To be fair to Grace, because she has been so persistent, I did do a brief Google Search on "Lifehacker" and "Freshbooks," because Lifehacker is what I read when I want to know how to do something. That also is not an endorsement, just a fact. As it turns out, Adam Dachis recommended Billable.com back in 2011, and underneath the article somebody commented that Freshbooks is good if you want to "save logos, templates and client info." Back in 2009, Sarah Rae Trover, writing at Lifehacker as well, actually did recommend Freshbooks.
The issue with Freshbooks, from my point of view, is that they charge money. Back in 2013, Mashable had an article with dozens of free tools (I don't know if they are still free.)
I don't do all that much freelancing, so perhaps I'm not Grace's audience. I do work with freelancers, and frankly we don't care what the invoices look like.
Anyway, I think I've exhausted my intro to this piece by now. You can still read the Q&A below. If you are a freelancer, good luck and G-d-speed! Do you hate administrivia as much as I do????
The other day I got a nice email from Grace at FreshBooks asking me to answer some branding questions. (Good marketing tactic, by the way - it got them a mention!*)
Here's the question:
Share your thoughts on the importance of a brand's appearance when building a customer base:
- How does the look and feel of a site impact a potential customer's purchase?
- Do the tone and voice of your blog match the product/service?
- Is the customer experience polished and professional from start to finish?
- Brand appearance vs. website aesthetics: In this context, "brand" and "website aesthetics" are used relatively synonymously. Technically though, most people would think of the former as the logo, and the latter as a design scheme that can change regardless of what one does with the brand's name and associated visual symbol.
- Website experience vs. customer acquisition: This is the difference between someone liking your website and someone making the leap to actually buying something from you. In this post we will talk a little bit about the significance between these two things.
Step two - a general sketch of my personal opinion:
- The #1 consideration for an online consumer is whether the merchant is safe to buy from. In the past the top spot might have gone to the cheapest merchant or the merchant offering the most features. Today, in light of how busy people are and how prevalent cybercrime is, I'd argue that trustworthiness is key. (Aesthetics, in my view, matter very little when it comes to making a purchase.)
- From the perspective of trustworthiness, the website needs to establish that a caring, helpful merchant is behind the virtual wall. Consistency of voice and quality of experience contribute to a positive impression on that front. Those two things are also fundamental to the brand.
- Branding helps to drive the customer to the website in the first place. This includes every activity associated with the business, not just the marketing activities. If you do it, it's part of who you are - and thus a part of your brand.
Thanks for the opportunity to answer these questions. If you're reading this, feel free to send me some more. I'll do my best to answer them, if they seem relevant and if I have time.
*No endorsement expressed or implied. All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of my agency or the federal government as a whole.