Desktop Timer for Freelancers

After focusing on what Freshbooks has to offer in A closer look at why FreshBooks is a freelancer’s best friend, it’s high time I focused a bit on the second most popular online timesheet for freelancers: Harvest.

Harvest is a very smooth piece of software, complemented with a wide set of features and a crisp interface. While it’s not the early bird Freshbooks is (Harvest got founded in 2006 compared to Freshbooks’ 2003), it lives up to any freelancer’s expectations in terms of timetracking options. Of course, it goes well beyond that and I’ll take a look at exactly what’s in the bag for you if you go the Harvest way.

Two small interesting bits of information. First, Harvest is one of the Software as a Service (SaaS) pioneers in terms of using Ruby on Rails framework. And second, the company was the first in implementing a Twitter integration – this way freelancers could track their billable time with tweets.

Sounds cool, doesn’t it?

Well, here’s something even cooler: for a limited time, BlackTimer is offering a free of charge license for Harvest integration. That’s right, you can fetch your own one as long as the promotion is valid. Go ahead and download BlackTimer and email us your personal details and we’ll send you your license free of charge!

Or if you’re not feeling sure yet, let me give you the rundown on what Harvest offers to freelancers.

Timetracking the Harvest way

As it was the case with Freshbook, timetracking is the most sought out feature in Harvest too. That’s natural – most freelancers want to have a reliable online timesheet system that will never leave them hanging. What they desire too (and you surely do as well) is multiplatform and cross-device coverage, which Harvest delivers.

Harvest Time Tracking

You can track your billable time on Mac or PC, iPhone or Android – desktop, laptop or mobile device, you are in the freelance working game without a problem. Where the software excels is the extended opportunity of tracking your time from other applications like Trello, Zendesk or Basecamp; all with the help of Harvest.

Managing a team’s dose of timesheets can be a pain and if you’ve been a part of a bigger team, you know it very well. The guys from Harvest have thought about that and they have introduced a very simple way to manage a staff’s time and timesheet monitoring plus approval. There is even a feature that allows project managers to automatically remind employees to submit their corresponding timesheets.

Of course, the finishing touch is that timesheet reports can be exported to Google Drive, Excel or CSV without a problem at all.

A Well-Thought Take At Freelancer Reports

As a leading player in the online timesheet industry, Harvest understands the importance of well-visualized and organized reports. Freelancers have it cluttered when it comes to clients, reports and all those documentations and data that need to be organized in some way.

Harvest reports come in a package mixing both functionality and visuality. You have a real-time snapshot of your uninvoiced hours, current income, time eligible to billing and time you can’t be billing yet. You have filter tools at your disposal to refine any report monitoring even further.

Harvest Reporting

What I particularly like about Harvest’s reports is the fact that you can project your budget for a specific project. In other words, after talking with your clients, you can set your estimates for both time or expenses (or either one of them). The software then keeps track of those estimates and lets you know how your freelance work is faring. You can even attach files to your estimates – images, documents, presentations, whatever will make you and your client’s life even easier.

Needless to say, generated reports can be exported in the same flexible manner as the timetracking feature of Harvest.

Try the Harvest integration out while it’s free!

Slick Invoicing With Personalization Opportunities

Ah, invoicing. Most online timesheet systems have added invoicing settings to their overall functionality. The reason is simple: freelancers always need invoicing. If you bundle that dire need with another dire need freelancers have – of a good piece of timetracking software, you are improving your product’s appeal to them.

Harvest gets invoicing right, covering two very important aspects: a) linking it with popular payment gateways (PayPal, Stripe) and b) allowing healthy customization options to invoice generation.

Personalizing invoice is an integral part of any freelancer’s work life. Harvest acknowledges that and lets you upload your company logo, configure how your messages look like and add a heap of other things to personalize your invoice experience. You can choose to have a lean go at invoicing, or fully immerse yourself in a more complicated invoicing experience.

Bonus points are the fact that the online timesheet supports multiple currencies so you can bill your clients in a currency of your preference. Automated reminders and the ability to set up recurring invoices are the icing of the online timesheet cake.

