Last year, (2017) I decided to try out FreshBooks to see if that was a good accounting program to use. They offer a free 30 day trial. For years, I have been using QuickBooks for running any of my businesses. I started with it back in the early 2000s when I ran my web design and development business and then for my photography business. It worked great for me. However, QuickBooks is expensive when you upgrade. I did that faithfully for a number of years. QuickBooks now has an online version like FreshBooks which will save you money over purchasing the software outright. I felt it was time to try something else, so I chose FreshBooks.
Easy to Use Interface
Once I got used to the FreshBooks interface, it was such a breeze to set up. I am a weird person, I know, because I absolutely love business accounting! If you are the type of person that doesn’t like that part of running your photography business, you’ll like the simplicity of using FreshBooks. When you first set up your account there is a walk through wizard that asks you what kind of business you will be using them for. They give you some default categories for recording your expenses. You have the ability to edit or add “Other Expenses” that are relevant to whatever you need.
The best part of using an online accounting program is that your receipts will all be digitized. You won’t have all the paper receipts to store in a file or collect in a box for tax time. Most of my expenses are paid online anyway so I download PDF receipts or create a PDF of emailed receipts I receive. If I do go into a store and get a paper receipt for a purchase, I just take a photo with my iPhone. I like to turn the image file into a PDF for saving it to my hard drive, but it’s not necessary as FreshBooks will let you upload JPEG files.
I keep copies of all my receipts under the year and the categories/subcategories that I use on FreshBooks. I also add a few folders for just housing other things I want to keep filed for the year. With the photo below, you’ll see my main categories I save on my computer hard drive, but there are many subcategories under many of them.
The reports you can print off during tax filing time, are so easy to generate on the Dashboard under Advanced Reports.
I currently don’t use the invoicing on FreshBooks yet, but I plan to try it out soon. I am still using PayPal to bill my customers. It does make for double entry though. It’s not very time consuming. I’ve just been generating invoices on Freshbooks to keep track of all income.
When I first started using FreshBooks, I was confused about how they charged me one month from $15 and the next $25. The way their pricing is set up is you pay according to how many clients and extra features you want. Well, I wasn’t too happy about this at first because I had lots of clients because I mostly sell prints in my photography business. I contacted support to find out how I could keep the pricing at $15 per month with only 5 clients. They told me instead of putting my customer names, create client names that are sort of generic to represent different parts of my income revenues. Once the invoice is generated you can put any details you want in the description.
My Client Names
EBOOKS – Just think if I had to name all the people as clients that purchase my ebook!
MISC PRODUCTS – Under this client name I add payments that come from my articles I write. Basically, any other income that doesn’t fit under the other “client” names.
ONLINE SHOPS – This includes other online shops that I receive income from like Fine Art America, Society 6. If you use SmugMug or other, this is where I would include it.
PRINTS OR PRODUCTS – This would include income from any prints, books or calendars I sell through my website or directly to customers.
I have been impressed with FreshBooks customer support. So far all of my contact with them has been positive. Not only do they answer pretty quickly but they will also contact you if there is a problem. For example, a customer service representative contacted me when a couple of receipts didn’t properly save on expenses I added. They must have some kind of automated scans to let them know when there are problems. I really appreciated the heads up so I could correct it.
I am not getting anything from FreshBooks from saying this, but I highly recommend them for keeping track of your photography accounting. Their easy-to-use interface makes my life easier. I don’t need to spend much time at all with my accounting.
I am curious to hear about what you are using for your accounting needs. If you do use FreshBooks, let me know your thoughts or experiences.