The whole freelance, be-your-own-boss thing sounds liberating — until you realize you're also your own business manager. You need to track your time and expenses. You need to make sure you get paid. Luckily, there are several apps that can make the business end of freelancing a whole lot easier.
Invoice by Wave
Wave Accounting is a full-featured accounting solution for independent contractors and very small businesses that doesn't cost a cent. And neither does its iOS app, Invoice by Wave, which lets you create professional-looking invoices from your mobile device.
You don't even need to have the full Wave Accounting tool to enjoy the benefits of the Invoice Wave app. It lets you create, send, and track your invoices from your phone. It also lets you accept payment via credit card.
Invoice by Wave wasn't perfect: It crashed a few times when I first started using it. But once I rebooted my iPhone, those problems disappeared. Even after that point, Wave was occasionally slow. But it remains drop-dead simple to use — a nice alternative to accounting and invoicing apps that are all too often cumbersome and confusing.
Invoicing can be incredibly tedious and annoying. Invoice by Wave took the pain out of getting paid.
Looking for a time tracking app that also helps you plan your day, week, or month? Consider Timely. This app (available online and through iOS devices) lets you schedule your hours and then logs them as the time is completed. You also can use it to track your hours as you work, and it integrates with your existing calendar, so that meetings and appointments can be tracked automatically.
The mobile app and Web version both feature an attractive design, and I especially like how easy it is to color-code projects. This lets you quickly gauge your progress at a glance.
Timely is free for one user tracking three projects. Paid versions start at $14 per month.
When you're working for an hourly rate, you have to keep close track of your time. This sounds like a simple task until you actually have to do it, day after day.
Toggl can help. This app (web-based, or Android/iOS) lets you create projects and tracks the time you spend on them with the click of a button.
There's not much to the minimal interface, but that's part of Toggl's beauty. Just fire up the app, click start and Toggl begins tracking your time.
Don't forget to hit the stop button when you're done, though: I forgot, and Toggl thought I spent 23 straight hours on an editing assignment. I couldn't find an easy way to edit that time error, which would be a useful tool.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.