21
Jul 14

Import Data like a Boss (or an Account Owner)

Freckle Administrators rejoice! Gone are the days when the Account Owners had all of the power.

In the past, the Freckle Account Owner was the only person on the team who had access to a number of fun hidden gems within Freckle.

  • upgrading/downgrading the account
  • billing info
  • account wide settings
  • importing data

Well not anymore. :D

Now Freckle Administrators will see an extra tab in their control panel.  And not just any tab.  Administrators will have access to the coveted ‘Data Import’ tab.

Data Import

 

Forget about waiting around for someone else to import that data you need.  Freckle is making it easier than ever to get down to business.

Move over Account Owners, it’s time for the Admins to shine.

P.S. Freckle Team Members and Freelancers, we haven’t forgotten about you!  We’ve got some features coming your way ASAP.

P.P.S. Tell us what you want to see.  Admins, Team Members, and Freelancers alike.  What else would make your life easier?  What do you dream about being able to do in Freckle?  We want to know!

Drop us a line at [email protected] or click the pink ‘Help & Support’ tab in the bottom right hand corner of your account to chat with real humans (that’s us!).


18
Jun 14

Freckle Time Tracking’s Getting Prettier… and Better!

Quick… how many clicks does it take to find your favorite report, check out a project, check on a team member, add an expense, adjust your timers, or view your billable hours?

How many steps does it take to get the business intelligence you need out of Freckle?

Too many, if you ask us. And to fix that for ya, we’re giving Freckle a facelift.

Starting with the navigation.

The famous floating menu — that is too tiny and hard to find — is gone.

Your shiny new menu bar is now a left-y, like in most of your favorite apps. It’s roomier & easier to read. It will never scroll out of view. And it’s going to help you get to all the places you want to go faster.

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 12.20.43 PM

Why we’re doing this…

This summer, we’re hard at work making Freckle so much better for you. We’re working on…

  • faster navigation
  • better analytics
  • better display of the information you need to make decision in your business
  • new ways to get your time into Freckle no matter where you are
  • new features that you want & need to manage your larger team’s time entries…
  • ways to help you get better insight into your true hourly rates, & those of your team
  • and, perhaps best of all, a shiny new feature that helps you handle recurring budgets (like retainers)… and goals

But we can’t just bolt all this new goodness into the old design. Frankly, there’s no way to make it fit comfortably. (Example: This is why many of our valued customers wonder why Freckle doesn’t do expense tracking. It does, in fact, and has for ages! But it’s a bit buried.)

First things first — a better menu will make everything better.

(PS: Have you seen our new Mac menu bar app? Get yours here!)

ARRGH… a redesign?!

Concerned? Agitated? We’re sorry. And we’re trying to make this as irritation-free for you as we possibly can.

We’ve all had that experience, where we log into a favorite app and suddenly NOTHING works the way it did. It sucks.

That’s why we’re making these upgrades into baby steps for you. And why we’ll email you at least 1 week in advance of each change. The last thing we want to do is waste your time by forcing you to change how you work overnight.

So, while your menu bar & overall page framework has changed, the rest of Freckle experience will work as you expect… until we email you about the next baby-step upgrade :)

Can I switch back to the old design?

No, we’re sorry. This isn’t just a cosmetic change, we’re improving the whole app in order to roll out wonderful new features that you’re going to love… that simply won’t fit into the old app design.

And: Freckle’s overall design hasn’t changed a lick since December 2008. We don’t make changes lightly. These improvements are necessary for us to serve you better.

Change sucks.

Yeah, it does… at first. Especially since Freckle has looked virtually the same since 2008.

Once shock wears off, and you use the new design for a while, we believe that you’ll find that it’s faster, better, easier to use.

What’s with the grey? It’s so… dark.

The principles of art & interior design tell us that a darker background will help the bright colors pop out even more.

The grey stands out now and looks so dark because it’s new, and it’s what’s new stands out. But, like a neutral wall color, it will fade into the background as you get used to it.

All these improvements are for you.

