Whether you’re new to freelancing and looking up how to write an invoice for your first client, or a seasoned freelancer looking for a better way to invoice, you’ve come to the right place! We’re going to introduce five free invoicing software to help you produce professional looking invoices that will help you get paid on time.
Before we get to that, however, we want to talk a little bit about what makes a good freelancer invoicing software. Ideally, a good invoicing tool:
- makes professional looking invoices
- is intuitive to use
- clearly shows the client the work you’ve done and the amount that they should pay you.
What makes a particular invoice software great is the extra features that come with it, such as recurring payments for clients you work for often, integration with payment gateways, and client portals that let you see if your client has even opened your invoice. Bonus features include project management tools, time tracking for added convenience, and tax handling capabilities.
Below, we’re going to talk about the pros and cons of five freelancer invoicing tools — Harvest Invoice, Wave Apps, Invoicera, Bonsai, and Invoice Ninja — that make invoicing convenient, offer extra features to make life easier, and come at the amazing price of free.
If you're strapped for time, click here for the pros and cons chart!
Harvest touts itself as a tool with simple time tracking, fast online invoicing, and powerful reporting software to help simplify employee timesheets and billing. With Harvest, users of paid and free plans get access to time and expense tracking software, unlimited invoices and estimates, project budget alerts, timesheet approval, integrations with 100+ apps, apps for iOS, Android, and Mac, and phone and email support.
- With Harvest, in addition to invoicing, you can generate a variety of reports, including how you spent your time and money. You have the option of tracking time as you work or entering hours after you’re done, and generating reports based on time, detailed time, uninvoiced time, and expenses. You can customize your reports by time frame, project, client, and category. This will let you track how you spent your time (if you’re interested in improving productivity).
- Harvest can also double as a project management tool. You can create a project, add a client, project name, start and end date, and invoice method. Then, you’re able to draw up a budget based on total project hours, hours per task, etc, and request email alerts when certain budget percentages as reached, to avoid going over budget. If you’re a freelancer paid hourly or on retainer, this feature would be especially useful for you.
See our comparison of freelance payment terms and why retainer is often better.
- One reviewer found issue with the fact that Harvest lacked a dashboard, which makes it a little bit less convenient to navigate through projects and invoices without having to jump around.
- The free version of Harvest only allows for 1 person use and 2 projects per year. If you aren’t a full-time freelance developer and only take one or two big projects a year, the free plan will probably be enough. However, if you anticipate having more than two projects, you might consider the Solo plan, with covers 1 person per year with unlimited projects for $12 a month.
Wave bills itself as a free accounting software for small businesses, touting its integrated financial services. Its invoicing software allows for invoicing in any currency, the ability to send estimates that convert into invoices, send overdue statements, accept credit cards, iPhone and Android apps, and automatic payment reminders. Freelancers can see when their invoices are viewed, can duplicate invoices, send payment receipts, and back everything up on the cloud.
- Wave recently added a new feature for recurring billing for freelancers, supported by the ability to save clients’ credit card information. This allows for freelancers who work closely with particular clients to save time and bill on a monthly basis, especially if they work on a monthly retainer.
- Wave provides accounting, invoicing, and payment software in one place, so if you’re a freelancer that enjoys having all of your information in one environment, Wave could be good for you, because they provide invoicing, accounting, and receipt scanning software for free.
- While Wave conveniently provides iPhone and Android apps for mobile billing, some users have complained about bugs in the mobile app, as well as servers being on the slow side.
- Some users have complained about Wave having limited time tracking capabilities. While not a deal breaker, given the number of other features it offers, one can only hope a beefed up time tracking feature is on the production schedule sometime soon.
Invoicera advertises itself as online invoicing and billing software for a variety of businesses, including enterprises, small businesses, and freelancers. For freelancers, Invoicera offers time tracking, invoice scheduling, and the ability to add late fees, a client portal, expense management, recurring billing, and invoicing reports. Freelancers can also use Invoicera to receive payments online and bill clients in different currencies and languages.
