Invoice Ninja is a one-stop solution for the accounting and invoicing needs of freelancers and small businesses. It provides the user with some project management capabilities on top of invoice management. The tool is available as a web-based application as well as an Open-Source software. The web-based application comes with free and paid plans, with the paid plans providing more functionality and freedom.
- Separate sections to manage clients, products, and vendors.
- Easy to create regular and recurring invoices.
- Comes with a proposal builder.
- Allows to integrate payment gateways with invoices.
- Project management section with Kanban in place.
- Provides a time tracker.
- Generates custom reports.
- The project management section has some room for improvement.
Freelancers and small businesses often don’t have enough resources to let the professionals take care of accounting and invoicing. They need to take care of such tasks themselves and end up spending a lot of time and effort on them. And sadly, they are still unable to do a good job.
If you are a freelancer working all by yourself or if you own a small business, you realize how important it is for you to come off as a professional. It means you need to you can’t take shortcuts when creating invoices or sending out proposals.
The going gets even tougher if you are juggling between multiple clients. You fall into a paradox where getting more successful and more clients means more trouble in taking care of the paperwork.
Invoice Ninja is a suite with a variety of online tools that helps small businesses and freelancers to take care of tasks related to client management. It is difficult to put Invoice Ninja in a specific category of tools, as its capabilities span into so many fields.
Apart from managing invoices, you can use it to create proposals, set up payment methods, manage projects, track time, monitor expenses, and much more.
This review will be a round-up of all that you can do with Invoice Ninja. We will get into how easy or difficult it is to take care of all the tasks, and how much of a difference will it make if you synchronize Invoice Ninja with your usual business activities.
By the end of this review, you will have a much better idea of the capabilities of this suite, and you will find it easier to gauge Invoice Ninja against other similar products.
Setup and beginning
Let us start right from the beginning. Invoice Ninja strives to cater its services to a global customer base. It implies you will find a lot of language and currency options on the portal.
You can start by specifying the currency, language, time zone, cycles, and everything that may affect the smooth functioning of your business. If you happen to have any foreign clients, the Invoice Ninja will take care of currency conversions during invoice generation.
Invoice Ninja comes with plenty of payment gateway options that cover all the noticeable ones and a lot of lesser-known ones too. And if the platform still misses out your preferred payment gateway, there is always the option to set up the custom one.
The ‘Settings’ tab then moves into tax rates. It is one of the variables that somehow get difficult to manage if the business is happening across states. The platform lets you save multiple tax-rates so that you don’t have to waste time while generating invoices. You can also specify the ways of tax imposition.
Depending upon the plan subscription, you get additional options in the ‘Settings’ menu. Better plans would let you take care of email automation, credit cards, bank accounts, and a lot more. Even though the free plan comes with enough options to take care of invoicing, the pro and enterprise plans bring a lot to the mix.
Manage Clients, Products, and Vendors on the same platform
You need to find clients, create products, and take care of vendors before you can get into generating invoices for the service you provide. There are specific sections for all these categories, and you can list them out with all the variables.
You will find all kinds of credential spaces when listing out a new client. You can add VAT identification number, ID number, website, etc. among other details. They let you add billing and shipping addresses separately, making the whole process a lot smoother.
You can mention currency, language, tax rates, and payment terms for clients while adding them to the list. You can also mention the size and nature of the organization, among other details.
If there is something you want to keep in mind about the client, let your team members know, or let the client know, then the notes section can come in handy. You can add public and private notes, depending on who should be the recipient of the information.
Adding new products is a relatively simpler task. All you need to do is add name, description/note, and the cost of the product.
You will have almost the same experience adding a vendor as you had while adding a client. The only difference will be that you can’t add notes or manage payment details.
If you were working on some accounting or invoicing software already, then you can import the details and list from that tool to Invoice Ninja using CSV files.
It can be a bit of a drag to take care of all the settings and populating lists when starting on the platform, but all this work will allow you to glide through other processes in the future. We are going to cover more of that in subsequent sections of the review.
Invoices and Auto-Billing
People take different routes when it comes to generating invoices. Some freelancers use spreadsheets to take care of the billings while some small enterprises are using full-fledged accounting tools.
We know that using spreadsheets isn’t the best method for bookkeeping, and it will take a lot of effort to generate invoices and send out proposals. Accounting software, on the other hand, may turn out to be a bit too much for the size and requirements of your company.
