Freshbooks: Stop Creating Invoices in Microsoft Word

I’ve always been surprised of how many people have a business on the side either consulting or graphic design and the like and still use Microsoft Word to create and send their invoices. Stop it! There’s a better way! It’s called Freshbooks. I’ve used it for most of my business career and it’s quite honestly the best tool for the job.
With FreshBooks you can:

  • Create and send professional looking invoices
  • Have Freshbooks automatically generate and send recurring invoices
  • Track expenses and upload receipts
  • See when a client has or has not opened your invoice
  • Allow your clients to pay their invoices by credit card
  • Generate reports for profit and loss statements, expense reports, revenue by client, etc

I can’t say enough good things about Freshbooks, it is one of the best business tools that I’ve ever used! It starts at $15/month and you can try it free for 30 days. If you have to send out invoices every month, I highly recommend you check it out!

3 Free Services to Backup your Photos

Google Photos

It still amazes me how many people don’t know about Google Photos. Google Photos is a free app and service for iOS and Android that backs up all the pictures from your phone to your existing Google account—and its unlimited! I highly recommend it to everyone just to have a backup for all of their pictures. Now the free version is unlimited but it does slightly reduce the quality of the photos but it’s so minimal that most people won’t see a difference.

Aside from just having a backup, Google Photos is a great way to free up space on your phone. Once you have all of your pictures uploaded, you can confidently delete them from your phone having peace of mind that they’re backed up on Google’s servers.

Amazon Prime Photos

Another service that people overlook is Amazon Prime Photos. Most people nowadays are Amazon Prime members, but one of the benefits of being a member is they offer unlimited backup of photos from your iOS and Android device. And unlike Google Photos, they backup your photos at their original quality.


If you have a Dropbox account, you can use the service to automatically backup your photos on your iOS or Android device for free. Granted, a Dropbox free account only provides you with two gigs of free storage, but what some people do is use it until it’s completely filled up and then moving all of the pictures to a flash drive or an external hard drive for safe keeping.

Multiple Backups

Those are just three ways to freely have continuous backups of all of your photos. There is no reason why you can’t use all three of these services at the same time, in fact, I recommend it! The typical rule of thumb is your files aren’t completely backed up until there are three different copies in three different locations.

Software Subscriptions: Why I can’t be mad at them (and neither should you)

Remember when a new version of Windows came out and those of us that were capable of upgrading our computers ourselves, we would all go to our local computer shop and buy a copy of it on a CD and that was it. We owned that version of Windows. There wasn’t an on-going monthly or annual cost, wasn’t that great?!
There has been a trend going on for the past few years that has been becoming increasingly popular among software companies known as software-as-a-service or SaaS or subscription pricing models. So instead of putting out $50 or $100 for a piece of software once, you pay a minimal amount every month to have access to the piece of software.

This trend was made mainstream when Adobe started selling their flagship product, Photoshop as a subscription. Then Microsoft followed by offering Office as a subscription. But where this model has really taken off has been with smaller software development companies, for instance, Evernote has always been a subscription, my journaling app DayOne has recently switched to a subscription model, hell, the app I’m using to write this right now, Ulysses switched this past week.

Nobody I know likes this trend, in fact, everyone loathes it. But I have a different take on it because of personal experience. For the first half of my business career, I made approximately 80% of my income developing custom databases and software for local businesses. I would go in and spend a few months trying to understand the clients workflows and processes and then when I got a good grasp on what they needed, I would spend the next six months to a year building their software for usually in between $6,000 – $12,000. It was great! I was happy, the clients were (usually) happy with the end product, everything was good…until it wasn’t.

What I learned was that software is never truly “done”. Just to keep it running as is, there’s always the inevitable maintenance that needs to be performed. And in my case, the software I developed always had a database backend so that meant that servers had to get paid every month, security patches applied religiously and of course backed up constantly. Aside from general maintenance, on every occurrence, for every system I developed, once it was in place, a few months would go by before I’d get a “what if…” email with a question or a request that someone thought about would make the system work better. That’s all well and good but the problem was that even if the client was willing to pay for the extra work (which typically wasn’t the case), I had already moved onto my next project and didn’t have the time to put the energy in that it needed. After all, I still had to live, I HAD to move onto the next project in order for cash to keep coming in to be able to pay rent, eat, pay whoever I had working for me at the time, etc.

This is why I think more and more software companies are moving to subscription based pricing models. Because the people who are writing the actual software have mortgages, families to take care of, car payments, dogs to feed, etc. Good software is very hard work and the people that do the work deserve to get paid for it.

Todoist: My Favorite List Manager

I keep a list for just about everything. Some of my lists include:

  • Bills I have to pay every month
  • Bills I have to pay every year
  • Books I want to read
  • Movies I want to watch
  • Projects I want to do when I get time
  • Templates for setting up servers

A few months ago, I discovered that my then favorite to-do list app, Wunderlist, was acquired by Microsoft and that they were killing it off in favor of their own app. So I started the hunt for a new list manager. I finally came across Todoist. Hands down a worthy replacement!

Not only just it keep in sync between all my devices, including a web interface, it has a remarkably simplistic design. Probably my favorite feature of Todoist is how quick it takes to add something to a list. For example, instead of having to fumble through a calendar to select a date, then fumbling through and picking a time, all I have to do is write “call insurance Monday at 8am” and it will parse out the date, time and the task.

Another thing that I really like is it has an IFTTT channel so I can integrate it with some of my other services.

Todoist is completely free even though they do have a Premium subscription for $28.99/year but quite honestly, the free version is probably sufficient enough for most people. Go check it out!

Day One

A few months ago, I decided that I wanted to start journaling, not just for myself but for future family, after all I’m a firm believer that we all have a story to tell. I’ve always heard that the Day One app for iOS and Mac was the way to go so I decided to give it a try. It didn’t disappoint!
Day One automatically keeps all of my iOS devices in sync with my journal and automatically captures the locations where I’m writing from, the music I’m listening to while I’m writing and if I’m writing on my iPhone (which typically I write on my iPad) my activity for the day such as how many steps that I have taken that particular day. Day One makes it ridiculously easy to attach photos to entries as well.

The app also has support for IFTTT recipes so you can automate entries. For instance, I have recipes setup to add all of my Facebook and Twitter posts as journal entries.

The feature that I’m most excited about however, is one that I have yet to use, Book Printing. You can either have your whole journal printed professionally or select specific entries that you would like printed up to 400 pages. I think my strategy is going to be that every time I reach 400 pages, have a physical copy printed and tuck it away somewhere.

When I first started with Day One, it costed $4.99 for the mobile version and $49.99 for the Mac version. Since then, they controversially switched to the subscription pricing model with it being priced at $34.99 per year for new users and $24.99 per year for existing users. They aren’t forcing people to switch to the subscription but I immediately signed up and paid the $25 to support future development.

Check it out here: