Invoicing can be a little unnerving, especially for new freelancers. Even freelance professionals with many years of experience under their belts can sometimes feel apprehensive before sending off a payment request. Invoicing fears are common but in reality, there’s very little to worry about.
Yet it’s understandable you might have concerns. For many people, asking for money feels icky, even in return for hard work and great client project results. If you’ve been accustomed to a traditional employment setup, where a finance department takes care of payments, then suddenly having to do it yourself can be a shock to the system.
But fear not. It’s easy. With modern technology and free cloud-based invoice solutions, invoicing clients is a breeze. Plus, there’s absolutely no reason to feel bad about asking for money in the business realm. It’s expected. It’s the done thing. You deserve every cent in return for your hard work and skills.
Common freelance invoicing fears
Here are just some of the common invoicing fears freelancers have and why, in the big scheme of things, and with a little careful planning, they are really not things to worry about.
Let’s begin with:
- Missing important information
There are a few details all invoices require. These include: the contact information of the freelancer and the client; an invoice number; an invoice date; an itemized breakdown of services; a payment total; terms and conditions; and a clear payment method. You might also include VAT details, if relevant, and any information (incl. attachable documents) your client specifically requests.
These important pieces of information are required by law but they are very simple to include. When it comes to your client’s details, simply ask your client for their full contact address, for the invoice, and all will oblige.
Once you’ve set it up once, it’s simply a matter of repeating the same – or similar – template for all your future clients. Very easy, especially with invoicing software like Invoice Ninja where you can create a variety of data templates to use over and over again.
- Providing the right payment methods
A common worry among freelancers is how their clients prefer to make payments. The fear you may have is causing your client all kinds of inconvenience around paying your invoice. You might want to be paid in a certain way but you’re concerned your clients will prefer to do it another way.
In reality, payment processes are very smooth, especially when you use invoicing software with integrates multiple payment gateways. You don’t need to worry about forcing your client to pay in a certain way. Instead, they can seamlessly make a payment with their preferred method directly via your cloud-based invoice document.
All they have to do is click-through from the invoice. Easy and stress-free for everyone concerned.
- Sending the wrong type of invoice
There’s actually more than one type of invoice document and they include the standard invoice, a deposit invoice, a reoccurring invoice, a quote (or pro-forma) invoice, a time-billing invoice, and more.
Luckily, it’s very easy to distinguish between the different types and once you’ve written one, you’ll know instinctively which to use for different scenarios.
For example, it’s good practice for freelancers to ask for a deposit, especially when working with new clients. This might be 50% of the total project fee. As such, you’ll need to send a deposit invoice before work begins, with the final part of the fee being paid at the end.
With Invoice Ninja, you can easily set this up with a simple inclusion of a deposit amount and the rest is taken care of automatically.
A quote is a type of invoice document which outlines desired services and the prices. If a client agrees to it, the quote can very quickly be turned into a formal invoice, with our software.
A reoccurring invoice is perfect for retainer clients, where you automatically send an invoice at the same time every week, month, or quarter.
When’s the best time to send an invoice to a client? This is a common worry, especially if you fear being too demanding.
The answer? As soon as possible!
The majority of companies or individuals you may work with are fully accustomed to receiving and paying invoices. They’ll expect your invoice to arrive as soon as the work has been completed (or prior to commencement, if it’s a deposit). This is great as you want to be paid fast.
They won’t bat an eyelid if you send your invoice within minutes of project sign-off. On the other hand, they’ll think it rather odd if they receive your invoice weeks or months later.
- When to send late payment reminders
Sometimes clients forget to pay. They’re busy, distracted, or unorganized, and your invoice gets lost. It’s essential to send a late payment email reminder as soon as the payment due date has come and gone.
This polite payment reminder can be fully automated using our free invoicing software here at Invoice Ninja. You can set three reminder emails to go out at different pre-determined time intervals, until a payment is made (or until you need to take more direct action).
Good clients will have no issue with a gentle reminder and will usually pay immediately, together with an apology. Bad clients will need further reminding. They are best avoided from the beginning.
- Asking for too much
For new freelancers especially, there comes a moment where you feel your invoice fee is too high and you’re scared to send the invoice off to the client. You worry the client won’t pay or they’ll reply angrily about the cost. This can be particularly daunting if the client has been rather quiet in terms of project feedback.
You might be tempted to lower the price on the invoice.
The fee in your invoice is the fee you will have agreed with your client prior to the beginning of the project. This is essential. The total cost must not differ in any way, either up or down, from the contract (unless mutually agreed).
Your client is obviously content with the fee and it will look poorly on you if you modify it downwards. Never let fear grapple with your invoice.
- How to write invoice descriptions
A clear and detailed invoice, with all the relevant information about services and products, is important for both you and the client. Yet it can be difficult to really know whether your invoices are received positively or negatively if you don’t receive any feedback – which is usually the case unless there are glaring errors.
It’s easy therefore to fret whether you’re adding too much information or too little. A good rule of thumb is to itemize your invoices. This means, when composing your invoice, breaking down the services you provide into smaller and more detailed descriptions and fees.
As an example, a virtual assistant might create separate line items for each service. Instead of merely writing “VA Services” + price, the VA could include “Dropbox drive organization”, “data entry in Google Docs” and “preparing Jim’s PowerPoint presentation”, along with some briefer relevant details and individual prices.
This might take a little longer than a simple 3-word description but it reduces chances of confusion and scope creep later down the line.
Fearless invoicing for freelancers
Invoicing clients might feel daunting at first but with some initial planning and preparation, you’ll soon be sending off invoices with confidence and clarity. You’ll avoid common invoicing mistakes. Your invoices are part of your overall brand and so it’s wise to ensure they reflect your attention to details and high standards.
And that’s easy to achieve with professionally designed invoice templates and an easy-to-use free invoicing platform.