- Invoicera offers time and expense tracking for freelance developers. This is useful because it means you only need one program to track time and invoice clients. Time tracking and a client portal means that you can easily show your clients how long you spent coding, all in one software program.
- Invoicera also boasts some project management capabilities, in particular, it allows you to create a to-do list. You can create a task list, set a date (or recurring dates) for you to finish the task by, and prioritize the tasks. This can help you stay organized if you have several clients — never forget to bill or invoice a client again!
- As with Wave, some users have expressed frustration with mobile app bugs when using Invoicera. As one reviewer points out, neither the iPhone or Android app for Invoicera has been updated since 2015.
- Other users have said that although Invoicera comes with many powerful features, some are too advanced and the user interface is not always intuitive. For example, one reviewer mentioned that there was too much clicking involved in screen switching.
Invoice Ninja is an open source system for creating invoices and accepting payments. It offers freelancers the ability to send unlimited invoices to unlimited clients, offers four templates, and lets you invoice and accept payments online. It’s integrated with 45+ payment gateways, allows for auto-billing and recurring invoices, and will send alerts when invoices are sent, viewed, or paid. Invoice Ninja also allows you to bulk email invoices, accept deposits and partial payments, and provide the client with an invoice and payment history portal.
- Invoice Ninja allows users to accept deposits and partial payments for their services. This allows for some peace of mind, especially for bigger projects. For freelancers who expect to incur expenses in their work, this is a nice feature to have when it comes to cash flow and mitigating the risk of possible losses.
- It also allows for live PDF creation, which makes it easier for freelancers to get information from clients, as well as makes recycling invoice templates more convenient by allowing clients to fill in information directly on the form.
- One notable complaint about Invoice Ninja is the limited time tracking capabilities in its free version. While the Pro and Enterprise versions ($8/month and $12/month, respectively) offer time tracking, the free version does not.
- While users have been complimentary about the number of features Invoice Ninja offers, they have commented that the interface can be somewhat unintuitive at times, especially when it comes to navigation, due to a lack of a back button.
Bonsai markets itself as having bulletproof contracts, e-signing, and invoices generated by 40,000+ top freelancers. While freelancers can use Bonsai for read-receipt notifications, auto reminders, client management, project management, secured messaging, weekly reminders, multiple currency payment, data export, and chat support, there is a limit to the number of projects freelancers can set up for free.
- Bonsai allows your clients to pay by ACH, which is similar to a wire transfer and can help you save on fees. Payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, and others charge some sort of fee, usually paid by the freelancer, to use their services. With ACH, you can keep most of your hard-earned money.
- With Bonsai, if you’re a one-man (or one-woman) show, you can e-sign contracts and auto-generate invoices. This may save you time and hassle down the road if clients decide they need a contract for their own purposes, and eliminates your need for e-signing software.
- Users can only bill and track for one active project at a time. This may be enough for freelancers who only work with one client at a time or developers who moonlight occasionally as freelancers and only need a one-time invoice service.
- Users are limited to only three projects per year for free. If you need to invoice for more projects, you'd have to fork over $19 a month for access to unlimited projects. For the dabbler in freelancing, three projects might be enough, but for power users, Bonsai may not be for you, despite its other useful features.
Another way to make your freelance invoicing life easier is to work with a freelancer platform — some platforms have built-in invoice systems. For example, CodementorX has an easy invoice system and a dedicated engagement manager to work with you on logistical and payment issues. While this in no way affects the way you code, working with a freelance platform does make it easier to invoice your clients and receive payment, because there will be someone working with you to make sure the process goes smoothly.
While nothing in life is perfect, freelancer invoicing software can make your day-to-day billing a whole lot easier. It’s also worth noting that these are only the free versions of these five software tools — there are advanced features that come with the paid plans they offer. However, for the casual freelancer, some of the free versions offer features that are more than enough for most of your needs.
So, what are you waiting for? Give these invoicing software tools a try and let us know what you think!