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Freshbooks vs. Harvest vs. Blinksale

After spending hours searching the web for a review of the top 3 online invoicing platforms we have finally decided to write our own review based on our usage of Freshbooks, Harvest and Blinksale over the past 3 years. We used Blinksale our first year but eventually outgrew it and switched to Freshbooks which we used for around 1 year before discovering Harvest. As a result of our experience we feel we are adequately qualified to comment on the merits and downfalls of each web based invoicing application. Hopefully this will be a helpful tool for people trying to figure out which one they should use.

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A lot of the plans share the same features (unlimited clients, invoices, projects etc.) and are quite similarly matched. I won’t cover the minor differences and instead will focus on what each does well and what it does not.


Freshbooks Invoice Screen


  1. SSL 256-Bit Encryption for all plans. This made us feel our financial data was very safe and secure.
  2. Tracks invoices (both regular and recurring), expenses, estimates. You can filter invoices by invoice id, client, date, and status which is handy when searching for a particular invoice.
  3. Report Cards that allow you to gauge how you’re doing vs. what your industry averages. This is a really nice feature and a great morale booster.
  4. Ability to invoice your clients via Snail Mail.
  5. Ability to turn support tickets and estimates into invoices.
  6. Sends an email to a client with a link to their invoice. This allows you to track when you clients viewed the invoice and is very handy in resolving payment disputes like “oh I didn’t get that email”.
  7. Ability to create “Items” which can be products or services that can be added to any invoice in a generic way.
  8. Ability to theme the look and feel of the client login area.
  9. Can tie in to a number of online payment gateways.
  10. You can create a credit on a  client account.


  1. Time tracking is difficult when you have multiple employees. We frequently ended up tallying up hours by hand at the end of the month simply because you can’t see how many hours you’ve worked between x date and y date without being an administrator. This was fixed in a recent update of Freshbooks.
  2. Project management is dismal. Although you can create projects and associate tasks to those projects it is done in such a way that is both confusing and difficult to navigate. A larger problem is that you can’t specify how long a task should take and then monitor how many hours into a certain task (or project) you are. Harvest is much better in this regard.
  3. The reports suck. Yes this may sound harsh but in general I have found them absolutely useless. Their formatting in general is bad and unless you spend hours tinkering them in excel to be a little more presentable they generally aren’t helpful. Case in point today our book keeper was over and wanted to print off all our invoices between June and October. She went to Reports in Freshbooks and then selected the Invoice Report. It then proceeded to spit out a report with all the invoices added one after another. The problem here is that if there are multiple pages attached to a certain invoice, they will often only fit into 1/2 of another page. The other 1/2 of the page is given to another invoice and so you end up with pages of invoices that are just mashed together. You also cannot specify how you would like the reports sorted (date range, client etc.) in an easy to read way.
  4. Although in general I do like the support ticketing system I don’t like that it emails my client every time I update the ticket. At the very least it would be nice to choose whether you want the client to be notified by email of support ticket updates or not.
  5. Invoice templates are rather nasty. The formatting isn’t great and there is no way to include a line break without drawing —– or ~~~~~~ across a line.
  6. No way to approve staff time sheets.
  7. Forces clients to click a link to get a copy of the invoice. In our experience this has resulted in clients missing payments as they simply ignore or miss the link in the email. While we were using Freshbooks many clients asked us specifically to send them a PDF invoice instead of a link which amounted to us having to print a pdf within Freshbooks and email it to them manually.
  8. Emails for invoices, estimates or support tickets sent to your clients are very generic and boring. There is no html email option.
  9. The dashboard isn’t particularly informative or useful. All it shows is the recent activity on your account (invoices sent, estimates sent, support tickets generated), and a snapshot of your income over the past 3 months. The lack of any kind of project management or timeline snapshot leaves much to be desired.