Amazing Catalogue of 3rd Party Apps

If you remember (or if you have read it, actually), I was very impressed by FreshBooks’ third party integration options. The guys over there have a solid portfolio of 3rd party apps suiting various needs across several freelance industries.

Harvest really does live up to the functionality exhibited by FreshBooks. The online timesheet includes dozens of 3rd party integration opportunities. From Project Management to Accounting & Finances; from Customer Support to CRM; from Analytics to Developer Tools or Productivity Software…the Harvest team really seems to have thought about the needs of the modern day freelancer. It even has integrations for Contracts and Proposals, easing your communication with your clients.

Harvest Addons

Some Final Words

Harvest is marvelous. For me it’s on par with Freshbooks and it really depends on your personal preferences which one would you choose. Both work incredibly well as online timesheet software and offer you a stunning customizable experience.

However, there’s one current advantage that Harvest has over Freshbooks:

The fact that you can have a free of charge license for a Harvest integration with BlackTimer.

If you want to give it a try and combine the powerful functionality of both, go ahead by following this link. Remember: it’s a limited offer so you’d better use it while it’s here!

In a previous post (The 4 online timesheets that you can use as a freelancer), I peeked at four very viable online timesheets for freelancers. I think there’s a high chance you have used some of them at least for a quick trial in order to gauge their capabilities. But let’s be honest – this post was only gliding on the surface level of things. It was a short introduction to your possible choices when it comes to timesheets and timers.

Because some of the online timesheets offer a stunning catalogue of features for any freelancer (such as you and me), I figured out it would be even better to dig deeper. So this time I’m going to focus on what the most popular online timesheet software has to offer.

I’m talking about FreshBooks, of course. Let’s see why is it the best choice for many freelancers and do an in-depth rundown on what it offers.

It goes beyond the definition of online timesheet software

As I mentioned before, FreshBooks is a true pioneer in the online timesheet industry. It was started way back in 2003 and you can bet that it serves as a rolemodel for many up and coming timesheets and companies offering tracking time services to freelancers. Good on Michael McDerment for losing his invoice record and starting FreshBooks!

FreshBooks story

The truth is that FreshBooks extends way beyond the simple online timesheet paradigm. It contains a whole collection of features that can turn every freelancing career into something way more simpler and coordinated. I’m talking about a portfolio of services ranging from your essential time tracking feature to invoice creation, accounting reports, extensive booking software and stunning 3rd party integrations with a mindblowing set of other types of software.

A good word to describe all that is “multifunctional”. Because there surely are a lot of online timesheets, but few (except perhaps Harvest) match the flexibility and functionality of what FreshBooks offers you.

Let’s go further down the software rabbit hole.

Timetracking made not only easy, but visual too

Of course, the most sought after feature of FreshBooks is it’s online timesheet functionality. The software excels beautifully here as it remembers one very important trend: everything is slowly transitioning into the mobile world. Tracking your work hours as a freelancer is not only limited to desktops and FreshBooks acknowledges that by providing mobile device time tracking too.

Along with platform flexibility, the software also takes care of interactivity when it comes to your schedules. You can track your progress better with a clean chart that emphasizes on whether you have met your hour estimate on a certain project. Ever forgotten that you are going overboard with a budget? Not a problem with FreshBooks as this visual presentation will keep you right on track in case you have missed your estimates and should take reign of things.

Visual Progress View

 

Some bonus awesomeness comes with the fact that FreshBooks allows you to automatically turn your working hours into invoices. This helps a lot with underbilling and keeping a clear payment policy as a freelancer. The process is also simple, as it only needs you to review your freelance working hours and send it over to your clients.

Speaking of invoices…

Taking the weight of invoice hassle off your shoulders

…this is where FreshBooks exceeds expectations. I don’t know about you, but invoicing has been a great pain for me on some occasions. It’s just that one thing that sits on the pile of things you already have to do as a freelancer and bugs you all the time.

