In this FreeAgent review I’ll take you over some of the fantastic features offered by FreeAgent, I’ll tell you about my personal experiences using FreeAgent, and why I prefer it to all of the other online accounting tools I’ve tried.
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I’ve touched on the subject of accounting in previous articles, and have been planning to put my thoughts down on virtual paper for a while now. Continuing the theme of recent product review driven posts, I would like to give you some of my experiences with the some of the accountancy/ bookkeeping software products available to freelancers and small businesses. I’ve tried (and neglected) several during my time as a freelancer, but now I’ve finally found a harmonious place when it comes to keeping my books in order and more importantly, my invoices paid!
My bookkeeping started out virtually none existent (as I’m sure it did for many) – I’m talking some time ago now (in internet years anyway), back in the days when my creative icons still had the words Macromedia above them, I used to work freelance on the side, as a registered sole trader. Without the seemingly daunting responsibility of a ltd company, I lacked motivation. I struggled with the guilt of not keeping proper books but the lack of cost effective, easy to use tools out there made it a futile struggle. I tried using excel, along with a string of other equally unexciting applications and services all of which were eventually neglected long enough to no longer have sensible, relevant or useful information, finding it easier to just filter through deposits from my bank statements when it came to submit my tax returns.
I dipped in and out of a few other seemingly viable options over the years, as I transitioned from student freelancer to full time freelancer. Quickbooks? Too over complicated. Freshbooks!? Too expensive. Wave Accounting? Too buggy! Billings? Too time consuming… yawn.
You get the idea. Then I found FreeAgent.
I was all but ready to give up, until I found FreeAgent. I signed up for the Free trial, with little to no intent on continuing a paid version once the trial ended, but just like they said it would, It converted me. To anyone who’s found themselves in the same or a similar spot to me, this review is for you.
It’s not just me either, FreeAgent has garnered a wealth of credits and positive user reviews, thanks to a great product, great support and at an affordable price. FreeAgent, for those who haven’t figured it out yet is an online based accountancy/ bookkeeping software tailored especially for freelancers and small businesses. Whilst it contains a vast array of polished, intelligent features – it’s all laid out in a way that’s easy to understand, and puts the information you need at the tips of your fingers. I have a tendency to run away with myself some times, so for the purposes of this review and so as to ensure it’s as helpful to you as possible, I’ll attempt to keep to some sort of structure from here on out.
- User interface
- Main features
- Support and documentation
- Company information
- The Verdict
Most importantly, how much does it cost? Well the first month is Free. After that you can select a plan to sign up for. They have Sole Trader accounts at £15.00 per month, Partnerships or LLPs at £20.00 per month and full LTD companies at £25.00 per month. With this discount code: 42ql612n they’ll give you a 10% discount on your account for life.
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If you sign up with the above discount code, I will also benefit from an additional 10% discount on my current FreeAgent account (so we both win!).
The first thing you’ll notice about FreeAgent accounting software the simplicity of dashboard, with plenty of spacing and an attractive UI it’s a breath of fresh air compared with many of it’s local-installation based counterparts. The design is kept simple and devoid of clutter and presents a clear picture of your business as soon as you log in. No crowded tables or ridiculous icons, it’s just clean and easy to navigate
Use of colours and fonts is excellent, with nothing feeling out of place or lost. The simplicity of the dashboard flows into the various sections and screens as you navigate around. Each new page is as pleasant as the one that preceded it and as you navigate through everything feels like a natural progression. For first timers you can expect to me helped through the process with tips and tricks for each section, and during my first few weeks, at the times I did come across something I didn’t understand there was always an explanation near by in the form of a hint or helpful notification. It’s very intuitive and will teach you as you go. As far as UI goes, FreeAgent really have got it just right.
So as not to exclude anyone, It should be noted that FreeAgent isn’t strictly for web designers, any Freelancer or small business owner can (and should) use it, and the guides are so helpful It’s can be understood by anyone, even those with an irrational fear of computers, accounting or just life in general. The guide also helps when it comes to those who are somewhat business illiterate (like me!), it tells me if I’m attributing costs in the wrong place or if an expense should be in the out of pocket section and not a bill, and I have a little app on my phone which lets me scan receipts straight into FreeAgent and attach them to purchases (my accountant loves this!).