Harvest Online Billing and Invoicing


  1. The best for project management between the three. You can create tasks on a given project, and then estimate hours on tasks. When you log hours against that task it will automatically subtract the hours you have worked from the hours you estimated. If you go over the estimate it highlights how many hours you are over in red (See conclusion for screenshot). This feature has kept our projects increasingly within budget and on-time. It has also kept our clients happier since we can tell them exactly how far they are into a project in a snap.
  2. The dashboard is actually very useful and gives you a great snapshot of  project timelines, what you invoiced last month, what your revenue has been for the current year, what you invoiced this month and how many hours you’ve worked this week / month. It definitely kills Freshbooks on this point.
  3. Time tracking is much more simple than it is in Freshbooks. In my opinion it provides a better interface as well.
  4. Well designed dashboard and iphone widgets for time tracking.
  5. Offers “time sheet approval” which allows an administrator to approve staff time sheets.
  6. Sends both a text copy of the invoice in the email to the client in addition to a attached pdf invoice.
  7. Ability to change the look and feel of the administration area.
  8. Offers the ability to track expenses and re bill them to clients.
  9. Integration with Basecamp
  10. Killer integration with Harvest Co-op which is a great work flow application for agile development teams.


  1. Recurring invoices is not as nice as Freshbooks as you cannot search or sort recurring invoices. This would be very problematic for someone who has a lot of recurring invoices.
  2. No way to filter invoices by status, date, client etc.
  3. Does not have the ability to tie in directly to any major payment gateways other than Paypal.
  4. SSL is only available for the $90/mo business plan, which is ridiculous and may be a problem for teams concerned about data security since passwords and login information is transmitted in plain text and is not secure without paying for the premium plan. Freshbooks has an advantage on this point as they offer SSL on all their plans (Even the free one). Blinksale offers SSL starting at $12 a month. They just added this feature. SSL is now enabled for all plans. (June 1st, 2009)
  5. No ability to define when your fiscal year starts/ends. Since most people don’t have their fiscal year tied to the calendar year the report for your income this year (based on this calendar year) isn’t all that helpful since it is not your fiscal year.
  6. No support tickets or issue tracking.
  7. No ability to create estimates.
  8. No ability to credit a client account.


Blinksale Online Invoicing and Billing


  1. Simple, clean invoicing solution. Out of the three solutions it is most definitely the most minimalist both in terms of the interface but also the features.
  2. Pretty invoices and thank-you messages.
  3. Offers “time sheet approval” which allows an administrator to approve staff time sheets.
  4. When you receive an invoice from another Blinksale subscriber, you can add it to your Purchases page.


  1. No integrated time tracking or project management.
  2. Does not have the ability to tie in directly to any major payment gateways other than Paypal.
  3. Does not have the ability to create estimates.
  4. No ability to customize the back-end to the look and feel of your organization.


The three invoicing solutions do have fairly similar pricing however they differ on a number of points. Take a look through the pricing models and figure out what works best for you and your team. The following images illustrate the differences in pricing between the three invoicing solutions and should help you make a decision:

Freshbooks Pricing

Freshbooks pricing

Harvest Pricing

Harvest Pricing

Blinksale Pricing

Blinksale Pricing


Blinksale is perfect for you if you are a freelancer, have only 1 employee and just really want a simple invoicing solution that will present beautiful invoices to your clients. Things start getting tricky with Blinksale once you start wanting to track time, or have multiple people who need to use the application since you can only create one user so we moved away from this solution once we started getting more staff on board. The customization of the invoice templates is truly lovely though. Blinksale is definitely not a good solution if you do send a lot of invoices in a month as their invoice caps are relatively low compared to the other applications which offer unlimited invoicing.

Freshbooks is by far the most feature rich of all three web apps. If you need to send clients invoices via snail mail or want to tie your invoicing platform to a major payment gateway then certainly Freshbooks is the solution for you.The problem I’ve found is that while it seems to do almost everything it doesn’t do anything particularly well. The interface tries very hard to be simple, but unfortunately is cluttered by interface duplication. Take for example the screenshot below which shows the client tab selected, but a second row of tabs is also introduced and the client tab is once again repeated. Very messy.

