Project Management & Planning Articles

A Browser Based Invoicing and Time Tracking Tool: A Review of Paydirt

by Stephanie Watson
Published on 25 April 2012

The Paydirt service is a browser based online invoicing and time tracking service for freelancers and consultants who need a way to track time and invoice clients.

Every freelancer and consultant needs a method of tracking their time spent on a project, as well as a means of sending invoices for payment for their work. While many dedicated programs and services are out there, Paydirt seeks to be a more affordable, web-based option for those on a budget.

This article will review Paydirt's services, analyze its user interface, and describe its features for potential users to consider.

What Is Paydirt?

If you are a freelancer, it is not unheard of to find yourself engaged in simultaneous projects while trying to keep track of it all in an efficient manner. If you are working for several clients, most likely you will need to track the time you spend working on their project, as well as the various aspects of the project itself, and be able to invoice that client for the time you spend. Business owners and freelancers who work alone have small budgets, and the actual time available to track budgets is severely limited. Relying on a service such as Paydirt for time tracking and proof of work is a great way to not only ensure that you make the most of your time, but that you get paid for it.

Paydirt offers a few features that other services often don't, such as an extension for Chrome and Firefox browsers, allowing the user to "punch the clock" directly in their browsers without having to navigate and access Paydirt itself. Freelancers set up an account for each client, as well as an hourly charge, or a per project fee, then simply push a button to track. Once activated by starting the clock in their browser, a drop down menu appears allowing the user to select which client the freelancer is working for at that time period. It can't get easier than that!

The workflow provides a start button for each job for which you can log time. This will save users the trouble of fiddly drop down menus, which is a nice feature not always found in other time trackers.

Additionally, Paydirt offers graphs showing how much time per day was spent working for each client. Paydirt can also track the websites you visit and verify whether you are working or not, as well. The Work Signals allow for any key words (domain names, email addresses, business names, clients' names, specific topic words, project names, etc). They will then give notifications on any site related to your client based on these words, as well as when you're writing emails in a web-based email client like Gmail, Google Apps Mail, Yahoo Mail or Hotmail.

Many of these key words are set automatically by Paydirt which chooses only suitable words. Additional Work Signals can be added by the user for improved suggestions.

No more forgetting to track your time and collecting money or billable hours. The developers have also recently overhauled the interface of the service itself, making new projects and invoicing a snap.

Paydirt Is A Good Fit For Freelancers

The Paydirt service is best suited and designed for freelancers in need of time-tracking and paper or email invoicing. If you are a freelancer who accepts payment in a multitude of ways, this is for you. If you want your payments to be collected via PayPal, you simply give your instructions on the invoice. It's simple to use, and the browser interface makes it simple to work with. When you work for yourself, there is no supervisor keeping you on track. Freelancers are accountable only to themselves, and they don't get paid if the work doesn't get done. A service like Paydirt ensures that you stay on track, don't get distracted, and get paid on time for all of your time.

Freelancers must be self-disciplined and self-motivated to succeed. If you have a difficult time staying on track, a service like Paydirt might be what you need. Paydirt is versatile enough to also appeal to small businesses who may need some means of tracking employees' time spent on work without the use of a time clock. For instance, an architectural firm could use the time tracking feature by having administrative staff track time spent administratively for each client separately. This would work great for a small paralegal firm too.

Paydirt Solves Invoicing And Time Tracking Issues For Small Freelancers

One of the most difficult tasks in any kind of business enterprise is management of time. You can't get it back, and you can't stop it. But you can track it to ensure that it's used efficiently. Ensuring projects get done is a matter of setting goals, setting a time to complete those goals, and then setting up the conditions to ensure the time is indeed spent working towards those goals. With Paydirt you can help yourself be more efficient while reassuring your clients that you are indeed working on their projects.

Invoices can be sent that show a simple amount due by the week, or list tasks and projects separately down to the time and day they were worked on. People who hire freelancers often want some sort of evidence that the person they hire, over whom they have no direct authority, is actually doing what they are being paid to do. Paydirt allows clients to feel more reassured by the professional looking invoice generated showing as much detail as they need. A freelancer can even include a logo on the invoice for added professionalism.

