As a freelance professional, it’s important you get paid for every second you spend working on a client project. These billable seconds include not only the actual work itself but also all the little bits and pieces which go into supporting the work effort, and things like client relations and payment processes.
There are expenses your freelance clients really should be paying which you might not realize you can include in your final invoice. Time is everything when you’re a freelancer. Even those moments where you feel you’re not actually working might indeed be perfectly billable hours, such as when traveling to a client meeting.
Every second, or every process, which in some way contributes to the betterment of your client, is a second or process to be billed, no matter how small or unimportant it might seem. As a freelance professional, with a business to run and bills to pay, it’s vital to be paid what you deserve.
So what are some of these expenses your clients really should be paying?
Online payment fees
Online invoicing and secure payment has become a lot easier and safer over recent years. As a freelancer, online billing will inevitably be your primary way of receiving money from clients. However, with online invoicing come the transaction costs, which can eat into your income if you’re sending invoices frequently and for large sums of money.
A way to deal with these payment transaction costs is to add a little extra fee onto the final price of your services. You can include this fee inside your invoice (and deposit invoice) so as to remain completely transparent with your client. This extra fee will cover transaction costs and allow you to earn exactly what you deserve.
Late payment fees
Late payments can wreak havoc with a freelancer’s cash flow and peace of mind. When you’re new to freelancing, money can be tight and when there are bills to pay and food to buy, there’s an urgency about getting paid when an invoice is due. This urgency needs to be reflected in your payment terms and conditions.
When an invoice is left unpaid by the due date, it’s important to send frequent reminders (with Invoice Ninja you can send these late payment reminders automatically). Once you get to the second or third reminder without payment, you can set a late payment fine, which increases for each day or week the invoice is left unpaid.
There’s a lot of communication time in the early stages of a project, especially with a new client. There’s a project scope to be agreed, basic information to be acquired, and quotes, proposals, and contracts to be written and finalized. You may also provide a 30-minute or 60-minuite phone or Skype consultation.
All this communicating, including phone calls and emails throughout a project, can quickly eat up your billable hours. It’s for this reason you need to calculate these minutes and hours in the fee you quote to your client. This is where time-tracking can help you to accurately judge the time needed for client communication.
Research is key to a successful freelance project. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, if you don’t get to the bottom of what your client needs and all the pertinent details regarding their business and market, then the completed work will fail to meet the client’s goals. Research takes time, especially if you’re a generalist.
It’s important to include research time in your fee. Like with client communication, a time-tracking tool can help you to calculate how long research usually takes you, on average. You can also increase your fee for more complex topics requiring interviews with subject-matter experts.
Travel and accommodation fees
Occasionally (or frequently depending on the type of freelancing you do) you may need to travel to a client meeting. This might simply involve driving to a neighboring city or it might entail flights and hotels. Regardless of the distance and time, it’s important to include travel and accommodation fees in your final invoice.
It’s not just the tickets, fuel, and overnight stays you need to calculate, but also the billable hours you’re losing from travelling, whether that’s waiting around at an airport or the time needed to buy food and other travel supplies.
Occasionally (or quite often) you may need to mail items or products to your client, either in the same country or overseas. This will mean mailing expenses or shipping costs, which should be added to the invoice.
Such expenses are bound to include the postage but they also cover things like boxes, packaging, and related supplies that are needed to get the item safely and securely delivered. There’s also the time it takes for you to prepare the item and deliver it to your local mailing office.
Supplies and equipment fees
As well as packing supplies, there are also all the supplies and equipment you need to buy in order to successfully complete the work you do for your clients. Depending on the type of freelancing you do, this fee might either be negligible (as in the case of an online freelance writer) or quite significant (such as with a freelance florist or wedding planner).
It’s important to maintain records of all the materials and equipment you use for each client project and the related costs.
Using Invoice Ninja to record these expenses
Invoice Ninja allows you to track, record, and invoice for all these expenses your clients really should be paying. You can fully itemize your online invoice documents and automate processes such as late payment email reminders.
Our time-tracking tools and project management software allow you to accurately track every second you spend working for a client, regardless of the particular task or activity. The various recorded times can then be quickly tallied and added to particular invoices and for particular services or processes.
With Invoice Ninja, you have everything you need to precisely record, track, and bill for every second of your working day.