Invoicing isn’t a task that’s high on many freelancers’ priority lists. Freelancing is a one-person show, and dozens of things take precedence, hence process of managing your payments gets shoved down the to-do
We do get it’s a juggle
- Doing a stellar job so you can get awesome referrals.
- Marketing your services.
- Managing your schedule.
- Updating your website.
- Hopping on a conference call.
- Ordering your fourth coffee at the cafe to justify using their wi-fi and sockets.
- Feeding the dog/child/goldfish.
You might find that you’re just beginning in the freelance world or are two years in without any system in place to manage your payments. Not having an invoicing procedure often results in pulling something together at the last minute by using a random template you found online that inevitably gets lost in the downloads folder. And it does affect your finances – one in ten freelancers struggle to pay their mortgage because of late invoice payments.
So, if you want to scrub up your invoicing skills once and for all, here’s your guide to become an invoicing master.
Benefits to Invoicing
Here’s a snapshot as to why it’s a good idea to have an easy, highly automated yet customisable invoicing system.
A sleek invoice shows that you’re not a run-of-the-mill candidate in the industry. Fortunately, unlike a social media account that needs more nurturing than a three-month-old baby, a good invoice will last at least a year before it needs a revamp and it’s something that all of your clients are going to be reading, so it’s a good investment of an afternoon to either design your own or use one of our free templates.
Late payments can get forgotten about if you’re invoicing system is in anyway slack. You might be so busy with a new project that getting paid for the last one just seems like to much work to bother with. Instead of letting the weeks turn into months, we’ve got recommendations below on how to achieve seamless client payments.
Make it easy to get paid!
I’m going to talk you through the elements that freelancers often forget when they send out an invoice. These ommissions can aggravate the finance team – the more streamlined it is for a client to fill your bank balance, the better!
What to include in a freelance invoice
Unique invoice ID
This is crucial to prevent mix-ups, for your year-end tax submission and to help with your online filing system. The easiest way is to start at one and go from there!
And make sure that you use a single ID for all of your clients which will reduce the likelihood of sending off the wrong “INVOICE NO. 008” to a client. It’s not the end of the world if mistakes like these happen but creating a professional image often comes down to nailing basic communications.
So there are actually two important dates – the day the invoice gets sent out as well as when the work was being carried out. It goes without saying that dated invoices are great for tracking how efficiently clients are paying you.
Your contact details
Make sure your invoice includes your full name, address, email and any other contact methods you’d like to put forward. It allows your client to easily contact you with any invoice queries.
A breakdown of the pricing
Your client may be dealing with dozens of contractors per day, meaning they will occasionally forget the scope of a job and will think that the agreed price seems seriously high. Outline each task clearly in your invoice and identify time spent if you’re being paid hourly.
Don’t downplay your work – outline each task as clearly as you can so your client gets an accurate project summary. This reduces the likelihood of payment disputes which you know as a freelancer is a massive time saver!
Here’s what to include in the breakdown:
- Total for each task
This depends on where you’re based – some countries include taxes as part of services, others don’t. Be sure to check out your country’s revenue site for details on taxes and rates. If they’re applicable for you, slip in a line between NET and GROSS payment outlining the tax rate.
Your client’s trading name
Most companies can’t actually send you out money if the invoice isn’t specifically set out in their name. An easy way to find this is to scroll to the very bottom of their site, you can usually spot it in the footer. If in doubt, shoot a quick email over asking for clarification.
Your client’s contact details
Again, it’s great to get their registered office address into the invoice if you can – clients appreciate freelancers that make it easier for payments to get through protocol. This also shows that you’re an experienced freelancer that knows the ropes – a good sign of any sole trader.
Before this would have been your bank account details but now other online platforms, Paypal being an obvious one, are becoming popular amongst freelancers for their security and speed. For the bank account, it’s a good idea to make sure that the name on your invoice matches that of your bank account.
Clarify Terms and Conditions
Prepare to make this part simple and polite. This could include the forms of payment you accept or a link for them to make a payment online. You can also specify a billing cycle, a common one amongst freelancers being the 30-day cycle. This gives your client 30 days from when the invoice is sent before the payment is due. Also, it’s a good plan to let clients know whether you charge late fees on the invoice to avoid confusion down the line.
What to do after an invoice is sent
This is what most experts won’t tell you, but accomplishing these three simple tasks means you’ll always be on top of your invoicing.
Record – we do this for you. By creating invoices with us, we automatically record your invoices. You can even manage them from your dashboard.
Mark as paid – head to the dashboard, find the invoice and tick the “Mark as paid” button. Job done!
Schedule an email – set a reminder to contact clients with invoices outside the billing cycle. We know sometimes it can be stressful to check in on late payments which is why we created this blog post for copy and paste emails for late-paying clients.
Try our new free invoicing tool that allows you to create a fully customisable invoice in a few clicks. Our goal is to give freelancers more securing clients and delivering top-class work and utilise a smart, quick approach to managing their administration.