating Excel-based invoices, that is.
If you only need one or two invoices, editing a template invoice is probably easier than finding and learning a whole system dedicated to invoicing and billing for small businesses. Take one of those built-in templates, substitute your name, and add billing info. Hit print.
However, if you plan on billing regularly and sending dozens of invoices to clients, you'll soon realize that the manual method of using Excel is pretty darn archaic and time-consuming.
Business is Booming: Dedicated Online App
App Storm gives it a glowing review, saying, "simply nothing else out there that compares for simple invoicing at this price range." That price range, by the way, is free, so long as you are okay with a small bit of Invoiceable branding being affixed to the footer of your bills. If not, you can pay a one-time fee to remove the branding.
It has tools to customize the invoice, reports to track your billing, the ability to save invoices as PDFs or email them (directly from the site), and most intriguingly, the ability to take payment via PayPal.
All-In-One Efficiency: Cloud Practice Management Suites
If I were in need of a dedicated invoicing app, I'd probably use Invoiceable. After all, you can't beat free and functional. I'm not, however, as my cloud practice management suite comes with built-in invoicing, billing, and trust accounting.
For your small firm, if you handle more than handful of clients, a practice management suite is well worth the investment. We've reviewed a few on our Technologist blog, including Firm Central (Disclosure: that's a Thomson Reuters product, as are we), MyCase, Total Attorneys, and Amicus Cloud.
Each handles contact management, calendaring, client communications, document storage, and most relevant to this post - the finances. With a few clicks, you can take those billable hours you entered elsewhere in the program and turn them into an invoice.