Accounting tools come with a wide range of options, and they charge the user accordingly. It is a bit difficult for a small business to make the most of these software. Therefore, it doesn’t make much sense to spend that kind of money on them.
Invoice Ninja is the perfect middle ground one can find in this case. It is an inexpensive solution that allows you to automate billing operations. Let us get a bit into how this platform makes things simple for the user.
It is more about mentioning the details when you create the invoice on Invoice Ninja. Assuming that you have already listed out the clients, products, tax rates, etc. while setting up the account, there is not much to do when creating invoices.
Mention the client, dates, products, quantity, and other particulars in the invoice section, and you will be done with it. There is a lot that one can take care of with these invoices.
Providing discounts is a good way of nurturing better relationships with clients, and it even works when you are looking to attract more clients. You can mention discounts, both in terms of percentages and amount, and the invoice will take care of the deductions.
You can mention multiple products with varying quantities. However, the discount will be applied collectively on all the products. You will have to create different invoices if you wish to provide multiple discounts.
Once again, there is the option to include public and private notes with the invoice. You can also add terms or footer to the invoice.
Invoice Ninja provides a preview of the invoice based on all the information you provide. You can then take care of its appearance. The platform provides a variety of themes that you would help you match the invoice with your business.
You can have an invoice that is very clean and formal, or you can go for more creative and colored ones. There are enough options to go with the preferences of most users.
Once you are satisfied with appearance and the information available on the invoice, you can send it to the client, save it as a draft, or mark it as sent.
You can then access the invoice from the list of invoices. You can see the status of each invoice in the table, along with the client, date, amount, and balance.
Invoice Ninja allows the user to filter invoices based on different fields. You can sort the ones with a specific status or separate all the invoices addressing a specific client. The filters make it easier for you to keep track of things once there are enough invoices in the pipeline.
Freelancers often have shorter payment durations, even for longer projects. But frequent payment brings more work with itself. You can create recurring invoices on Invoice Ninja and automate invoice generation for your regular and long-term work.
The ‘Recurring Invoices’ section works the same way as ‘Invoice’ with some obvious differences. You can provide all the details about clients and products as usual, and all the customization options will be the same, as well.
The additional option in this section will have the option to mention the frequency of the invoice and the option to mention the start and end of the duration. If you aren’t sure of how long you want to keep generating these recurring invoices, you don’t need to specify it.
There is also the option to specify the due date criteria. Depending on the frequency you choose for payment, you can have a rule for due-date. It can be anything from a specific day of the week to a specific date of the month.
You can also choose between the opt-in and opt-out options when creating the recurring invoice.
We felt they could’ve added more automation for recurring invoices. Freelancers and small businesses often provide different volumes of work for the same payment cycle. It results in different bills for every cycle.
Invoice Ninja could’ve provided a synchronization option between recurring invoices and the project management tool on the platform. It would’ve made customization of recurring invoices so much easier for such businesses and freelancers.
Apart from this one shortcoming, we found everything else in order in the invoices department. We can comprehend how it saves both time and effort for the clients.
Create Professional Proposals and Quotes
As a freelancer, you are always on the lookout for new clients. It is critical for growth and to ensure there are multiple avenues to generate income. The same can be said for people managing small businesses. They need more clients every now and then.
You would generally quote prices to these prospects to tell them what you offer and at what price. For bigger projects and more sophisticated avenues, you might take create proposals that delve into the details of the various ways you can help the client.
A well-structured proposal would go into how you are an eligible business/person for the job, and might also state some of the terms from your side.
One needs to take care of a lot of aspects when creating a proposal. It encompasses everything right from the appearance of the proposal to the tone of the content. Invoice Ninja helps the user make sure that the proposal is aesthetically pleasing and contains correct details.
However, let us first have a glance at the ‘Quotes’ section before we dive into proposals.
Quotes, in a lot of ways, are the beginning of every job for freelancers. When a future client reaches out to them and enquires about the pricing, a quote is usually the most appropriate response.
Creating a quote on Invoice Ninja is identical to creating an invoice on the platform. The only difference is the section in which you create the two items. Once you create a quote and it gets listed on the table, you can monitor its status from within the status only.