Example of messy freshbooks interface.

Additionally we have found that many of the reports just didn’t seem readable, the formatting was terrible and it became a chore to sift through spreadsheets and try to organize our financial information. Of the three solutions Freshbooks was by far the most frustrating to use and we tried to stick with it for the better part of 1 year before discovering Harvest. The best way I can describe Freshbooks is that the interface is quite simply, unintuitive compared to the other solutions. I’d love to have a crack at redesigning their interface.

Harvest is our favorite out of the three web apps and blends simplicity with a substantial feature set. Pricing is straight forward, time sheets are amazing, and project time tracking is by far and away what makes this our current choice. See the screenshot below that shows the breakdown of a recent project we completed. As you can see it’s easy to spot where you are over your estimated hours and where you are under.

Time Tracking in Harvest

Additionally I must say we’ve also been extremely satisfied by how hardworking the Harvest team has been. When we first signed up we let them know that we really needed to be able to add two taxes to an invoice and although they didn’t have the ability to do that at the time they listened to us (and perhaps other users asking the same thing) and built the feature into the application a few short weeks later. Over the course of time we have been using Harvest the application has got better and better with frequent tweaks and updates. Lastly I must also add that Harvest Co-op which is a free work flow and team management application that integrates with Harvest is AWESOME. We’ve started using it every day as part of our agile development methodology and it has really worked out well for us by enabling us to see what each of us has on the agenda for the day and check what we accomplished yesterday. It’s minimized the amount we need to scrum and it has been a productivity booster.

We highly recommend Harvest and are now using it as an integral part of our work flow, invoicing, time tracking and project management.

One last final note is that my good friend Andrew Wilkinson founder and owner of MetaLab Design has just launched a new invoicing solution we have been very interested in called Ballpark which was launched 3 weeks ago and has been steadily gaining steam. They’ve got an awesome feature set and the design is very polished so I would definitely recommend checking out Ballpark while considering options. I haven’t used it as extensively as the other 3 invoicing solutions so I haven’t written about it in the context of this blog entry, but I couldn’t help but give it a shameless plug simply because it’s such an elegant solution.


If you have any questions feel free to post them below.

45 Responses to “Freshbooks vs. Harvest vs. Blinksale”

  1. Scott says:

    Nice in-depth review, Stuart. FreshBooks is definitely the standard in online invoicing, but it looks like Harvest may be pretty nice too.

    I hope you don’t mind if I drop a shameless plug for Invoices Made Easy here ( There are more than a dozen online invoicing sites out there now, but Invoices Made Easy is one of (if not *the*) least expensive. You can send unlimited invoices to unlimited customers for less than $5/month.

    It’s got a slick interface, but it is focused on invoicing and so it lacks some of the non-invoicing features of the other sites (like time-tracking & project management).

  2. James Jensen says:

    How on earth did you miss CASHBOARD out of all of these?

    It really is the best option and we’ve been using it with huge success for the last 6 months.

  3. Muka Tikus says:

    It is surprising that they don’t all offer SSL regardless of plan. They must be using wildcard SSL certificates, so there wouldn’t be any additional cost (well, maybe some extra CPU resources).

  4. Andrew Peek says:

    Hi Stuart,

    Thanks for taking the time to create a well-rounded review for these apps!

    As one of the FreshBooks folks, I thought you should know that we appreciate this kind of feedback. While we do pride ourselves on getting better everyday, we understand that some things we do probably won’t show up in the stats sheet. We’re very proud of our integrations with other apps (see, our ability to connect our users in sub-contractor relationships (which completely eliminates paper invoicing for them) and of course, our amazing support team. :-)

    You did mention that staff can’t report on their own hours (con #1). I wanted to let you know that the functionality was added 2 releases ago (via the Timesheet Details report). We’ve also just released a new invoice template as well – we think it’s an improvement over the old interface.

    Our project management is certainly “light” – we’ve kind of set it up that way as our integration partners like BaseCamp tend to fill the gap.

