Just fyi, these loves of mine, re: the list below, are tools I use a lot, and have paid to use. I am not associated with these companies in any way, and they didn't ask me to review, write or anything like that, I simply like the tools. If I include affiliate links, I do so simply because they are available. Harvest. ( www.harvestapp.com ) One of my favorite tools! I have been using Harvest since 2010 and I have never looked back. This online application is perfect for folks who track their time, whether you bill by the hour or not, and want to collect those hours to present your client with a simple or detailed invoice. You can easily enable Paypal and other payment gateways and it integrates with Basecamp, Highrise, Quickbooks, Xero and OAuth2. You can also export your data and import data into Harvest too. It is fully branded with your logo and is very professional with an elegant user interface. Features I like a lot are recurring invoices, reporting tools, email payment reminders, auto marked as paid when client clicks the Paypal pay now button, and the ease of thank you emails after payment. And for security it has me covered there too. Read more about SSL-encrypted connections... all that stuff here. Support is great too. The team is very responsive and always looking to make the product better. Even when I hound them about when they might have Purchase Order support, they very nicely tell me it's not their focus right now, but they have it on the list. If you are inspired to acquire this great tool, use this link, it gives me a few points. $129.60 per year
Bottom line: It works, makes my life oh so much easier. I get paid faster.
Square. ( www.squareup.com ) Ok, so I have not used this tool that much, but whoa... when I needed to charge a customer via credit card, you know Visa, Mastercard, Amex ( I don't have a regular bank gateway account ) it was seamless and awesome. How so? Well, recently I went to a business meeting and was wearing one of the yarn scarves I make. A woman at the event inquired if I had made the beautiful scarf around my neck. I said "yes" and she asked if she could buy the scarf I was wearing, right off me! I said "sure", then grabbed my iPhone and the Square and before long she was walking out wearing the scarf and I had a little money in my account. Sure they take 2.75% of all my swipe sales, but that works for me. It even sends an email receipt right then and there. Easy-peasy. They also have Square Wallet, pretty neat idea for payment, a bit like a blend of Venmo and Foursquare. The idea is you pay with your name and a photo of yourself via the phone app. Plus, Square just launched a Marketplace. See my store on Square Market. $ Free account. 2.75% a swipe or $275 a month
Bottom line: Ridiculously easy to use. Enable more sales...anywhere.
Mailchimp. ( www.mailchimp.com ) The Mailchimp team obviously loves bananas, who can blame them? I love banana's too! But wait, what does bananas have to do with this? Well, this fun, hip tool keeps things light as you dive into serious email business. They are always improving the software and make a free version of this product that works great for most small businesses. The templates are nicely designed and many come responsive, so you know it will look great on your phone or iPad. You never have to worry about being legit and folks can easily unsubscribe. The reporting tells you exactly who opens your email, how many times, the overall success of your campaign compared to other campaigns, and even auto tweets and tracks your campaign on Google Analytics. Mailchimp does even more, but you get the idea. If you're interested in this tool, use this link, it gives me a few bananas if you become a paid customer. $ Free account ( 2000 subscribers or less )
Bottom line: Elegant, compliant email communication.