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How To Manage Your Freelance Accounts Online

by | Dec 30, 2013 | Articles, Design, Freelancing | 0 comments

Cloud computing is making software more accessible than ever before. While complex accountancy packages once cost thousands, licensing is now available as a monthly subscription, and the software itself is accessed through a normal web browser.

Lots of companies now offer their products in the cloud. Adobe’s Creative Cloud makes premium graphic design tools affordable to freelancers without the need for massive investment, and businesses can also get cloud software for human resources, image editing and more.

In this article, we’ll look at cloud accounts for freelancers – particularly those who do graphic design work for a range of companies.

Choosing a Cloud Accounting Package

When reviewing potential software, the options available to you will depend on where you live, and some tools may be a better fit than others.


Xero Freelance Accounts Online

Xero is perhaps the best known of all cloud accounting software packages, and that’s partly because of the intense marketing around the product. Xero can be purchased through an accountant or as a standalone subscription. Despite looking impressive, it’s lacking in some very important areas; development is extremely slow, too, so new features take years to materialise (much to the frustration of its user base). Since it doesn’t support expense rebilling or timesheets, this is not the ideal solution for graphic design professionals, although accountants rate it highly.


Free Agent: Freelance Accounts Online

Focusing specifically on freelancers, FreeAgent is a relatively simple accounting package that makes key tasks like time tracking very easy. You don’t need an accountancy qualification to quickly see key tax dates, earnings breakdowns and submit payroll information to HMRC. The user interface in Xero is looking a little bit outdated, though, and we’d like to see better navigation.


Freshbooks: Freelance Accounts Online

Freshbooks is another user-friendly cloud accounting tool that’s more accessible than Xero and designed for freelancers and small businesses. It’s aesthetically similar to FreeAgent; it also handles expenses easily and time tracking is very well thought out. Support is provided during potentially unsociable hours for UK customers which may be a downside. Freshbooks also integrates with Xero, but the combination of the two isn’t cheap, so you’re better to pick one that covers most of your needs and stick with it.

How to Use Cloud Accounting Tools

Assuming you’re going it alone with your chosen package and not paying an accountant, you’ll need to spend time on getting used to your cloud accountancy package. Remember: you’re paying monthly, not paying a one-off fee, so you need to make the most of that subscription.

Treat bookkeeping like any other admin task; try to keep on top of it. Upload receipts weekly. Set up an automatic bank transaction import so you can explain everything or reconcile all transactions before you forget what they are. Most packages let you upload receipts; FreeAgent is particularly good in this area.

Also, make sure you rebill expenses to your clients on each invoice. Again, FreeAgent has this covered, as does FreshBooks. Just upload the receipt, add it to a project and click once to rebill to the client.

Cloud accountancy is very handy for freelancers in creative industries like graphic design. You’ll still need some help from an accountant at year end, but tidy accounts mean you can cut the amount you spend on formal paperwork.

By Sam Wright

Sam Wright is a journalist working with the Brand Republic website.

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