Write Your Book



a number-one best-selling author, success and book coach, and speaker on a mission to help leaders use the power of writing to uncover their unique stories so they can scale their impact.

I'm Stacy Ennis,

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2 Software Tools Every Freelancer Needs

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I'm a number-one best-selling author, success and book coach, and speaker on a mission to help leaders use the power of writing to uncover their unique stories so they can scale their impact.

Hi, I'm Stacy

I’ve wanted to be a writer since second grade. As I grew, I dreamed of what it would be like to be paid to write. Could there be anything better?

But while visions of book signings and big paychecks swirled around my head, I never once thought about the practicalities of being a professional writer. Namely, the not-so-fun aspects of running a business: Invoicing. Time Tracking. Taxes.

If you’re a professional writer or editor, or if you want to be, remember that you are running a business. That business can be a royal mess, or it can be relatively organized. (I say “relatively,” because you just can’t expect to be a creative genius and superior organizer. But you can at least try to not be terrible at the latter.)

I struggled for years trying to do things the cheapest way possible. I made invoices in Microsoft Word. I kept my time in a spreadsheet. I used Excel to enter my expenses (until I got smart and hired someone to do it for me for a relatively low cost). I was wasting my time and energy doing all of these administrative tasks—and draining my energy at the same time. Plus, I was losing papers, and I couldn’t get a quick snapshot of how my business was doing.

Now, things run much smoother. And it’s all thanks to two software tools. They are:

#1 Digital time tracker

I use: Tsheets ( for $10/month

A couple of years ago, I met the cofounder of TSheets ( on a plane to Boise. He told me about TSheets, a time-tracking application that allows you to simply click a button to track your time under specific job codes. The program then saves the data so you can generate reports. I use it to bill clients, but you could also use it to get a thorough picture of how you’re spending your days.

If you bill by the hour like I do, keeping track of your time is a must.

Even if you don’t, it can be helpful to track your time by project to get an idea of how efficient your day is. Since signing up for TSheets, I bill my clients more accurately, and invoicing is faster and easier. The upgraded version is just $10/month. Or, if you only have a few projects to track, it’s free for up to five projects.

#2 Online invoicing and financial management

I use: QuickBooks Online Simple Start ( for $12.95/month

After looking at my mess of tax records a few years ago, my accountant practically forced me to sign up for QuickBooks ( I’m so glad he did.

Going digital with my invoicing has been one of the best business decisions I’ve ever made.

Now, I send all invoices directly from QuickBooks. With just a simple click of “send,” the system e-mails a customized invoice on my behalf. I can send statements or follow-ups to people who pay late through the system, too. One screen allows me a quick view of who owes me money, and another screen gives me a detailed view of each client’s invoice history, with icons to alert me if any payments are late.

I also use it to enter my expenses. (OK, OK, I still hire that done, and I’m glad I do.) Having my expenses in QuickBooks makes my life so much easier come tax time. I think my accountant likes me more now, too.

I use QuickBooks Online Simple Start, which more than meets the needs of my small business, for just $12.95 per month. Even if you’re only sending a couple of invoices a month or are just writing on the side, I highly recommend this base option. It’s well worth the nominal cost.

Both of these software programs have made a big difference in my business, and I’m always in search of other ways to make my life easier. Currently, I’m in search of a mileage-tracking app but haven’t found one I love yet.

What tools do you use? What strategies have you found to stay organized and run your business?

(Image courtesy Drew Coffman | flikr)


Comments +

  1. Kelsie Medel says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience Stacy! Choosing to take the leap and sign up for time tracking and invoicing software before you have a massive number of clients seems unnecessary at first glance but is well worth it in the long run!

    Thanks Stacy! 🙂

  2. Troy Lambert says:

    I am trying a new one (a beta test) called SideShark. It is supposed to be designed for solopreneurs and freelancers. So far it holds my interest, but I need to spend some more time before I adopt it fully.

    • Stacy Ennis says:

      Thanks for the information, Troy. I’ll have to check out SideShark. I’d love to hear some input on how it’s working for you once you’ve used it for a couple of months.

  3. Matt Rissell says:


    If I recall correctly, when we met, you and your husband were moving to Boise. How have things been? I think I even tried to recruit you as a writer. 🙂 Thanks for being a customer for so many years… I’ll have someone from the team reach out to you. Enjoy a free month of TSheets on me. 🙂

    • Stacy Ennis says:

      Great to hear from you, Matt! Boise is wonderful, thank you for asking. I just upgraded TSheets after using the free version for a long time. It’s nice having unlimited projects! Thanks so much for the free month. That’s incredibly kind of you!

  4. Sofia says:

    Thanks for this ! I have to check out Quickbooks!! At the moment I use Nutcache which is completely free but offers everything I need in an invoicing software…
    What makes Quickbooks worth the extra 12$ per month?

    • Stacy Ennis says:

      Sofia, I’m not familiar with Nutcache. I’ll look into it!

      For financial software, I kind of like that I have to pay for it, as silly as it sounds. Since I’m a “true” customer, I know I can (hopefully) count on extra security for my information and there’s some sort of accountability there if the system crashes or something bad happens. I use the software to enter payments and expenses, too, so I can have a full picture of my business. I don’t know if Nutcache offers that or not, but it’s been a great feature with QuickBooks.

      Plus, it’s pretty easy to use, and my accountant is familiar with the software. He just tells me what reports to run for him, I click a few buttons, and I’m done. I’m definitely not using it to its full capacity, but I’ve felt like the $12 monthly fee has been SO worth it.

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