    We certainly aren’t everything to everyone… but we most definitely are committed to being better every time we step in the office. :-)

    Thanks again for such a thorough review.


  5. Hey Andrew thanks for letting me know. I’ll update the post to reflect that it has been added.

  6. Hey Stuart!

    Just to expand on what my pal Andrew said, I should mention that ALL FreshBooks accounts are secured with SSL 256-Bit Encryption (referencing your Pro #1). When handling folks’ financial information, we think it’s important to provide this feature to all users (free or paying).


    Rayanne Langdon,

  7. Andrew Peek says:

    Cheers. Thanks Stuart. :-)

  8. if its just invoicing and basic crm, i think less accounting would do the job. harvest is kinda complex and project management should be on a separate application altogether. for project management, i prefer to use basecamp and activecollab though i’m moving almost all of my basecamp projects to activecollab now so i don’t have any monthly fees. i’m currently using highrise but also moving to less accounting since it already integrates contact management on its invoicing system.

  9. chrisco says:

    Blinksale has been down for over one day now — — with now blog or tweet from the person or team who created it. Maybe something to consider when deciding on your solution. Definitely back up!

  10. FreshBooks was the smartest thing I did when I was starting my web-design business. It has literally saved me hundreds of hours while giving me a professional look at the same time. They also are always updating and changing things for the better. I wrote a review of it on my blog along with a coupon code that will get you $20 off when you sign up for FreshBooks using it, check it out:

  11. Hi Stuart. I’m Brian Oberkirch, the new managing director of Blinksale. Really appreciate you taking the time to detail your thoughts on Blinksale and the other great invoicing apps out there. One of the first things I’m doing is reviewing development opportunities, so this kind of feedback is super valuable. Thanks.

  12. Hi,

    I was hoping to know about an invoicing solution which allows permissions. We are using Blinksale , it was a perfect solution when I started using it 3 years ago but it was not matured to my requirements, We have grown from 2 people to 30 people and more coming, I want others to make invoices without looking at invoices created by someone else. Blinksale does not allow that and now I am done with people I could trust, now if my business has to grow, the solution we use have to protect the data and I should be able to decide who can create and see the invoices.

    Any suggestions ?

  13. Hi Mimanshu.

    I believe that either Freshbooks or Harvest (my preference) have the ability to add an individual (or individuals) as administrators who can create invoices. They shouldn’t be able to see all the operational details of the business but can just create and manage invoices.


  14. Wise Finish says:

    Thanks for the great article!

  15. Michael says:

    Just an update: Harvest opened up unlimited projects, clients and invoices on the Solo ($12) plan.

  16. Jesse C. says:

    Thanks for providing this very balanced review. I’ve been using Billings, a desktop app, for a couple of years now, but have been considering moving to an online solution. Initially, I was most enthused by the ability Freshbooks had to have a client click a link to an invoice and thus make it trackable. But more and more I’m realizing that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the process will be easier.

    I’ve also realized — in large part from reading your comprehensive review — that collaborative time-tracking and great reporting are probably the real stars of the show. I’m going to take a good look at Harvest (again). Thanks for helping me define the priorities.

    And a gorgeous site, as well. Cheers.

  17. Chris says:

    Time59 is $49.95 per year for unlimited use. It doesn’t support online payments but it does have full accounts receivable functionality so you can always know exactly what you are owed by who.

  18. Esther says:

    Thanks for the excellent comparison. I’ve been looking for a online billing application for awhile and trying most of the options out there with their Free Accounts. I think each one comes with their own Pros and Corns, so it really depends on the end client as to what they really need from their online billing app end of the day.

    Being a small business owner, I have a priority on the costs involved. Although most of the services just offer free accounts, they are only good to get some idea of their service as nothing much can be done with the restrictions imposed such as 5 invoices per month, 3 clients, etc.