It may take a little while to get used to, but…

We truly believe that you’ll agree with us that the new app design feels more put together, more complete, and ultimately more useful. It’s also more flexible. Now you can shrink your window down quite small and Freckle will scale with it!

But most importantly, this new design framework enables us to make Freckle…

  • faster to get around
  • easier to use
  • more feature-ful

All of which are going to help you, every single day.

Keep talking to us.

We love hearing from you.

If you’d like to talk to Devon and Amber in customer support, drop us a line — or click the pink “Feedback & Support” tab from anywhere in Freckle.


06
Jun 14

Never forget to track time with the Freckle Mac OS X Menubar App

We’ve all been there—you forgot to track time at all or didn’t stop and log that timer you started at the beginning of your work day. Whether you’re excited about a new client, have to finish a project by a deadline or just got distracted by the latest lolcats—tracking time is often the last thing on your mind. It’s a pain to have to reconstruct what you did all day at the end of a long work day when you’re tired and want to go home.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have access to time tracking from anywhere on your computer, without having to go to your browser first? How awesome could it be if you could log time with just a few keystrokes, without ever having to touch your mouse or leave the application you’re working in, even if it’s a fullscreen app? What if a quick glance could tell you if a timer is running, and for which project?

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 10.37.36 AM

Never fear, this is all over now with the new Freckle OS X Menubar app. The Freckle timer is now always just one key combo (by default ⌃⌥⌘Space, but you can change that to whatever you like) or one click in the menubar away. When not in use, the Freckle Menubar app shows you if there’s a running timer and how much time has elapsed. When a timer is running, the animation of the Freckle logo includes the project color, so you instantly know what project the timer is on.

Many of you use multiple screens (we do, too!), and features like spaces and full screen apps on your Macs—when you hit the keyboard shortcut, the Freckle app will always open on the screen you’re working on right now so you don’t need to go look for it. And, you can also launch the Freckle OS X Menubar app automatically when you log in (see preferences in the app), so you never forget to launch Freckle. Freckle will always ready for you!

Best of all, these are the exact same timers that you see in Freckle itself and in the mobile app. Log the timer from anywhere and the Freckle Menubar app will notice and update itself accordingly.

Download the free Freckle Mac OS X Menubar App today!

We’d like to say extra special thanks to all our beta testers! You’re awesome!


26
Apr 14

One click Excel, PDF and CSV from your reports

Did you know that Freckle supports one click downloads of reports, as PDF, CSV and now also as Excel spreadsheet? It couldn’t be simpler, just run a report, set filters, grouping and aggregation options as you need and then click one of these buttons:

report-downloads

Boom—your download will start after a few seconds! The file that’s downloaded is conveniently named with your Freckle account name and the option you set (length permitting). In the above example if you’d download the Excel spreadsheet, the file would be called slash7_from_2014-03-01_to_2014-03-31.xlsx.

By the by, the new Excel export works with Office 2007 and above, on PCs, Macs and iOS.

Freckle_Excel

Bonus: Numbers (Apple’s spreadsheet app) can open it as well!

Happy downloading!


21
Apr 14

Top 5 Reasons for Tracking Unbillable Time

Ever have those weeks where you feel like you’re just glued to your computer?  By the end of the week you’re probably thinking, wow I really kicked some butt this week, Cha-Ching!

And then it hits you.

You can’t actually bill your client for all of that time.

photo cc:  jaci XIII

photo cc: jaci XIII

As it turns out all of that butt-in-chair-time doesn’t quite equal billable-work-time.

So, what does it equal then?  Why take the time to tediously track all of your unbillable tasks?

 

 

Doing research, writing proposals, accounting, and staff meetings are just a few of the essential unbillable tasks that are necessary for running a business.

And although time spent maintaining & growing your business doesn’t equal revenue, it does equal insight.

  • Which clients are eating up all of your time with meetings, emails, and consultation call?
  • Are your marketing efforts giving a good return on investment?
  • Could you benefit from delegating or hiring someone new?

The answers to these questions stand to improve your productivity, work-life balance, and your wallet.

It’s a little ironic that the time you can’t bill for, is the most valuable time you spend during the day.  I for one, think Alanis Morissette would agree wholeheartedly.

