As a blogger/writer, it is not uncommon that when you got started, you were so excited about publishing your writing on your very own blog that you may have forgotten about that monetization part of the equation.
Do you remember those days?
As soon as you realized how much time it takes and that you were not “made of money,” you realized that there needs to be some monetization. So, you took the time to figure that out and bring in some money with affiliate marketing, advertising, custom projects, you name it.
With all of these great income sources, you were enjoying what you could do as an official “entrepreneur.” But, with all of that success, how were you handling the management of the finances – specifically record keeping? Did it come easy for you?
A Personal Story
Where this hit me was when the tax season came. Mind you, I am a seasoned bookkeeper and have done bookkeeping for other people. However, have you ever heard the saying that shoemakers (do those exist?) wear the worst shoes and doctors have the worst health? Well, when I realized it was taking me 10x as long to fill out the Schedule C for the US taxes, I realized I was missing something.
I kept flipping between notes I had stored in Trello and Intuit’s QuickBooks. IBTW – John Rampton, co-founder of Due.com, is also an author on QuickBooks’ site.) Mind you, I thought they were meticulous notes! I thought I was hot stuff! I also thought my memory was top notch and egotistically missed a critical note, requiring more research than I would like to admit in deciphering a particular project that was similar to another particular project.
Due.com – Made for the Blogger's Financial Needs
When I kept hearing how mutual friends were talking about this “Due.com,” I just had to get the scoop myself, so I interviewed John on my WebToolsTV show.
Like I mentioned, when I discovered that I needed a better solution was when it took me sooooo long to do my taxes. I had been doing taxes for years! The taxes part of it wasn’t difficult. What was difficult was figuring out what project went with what client and what PayPal transaction went with which project.
It was like a three-way mess!
You see, it is pretty easy to know that client “A” paid for something. I mean it is clear as day in the PayPal email and the PayPal interface. But, what if client “A” just simply paid and didn’t put a description of what he or she was paying for, in that singular payment? What if client A dislikes PayPal invoices and prefers to just “send money” without comment or memo?
The First Solution
Years ago, when my husband and I were running our hosting service (the kind where you have the servers literally in a server closet in your office, not any reseller thing), we came up with an effective solution.
I use Filemaker Pro like an addict. While there is a Windows version, most of the time I hear about Mac users using it. A similar counterpart, in the Windows world, would be Access. It is a way to use databases, but also quickly set up user interfaces to access the data.
But, that isn’t the point, is it? Hey, I’m letting you know how I did it successfully, but it took hundreds of hours.
The rest of the story…
So, I used Filemaker Pro. I would download the transactions from my bank and from PayPal. I would use scripts that I wrote inside Filemaker Pro, and I also wrote custom scripts that would use the Apple OS (AppleScript) to finish processing the data. You see, the data straight out of the bank was not compatible with QuickBooks and certainly not if you cared about the detail. Add to that that we had thousands of clients between our hosting company and our domain registration service. We weren’t using anyone else’s system to do this. It was all from scratch.
Finally, after I worked out all of the development bugs, it worked. It worked beautifully!
Except… It would take about 60 minutes to process a “batch” (data exported from PayPal or the bank). Mind you, that wasn’t my time, that was all of the steps it had to go through to reconcile the data from the transactions (recorded in Filemaker) with the data that was downloaded from the banks. This was a lengthy process, including copying and pasting. And, if your computer is in the process of automating a copy/paste, it isn’t like you could interrupt it to check your email, or you crash what it is doing. So, it meant that I couldn’t use my computer during those 60 minutes.
The crux of the problem was that there was no way for me to enter the data that I needed to enter for the clients, into PayPal or the bank. It was just transactions. All of the data (i.e. time spent on a project) was recorded in Filemaker, and somehow it needed to be “married” to the data from the bank.
Have I lost you yet? It is ok if I have because that is really the point.
Do you want to have to go through all of that and spend hundreds or thousands of hours developing your own system? What about hundreds or thousands of dollars?
I didn't think so. 😉
The Final “Working Solution” (Easier!)
Here is where my review of Due.com was so helpful. You can actually track projects and time spent on clients, from within Due.com! You can then invoice your clients and send them a convenient link where they can pay online, even using PayPal! No longer do you have to work to reconcile everything because it is reconciled within one web-based application (which also works with QuickBooks).
Admittedly, I get so excited and start using words like “client,” “entrepreneur,” etc. However, you can also use this in your blogging. You can track the advertising invoicing your clients for advertising on your site, newsletter, etc. You can even enter client information for those serviced by a third party (i.e. BuySellAds). Pretty much, if you can conceive it, as far as projects and money, you can do it within the software, even if you also use something like QuickBooks, offline.
In-depth Review of the Invoicing at Due.com
John Rampton and Murray Newlands were kind enough to grant me the opportunity to test out Due.com and use it for invoicing. Like I mentioned earlier, I wish that I had had this a decade or so ago.
I noticed that Due.com allows for an all-in-one approach to managing your freelancing gigs. It includes a client management component, a lite project management component, and an invoicing component. One of the key aspects is the ability to create your client and project and then invoice them right out of the software. There is also the ability to log the time that you spend on a project, if it is an hourly rate. By doing this, you never have to touch a calculator because the software does it for you.
The software is actually built on the basecamp code. For anyone familiar with basecamp, as a project management software, the functions of Due.com should be familiar. While I don't know all of the ins and outs of how Due.com incorporated the code, it seems to be focused on the freelancer's needs and especially the invoicing.
The only drawback that I found was that when you send the invoice to the client, they may miss it in their email. I used to use invoices straight out of PayPal and for the most part, it was not missed by the client. However, this invoice comes out of the due.com domain and so it may not successfully pass all of the filters that a client has on their email. This can easily be mitigated by contacting your client and asking them to watch for an invoice from the due.com domain. A simple search for “due.com” in an email client should produce the invoice. This is really a minor inconvenience in the overall scope of things.
More importantly, Due.com takes the blogger beyond the limitations of PayPal.
[tweet_box design=”box_08″]Bloggers can go beyond the limitations of PayPal with Due.com[/tweet_box]
Hey, PayPal is cool, but the client management and project management element are basically non-existent. This is where Due.com comes into the picture and integrates client management, project management, and invoice management all in one interface.
My assessment, even with all of the custom coding that I have done in my business, is that Due.com is really the answer to the needs of a blogger who also freelances a bit on the side. It is an easier solution than anything else I have seen and yet it covers the needs that some other solutions miss (i.e. PayPal only). This is my honest opinion, based on my experience. I would be curious to hear what others think about their experience with Due.com.