(NOTE: Before moving forward, check your level of service with FreshBooks. Some features may not be available in the free tier.)
Staying Within FreshBooks
I've used FreshBooks since 2009 and have found at least a couple of ways to develop a fairly streamlined proposal system that stays within FreshBooks. If your proposal is simple enough, then see if the 'Terms' or 'Notes' section in the Estimate or Invoice is a good spot for that. I've also outlined proposals as bullet points using line items on an Estimate/Invoice.
But for more complex proposals, especially ones involving images, files, or illustrations, the key is to use the 'Documents' feature. I've found that PDF files are the easiest to share, so the first thing you may want to do is to make sure your proposal is in PDF form.
Look for the 'Documents' tab on your FreshBooks' dashboard. It's
close to the end of the main menu across the top of your screen. If
you don't see it, then go into 'Settings > Permissions' to make
sure that 'Documents' is enabled as needed. This feature allows
authorized users to create folders, upload files, and share documents
with staff and clients. The account admin can set global permissions
or specify restrictions for each user.
Decide how you want to structure your folder tree (ie. by client
and/or by project). Files are not allowed to be uploaded into the
root, so a folder needs to be created first in order to upload any
files. Once this is done, upload your proposal and any supporting
files to the desired folder. You can now share this folder with your
client as you see fit.
One way to tie the invoice (or estimate) to your proposal docs that are in the
Documents section is to convert your invoice to PDF and upload it into the same folder as the proposal. If you can, consider
combining all docs into one PDF file first, then uploading it
into the folder.
Reference The Proposal Docs
Whether combined or separate, be sure to name the proposal document
along with any other required docs. Then reference them somewhere on
the Estimate/Invoice, either as a line item, noted in the 'Terms'
section, or highlighted in the 'Notes' section.
- FreshBooks support offers essentially the same solutions here:
FreshBooks also offers a list of add-ons that "connect to your FreshBooks account, giving you new functionality and creating a workflow catered to your business." These add-ons include popular project management apps such as BaseCamp, along with payment gateway, accounting, time-tracking apps and more. For a full list see http://community.freshbooks.com/addons/
Outside Of FreshBooks
- Email. Attaching your proposal as a PDF file to good 'ol email still works as long as it's not too big. For larger files, consider
using Box, GoogleDrive, or DropBox.
- DropBox. I use the 'share link' or 'shared folder' features available in DropBox. If a client uses DropBox then I prefer to
create and share a folder with them. It just syncs automatically. And just like I would in
FreshBooks, I can create the folder structure as needed. For
non-users, I usually create a folder, upload project files to it and share the link to that folder via email. As long as I don't rename the folder or change its location, I can add, delete, or edit its contents. The folder stays updated with the latest while the link remains valid and can be bookmarked.
So there's a few ideas from my own workflow. Hope this helps get the ball rolling for you!