    During my research I came across a new service named Curdbee ( and I would certainly recommend that for anyone who’s looking for an online billing solution. Their free account is absolutely sufficient for most of my billing needs and don’t have any restrictions on number of clients, invoices you can add/send. I would love if they offer SSL for the free account too, how ever if you upgrade to PRO ($5/month) you’ll get SSL and more stuff.

  19. Jan says:

    You might want to check out our time tracking/invocing app at, we use a slightly different approach. I must admit that Harvers and Freshbooks are pretty cool :)

  20. John says:

    Another alternative to the great products listed in this review is Intervals. It is a great app that can handle time tracking, invoicing, and other project management features all within one application.

  21. Vinh says:

    Shameless plug for – a new online invoicing and bookkeeping service.

  22. Alicia says:

    Thank you for that in-depth assessment of those 3 online billing and invoicing solutions. I have used Harvest in the was a pretty good system, as far as features go, for me. I just needed more. I am currently using It handles everything I need from time tracking, to sending invoices and setting appointments. It’s worth a try.

  23. Matt Fenn says:

    This is the best comparative review I’ve seen, good work!

    I would also like to throw Moobiz into the mix, as it covers online invoicing, estimate creation, project management, time sheets, CRM and accounting / book keeping. As well as holiday management, shared calendar, business mileage etc.

    Moobiz contains an app library with a wide selection of individual apps that can be combined to match business requirements and everything works seamlessly together…

    Pricing starts at £15/month..

  24. Carlana says:

    How very useful. I’ve been toying with the idea of using Paymo and Freshbooks but wanted to see what else was out there before I signed up. I did not realize there were so many options out there and will spend some time today reviewing them all before settling on which one will work well for me. Thank you.

  25. Stacy Lorsan says:

    Hey All

    I have been using the services of for quite sometime now and they are coming up with the new Invoicera with features like time-tracking, expense tracking, import function, and much more. Check out their blog at for updates


  26. Wladimir says:

    Do also check out CannyBill. Not only can you send estimates and invoices online but you can also create web based order forms which your customers signup to.

    We have also done some great integrations with major APIs such as:

    * Plesk – Web Hosting
    * cPanel/WHM – Web Hosting
    * VPS.NET – Cloud Computing
    * Geotrust – SSL Certificates
    * Enom – Domain Names
    * Basecamp – Project Management & Time Tracking
    * Campaign Monitor – Email Marketing
    * SAGE – Accounting
    * QuickBooks – Accounting

  27. I think the toggl time tracking tool deserves an honorable mention ( While it only does time tracking, it provides a desktop client that makes tracking time as easy as it could possibly be, especially for those who switch back and forth between tasks/projects/clients.

    Unfortunately, they keep mucking up the reports and changing the web interface for no apparent reason. Also, they don’t integrate invoices; it does time tracking only.

  28. Hi Stuart, this post is such a great resource for people, and I wanted to let you know of a few updates to Harvest, which address a few things you wanted to see:

    1. You can now define your fiscal year:
    2. While we don’t have support tickets or issue tracking, we do have a Zendesk integration:
    3. You can now create estimates through Harvest:

    We’re always open to ideas, improvements and feedback, and we’re constantly improving things here: we love to hear from our users!

    Karen Schoellkopf, Harvest Community Manager

  29. Just stumbled across this great review. Was already leaning toward Harvest, but this cinched it. Tracking profitability on projects at any given moment is a must-have feature for us (and any company that has multiple people working on multiple fixed-cost projects at any given time). Harvest was one of the only options for this.

    Of note is that Ballpark ( is amazing for what it does. If I didn’t need the detailed time / profitability tracking that would probably be my next pick.

  30. I have tried BallPark, Harvest and Freshbooks (in that order) and love Harvest the most. My primary reason is the slickness of the reports is generates. I am a freelance software developer with limited design ability and resources so its nice for this to just work. It’s the best $12 I spend every month (Basecamp comes in second). My only gripe (and its a big one) is that there should be an option to switch from duration to start/end time entry on each time entry. Now, I have to switch to the manage account screen, click edit, change the option, save, refresh my timesheet enter time, and repeat to switch from one to the other.