McDerment was a freelancer himself so he perfectly understood our concerns as out-of-the-loop working boys and girls. Putting a huge emphasis on invoice creation, FreshBooks lets you not only open up an invoice, but it also allows for great customization and additional client-related features.

Invoices created with FreshBooks can be personalized by adding your logo, any specific payment terms, and, of course, the client info. This might seem a standard deal, but FreshBooks does in a very stylish and slick way, and on top of that adds automatic tax deduction. Oh, and invoicing supports just about every currency – after all, freelancing is a global trend.

FreshBooks Invoice

But both you and I know that an invoice is not the end to it all. Some clients are a bit…slow in delivering payments. Sometimes they make excuses with being too busy and not even having the time to take a peek at the invoice you sent them. FreshBooks has a built-in feature that shows when a client has viewed an invoice and allows you to follow up on lazy clients who are delaying your money.

Additional very thoughtful features include credit card acceptance, the option to employ repeat invoicing, a huge set of data (like account statements, payment history and others) and even snail mail sending. That’s right – if a client wants a physical copy of your invoice, forget about going to the post office. FreshBooks can do even that instead of you!

Flexible timetracking, simplified invoicing, rich data and reports and getting you perfectly ready for tax time. All these are a good reason why FreshBooks goes well beyond the definition of online timesheet software and just timetracking software.

What completely solidifies this though is the absolutely marvelous catalogue of possible 3rd party integrations. I know my enthusiasm might seem a bit marketing-ish, but really, take a look at the list of possible add-ons FreshBooks offers you. Yes, it is all those options on the right.

FreshBooks Addon

FreshBooks, being borne out of a freelancer’s ideas, knows pretty well that freelancers are quite versatile. Some of us are developers, others are marketers, and you can bet that there are a lot of web designers, graphic artists, copywriters, content creators…Freelancing is a big tree with dozens of branches where you can start your journey and excel in.

This is the reason why their features (timetracking, invoicing) have been extended by 3rd party apps ranging across different industries and with various purposes.

Are you a developer? Well, there are excellent add-ons like Google Apps, Shopify, Magento, ZenCart, Envato or Tuts+.

Perhaps you are swimming in the vast ocean of online marketing? Not a single worry, as FreshBooks offers you fresh integration with lead generation services like BidSketch or Proposify, email marketing tools like MailChimp, distinguished CRMs like AgileCRM, Oprius or ClickDesk and customer support help desks like HappyFox or ZenDesk.

The 3rd party integration catalogue is really huge and you might want to take a look at it yourself on FreshBooks’s official add-on page. Time for a quick moment of personal pride: I have the honor of being listed in their Time Tracking category!

The final verdict

I guess it’s already pretty obvious, but I really like what FreshBooks brings to the table for freelancers of different freelance fields. It’s efficient, simple to use, flexible and includes a great deal of features that can really spare you time…and let you focus on your current projects.

This is only a suggestion, but if you haven’t tried FreshBooks yet, you can do so for free as the guys offer you a 30-day trial that requires exactly $0. Give it a spin and see if it works for you as it does for many other freelancers like you and me.

To say that freelance work is on the rise would be an understatement. The sector, fueled by the power of social networks and various digital platforms (oDesk, eLance, Guru) is booming, with percentages soaring high.

34% of the the workforce in USA has chosen to slide in the workcloth of a freelancer. In Europe there was a 45% increase in the number of freelancers – and that was back in 2013, when self-employment trends hadn’t revealed their true potential yet.

This is a huge industry with proven needs during the everyday flexible work. One of these is having a tool that can track time and billable hours, while optionally being open to invoice creation and export. People dub these tools in various ways – desktop timer, timesheet software, or perhaps the most popular – online timesheet.

Bearing in mind the already enormous audience (with tendency to rise even further), dozens of companies or individuals offer their own version of online timesheets or timers. Freelancers are free to pick whichever suits their work process best. Let’s dive right in and see four more popular choices of timesheet software. You can then tell me which one do you prefer.

FreshBooks

FreshBooks is both a pioneer and the most used online timesheet software. But did you know that it was started out of a freelancer’s mischief?

