The difference between a hobby and a business is income. While I’m sure most freelancers love what they do, I doubt many could afford to do it for free. That’s where invoicing comes in.
Large freelancer marketplaces will do invoicing for you, but the huge percentage they keep eventually drives successful freelancers to look for clients on their own. (You should also take a look at my recent post on how to set up your LinkedIn profile to drive clients to your inbox.)
Invoicing comes with some big challenges, for example when to invoice or how often to invoice. However, how to write an invoice for freelance work should not be one of them.
That’s because it is really easy once you understand exactly what needs to go on the invoice. In this article, I am going to go through exactly how to write an invoice for freelance work to make sure it gets paid on time and in full.
Whatever freelance niche you work in, SignTime has you covered with this recent article detailing everything you need to know to draft your own freelance work contracts as well as links to helpful templates for use in every industry.
How to invoice for freelance work
Your choice of how to invoice freelance work comes down to how you want to be paid. If you use PayPal, Stripe, or another payment gateway to get paid, then you will write your invoices on their platforms.
If you use Squarespace, Shopify, or any other ecommerce platform, then you will use their platform to produce invoices. In both cases, you still need to provide the same information manually.
How to make an invoice
You’ve landed a client, done the work, and they have approved it as a job well done. That’s amazing. You’ve got all the hard work done, so don’t get too stressed out about drafting an invoice. This is definitely a case where the task is more intimidating than difficult.
I’m going to go into detail on absolutely everything you should include in an invoice for freelance work. By the end, you’ll feel comfortable producing one yourself.
1. A professional header
A professional header can really make your invoices look professional. If you have a company logo, then put it at the top. If you don’t, that’s ok. Just make sure that the top has your name.
It should be a little larger than the rest of the text so that it stands out. You want to make sure that the accounting department can easily find who you are as the vendor. This is important so that the company doesn’t need to spend additional time verifying that the invoice is legitimate, which would mean delays in you getting paid.
2. Your contact information
The next part should be your contact information. You should always include your address and email. If you have a website, add that as well. If you think it’ll help, consider adding your phone number.
3. The client’s contact information
The next part is your client’s contact information. I usually add my contact information just below the header on the left and the client’s information on the right.
4. Invoice number
You should always number your invoices. That’s so that both you and your customer can easily track individual invoices. You can either number invoices across all clients together or give each client a different set of numbers.
For example, you have Customers A, B, and C and invoice monthly. In the first case, Customer A’s January invoice would be 0001, Customer B’s 0002, and Customer C’s 0003. In the second case, Customer A’s would be A0001, Customer B’s B0001, and Customer C’s C0001.
Either way, you should then list all the invoices in order in your general ledger and give them a checkmark as they are paid. Even with five or six clients, it is easy to forget about an invoice—this is a must.
5. Date prepared
This is the date that you wrote the invoice. You should aim to do all invoicing on the same day each month. If your client expects to receive your invoice on the 5th, then they are prepared to deal with it on the 5th. If you are late, this might add even more delays.
6. Due date
This is the date that you expect the invoice to be paid. When deciding how long to give the company, keep in mind that there could be further delays for the money to be transferred to you. If you want money in your bank account on the 20th of every month, consider making the due date the 15th.
7. Payment options and payment details
If you haven’t discussed how the client intends to pay (I recommend you do this when you first discuss working together), here is where you list the options. Next to the options, you should provide any necessary information for your client to make use of that payment system.
For example, PayPal requires the email address attached to the account. If you plan to use bank transfers, then you’ll need to provide your banking details and possibly further information if it is an international transfer.
8. Payment terms
This is where you would write any payment terms, such as a discount for early payment or a penalty for a late one. I would definitely make sure the client is aware of these terms, give them one or more notices before charging them a late fee, and forgive them for a late payment the first time if you hope to continue working with them in the future.
9. Itemized services
If you provide many different services, be sure to itemize them on the invoice so the client knows where the final bill is coming from. If you have accomplished more than 15 tasks in one billing period, consider making the itemized list a second file that you send along with the invoice.
10. Amount due
This might be obvious, but definitely include the final amount due. If you need to collect sales taxes, show which portion is taxes.
11. Thank you
Adding a thank you to the bottom of an invoice is always a nice touch.
How to write an invoice for freelance work is easier than you think
Writing an invoice for freelance work is easy! Just follow the points above to make sure that all important information is included.
To prevent delays, make sure the invoice is easy to understand and delivered at the same time every week/month/quarter.
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