Top 5 Reasons for Tracking Unbillable Time:

  1. Small unbillable tasks add up and can take away from time spent on important billable tasks.
  2. Understand unbillable time helps you set realistic goals for earning revenue.
  3. Provides insight into where you team (or you) has been spending their time.
  4. Without unbillable data, you can’t make informed biz decisions.
  5. You can spend more time billing!

Unbillable time is like buried treasure.  But you can’t get to the treasure without doing a bit of leg work.

Using unbillable tags in Freckle can help you navigate the high seas of tracking unbillable time and get you to that treasure without  ever picking up a shovel.

 


19
Apr 14

Freckle on your phone

Here’s how you run Freckle on your phone!

Note that using the mobile version of Freckle requires that your account uses hashtags. All newer accounts (since April 2013) use hashtags automatically. If you have an older account that hasn’t been migrated yet, please see your help article on migrating to hashtags (it only takes a few minutes!).

On your iPhone (iOS 6 & 7)

Just click the button and you’ll download our official Freckle app from the App Store (it’s free!).

On your iPhone (older iOS)

Older iOS

To use our official App Store app above, you’ll need iOS 6.1 or higher. But no fear, if you don’t want to install it or you can’t because you have an older iOS version, you can alternatively just use Safari:

1. Sign in to your Freckle account

2. Use Safari’s “Add to Home Screen” to get a permanent Freckle icon on your home screen.

3. Start Freckle from your home screen. It will work just like any other app!

On your Android Phone

Android

You’ll need Android 4 or higher, with Chrome 34 (latest version as of April 2014) or higher installed.

1. Sign in to your Freckle account

2. Next, use Chrome’s “Add to homescreen” option. Confirm by tapping “Add” in the dialog that pops up.

3. Start Freckle from your homescreen!

On Android, Freckle will show as “Web App” in the task manager.

Please note that for now, Freckle doesn’t work with Firefox for Android. We’re planning support for that in the future, as well as eventually having a native Android app in Google Play. We don’t plan to support very old (version 2.x) Android phones.


10
Apr 14

Find projects quicker with Freckle’s new Timer

Freckle’s Timer has received a facelift and optimizations to be quicker to use and prettier to look at!

timer

The main thing that works differently from before is the much improved search. Either click the project search box or type the / shortcut key to start searching (you can also just start typing any letter or number to stat searching when the search box is not active yet!).

Freckle will now find projects that are similarly named and typos are no problem if you’re not sure about the spelling of something. Use your and cursor keys or mouse to select a project and press or click the play button to start your timer or log it!

Want to create a new project and start timing immediately? Easy, just use N (hold down your shift key and press “N”) or click the “+ new project” button in the top right. Fill in your new project name, hit and you’re done!

There’s more keyboard shortcuts available—check out the build in cheatsheet by pressing ? (that’s / on US keyboards) or clicking the keyboard icon in the bottom right.

The Timer now always has a bright pink bar on top to make it easier to find if you have tons of windows open on your computer, and the currently running project’s colors are large and brightly visible so you can see what project you’re running the timer on at a glance.

For those of you who have lots and lots of projects—you’ll enjoy the much improved load times when you have hundreds of projects.

Don’t forget—the you can safely close the timer window at all times. Browser crashes? Freckle laughs in the face of those… Timers are stored on Freckle’s servers so you can just reopen the timer window, even on a different computer or your phone and all timers will still be there!

We’ve updated our help article on the Timer as well, it’s a great refresher if you haven’t used the timer recently. :)


09
Apr 14

Heartbleed and Freckle


07
Apr 14

The Psychology of Customers

I’m not ashamed to admit that I, Devon Kreider, have made my fair share of infomercial purchases.

There’s a reason why infomercials have become a massive phenomenon and and why many of us have contributed to the growing infomercial market.

photo cc: DonSolo

photo cc: DonSolo

On the surface they’re cheesy, a bit abrasive, and provide comedians with an endless supply of jokes.

But if you can get past all the simultaneous slicing while dicing and chopping while mopping, infomercials can actually teach us a thing or two.