Michael McDerment, Freshbook’s creator, seems to have been a freelancer himself. One day he made a painful mistake: he overwrote an invoice record, thus losing the previous vital information (and related payment). Naturally, it was a frustrating experience – both me and you would feel bad too. McDerment took it forward, though, and thought of a way to better manage his accounting. So in 2003 he started what would become FreshBooks.

The software offers various services ranging from time tracking to online invoicing and even generation of accounting reports and tax monitoring. It’s widely popular amongst freelancers with a reason: it’s available on all types of devices, can be accessed anywhere and prides itself with slick invoice creation and outstanding design.

On top of that, FreshBooks includes automatic backups and upgrades, team timesheets for collaboration projects and the feature to send freelance project estimates to your clients.

The online timesheet, however, is most famous for its huge integration with other services. FreshBooks add-ons range across numerous software, including website builders like Shopify or Magento, CRM solutions like AgileCRM and Oprius, newsletter software such as Mailchimp…the list goes on and on.

It’s like a swiss army knife, only masqued as timesheet software.

1

Harvest

Staying close to FreshBooks is Harvest, yet another revered choice amongst the modern day freelance workforce. Harvest was founded a bit later than the FreshBooks early bird – in 2006, but it doesn’t lack interesting facts in its history.

Did you know that Harvest is one of the first SaaS (Software as a Service) applications that were built on the now famous Ruby on Rails framework? Furthermore, the guys at Harvest were amongst the pioneers in terms of seeking and actually implementing Twitter integration. That’s right: freelancers using Harvest could track their time with tweets!

This timesheet offers its freelance users a portfolio of services ranging from invoicing to expense tracking, time-based reporting, and of course – time tracking, as it includes a powerful timer.

The keyword to Harvest is simplicity. As an online timesheet, it’s marvelously simple to set up and once again it can be accessed everywhere. Among the usual features, Harvest has some very neat additions: extensively visual reports, the option to track expense projections with a special budget feature…

2

For team collaboration there is the option of automatically reminding employees to submit their timesheets as per schedule. As for clients – freelancers are free to send automated payment reminders in case a client hasn’t paid an invoice on time.

Replicon

Aside from the two certified timesheet giants I listed, we also have Replicon. Replicon is once again a good choice as an online timesheet system, but it ascends further than being a fit for solo freelancers. Taking pride in its scalability, the software actually targets the enterprise level too, with features tailored to what a rather big organization might need.

What’s distinctive about Replicon is that it’s a cloud-based timesheet…and the fact that it is segmented into different products. In other words, as a freelancer, you will find a whole catalogue of different timers and timesheets to pick from. Replicon TimeCost for example is focused on project time and cost estimates. TimeBill, though, is a closer look towards timetracking and serves as a simplified yet functional timer.

3

The bottom line is that while Replicon lacks the power of Freshbooks for example, it’s extremely segmented, scalable and targeted towards specific sets of needs.

ProWorkflow

Compared to the other three timesheet pieces of software, ProWorkflow might seem like a limited pick. However, it’s still a proper way of tracking your time as a freelancer, so you might consider it.

A big advantage to ProWorkflow is that once again it’s simplified, but it’s also very budget-friendly. The online timesheet plans are rather inexpensive and even the Solo plan can be sufficient as it supports up to 10 active projects.

4

ProWorkflow gets Third party integration right as it’s functionality can be extended with a number of apps, some of which are free. It also crams invoicing, task management, messaging, reporting and even project templates into one whole backed up by tight 128bit encrypted security.

A short closing question for you, the freelancer

Well, that was quite the roundup, wasn’t it? Truth is, there are heaps of other viable online timesheets for any freelance worker to pick from. Maybe you use a timer or a piece of timesheet software I haven’t mentioned here. Maybe you dislike some (or even all!) of the listed systems.

Then, what is your online timesheet/desktop timer of choice? Why do you prefer exactly that one and not another?

I’m all ears, so please share your sentiments in the comments below.