You can see if the client has accepted the quote or not. If they accept the quote, then there is also a provision for its auto-conversion into an invoice.
It takes a bit more effort to create proposals as compared to quotes, and there are multiple ways to go about the process. You can either create a proposal out of an existing quote or create a new one from scratch.
You will have some of the details already available in the proposal if you choose to use a quote. But it is mostly client description and project dates, so you won’t have to do a lot of work in case you create an entirely new proposal.
Invoice Ninja provides a proposal builder in this section. It is a lot like any page builder that you might have come across on a website builder. There are content and element blocks that you can drag and drop on the canvas.
There are sections that cover the whole width of the canvas and also the ones that divide it into two/ three equal parts and one that divides the canvas into uneven sections. The builder avails blocks to add buttons, links, images, text, etc.
You can add the company logo to make the proposal appear even more professional. While the platform can help you arrange and reorder all the content elements, the onus will be on you populate the elements with moving content. There is no shortcut around it.
Once you have prepared the proposal, you can get a preview within the portal and subsequently send it out to the relevant prospect. There are previews available for mobile and tablet screens too. Thus, you won’t have to guess if the proposal looks equally good on other screen ratios.
We would’ve liked the section even more if the service provider had thrown if a few proposal templates. Even though users can import templates or modify elements to create new layouts each time, prebuilt templates would’ve made the job a lot easier.
Project Management and Time-Tracking
Freelancers are their own boss, and it is both a boon and a bane for them. While there is no one to dictate when and how you work, there is also no one to monitor if you are putting in the necessary hours. A freelancer needs to be both the employer and employee at the same time.
Quite a lot of freelancers struggle to be a good boss, and it ends up affecting their income. Project management and time tracking tools can be your best friends if you encounter similar struggles. They add a sense of accountability into the equation and help you become more organized being.
Invoice Ninja helps you manage projects as well as individual tasks. Let’s start by having a look at what the ‘Projects’ section has got to offer.
You can always list a new project whenever you get into an agreement with a client. It will tell you how much you have got on your plate at the moment, help you have realistic estimates, and make it easier to handle multiple projects at a time.
Some of the things you can mention in a project are the client details, due date, budgeted hours, rate, and some notes if you want. Once you list the project, you can create an invoice for it directly from the table, or edit it.
The filters will help you manage projects if a lot of them pile up. You can see how many of the projects are related to a specific client, sort them under due dates, and so on.
You can subsequently break down a project into different tasks. Invoice Ninja provides two ways to enter and then monitor tasks on the platform.
The first way is to create an individual task within the project, free of any categorization. You can either employ time tracking for these tasks, or you can enter the working hours manually. The method is as basic as it can get, but if you are used to dealing with tasks sequentially, then you might find it useful.
Another way to take care of tasks is by the use of Kanban boards. Kanban is already one of the most renowned techniques of project management, and you might already be aware of it. It involves dividing the work cycle of each task into various stages and creating a card for each task.
You can then move the task card in the slot that signifies its current work state. Invoice Ninja comes with four default work stages. You can edit the names of these stages and mold the system according to your needs. You can have different status categories for different projects, and you can also vary the number of status categories you have on the portal.
Once you list down all the task in Kanban, you can move the task from one status to another. The system would give you a clear picture of the overall status of the project. And breaking down a project into smaller and more manageable tasks will give you more control over project management.
Let us also not forget the time tracker on this platform. If you charge by hours, then the time tracker will help you and your client. There is no need to download any additional applications to run the timer. It is entirely web-based, and even if you close the browser window, the timer will keep running in the background.
The timer takes care of even those who don’t necessarily work on a computer. These people can start and stop the timer from anywhere. At the end of the project or task, you will have reliable numbers for how much time you spent on each task.
Dashboard and Reports
The dashboard is the first interface that you will encounter on logging into Invoice Ninja. But it will be of any use only after you have populated some data on the platform. It is the reason why we didn’t discuss the dashboard at the beginning of the review.
It starts with money, one of the more important metrics for most users. You can see the total money you made in the last 30 days, how much of it you have already received, and what is the outstanding amount.
The three numbers turn out to be a good indicator to get a sense of direction in which things are moving. The numbers are followed by a graph for invoices and received payments. You can change the time scale of the graph and toggle between macro and microscopic perspectives.
