Tired of Invoicing Clients with Paypal? Stripe + Invoice Ninja Offers an Open Source Alternative
With years spent as a freelancer, I’ve always been on the prowl for new and exciting invoicing tools to make the boring business side of things easier to manage.
While PayPal has been a tried and trusted partner in crime, the service still is frowned upon by potential clients as an amateur way to invoice them, or they are older and still think of Paypal as that service used by nerds to buy Star Wars toys off ebay.
There are two components that are at play here, the first being the invoice itself and the second (and most important) being the actual payment processor.
The later is a complex discussion of how one can accept credit card payments online, and Paypal still sits on top as THE premier processing partner for smaller businesses who aren’t tech-savvy enough to set up their own payment gateways (that shit is really complicated for the novice user. I’ve been involved in e-commerce for some time and it still gets complicated depending on what kind of transaction you’re trying to allow.)
The other big gripe with Paypal is the time it takes to get from the customer to your bank account. When you invoice a client, they can make the payment directly with a credit card, Paypal gets their fee of around 3%, and then the funds are in your account.
If you’re a Paypal debit card holder you can use the funds immediately, but if you need to cut checks to partners or for bills, you gotta transfer the funds into your bank account, which can take 4-5 days sometimes.
I’d heard about Stripe before but didn’t really get my hands dirty with it until this past summer, and once I started using it I was in love. It’s really simple to sign up, connect your bank account, and then start exploring the bevy of tools it has to begin accepting payments.
Whether you’re building an e-commerce storefront, creating recurring subscriptions services, or just need to do basic invoicing, Stipe is a total Paypal-killer, in my opinion. Big companies like Shopify and Lyft use the service, and it prides itself as being built for developers. The platform has pretty robust customization options and code libraries for developers to integrate and build their own tools with.
Processing is similar to Paypal (2.9% but with a 30-cent transaction fee – not a big deal if you’re sending large invoices), but the funds get transferred to your bank account in 2 days. If you are a freelancer on a tight budget, Paypal’s transfer time can feel like an eternity!
I can go on and on about how awesome the platform is, but we need to solve the next issue – invoicing. With Paypal I always wanted more customization in my invoicing, and wanted to manage it better.
That’s where Invoice Ninja comes in, and when integrated with Stripe (which takes about 10 seconds) it becomes your new best friend in making and sending invoices to clients quick and easy (and even automated if you want!)
Invoice Ninja is 100% free to use for up to 500 clients a month. There is a paid Pro version that offers some awesome additional features. If you have 500 freaking clients a month then you’re probably doing pretty damn good for yourself and can afford to pay for the bells and whistles.
Instead of going back and forth while filling out an invoice, Invoice Ninja provides a live pdf preview panel. So as you customize the look of your invoices, you can see what the client sees, and then use various scheduling tools to automate your invoicing.
With the exception of paid services like FreshBooks, Wave and Zoho Invoice, Invoice Ninja is the only invoice tool that offers multiple invoicing templates to customize the experience for your clients. What makes Invoice Ninja cooler then the competition is that it’s open source – you can even download and rip your own version if you want to play with it on your server.
Setting up both Stripe and connecting to Invoice Ninja was quick and painless. Now putting together custom invoices and sending out to clients is quick and easy and adds a new “look” to my clients rather then sending invoices out via Paypal the old-fashioned “amateur” way – and I get paid a lot faster!