I began Freelancing almost 1 year ago now, and have come a long way since then. Back then I would keep track of my clients through my email inbox, use notepad for todo lists and google docs to keep track of hours worked. When it came to invoicing my clients, I would just send them a copy of the hours I worked and my notes I had made, and they would pay me by sending a check or via Paypal.
Of course, as time went on and I started getting more clients and projects, I started to think about what I could do to stay better organized and keep track of things easier. Then one day I was reading a blog and happened to see on the side an ad for FreshBooks. I had heard of them before but something caused me want to see what they were all about, so I clicked the ad and went to the site. That one decision has been the most important decision regarding my business I've made all year last year. FreshBooks completely changed the way I do business for the better. It was free to sign up and get started, so I figured I'd give it a try. I was immediately impressed with the professional look and feel of it (something my business had theretofore lacked). With FreshBooks, I could track my time by projects, and track projects by clients. I could invoice my clients and they could pay me online. I could customize the system with my logo. It was bliss! Immediatly and with almost no effort on my part I went from amateur to professional. FreshBooks was the tool I needed to jumpstart my business.
My clients LOVE FreshBooks, and so do I. For all of you new freelancers out there, I really highly recommend you go right now and sign up for FreshBooks. You don't have to pay anything to start, and once you get more clients and start making the big bucks, you only have a small monthly fee to pay. The money I earned as a direct consequence of using FreshBooks and the time and effort and stress which I was spared make FreshBooks my #1 most important tool and best investment for my Web Design Business. Thank you, FreshBooks!
I am in the process right now of making a Drupal Module which will integrate the FreshBooks API with Drupal. I will post here when it is complete.
UPDATE MAY 25,2009 - FRESHBOOKS IS NOW OFFERING A DISCOUNTED COUPON. JUST CLICK THIS LINK AND ENTER 'shoeboxed' IN THE COUPON CODE TO GET AN INSTANT $20 OFF YOUR FIRST MONTH'S PAID SUBSCRIPTION!