The secret to selling like Billy Mays isn’t in the shouting, it’s in the structure.

Infomercials have a unique marketing structure, that when applied to a sales page or other promotional material, will cut right to the core of the psychology of a customer.

The Secretly Awesome Structure of an Infomercial:

  • Sell the benefits of a product
  • Back up your claims with solid data
  • Demonstrate your expertise through testimonials
  • Capitalize on the power of storytelling
  • Be a little repetitive
  • Show some comparisons between you and the other guy
  • Absolutely have a call-t0-action

Your customers wake up in the morning with a business problem.

It may seem like a software problem or a design problem, but what they’re really looking for is a solution to help them save money or earn more money.

Infomercials are able to sell even the most ridiculous products because what they’re *really* selling is a solution to a distinct problem.

The trick is to use real emotional triggers to talk about your customer’s problem.

You want your prospective customers to feel like you understand where they’re coming from. Like you know their pain and that you care about helping them solve it.

That’s where the benefits come in.

Often, we get wrapped up in all of the features our products have.  But your customers aren’t looking for features.

Despite what we may think, customers aren’t looking for fast, free, easy, fun, and pretty.  They’re looking for a way to earn more money, save time or increase their own customer base.

If you pay attention to the exact words your customers use, you can explain how and why your product will help them.

Nothing motivates people more than hearing their own words repeated back at them.

And if they can hear their own words through the testimonials of your satisfied customers, well then you’re one step closer to getting their business.

The biggest lesson we can learn from infomercials is that selling is, in fact, a science.  It’s a social science.

When we’re marketing to our customers, we want to drill down to the core reasons of why someone would want to purchase our product.

And to do so, we need to understand their motivation, their fears and doubts, and but most importantly, their pain points.

Then you can use the marketing structure of an infomercial without ever needing to say, “But wait, there’s more!”

 

 

 

 

 


31
Mar 14

Sell Yourself, Not Your Soul

Getting a customer to spend that first dollar is an uphill battle.  Sometimes it can even feel like a really steep incline that just goes on and on and on.

That “first dollar problem” is why branding and positioning and marketing are so important.  And not just for big bad enterprises with tons of money, but for small businesses too.

Self promotion isn’t about taking two days a month to market yourself and your biz.  It’s about the little actions you do everyday, and it’s about your sales pitch.

photo cc: HikingArtist.com

photo cc: HikingArtist.com

 

Selling yourself doesn’t have to make you feel sleazy or uncomfortable.  In fact, it shouldn’t.

You’re good at what you do.  You’re a pro.  And your customers need you.  They’re out there actively searching for the perfect you right now.

Creating that customer connectedness and developing a feeling of trust is difficult when you’re not face to face with a prospective customer.

So it’s your job to make sure that your message and your positioning is clear.  Not just so that customers can find you, but so that the right customers can find you.

On your sales page and in all of your promotional material you want to distinguish yourself from the competition.

Now I don’t mean reinventing the marketing wheel and coming up with the next viral marketing campaign.

I mean communicating who you are, what you do, and the value your product or service provides, just like you would in person.

You want someone to go to your website, read your copy, and be hooked on you and your biz before they even think about the price.

Because at that point, the price is trivial.  You’ve already got them nodding their heads uncontrollably and saying, “yes this guy gets it.”

But how?  How do you get someone to go from concerned-about-price to could-care-less-about-price? That’s a big leap, right?

Well, I’ll tell you this, it’s not by having beautiful Pulitzer Prize winning copy or really ingenious and witty slogans.

It’s by listening to your customers and understanding what their pain points are.

Getting to the core issues behind why your customers buy takes time and it takes research.  But if you don’t do your homework, you’re not only hurting yourself, you’re hurting your customers.

When your positioning and your marketing reflect exactly why your customers want your product or service, you’re not being sleazy or tricking them into making a purchase.

You’re telling them about a solution they desperately want to find and who (that’s you) is the best for the job.

P.S. Next week we’re going to talk about what you can learn from infomercials.  It may sound crazy but those direct marketers know what they’re doing!