Here at No Film School, we focus a whole lot on the technical and creative processes of filmmaking. However, for those of us who are attempting to make our living from freelance filmmaking (or any other creative endeavor), it's incredibly important not only to be artistically and technically proficient in the craft, but to have a basic sense of how to run your business. One of the biggest steps that you can take is to develop organized and responsible accounting practices. As intimidating as the accounting process might seem, there are tons of excellent online tools that can help you and your business tame the finance beast. One of my favorite tools is called Wave. It's easy to use. It's powerful. And it's free.
A cursory Google search for "accounting and invoicing tools" will reveal that the internet is chock-full of tools for large and small businesses alike. However, the most powerful and reliable tools can get expensive quickly, especially for freelancers who work with a wide variety of clients. And for those of us who go through dry-spells and bad months as freelancers, paying month by month for accounting tools doesn't make a whole lot of sense. That's where Wave comes in. Wave is completely free, and the feature set is comparable to most online accounting tools available today.
Here's a quick video rundown of what's available in Wave:
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXaYQyq-CFQ
And here's an introduction to just how easy it is to use Wave for basic accounting and organization of business and personal transactions:
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6vLUo9OwNY
Wave also makes it absurdly easy to electronically invoice your clients, which allows them to pay online with a credit card, and which usually results in you getting paid for your work much faster than sending traditional invoices through the mail. For people who are just starting out with business accounting and invoicing, these free tools demystify the process and make it easier than ever.
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNX54VEU_ag
Ultimately, accounting is probably the least exciting part of owning a business or working as a freelancer, and it seems especially boring and tedious for those of us who are creative by nature. But if you're serious about making a living as a freelance filmmaker, photographer, or creative of any kind, then Wave might just become your new best friend.
What do you guys think of Wave? For the freelancers out there, how do you keep track of your business finances and invoice your clients?
Link: Wave Apps
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Found Wave last week. Most invoicing systems carry a monthly fee, so it's exciting to see a player offering it completely free. Will be interesting to see how they monetize the business.
June 30, 2014 at 4:10AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
They make money on the credit card processing fees, like Paypal. So when a client pays an invoice with a credit card, they take like 2 or 3 percent.
June 30, 2014 at 4:58AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
I've used it for a couple of years. It's very handy, though it used to be very glitchy when connecting with your bank account to import transactions. Apparently, it has improved, but I haven't been brave enough to try the feature again.
Recently they starting allowing you to receive credit card payments. The fee is roughly 3%. I'm still deciding if I should add 3% to the invoices of those who choose to pay by credit card. I does hurt to see 3% disappear off the top.
June 30, 2014 at 4:59AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
this is illegal in Canada
June 30, 2014 at 6:58AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
I currently use Freshbooks which I love, but I don't use it enough to justify paying $25/mo for it (or whatever it costs now), and the free version is limited to 3 clients which is really annoying. I'm gonna check this out and see if it fits the bill!
June 30, 2014 at 10:36AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
Oops didn't mean to reply to this comment, sorry
June 30, 2014 at 10:38AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
I also used to use Freshbooks for years until I discovered Nutcache. I highly recommend it, since it does the same job as Freshbook (which is great, by the way!), but for free. And nothing beats free!
July 4, 2014 at 6:05AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
I've been using freshbooks for years so I'm going to check this out. Thanks!
July 7, 2014 at 8:56PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
To keep it legal, offer a 3% cash discount from the full price.
June 30, 2014 at 11:56AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
What is the difference between this and Freshbooks?
June 30, 2014 at 7:00AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
Wave is free, but doesn't offer cash-based accounting. You don't want to be on wave.
June 30, 2014 at 8:39AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
Is this a sponsored post?
June 30, 2014 at 7:11AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
It's not, but we regret not making this a more thorough review and/or a roundup. Some others to check out:
GoDaddy Bookkeeping (formery Outright)
June 30, 2014 at 7:59AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
Invoice2Go has been my little accounting friend for some time now :) Costs to start using initially but it's good and easy to use and packed with nice features. Also comes in the form of a mobile app as well :)
June 30, 2014 at 12:26PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
I think it's worth noting in the review that you can't invoice on a project by project basis, as you can with a lot of other invoicing/finance software. I tried Wave out after reading your article on it originally (currently use FreeAgent), was ready to switch over, but was then surprised to find that you couldn't organise your invoices into projects. As far as I'm concerned, working as a freelancer in the film industry, invoicing by project is pretty much essential. Shouldn't the author of this article have checked such things before writing such a glowing review, or am I simply wrong by invoicing by project?
There's a support forum for Wave where users can request such features. Projects was requested several years ago and Wave have replied several times saying that they don't intend adding the feature.
Apart from this one huge gaping hole in features, I was very impressed with how it worked.
July 5, 2014 at 11:18PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
As a previous Wave user, I find Nutcache a far better invoicing system that's COMPLETELY free in every aspect of it. Haven't looked back since.
June 30, 2014 at 7:34AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
Interesting, I'm going to try that one out. Thanks for sharing!
June 30, 2014 at 12:44PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
DO NOT USE WAVE ACCOUNTING!
They do not offer cash-based accounting, which is an absolute must for all small businesses. This is a tremendous oversight on their part. I used them for the last tax year and it was a nightmare, as the accrual method is worthless for me.
I highly recommend fresh books, I switched and couldn't be happier with it.
June 30, 2014 at 8:33AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
You've said that twice already. It's like you have a vendetta against them or you work for Freshbooks. Get out.
June 30, 2014 at 7:11PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
I don't understand, why is cash-based accounting an absolute must for small business? I have always been under the impression that either method works fine for small business and you simply choose one based on your preference.
