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Freelance, small-business accounting & invoicing apps

As a freelancer and a small business owner it is important to stay on top of your accounting, invoices and timesheets, so that you invoice accurately, earn more money and keep a reliable record for tax time.

Apps I use everyday

Klok for tracking my time on various client projects and tasks. This app runs off Adobe Air 2, costs $20 for the desktop version and can connect to other time tracking apps like Harvest, Basecamp and Freshbooks. If you’ve been using Google Calendar as a timesheet, you can import directly from your Google Calendar into Klok and assign it to specific client tasks. At the end of each week or month you can export your timesheets to a .csv file to attach to your client invoices.

Fotobiz for managing and tracking client estimates, invoicing and photography licensing. Fotobiz works really well for me for the most part. It is a powerful app to help you manage your photography business. I’ve adapted it to work for my other business applications.

Highlights of Fotobiz:

  • Convert estimates into invoices once the client accepts
  • No monthly fee!
  • Save email templates.
  • Save printing templates e.g. attach a license to an estimate.
  • Store contacts.
  • Invoice in different currencies.
  • Create and track usage license fees for each photo.
  • Duplicate estimates or invoices.
  • Issue deposit invoices.
  • Track payments.



For personal budgeting I use YNAB (You Need a Budget). An awesome app for a one-time license fee of $60. You’re able to import transactions from your bank account, and at a glance see your financial situation for the next 12 months. YNAB does let you synch your budget across to your iphone, but I’ve found that it isn’t always reliable.

These 3 software apps are great, but with Fotobiz and Klok I’m not able to access it from anywhere because they are standalone and installed on my desktop. So if I need to create an estimate for a client and I”m not in front of my desktop, I have to wait till I am.

This led me to do several hours of research on what’s available for freelance and small-business owners. My main criteria for my search was that the software had to have a one-time fee, be accessible from anywhere and allow you to customise your invoices with your own branding.

I’ve read dozens of reviews of some of the most popular cloud-based software.
Freshbooks $20-$40/moonth, Quickbooks Online $13-$27 per month, Freeagent $20/month, Paydirt $18/month, Hiveage $17-$30/month, Billingspro $10/month

Hopefully this post will help save you some time deciding what to use for your business needs.

Self-hosted time-tracking and invoicing option

I’ve narrowed down the once-off payment choice to:


Pancakeapp – a self-hosted option. Pay $150 once-off for the current version 4.4 and receive free incremental updates until the next major upgrade. Install it on your own web server e.g.

Some of the key highlights of Pancakeapp is:

  • No monthly fee!
  • Self-hosted and accessible from anywhere with an internet connection.
  • Simple and clean user-interface.
  • Create unlimited proposals and save templates for your proposals.
  • Create unlimited estimates that you can attach to proposals.
  • When a proposal or estimate is accepted, generate a project.
  • Create tasks and time trackers for each project.
  • Generate timesheets from the time trackers.
  • Generate invoices from the time sheets.
  • Customise your invoices and user-interface with your own branding.
  • Add payment schedules and terms to your invoices.
  • Create recurring invoices.
  • Add expenses and assign it to a specific project.
  • Create support tickets for clients and assign to team members
  • Clients can login to view their invoices/estimates and project tasks.
  • Accept payments through, PayPal,

Cloud-based accounting option

Wave Accounting


This is a FREE cloud-based accounting and invoicing option that was designed for businesses with 1 – 9 employees.

Key highlights of Waveapps that is included as FREE

  • Accounting – All of personal and business accounting (transactions, reports, adding sales taxes, etc.)
  • Invoicing – Setup multiple businesses. Creating, sending, and editing. You can create as many invoices, customers, vendors, and products as you need! This also includes recurring invoices, reminders, payment receipts, and estimates.
  • Personal – Personal financing and investment tools and budgeting.
  • Receipts – Scan your receipt images and create expense transactions with these images. Mobile app for Android and IOS.

Receiving payments by credit card and payroll are paid-for features.

The ability to customise your invoices is limited. 3 templates to choose from. You are able to add your logo which is auto-resized and choose a highlight colour. If you don’t mind not being able to fully customise your invoice and don’t want to spend on a monthly fee, then Waveapp could be for you.

So that’s it. Pancakeapp and Waveapp is what I will be testing over the next few weeks.

What apps do you use on a daily/monthly basis to keep your freelance or small business running smoothly? How much money are you spending each month to make money and get paid?

Sherissa | Web Designer

Wordpress web designer, mom, wife, documentary photographer, compulsive researcher, rock-climber, table tennis enthusiast


  • Charl Botha says:

    How has Wave App worked for you?

    Since returning to SA a few months ago, I’ve been using Pastel’s “Sage One Accounting” cloud-based package. It’s basically one huge overpriced disappointment. Every time I have to perform some action that’s supposed to be straight-forward (I used to use moneybird in NL, which does it right) it costs me at least an hour or two of WTFs and much frustration. Latest frustration: I can’t invoice my foreign clients in their own currency (it _looks_ like I might have to pay for an extra module, waiting for tech support to get back to me). Plus side: My accountants know pastel. They can login and for instance get the VAT done really quickly.

    I am curious as to viable accounting / invoicing alternatives that don’t make me want to quit computers completely every time I use them. ­čÖé

    • Sherissa says:

      I don’t have any experience with Pastel software.

      Wave app has been working well for me. The app pulls transactions from my bank account which I then allocate to an account that I’ve setup. I don’t use it for invoicing as I found that a bit limiting for my business needs.

      I’m using Pancakeapp which I love! The Pancakeapp support is awesome, the app is updated frequently, your team can login from anywhere, your accountant can login, you can easily export to your accounting software. You can easily customise the look and feel of the backend as well as your invoices.

  • Ruan says:


    How do you account for VAT of 14% when loading bank statements and verifying transactions ?
    Cause I have put in the 14% VAT in Sales Tax , but Wave calculates the 14% directly from the total inclusive amount , and VAT should be calculated on exclusive amount ?

    Thank you

    • Sherissa says:

      Hi Ruan, did you come right with this? My understanding is that you set the VAT as a recoverable sales tax. This should calculate the VAT on top of the line item amounts. Make sure you’re putting in the ex VAT amounts in the line items in your invoices.