More complex areas of FreeAgent such as the invoicing have been created with the same care and attention to detail as the overview and reports pages. The intuitive WYSIWYG interface allows you to see the invoices you’ve created, automatically push non-billed, tracked time into an itemised invoice and send it to your client all from within the application, not only that but if you connect your account to PayPal your clients can pay you instantly via a button which will be sent along with their invoice. Nifty.
The Journal Entry feature is great for people without a lot of accounting experience. Like everything else available with this software, it is very user-friendly. You will be able to make changes to your books quickly using this powerful but simple tool.
The journal is essentially the place which keeps track on how you move amounts from category to category. FreeAgent makes it possible to move figures around with ease, i.e. editing a bill to move it into another category. However there are occasions where moving figures around is not so easy. This is where the journal comes in. The journal section is requires a little more information than there’s room to explain in a general review, but for those seeking more information on journals, you can check out this comprehensive guide to FreeAgent Journals.
Periodically it is necessary to check the information in your accounting software against your bank statements. FreeAgent matches all the transactions and then marks the explained transactions with green checks and unexplained ones with red question marks. If you click on any transaction, you will be able to view and attach an explanation. Reconciliation can be done automatically via a connection with your bank (they support most banks) or by uploading a spreadsheet of transaction. FreeAgent reconciliation also supports PayPal.
FreeAgent allows you to import data like contacts from your email, or projects from basecamp. This saves time and makes it feel more connected with your existing freelance world. I’ve found the basecamp connection to be exceptionally useful, any new projects created by me or by my clients for me are automatically imported into FreeAgent, and I can then track my time against them. At the end of the month my client’s love me as I can tell them exactly which of their projects has cost them the most in a given month – extremely useful if you’re providing multiple services to a single client, e.g. Hosting, Design, SEO or Insight.
As I’ve already mentioned, you can sync your bank accounts automatically with FreeAgent saving you from the tedious task of copying information from printed bank statements into data entry fields or even the hassle of logging into your online banking account to export a statement (which can be a daunting enough task with some banks!). It doesn’t matter if you’re new to FreeAgent, you can still import the old data from your bank and you choose when to start the import from. Whenever data is imported from your bank account, FreeAgent will attempt to explain it for you. Over time, FreeAgent will learn and get better at explaining your transactions, as it learns about your business – but at first the explanations can be wrong and often a bit unreliable – so be sure to check and verify each one yourself. FreeAgent will always inform you which explanations it’s created for you and ask you to confirm them.
Simple but vital. You can (and should) export all of your FreeAgent data on a regular basis – keeping a local copy for yourself is just common sense. FreeAgent makes it simple to grab and export everything. No Fuss.
FreeAgent divides reports into three types: High Level, Breakdown and Detailed. The High Level reports include Profit & Loss, daily income minus expenses, and the Balance Sheet – a summary of what you own opposed to what you owe at the time of the report.
The Breakdown reports include Aged Debtors, Aged Creditors and Capital Assets. Aged Debtors shows what your customers owe while Aged Creditors shows how much you owe to your suppliers. The Capital Assets report lists all of your company’s capital assets along with their depreciation over time.
The Detailed reports include Show Transactions – a breakdown of all transactions, and Trial Balance, a listing of totals of each and every incoming or outgoing spend categories.
FreeAgent allows you to attach documents to any transaction, bill or expense. This is fantastic for tracking receipts or proof of purchases notes. You’ll be able to search passed transactions to view this document at a later stage – as I said before, your accountant will love this. This has very clear benefits – obviously, and the helpful app I mentioned earlier will make it a snap to stay on top of this. Scenario – “Past You” attaches a scanned copy of a bill to an entry in your bank ledger. “Future You” finds a discrepancy in your books! No problem! “Future you” simply check’s the attached document to make sure that “Past You” did not erroneously enter data by comparing the numbers in the document to that of the entry. FreeAgent even provides you with a thumbnail preview of each attached document so you don’t have to open/ download each one to find what you are looking for. In addition to attaching documents directly to transactions, you can also store other documents in the handy Files section. I often store exported invoices, statements or timesheets in here, or even spec documents and contracts.
