by Michele Nachum
Published on 16 November 2012
Invoicing can be done several ways. You can create a template in Word for example and email or snail mail the invoice to your clients and customers. Or you can do it electronically as part of a financial management application.
There are also stand-alone invoicing applications that will help you create send and track your invoices. These solutions have become rather popular as they provide an affordable means to automate all of your invoicing process.
Blinksale is one such user-friendly solution that can help your business with a simple and effective way to get money from your clients. Let's take a look.
I like Blinksale, as it very easy to use and it just flows from the moment you sign onto its free 15-day trial. What I liked is that Blinksale can get you up and running in minutes and does not require hours of data input. Blinksale is more than just invoices, however, as the solution also allows you to create estimates as well as integrate with Basecamp, a project management solution. If your business has a model where you have a number of projects that are billed individually enabling you to marry the two applications together make sense. However, if you are not project focused than Blinksale works well on its own.
Blinksale is a very good application for the small to mid-sized business realm (it is US-centric, though it does allow you to bill in Euros). You can easily add your contacts and be up and running, sending invoices and estimates pretty quickly. It's affordable and does not take a lot of staffing to implement. If you are business owner as well as IT director, marketing VP and accounts payable/receivable, you will enjoy the benefits of having a solution that automates many of the invoicing features so you have one less thing to do. If you have a business with several employees the solution scales nicely.
I think I need to come up with another word for "easy." But without mincing words, Blinksale is rather easy to use and that is not a bad thing at all. You need very little training and simply exploring the application will suffice for training. That said, its Help section and Support are very good. I had a question and emailed the team and I was sent an answer within an hour or two, and not just a curt answer, but one that was friendly and warm. In today's world, where one-word answers are typical, having a friendly voice answer my simple question felt right.
Please do not take "easy" as this being a "light" application. The product does what it needs to do. I think their partnership with Basecamp is strategic and would like to see more integration with financial solutions as well. Currently Blinksale also partners with ZenCash which will be discussed later in the review.
The set up in Blinksale requires that you add in the "companies" you wish to invoice. That process is straightforward as you will simply click on "add new client" and type in the information.
Like many online applications, Blinksale offers you a dashboard that will help you navigate to different areas of the solution. The dashboard is also your central locale for keeping track of current and upcoming invoices, estimates, and more.
From the dashboard, you can navigate via the ribbon to Invoices, Estimates, People, etc. If you find you have hundreds of contacts, Blinksale offers a good searching feature so you can easily locate various clients as you input them if you want to check on their status or update the information.
Customizing Your Invoices and Estimates:
Blinksale allows you to customize your invoices and estimates with your company logo and other design features to align with your company branding. Blinksale has some nice templates that you can use to jazz up the look of your invoices and estimates and if you have knowledge of CSS you can also customize your own invoice template. I personally do not have CSS knowledge but found the tools I could use sufficed to build a professional look.
Invoices and Estimates:
Creating invoices and estimates are just as easy as doing one in Word or Excel for example. From the ribbon of your dashboard you can easily click on the Estimate or Invoices tab and it will take you to a screen where you can begin to fill in the details. If you have already set up your templates with logos, the design will be automatically applied.
As you can see from the graphic below, the process to fill in the information is simple. You can bill by hour or by project and add in tax and freight (and even bill in Euros if you are so inclined). The invoice process allows you to enter in as many line-items as necessary depending on how simple or complicated you wish to be. Once you are finished and are ready to send, you can convert the invoice to PDF (highly recommended) and send it via email, mail or both.
Blinksale also provides Tagging features so that you can easily search out older invoices for reference and later these tags can also be used to print out reports.
Other features of the invoicing process includes the ability to set up polite reminders to clients that they are past due as well as to send "thank you" notes for timely payments. There are several tools in the set-up to automate this process - so that you are reminded not just to send an invoice but when to alert your clients they are past due.
Blinksale just announced a partnership with ZenCash, an application which helps you manage your receivables process. If you find that many of your customers are "lax" about paying on time, this might be a nice way to automate the collection process.
If you invoice some of your customers the same amount each month, Blinksale allows you to automatically set up a recurring invoice and the application will shoot out invoices to your customers without you having to physically recreate the invoice. Which is very nice.
Filling out estimates are done in a similar manner with the ability to set up reminders to contact your customer to make sure they "received" the estimate as well as converting your estimate to an invoice so that you do not have do double the work.
Blinksale has one affordable base price that includes everything, there are no subscription levels. If you send out multiple invoices per month, it is a very affordable and more than fair price and comparable to other services that are more difficult to use.
Blinksale offers small to mid-sized businesses a very easy and streamlined approach to managing invoices. I believe this is an application that nicely fits with small businesses who do not have large resources at their disposal and require an easy approach for tracking and creating estimates and invoices.
Ratings: ease of use 5/5, features 4/5, value 5/5 and ease of deployment 5/5