July 1, 2014 at 2:15PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
I've been using wave for the past couple of years and I've found it to be an excellent free tool. I can recommend it for sure.
Its easy to set it up to download bank transactions. At the end of the year, I just print out a piece of paper tallying my invoices and expenses and show it to my accountant. It's that easy. Thanks for being free wave!
June 30, 2014 at 9:46AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
Wave doesn't allow job tracking so you can't properly assign expenses to individual jobs and pull up a p&l for that job. There are work arounds, but the lack of this very significant feature has prevented me from switching.
June 30, 2014 at 10:23AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
As a freelancer, I rarely have more than one job per day, and I don't own a lot of equipment. So invoicing is not that complicated. Expense tracking is. Kashoo works for me, allowing me to photograph receipts in the iPad app.
Adding mileage tracking would be nice.
June 30, 2014 at 12:34PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
accrual accounting is just fine. if you don't understand tax law and how things can be moved around, then you need to learn. its not the end of the world, its not that hard and if you are freelance its really kind of a requirement unless you want to hire an accountant who will deal with it for you.... for a couple $k per year. personally I'd never put my info into a "cloud" app like that because its just a security risk and you have no clue what is being done with your info. as example even on the wave website at the bottom of the page is this tidbit :
199,249 accounts tracked
28,551,486 transactions tracked
85,703,213,347.27 estimated value
16,182,358.34 estimated minutes saved
item #3 should be your concern. they ARE looking at your info and who else is ? keep your financial info local. you can bet they are a hacker target too....
June 30, 2014 at 4:42PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
I use Freshbooks and have for a few years now. Love it, turns out their office is just around the corner from my office, so I arranged to stop by. I like that its a real office with a significant staff which isn't always the case with internet businesses. Also anytime I've had any issues their customer service has been very helpful. I find it a bit expensive but it saves me time with my bookkeeper which pays for the cost of the service.
Also with any free service, if you have a problem what's the recourse? Its not like there is a financially binding contract. I don't trust free when it comes to my accounting.
One word of advice when it comes to your accounting. Hire professionals. Taxes and tax law are complicated and if you are spending your time trying to figure out what you can write off and what you can't you're not doing what you should be doing which is working on your craft. I hate dealing with the accounting side of a business and as I hate it I put it off like I'm sure many of you do. It will catch up with you.
I am so happy I hired a bookkeeper a few years ago to get me caught up and keep me up to date. I see her one or two days a quarter. At year end she preps everything and then hands it off to the accountant who is considerably more expensive but actually understands tax law and all that shit. I'm happy to pay him as he saves me more money than his cost vs when I was doing it myself + the only stress I now have it writing of the cheques. Haven't figured how to make that one go away yet. Well short of the lottery and that one has landed yet.
June 30, 2014 at 11:04PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
I started on Billings a few years ago and I haven't really taken the time to look for alternatives. It was free until they recently migrated everything to a cloud-based backup solution. The monthly fee is minimal so that doesn't bother me too much. Only thing is the template editor in Billings is finnicky and weird but you're not in it all too often. I'll look into Wave; I'm a stickler for well-thought UI.
July 3, 2014 at 9:11PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
Is this post an ad? I'm not seeing anything saying it was sponsored. It sure reads like a sponsored post.
July 5, 2014 at 5:34PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
Not an ad or sponsored post. Enthusiasm for things we like can be misconstrued as advertisement.
July 5, 2014 at 5:59PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
Any idea if you can do W9/1099 related things with this?
That's the one big issue I've been having...
July 6, 2014 at 8:49PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
We're a start-up in the Pro Wave Network, offering accounting services to entrepreneurs on the move.
July 11, 2014 at 12:52PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
I think this is a good tool.
July 15, 2014 at 9:39PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
I guess I dont have to search on Google for any invoicing software in the future, as this blog has all the required information, especially the comments.
I love some tools, like Quickbooks, Harvest, but I dont use them as they are not available for free(completely). So I use Zylot - http://www.zylot.com which is a completely free tool and supports that all an SMB needs.
November 18, 2014 at 8:06AM, Edited November 18, 8:06AM
I have been using "Invoicera" for a few months and I’m very happy with it. I can customize it according to my needs. The product provides Flexibility and user friendly interface. Also features like Time Tracking, Expense Management, Task Management and recurring bills makes it more prominent.
January 26, 2015 at 11:03PM
This is really a great list. Thanks for your efforts compiling these awesome resources. However, you have missed http://www.invoicera.com to be included in your list. Invoicera online invoice Tool has some advanced features online invoice,create recurring and many more. I would like you to include Invoicera in your list so that your users could also benefited with the awesome features of Invoicera.
January 19, 2016 at 10:59PM
Amazing video and content. I also suggest you visit here http://www.quickbookssupporthelp.com/ for accounting invoicing tool for your business.
August 3, 2016 at 5:21AM
December 7, 2016 at 10:22AM
Managing accounts in day to day life is very necessary, it boosts the credit maintenance of the individual and enhance discipline in the business and the lifestyle. I am a business man operating a retail industry more than 5+ years using the QuickBooks, it helps to cater my financial needs wisely and effectively.
I do billing, credit management, auditing, invoice preparation, supplier management that enhances my productivity with perfection.
QuickBooks Tool-Hub, QuickBooks Desktop Pro
April 1, 2021 at 5:57AM, Edited April 1, 5:57AM
Thanks for your efforts to share this amazing list, Here I would like to suggest [Techimply.com] which has a great list about Billing and Invoicing Software and Accounting Software, I am sure it will help you a lot with its best features and comparison and also will explore an more options to add in your list.
July 19, 2021 at 2:38AM, Edited July 19, 2:38AM