Foreign currency handling
I work with several overseas clients so I’ve found this feature particularly helpful. No doubt in today’s business world, it is increasingly important for small businesses to work in more than one currency. FreeAgent allows you to send out invoices in multiple currencies and tallies everything up nice and neat in your books.
FreeAgent recently began supporting PayPal electronic payments services. Since PayPal allows payments by all major credit cards, you will also be able to accept credit card payments from your clients. With a PayPal Premier or a Business account, you will be able to enter PayPal payments into your books automatically as paid. FreeAgent also supports two cardless payment options, Dwolla and GoCardless. These systems allow direct electronic payment from customer’s bank accounts rather than through credit cards. All of these payment methods can be sent out along with your invoices to ensure the smoothest, simplest process possible. Great for you, great for your clients.
Invoicing & Estimates
Here is one of FreeAgent’s most powerful features. You will be able to customize your invoices to present a professional and highly personalized look and feel. The template editor has a Theme Gallery that you can use to choose style elements quickly. With a bit of know how you can also create custom themes using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) or you can even purchase premium FreeAgent Invoice Templates. As well as invoicing, FreeAgent allows you to create and send professional looking estimates to your prospective clients, which can later be converted into full invoices at the click of a button.
I am always on the move and it is essential to be able to access my accounts through my mobile. FreeAgent provides cross-platform support for mobiles and tablets which run on windows, iOS or Android operating systems. Not only is the software application accessible, but it is very mobile-friendly! With FreeAgent, you’ll have a remarkably easy time updating your accounts from any location, seriously. I’ve updated my books from the jungles of Guatemala!
If you are worried that FreeAgent may just be hype, then you have the option of a 30-day free trial that does not require any credit card. You can give the software a full-feature test drive to see if it meets your requirements. And if you use this discount code: 42ql612n, they’ll give you 10% offevery month for life! Or you can sign up via this link and the discount will be added for you automatically.
Whilst FreeAgent lacks the capacity to actually track time with a timer, it does allow you to easily add time to a given project. At the end of the month you can easily convert your tracked time into invoices for your clients. Irritatingly, FreeAgent only allows you to complile the tracked time for individual projects, not for individual clients – which can be frustrating if you’re running multiple projects for a single client. You can get around this by going into your invoicing, creating an invoice for your tracked time on a project and adding it to the invoice, then editing the invoice and changing the project – effectively adding the additional items for each project by editing the invoice each time. This is a little bit cumbersome, but is a feature they’re looking to improve in the near future, or so I’m told.
FreeAgent also offers inventory, payroll, integration and other useful features.
Support, Documentation and Community
FreeAgent is so user-friendly and intuitive that most people may not even need to use the customer support or help documentation. For anyone who does, you’ll find their support staff to be quick to respond and relentless in their quest to take your question to a satisfactory outcome. Like the rest of the system, the Knowledge Base is very easy to use and there is a Community Discussion area for anyone who would rather interact with other users.
As well as an excellent knowledgebase and first class support, FreeAgent also send out helpful and more importantly entertaining weekly emails and run regular free training webinars.
In my experience, FreeAgent is the best accounting software for freelancers and small business owners. It’s simply the easiest software to use for non-accountants, and actually makes the task of accounting far less mind numbing. I’ve found myself rather enjoying it once or twice. The gradual learning curve will be one of the most important features for people who do not have time to fiddle with complicated software.
If you are looking for an easy accounting software solution that is still powerful with a great range of features then you will certainly want to give FreeAgent a try. I did. I won’t go back. Ever. If you’ve become an instant convert following this FreeAgent review then click your way to a free trial using the link below.
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Click the button below or visit freeagent.com and enter discount code 42ql612n to start your free trial today.
I am good at managing my schedule, so I can usually get projects booked in without much lead time. Let’s get our heads together and get your project done.