Zoho is a full office suite that synchronizes with both Google and Yahoo. Part of this suite is its invoicing service, but it is difficult to find from the main Zoho address.
Zoho Invoice is a separate service, so do sign up using the rel=”nofollow”>correct link. This is what you should see, when you CTRL+C the link just given…
Zoho’s benefits include:
- Customization with your Logo
- Accepting online payments
- Sending snail mail payments
- The ability to automatically generate thank-you emails on payment
- The ability to automate payment reminders
- Android and iPhone app versions
- PayPal and Google Apps integration
- Bad debt accounting
- Bulk printing
In addition, Zoho recently added Braintree, 2Checkout and Stripe to its payment integration options.
Step 1. Signing Up with Zoho
To register an account with Zoho, enter in the three boxes shown above:
- Your business email address
- Your company name
- Your country
When you have done so, click on the red Sign Up button.
You will be reminded to verify your email address while your account is populating.
Zoho automatically inserts Pacific Time as your Time Zone, so you will want to press the “Change” button at the next screen.
This also allows you to add or correct other information within the new page that opens up.
In addition to regular information you’d expect, such as your company name, address, website and FAX number, this page also allows you to add custom fields that will appear on every invoice.
When you have finished altering and filling in your information, press the blue Save button.
So what have you signed yourself up for? Relax – a basic, one-user Zoho account is free.
Your pricing alternatives range from $15 per month for three users and 500 customers to $30 per month for unlimited customers and users.
With both paid plans, you can save “2 months cost” by paying annually. And with all plans (including the free version) you are allowed unlimited invoices, estimate and projects, meaning that Zoho has many of the advantages offered by Freshbooks.
Step 2. Getting Around Zoho Invoice
As with Freshbooks, your main horizontal menu tabs and sub-tabs will always tell you where you are.
Above that, a ticker-tape style pop-up will either tell you which function you have just completed or display reminders of any actions Zoho needs you to take.
Step 3. Branding your Zoho Account and Invoices
So next, let’s brand Zoho with your logo and colors. Simply go to the vertical “Related Settings” menu sidebar on the right-hand side of the page and select Logo and Themes.
- Browse your computer and upload your logo (140 X 60 pixels; 72 dpi), much the same as you would in WordPress, Freshbooks or any other application or content management system.
As soon as your logo has been successfully saved, it will replace the Zoho Invoice logo, appearing to the left side of the “Choose File” button.
This is what will appear on your computer screen.
- To make your logo also appear on your invoicing, next upload high-res, larger version (580 X 250 pixels; 300 dpi).
Also reset your theme from default to your custom colors.
- Continue to scroll down through this page to select your company color theme for all web page elements.
- When you have input all your text and tab element color codes, you will see your colors in your Zoho screen and on your invoices.
TIP: If you don’t know your 6-digit color codes for your website, find out instantly by opening the Firefox browser. (Make sure you have the Colorzilla add-on enabled.)
- Load in your Company web page and click on the little Colorzilla eye-dropper pen in the top-right corner of your browser
- Hover – do not click – over the web page sections containing the colors you want to find codes for; then (while still in hover position) glance up at the top of your browser. The eye-dropper “reads” the color code for every element you hover over, changing as you shift position.
- Once you are hovering over the section you want, look up at the top of your browser to find your custom, 6-digit color code for that particular spot
- Make a note of each color code for each area you hover over; then return to your Zoho customization screen to input these codes
(You can also install the Colorzilla add-on for Chrome.)
Note that under Preferences>Settings, you can also:
- Choose different invoice templates
- Choose templates for your estimates and credit notes
- Set general preferences such as titles, discount offers, snail mail and invoice headers “and much more”
Now let’s create a simple invoice!
Step 4. Creating a Zoho Invoice
Creating your first invoice is easy. Simply click on the Invoices tab, then the “Create a new Invoice” link.
Your invoice template will open up.
- Select the “New Customer” anchor text. A pop-up will appear. Fill in your customer or client information, and click the blue Save And Select button.
- After inputting data for fields such as Terms and Due Date, click on the “New Item” link, under “Items”. Fill in the pop-up. Press Save And Select.
- Your new “Item” now appears in your invoice – and this type of item will be available as a drop-down from now on.
- Underneath your items, you will be given the opportunity to configure your online payment options by pressing the link, if you want to give your client the opportunity to pay online.
- Underneath Online Payment options, add a customer Note, as well as any Terms and Conditions you want them to see. Set it as the default message on all your invoices by checking the appropriate radio buttons.
Save your invoice.
Your invoice will save as a Draft, and you can choose what other actions you want to apply to it, including:
- Sending as a Snail mail invoice
- Turning it into a recurring monthly invoice
- Cloning it
When you are ready to send it, do so by selecting and clicking on the method link in the vertical, right-hand menu shown above.
Once you have hit your chosen “Send” option link, you will be redirected to an HTML draft of the invoice about to be sent.
Be sure to customize the message so that it:
- Sounds like your voice
- Feels personal to the recipient
- To personalize your invoice appearance, select the “Invoice Notification Template” link.
- Once the “Invoice Notification Template” opens, select and use Placeholders in the vertical, right-hand menu to personalize your invoice.
This will become the default set up for your Invoice Template.
As soon as you hit the “Save” button within the customization screen, you will see your invoice re-displayed with your edited text (edit it right within the textarea box) and your new placeholders.
For example, here we have selected the “FirstName” placeholder, and manually added a comma after it, resulting in “Dear Customer” being changed to this:
We also manually changed “You can choose the easy way out” to “If you wish” (right within the above textarea box at the same time we were inserting placeholders).
- Once you are satisfied, simply press the blue Send button – and your first invoice is on its way to your client.
Rather than clicking on “Create a new invoice” link, you can also import existing invoices in .CSV or .TSV format. Simply select the import link from the right-hand sidebar menu.
While importing, you can also alter the invoice number by turning on the Auto Generate feature – one click of a radio button within the three-step process that opens up for imports.
Step 5. Tracking Your Projects
Zoho offers ways to track your projects and costs, as well as create estimates, and more.
- To track, select the main “Time Tracking” tab. You will see there are no projects to select from, but click on the “View All Project” anchor text anyway.
The message will change to: “Create a new project”. Click on it.
- Select your client and fill in other details as needed, manually entering data such as the Project Name and Description, and selecting existing multiple choice options from the drop-downs available.
Be sure to press the blue Save button when you are done.
- You can then manage your project by adding or creating Tasks to monitor, as well as adding or creating Users and comments.
(Note that if you attempt to add even one more user besides yourself, you will have to upgrade to a paid plan.)
- Set up some measurable criteria, such as adding tasks, and set a budget if you wish. Be sure to Save.
- You will be able to view your projects – and all its benchmarks such as Logged Hours – any time from your Time Tracking menu, adding tasks as they occur.
If you use Google or Yahoo, you can synchronize accounts with Zoho – so this may turn out to be your best invoicing system yet.