Small Business Web Tools: Online Invoicing

By Andrew Lock | Posted July 13, 2010

Andrew Lock

Whether you're looking for an affordable, convenient way to invoice customers, want a sharp-looking blog to promote your business or you're itching to jump into Internet marketing, Andrew Lock has the best small business marketing Web tools and resources for the task.

This week, we look at Blinksale's online invoicing, iThemes for Wordpress blogs and Marlon Sander’s Marketing Dashboard.

Blinksale

Blinksale is a very popular way to send and receive invoices online.  So much so that it was voted one of CNet’s Webware 100 winners.  It’s a great service and very useful if you’re looking to manage your invoices online. 

Blinksale.com; Web tools
Blinksale.com
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After you register for the service, you track your invoices through a dashboard, where you can list or filter them according to whether or not they’re past due, closed or open and in service.  You can also tag your invoices with a keyword -- your client’s name or something about their business -- to help you to categorize all of those invoices.

You can also create invoices that have items like sales tax, payment terms, whether or not you’re charging a late fee, and you can also create invoices to be sent via certain payment gateways like PayPal.  You can browse through invoices based on the tag, when they were created or opened and their status. 

Another nice thing is that you’re not only limited to invoices.  You can actually follow up on invoices with thank you letters or just a reminder, to say “Your terms are 15 days.  Please pay now.” 

If you have an ad sale or some service that recurs on a weekly or a monthly basis, you could set up a recurring invoice and go from there.  Also, you can handle your own purchases.  People can send you Blinksale invoices, and you can receive and then keep track of them as an incoming purchase. 

Technically it's a free service, but that limits you to only three invoices per month, and that doesn't include secure data encryption, so it might be worth it to you to go ahead and pay about $12 a month for at least 50 invoices. And paying the monthly fee also gets you the data encryption.

If you’d like your invoices to have a look consistent with your company's Web design or your paper invoices, you can design a template and add your logo or change the colors or font. 

Apparently Blinksale is connected with the Base Camp software, and you can easily import your clients using Base Camp. 

iThemes

If you use WordPress software to power your business's blog, then you really should consider iThemes.com.  iThemes offers high-quality, premium WordPress themes for small businesses and professional bloggers.  It currently lists about 18 professional designs, with more being added all the time. Once you purchase a license to one of its themes, the site  updates you as more become available.

The site also provides outstanding documentation, tutorials, and customer support.  Each theme is coded to increase its SEO benefits, and it’s always compatible with the most recently released version of WordPress. 

Most themes cost about $80 each, or if you’re a freelance Web designer or developer, you might consider purchasing what the site calls its Theme Club, which is all 18 themes in a combination deal -- valued at about $1,300 -- but you pay less than $400. You’re able to pass those choices of blog themes on to your customers.  It ends up being an easy, low-cost way to get a professional-looking blog.

Marlon Sander’s Marketing Dashboard

If you’re into Internet marketing, if you’d like to design a website for your own use, or if you’d like to get into affiliate marketing, take a look at Marlon Sander’s Marketing Dashboard. It’s a fiendishly simple -- but very powerful -- program. 

Marlon Sander’s Marketing Dashboard; small business marketing
Marlon Sander’s Marketing Dashboard
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First of all, the program offers a quadruple your money back guarantee if you don’t get results that you wanted.  That’s pretty strong.  This company has credibility in the industry -- you’ll find these folks all over the place, and their net ranking is very high.  The affiliate program pays up to 70 percent of the purchase price back in the form of the commission. 

This program dashboard is divided up very logically.  You have six weeks -- they figure it takes about six weeks to finish all of these steps.  Each one has an audio overview and then a little tutorial video to help you through it.

They recommend that you download Adobe Photoshop Elements -- that’s the more economical version of Photoshop.  Still very powerful, but the beauty is you can get it for 30 days before you have to pay for it.  If you don’t like it, don’t pay for it.  It won’t work any longer after 30 days, but you won’t care ‘cause you’ll have a website. 

You set things up as you work through the steps: design your headers, add photographs if you need to, work on the gradients, the backgrounds, the patterns and so forth.  Then you begin to set up your actual Web pages.  Next you set up the sales letters, the hooks and the testimonials.  They have a formula for you to follow, and it really is very strong.

Then register your domain name, add any responders that you need, and create those fly-ins that we all love.  Once everything's in place, you finally begin to promote it.  This is a great program, and with a money-back guarantee, it's definitely worth taking a look. 


You'll find lots more small business marketing tips and resources from Andrew Lock in our Small Business In-Depth series, Lock in Your Marketing Resources.

Andrew Lock is a self-described maverick marketer and the creator and host of Help! My Business Sucks, a free, weekly Web TV show full of practical marketing tips, advice and resources to help small businesses "get more done and have more fun."

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