You can monitor the trends and even have estimates with the data they provide. The top of the dashboard shows the tasks that are currently in progress. The feature helps the team leader to make sure things are in order.
The tabs below the graph will tell you about recent activities on the platform, the recent payments, upcoming invoices, and invoices past due.
If you want to get deeper into the insights, then the reports section can give you a boiled-down version of almost anything. Unlike the reports section on other platforms, Invoice Ninja won’t overwhelm you with tons of graphs and diagrams.
Instead, you can specify the type of report you want. They let you decide the time frame of the report along with the group and subgroup for the type.
Most of the reports on Invoice Ninja will come with two infographics at the top followed by data in tabular form. You can have white-label reports with better subscription plans, so you won’t have to worry about branding, as well.
There can be so many permutations of entries for the reports on the platform that we don’t even want to think about doing the maths. Some of the report types are Invoice, Payment, Activity, Profit, and Loss, etc.
Once you choose the type of report, you need to specify if the report is going to be yearly, monthly, or daily, and then you need to pick one entry from subgroups, as well.
The section comes with the option to schedule reports. You can set an appropriate frequency for the reports and leave it to the tool to provide you periodic reports.
We can’t live without apps, and sometimes, we can’t even work without these apps. You or the client may be involved with some application that is essential to get the job done. You may then want that app to work coherently with Invoice Ninja.
Invoice Ninja comes with the direct app integration feature only for Zapier. However, that seems more than enough. The Zapier integration alone allows the user to connect more than 1000 apps with Invoice Ninja.
You can have Slack, MailChimp, Gmail, Google Sheets, and many other kinds of integrations on the platform. It is then up to you to figure out how you can increase productivity and efficiency using the other apps.
Here are a few features of Invoice Ninja that deserve some recognition.
The pay button
The pro plan on Invoice Ninja allows the user to create a payment or a buy now button. The button would lead the client to the payment gateway you have selected. You can also use the button to provide information about the payment method.
You can provide your bank account details if you want the client to transfer money directly to your bank account. If you prefer cheques over wire transfer, then you can publish even that information under the umbrella of pay button.
The button makes lives easier for you as well as clients.
Custom URL option
You don’t always need to send invoices as an attached file within a conversation or email. Invoice Ninja allows you to share the invoice using a web link.
The client can easily access the invoice using the link at any time. You can customize the URL of the invoice and introduce your branding to it. The branding assures that your business seems professional. In some ways, it also helps impart some assurance to the client that you generated the invoice.
Attach 3rd party files and documents
There can be a lot of times that call for supporting documents along with invoices. You may want the client to know about all the big and small expenses within a project, but listing all of them within the invoice might not be a great solution.
Invoice Ninja allows you to attach files along with the invoice to make it easier for you to do business with your clients. The feature allows you to be as thorough with accounting as you want without overwhelming the client.
You can include anything ranging from images to excel sheets and pdfs.
Invoice Ninja is more than just an invoicing tool. It can do a bit of bookkeeping, take care of projects, help you track tasks, and a few more things.
The tool seems like an ideal choice for someone who needs assistance in all of these areas, but those needs can’t be very advanced. For instance, you can’t expect Invoice Ninja to be as good as monday.com when it comes to project management.
However, it falls in the top tier in the list of invoicing tools. The interface is intuitive, and it doesn’t take long to set it up. The import feature makes things a lot easier if you want to import a bulk of information during the setup.
It doesn’t take much time or effort to create invoices if you have got all the information stored already. The automation sweetens the deal even more. The recurring invoices and auto conversion of a quote to invoice are some of the highlights of Invoice Ninja.
The platform can be of great assistance for those looking forward to create excellent proposals. The proposal builder works great for organizing and customizing the elements on the proposal and improves your chances of getting the project.
The entire project management suite is a big plus for the platform. The kanban board makes it easier to keep an eye on tasks, and the time tracker is a satisfactory tool, as well.
You can monitor the progress on various fronts using the reports section on the platform. You get only those reports that you want, and around only those stats that you are interested in. The user gets to enjoy a great control over the reports on this platform.
Invoice Ninja offers most of its tools for free subscribers, and then there is a two-week trial available for the pro plan, as well. The tool is worth a shot, and if you are looking for an app to take care of invoices for you, then you should waste no time in ch