Are you working as a freelancer? Whether you're a writer or a web designer, you've likely put a lot of time and energy into your freelance business.
Getting paid as a freelancer means creating and sending invoices to your clients. But what should these invoices include?
In this post, we’ll explain the invoicing process for freelancers. We’ll also cover how invoice software and invoicing apps can improve the efficiency and success of your freelance business.
Why should freelancers use an invoice?
As a freelancer, invoicing is an indispensable part of the payment process. Unless your clients pay upfront, it’s best to use an invoice to communicate that you expect payment from your clients.
Using an invoice ensures that you receive payment promptly for your services and helps you stay organized when juggling multiple projects. Invoices are particularly important if you’re charging different rates for various types of services.
For example, you may be charging an hourly rate for your services for one client but working at a flat rate for other projects. Maintaining an invoicing system can streamline your billing process so there’s never any confusion about payment.
Curious about tips to help you price your freelancing services? Check out this helpful article.
What's the difference between an invoice and a bill?
Both an invoice and a bill communicate the expectation for payment. The critical difference, however, is in the level of detail.
An invoice contains essential data that the customer must review and approve before rendering payment to the freelancer. This information will include details regarding the type of service, the requested amount, and the conditions for payment.
An invoice should also contain an invoice number for accounting purposes.
A bill, on the other hand, contains none of these details. Instead, it simply describes the services and expected payment.
When to send a freelance invoice?
There’s no hard and fast rule about when to send an invoice to a client. However, in general, it’s best to send your invoice after you complete the work. That way, you can ensure the client is satisfied with the work you’ve provided. Invoicing at the end of a project may also serve to foster trust between you and your client.
There may be times you wish to issue an invoice at the start of your project. For instance, if you’re working on a larger project, you may want to invoice the client to request partial payment upfront – known as progress invoicing. That way, your invoice might act as a sort of “security deposit,” ensuring that you receive at least some payment upfront. You can then request the remainder once you complete the project.
Of course, an app can make this entire process easier than ever before. An app can be one of the best invoicing tools you can use. It can ensure that you get paid on time while improving cash flow.
An app can also direct traffic to your website. Lastly, using apps to create and send invoices can ensure that businesses maintain a solid financial relationship.
What should I include in my freelancer invoice?
While we recommend that you customize and brand your freelancer invoices, there is information that all businesses should include on their invoices. For more detailed information on how to create an invoice, check out this article.
Your invoice should include a professional-looking header that communicates the name of your freelance business -- or at least your name if you don’t have an actual business name. If you have a logo, all the better!
Essential invoice details to include
You’ll also want to include the client’s name, contact information, an invoice number, the date the invoice was prepared, and a description of services. Also be sure to include the amount due, the payment terms, and the due date.
We recommend giving your customers plenty of payment options. Clearly specify how you would like your client to pay for your work. How do you accept payments? Do you accept credit card payments? Paypal? To whom should your client write a check?
Be sure to include a thank you
Conclude the invoice with a small note of gratitude to your customers, thanking them for using your freelancing business and encouraging them to return in the future. This may also encourage the client to tell others about the positive experience they had in working with you.
Create a custom freelance invoice template
Create a custom freelance invoice template
You can build a custom freelance invoice template using an app and then keep this information on file when sending invoices to your clients. Even with online invoicing, your invoice template should generally have the following details to your customers.
Invoice software for freelancers
Does this sound like a lot? It can be! Once your freelance business takes off, it can be hard to juggle contracts, invoices, cash flow, and still have time to focus on your work.
When you're self-employed, you may discover that your business needs invoice software to give you a much-needed boost.
At Invoice2go, a Bill.com company, we offer an invoicing app that enables you to generate invoice templates and send invoices right from your phone or mobile device. You can also use our invoice generator and other online tools to create a custom invoice that can keep your head above water when the workload starts to rise.
One of the greatest advantages of using invoicing software is that it streamlines the entire process. These innovative invoicing tools will allow you to generate an invoice faster. You'll also be able to accept payments electronically.
An invoicing app can even keep track of your invoices and cash flow -- it’s almost like having your own accountant at your fingertips!
Freelancer invoicing tips
If you’re just starting out, the invoicing process may seem a bit daunting. Here are a few tips that can make the process a little easier -- or at least boost your confidence when it comes to sending invoices!
It’s always better to include too much detail than too little. A detailed invoice makes it clear what you expect the client to pay.
The length of your deadline is up to you, but it’s generally a smart move to set a payment deadline so that you don’t get lost in the shuffle.
Keeping up with regular deadlines can ensure that your freelance business has a smooth cash flow and that you stay organized, as well.
Broadcasting your personal brand doesn’t mean that you can’t be personal. Think of an invoice as a very specific type of letter. Sure, you’re asking for money, but that doesn’t mean you can’t warmly communicate your thanks and appreciation for your client’s patronage.
This personal touch can set you apart. It may make your client more willing to return to you in the future or to recommend your services to their friends and associates.
Use an app and freelancer invoice template
In the digital age, many businesses rely on innovative technology such as accounting software and invoice apps. Freelancers can enhance their business by using an app-based invoicing system so that their clients can view invoices and make payments directly through the app.
In addition, by creating a custom freelance invoice template, you’ll save yourself time and always look great with professional-looking invoices.
Communicate expectations before the invoice
Before you enter into a business relationship with a client, you should clearly communicate your expectations, especially regarding the payment process. Due dates, late fees, and payment methods should be covered upfront so that the invoice serves as a reminder of what you’ve already discussed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have more questions? Here are some of the most common questions we hear regarding the invoicing process.
Technically, an invoice only communicates your request for payment. An invoice cannot be used on its own to prove that both parties have entered into a contractual arrangement. This means that an invoice cannot legally prove that a client owes money to a freelancer.
Only business contracts can serve as legal documents. Invoices can be disputed
The length of your payment deadline is entirely up to you. In fact, no deadline is even necessary, though establishing a payment deadline can ensure that you receive payment in a timely manner.
It's common to set a deadline of 30 days for the client to make a payment, though you can also extend this deadline to 60 or 90 days if you wish.
If you don't get paid for your hard work, your first step should be to contact the client directly to determine which parts of the invoice are in dispute.
Sometimes, these issues can be resolved through simple discussion. Your client may have been waiting until they received payment reminders. Otherwise, you may have to take legal action against this client in order to receive payment.
While you can't bill the client twice for the same job, it's possible to create two invoices for the same job. This way, you can request partial payment for a portion of the project, then request full payment once the project is complete.
Ordinarily, you'll want to send an invoice upon completion, but invoicing upfront can be a way to form a relationship with a new client by establishing milestone payments.
Invoice like a boss
At Invoice2go, we take pride in helping small business owners, freelancers, and other self-employed clients get the most from their invoicing and billing services.
Our innovative invoicing software and invoicing app can maximize your business while letting you focus on building relationships and showcasing your talent.
Our paid plans can be surprisingly affordable.
Curious if Invoice2go could be right for your business? Try our app free for 30 days to check out our free invoice templates and see how we can save you time and help you take your freelance work to the next level.