The Basics: What Does It Look Like?

There is very little that is complicated about Paydirt. As it is accessed via a web browser, browser controls play a part in how the service is navigated. As it is a paid service, it isn't cluttered with advertisements or busy graphics. It is simple and straightforward and very easy to learn. Setting up a new client is as simple as navigating to the client section and filling out a few fields.

Logging time and reminders can be done right in the browser, either with Paydirt up in its own window, or via a web browser extension. Reminders are fairly non-invasive as well. If you have multiple people working at once, you can elect to duplicate their time spent on the project, or duplicate the time spent all week day by day to avoid multiple time entries. There are many features that allow for very specific tracking of time including a round up or down feature.

The service can render visuals via charts showing each client and the time spent. Freelancers can log entries describing what kind of work was done and export it to a spreadsheet. Invoicing is easy with the invoice template Paydirt provides, and also allows for tracking of payments from clients with a simple click.

The Dirty Details About Paydirt

Paydirt is good for being a simple time and expense tracker, accessible from any online location. It isn't meant to be a full freelancer's tool tracking details of projects and management of personnel, but for what it does do, it gets it done well. The interface is easy to use, and the ability to export data into PDFs and spreadsheets is wonderful for keeping accurate and up-to-date records.

The only real con to this service is the lack of plugin support for Internet Explorer users, although it is arguable as to whether this will matter too much, as the time clock can simply be left open in its own Explorer window. The other feature that is lacking as of today is an easy way to collect payments via online services such as PayPal, although, it is simple enough to add instructions that will go into each invoice automatically when you set up your invoice.

Paydirt has the potential to be much more, even as useful as it is already. According to Tristan Gamilis, there are several developments taking place as I write. Exciting additions such as mobile applications, and more customization of invoices, as well as even more useful features are to come. Customer input is important to the Paydirt team and they seek to differentiate themselves from others by being responsive.

Will It Fit Your Budget?

This service offers time tracking and invoicing for the price of two Starbucks coffees for a month. Even for the most destitute of freelancers, this is easily affordable. If you plan to freelance heavily, a service like this just can't be passed up, especially for the affordability. There is another factor that is as important as the cost, and that is the learning curve. There probably isn't another system that is as simple to learn. So, factor that into your budget as well. Working for yourself will require a little spending on overhead, and this is easily workable into any budget.

As with most services of this type, Paydirt offers a free 30 day trial period, in which a freelancer can make use of all its features and decide whether or not it is useful enough to pay for. It is quite likely, though, that once the user sees how easy and valuable this kind of service is, the small monthly fee will be well worth it. Freelancers often lose money in unbilled labor due to not having an efficient and simple means of tracking and invoicing. More than likely Paydirt will pay for itself after one billing cycle.

Paydirt, one of the more affordable options for freelancers can be had for a very low monthly subscription, and can be accessed via any browser on any platform. For those who have no means of invoicing, just the invoicing feature alone is worth the price, as it also allows users to set up various ways they can be paid via the invoice. This is quite convenient and will likely increase your billings exponentially once implemented.

Is It For You?

This is a well-designed, easy to use service that provides useful services to freelancers, especially those just starting out. Even if your technical knowledge is limited, learning to use Paydirt takes little time. It's intuitive and easy to figure out with just a look at the icons. Tracking your time spent working and invoicing for billing purposes, tax season, as well as personal motivation is a treat with Paydirt.

Once you see the time you're really spending on tasks, you'll get a better idea of how well your freelancing business is doing each quarter. The extensions for Chrome and Firefox make this stand out as a winner for freelancers who need ease of use. Forgetting to track time is the number one problem for freelancers that this service solves. Being able to enter websites and email addresses used for a particular client, the extension notices, and reminders as well as the browser extensions set Paydirt apart. What could be better than that for time tracking automation?


Apps mentioned in this article