  31. Andy says:

    I have tried various cloud based invoicing apps for my business and keep exploring more options. One application that has really impressed me with its features and interface is Invoicera ( Have just started to use it and it is good.

  32. merlin greenberg says:

    Freshbooks looks cool, has many features… but they have Security and Privacy problems that make it hard to recommend.

    A) Security: Their External Link feature sends “authentication tokens” that never expire over the public internet mail system. These tokens are sent with each invoice email that gooes out, and allow anyone that has the token to access the account and see all transactions in the account without authenticating. Read my posts on their forums. They refuse to consider it a security problem. The justify the use to the clear-text token emails by saying it is a balance of convenience for some customers. But this is turned on by default, and 99% of the users have no idea of the downsides of its implimentation. These tokens never expire, do not require identity authentication, breaches are not logged, and can’t be turned off unless you delete accounting data or turn the entire feature off globally in the account.

    B) Privacy: Freshbooks allows anyone with your email address in hand, to go to their home page and enter your address and be provided with a list of all of your vendors you have ever done business with. No challenge for credentials is ever presented, and you get access to al of this social-engineering fodder for free — just enter an email and you are good to go.

    I wish they would address these weaknesses, as the rest of the app seems great. They like to tout their encryption and they love to make you feel secure, but if you read their fine print in the privacy policy and their user agreements, you will realize that the burden of protection is on the users. In fact, just by using the service you agree to “defend Freshbooks and hold them harmless” in any even that might occur from your use or your customer’s use of the system. Read for yourself….

    Here is a quote: “You shall defend, indemnify and hold harmless FreshBooks and the other Released Parties from any loss, damages, liabilities, costs, expenses, claims and proceedings arising out of your use of the Site, and if you are a Subscriber, from your Customers’ use of the Site”

  33. Alan says:

    Thanks for the nice review. I’ve found a new one that seems promising and relatively inexpensive: I would like to see how this measures up to Freshbooks and Harvest.

  34. Jason Frasca says:

    Thank you for this excellent review.

    As we look to upgrade from cashboard, this gives great insight into what the next “step up” offers…

    Looking to test Harvest 1st.

  35. Arnes says:

    I just grabbed a Happy Thanksgiving bundle and really impressed with its interface.

    Enjoying the price reductions at this Happy Thanksgiving offer as well

  36. Karim says:

    Thanks for the very informative post. I just discovered Ofuzf ( It provides project management, time tracking and invoicing features. What impressed me (and distinguishes it from the many others out there) is that they have an open source version that’s completely free and fully functional to install on your webserver or web host. They also offer paid plans if preferred.

    If you have any thoughts on this I’d love to hear it.


  37. Tony Wu says:

    Hi everyone,

    I’d like to submit our app for your consideration: Vebio ( In addition to having great-looking PDF templates, Vebio offers some neat extras including an integrated Punch Timer.


  38. Mike S.F. says:

    Thanks for the comparison. I was going to go with Freshbooks for sole proprietor invoicing (very low volume, under 10 invoices per month). Maybe I’ll try Blinksale based on what I read here.

  39. Shawnee06 says:

    I know this post is a tad bit old..but just wanted to give an update regarding Blinksale..It appears as though now you will only pay $15.00 for Unlimited Invoicing…which is FAB!


  1. ... May 14th, 2009 (1:00pm) Simon Mackie No Comments With 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 Bownes, 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. ...

  2. ... With 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 Bownes, 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. ...

  3. books to download says:

    I’m truly glad I found your site. The information was very beneficial to me….

  4. ... My sub review for Harvest and Freshbooks is that I like Harvest better from a UI and visual standpoint, and Freshbooks on integration and popularity ( excpert – I’m not shallow but popular are successful apps and they survive and have the most rapid development).  That said I’ve only really used Freshbooks, because a collegue of mine swore by it.  It was a good experience but I needed to move beyond the free plan.  There are some good writeups out there with the pros and cons. ...