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Invoicing and financial management are essential tasks for any freelance writer. But it can be time-consuming and tedious, not to mention a little confusing too. Plus, most of us are writers because we love words, not numbers.
That’s why invoicing software is becoming an increasingly popular choice for automating and streamlining those dreaded billing tasks.
Free and premium invoicing software programs are designed to handle a range of organisational, invoicing and administrative tasks that every writer has to face at some time or another.
This software can generate, store, and send professional-looking invoices to clients and customers, and may also provide customisable templates to simplify your invoicing responsibilities further.
However, with so many invoicing programs available today, it can be tricky to choose one that meets your needs and aligns with your budget.
In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of free vs premium invoicing software to help you choose the most suitable solution that will get you paid on time.
The pros and cons of free invoice software
Some of the best things in life are free, especially when you are starting out as a freelance writer and need to reduce or limit your business expenses.
There are plenty of free invoicing software options available. Some offer great functionality and others are limited to encourage you to pay for the premium version.
- Accessibility. Not all freelancers have money to spend on premium invoicing software. Times are tough, and many new freelancers need to start out with minimal operational expenses.
Free invoice software is usually not very comprehensive. However, it provides enough basic services for freelancers to generate neat and professional invoices using a limited range of templates.
This will help you reduce your expenses while still enabling you to bill your clients on time.
- User-friendliness. Free invoice software tends to be more user-friendly than premium options, as it gives users a taste of what they can expect when they sign up for the paid version.
Free programs are simple, straightforward, and give you a chance to learn the ropes in a basic and approachable way.
- Reputation building. Showing your clients that you use an invoicing system to generate accurate invoices—even if the service is free—can help to improve their perception of you, your brand, and your business.
It can also help to establish yourself as a professional who takes invoicing seriously.
- Weaker security. Paid invoicing software often comes with robust security in place to protect your financial information and client details. Free versions often come with weaker security measures.
- Limited features. Most free invoicing programs don’t charge their users because their free software offers a limited range of functions and features that are difficult to scale.
Free software will provide you with the basics you need to manage your billing. But if you want to grow your writing business or win new clients in the future, a free program may limit your capacity to advance.
The pros and cons of paid invoicing software
Paid invoicing software is more advanced, offers better functionality, and can provide more impressive results, especially for established freelancer writers with numerous invoicing responsibilities.
- Full functionality. Paid invoice software programs offer a much broader range of features and tools than free versions, enabling you to scale your capabilities and streamline your billing system.
Most programs offer a variety of tiers with different features like automation, client notifications, and top-level security. This allows you to choose an option that best suits your needs and budget.
- More productivity. Paid systems are designed to maximise your invoicing efficiency with their wide range of features. This can save you time and effort while allowing you to deliver invoices in record time.
- Scalability. Paid software can easily scale up as your billing responsibilities expand. You can choose a higher tier with more powerful invoicing capabilities, as your budget allows it.
- Satisfied clients. You can foster stronger relationships with your clients by using a paid invoice system that bills them on time, every time, using accurate details.
- Affordability. Premium software may be more efficient, but it’s also more expensive too. The average package costs between $15 and $25 per month.
- Usability. Not all of us are tech-savvy. Some freelancers may need training to use advanced paid invoicing software that boasts a wide range of complex tools and functions. This has the potential to slow down your invoicing process at first, at least until you learn how to make the most of your new system.
What works better for freelance writers?
If you’re wondering whether to opt for a free invoicing software program or a paid version, the answer will largely depend on three things:
- The size of your freelance business
- The number of clients you need to invoice
- Your personal preferences
If you’ve just started out as a freelance writer and have one or two clients, you may find that a free program or even just a professional-looking free invoice template suits your needs just fine. You can easily create impressive invoices using a basic range of tools and it won’t eat into your overheads.
However, if you’re an established freelancer who’s looking to simplify your growing invoicing responsibilities and handle numerous clients, the added features in paid invoice software may be better suited to your purposes.
If you’re on a tight budget, one way to assess whether or not free invoicing software is right for you is to try it out for a period of time.
It’s not necessary to use it to generate true invoices for your clients, but you could generate a few mock invoices to test out the features on offer and decide if they meet your needs.
If you need more powerful software, you can explore the many paid options on offer until you find one that has all the features you’re looking for and a favourable price tag to match.
To be successful as a freelancer you need to treat your writing as a business.
Part of this is choosing invoice software that gets you back to your keyboard and away from the calculator!