Blog Post

A Comparison of Freshbooks vs. Harvest vs. Blinksale

logosWith so many invoicing web apps available (many of them covered here on WebWorkerDaily), choosing one can be a daunting task. Even limiting your options to the most popular services doesn’t help that much, as the costs of the various plans vary so little. So we were excited to see that Stuart Bowness, of Victoria, B.C.-based design studio Simple Station, has posted a useful comparative review of three of the most popular invoicing apps: Freshbooks, Havest and Blinksale.

Bowness used the apps in his business for about a year each, and his in-depth, insightful observations of the merits and issues with each of the services are based on long-term, real-world usage and worth noting.

Especially interesting are his notes of problems or quirks with each of the apps, which could be very handy when it comes to picking the right service for your business. According to Bowness, Freshbooks’ time tracking is “difficult when you have multiple employees,” its project management is “dismal” and its reports “suck.” Blinksale, meanwhile, offers neither integrated time tracking nor the ability to integrate with a payment gateway, he says, and cannot create estimates. Harvest is similarly unable to create estimates or integrate with a payment gateway, according to Bowness, and recurring invoices are not handled that well. And he finds it “ridiculous” that SSL support is only available with the $90-per-month plan.

Freshbooks is the most feature-rich, Bowness notes, but while it does everything, he says that it “doesn’t do anything particularly well” and its interface is not intuitive. And Blinksale is perfect if you are a freelancer, but not if you have staff. Bowness’ personal favorite is Harvest, which delivers simplicity while boasting a substantial feature set (although not as complete as Freshbooks’).

Which do you prefer: Harvest, Freshbooks or Blinksale?

26 Responses to “A Comparison of Freshbooks vs. Harvest vs. Blinksale”

  1. I’ve been with Curdbee for almost 2 years now and ever since I moved from Blinksale after horrible customer support.

    I must agree with Lali on Curdbee’s customer support as they respond to all the users whether they are paid or free. I am still using their free account and wanted to say a BIG THANK YOU for team behind that service for wonderful experience they have delivered to-date. Keep up the good work and I am sure anyone who goes there will hardly move out.

  2. I have been an early Blinksale user, then I switched to Freshbooks due to stability issues with Blinksale. But sadly Freshbooks prices are not very lucrative for a freelancer like me who work really hard to make a dime.

    Then I thought about running a desktop invoicing app. But none of those solutions out there seems to be cool (it’s like those are still 10 years behind the race).

    Recently, I found this invoicing app called CurdBee, which looks awesome and simple to use. I was able to do what I did on Freshbooks within its free account itself. There were no such stupid rules as number of invoices you can send per month. I upgraded to CurdBee’s Pro plan, just to have my custom domain name integrated.

  3. I have been used Zoho invoice in the past, but then switched to Freshbooks and have been using it since then. Honestly was not very impressed or satisfied with its service. I have signed-up for a free Invoicera account and have been blown away with its service. Soon would be purchasing it for my small accounting firm.

  4. Surprised that no-one has mentioned FreeAgent –, I recently tried pretty much every online accounting system available and eventually went for FreeAgent as it seemed the best match for my business. Take a look at their referral scheme too, its actually possible to use it for free!

  5. I actually use both extensively. Harvest for my full time job, and Freshbooks for my freelancing. Comparing feature to feature and functionality Freshbooks beats harvest hands down. The only thing I see Harvest having and advantage over Freshbooks is the “corporate look and feel” that companies look for. I know its lame to judge a service by its looks but people do. I’m actually disappointed with Harvest lack of response to my some inquires about improvements or issues I’ve had with their system. Usually I don’t get a response.
    Freshbooks customer support is exemplary and world-class. Harvest… not so much.

    Other great +1 for Freshbooks…
    Excellent API & integration.
    I can access it with any connection on my iphone. Harvest iphone app doesn’t work w/o wifi.

  6. I tried Freshbooks for a month but it’s expensive and I’m sorry… but the interface is not simple. It’s extremely unintuitive and confusing. The time tracking in particular is user interface nightmare.

    BallPark is outstanding. Amazing, intuitive, beautiful. The price is outstanding for a freelancer and it lets clients comment on estimates and invoices. But the feature set is extremely limited. It does not yet manage tasks, time, projects, reports or expenses. Very limited. Although time tracking is coming.

    Overall I settled on Harvest. The price is right for a solo freelancer and the feature set is almost as complete as Freshbooks while being significantly more usable and much more attractive. It’s a joy to use and instantly understandable. Freshbooks is confusing. And I say that not as a “stupid users” but as 15+ year interface designer and computer geek.

  7. Well I can tell you firsthand, Freshbooks is useless if you ever bill clients on NET terms and want to send late notices. There’s no concept of a due date, all invoices are due immediately. I learned that after my clients receiving late notices too early, quite embarassing!

  8. Time59 is designed specifically for freelancers. It tracks time and expenses, e-mails invoices and has true accounts receivable. It also offers Trust Accounting for lawyers. $49.95 per year for unlimited use.

  9. Sandy Wood

    OpenAir is the only way to go if you need it all.

    I used this years ago when they were new and small and seeking affiliates & accounts were free. Even then it was the absolute best, as far as features went. Everything you can think of, it has. Everything you need invoicing software to do, it can – and it can do a zillion other related things, all integrated really, really well. These days it is not free but they do have various levels of product -for enterprise through individuals. I would still use it if I didn’t have to pay.

  10. I have been using CurdBee ( for invoicing for last several months and these guys just rocks! Smart yet simple flow to work plus some nifty features such as accepting payments via PayPal and Google Checkout..

    Recently they introduced a PRO version of their product, which is only just $5 per month. It includes SSL, fully unbranded emails + custom email messages.

    It’s a real bargain with all those awesome features.

  11. I have not tested Harvest or Blinksale, but I do use FreshBooks – and love it!! I do my monthly invoicing in about 30 minutes – down from several hours with QuickBooks.

    One caveat – if you need really complex customization, FreshBooks isn’t for you – its strength is in its simplicity. My one criticism is that the reporting could be more flexible.

    Other than that, I recommend Freshbooks wholeheartedly.