Invoicing a freelance client might seem like an ordinary and generally insignificant action, at least in the big scheme of things. The project has been completed, you want to get paid, and as long as the client manages to do this, then the invoice has obviously done its job. Everything is rosy.
Except, it might not be. The client has paid but what lingering perceptions do they have of your freelance business after the invoicing process has been completed?
Payment is no guarantee the client will want to work with you again. Even the reputation you’ve gained from work done well can be damaged by poor payment options and invoicing mistakes.
When working with you is a hassle or you’re deemed unprofessional, then no matter how well you carry out the actual project work, the client will judge everything you do by the negative perceptions they’ve gained from your poor administration procedures.
The importance of a freelancer’s professional image
Your professional brand image is everything. As a freelancer you rely on a positive perception among your clients and prospects. When people view you as skilled and efficient, they are going to see you as an attractive solution for their ongoing needs.
A freelancer can be exceptionally good at what they do but if their communication, project management, and payment processes are flawed in some way, then clients will perceive that freelancer as less able than he or she really is. And that’s hugely damaging, especially early on in your career when acquiring new clients can feel like an uphill struggle.
That’s why it’s important to invest in good invoicing tools and develop strong systems right from the beginning.
The power of brand continuity when it comes to client perceptions
Every feature of your business prospects and clients see is basically what makes your brand. From your logo design right through to the way you send an invoice, brand continuity ensures your freelance business exudes the same professionalism across all possible touchpoints.
When you have a logo on your website but you neglect to add the logo to your invoice, for example, then it’s all too easy for clients to forget your professional image and every positive aspect that freelance brand image conveys.
Brand continuity, in both appearance and delivery, portrays professionalism and capability. It makes a solo freelancer look bigger and more successful than they might otherwise be.
It’s for this reason your invoices should imbue every facet of your brand identity and its high standards, from the incorporated logo and layout design, to the payment options and payment experience.
How before-project invoices can influence project perceptions
Cementing your brand identity before work begins is a great way to reassure a new client of your ability as a business. A proposal, project quote, or deposit invoice is often one of the first documents of yours a client will see.
Making these important early documents easily identifiable as part of your brand positively sets the scene for the rest of the project and client-freelancer relationship.
In the same way, clearly identifying the differences between a proposal, quote, deposit, and final invoice is equally as important. When a client is confused by what they’ve been sent, then this looks bad on you.
Any major errors, inaccuracies, or misinformation, especially in a deposit invoice, can add a black cloud over your perceived ability to handle the project.
Why prompt invoicing matters
As a freelancer, you require and deserve prompt payment. Every good business owner or agency understands this. When you delay sending your invoice before or after a project, you send out a message that you are disorganized and unprofessional.
If a project has gone okay but not exactly exceptionally well, then little things like late invoicing can irreparably break your relationship with the client. It will leave a bad impression when compared to what they are accustomed to with other freelancers. Your freelance cash flow will also suffer.
The importance of an attractive invoice design
A plain and indistinguishable invoice document, without a professional logo or design, is all too easy to forget and put to one side. It does nothing for your image and is unlikely to be quickly identified in the hustle and bustle of a company’s admin office.
An attractive and professionally designed invoice, on the other hand, does catch the attention. The freelancer’s logo is present and perhaps complemented with matching color schemes in the form of header, footer, and table graphics.
The branded invoice is eye-catching and attractive, and therefore memorable. It really does make a difference in how fast an invoice is paid.
Why accurate invoice wording and pricing are vital
Clients like to quickly see what they are paying for. This is a core part of the invoice’s job. Each freelance service – or facet of a service – you carried out for the client is clearly laid out with a title and description. The wording is succinct and free of ambiguity. Above all, the pricing is accurate, both when itemized and as a final total.
By itemizing services in your invoice, you make things easier not only for the client but also for yourself. You avoid the client coming back to you with queries or complaints about service details and related pricing they don’t clearly understand.
In fact, this is one of the worst things you can make your client do. When they need to take time out of their busy schedule to query mistakes or confusions in an invoice, then a bad impression quickly develops.
If it’s one of many small negatives then it can potentially spell the permanent end of the freelancer-client relationship. They’ll look elsewhere for their next project.
The benefits of providing clients with quick and easy payment options
It’s important to provide clients with suitable payment options. Not all businesses like using PayPal, for example, and prefer direct bank transfers. Other businesses have different payment predilections. By clarifying the payment options with clients before a project is agreed and a contract is signed, you can avoid friction when an invoice is sent.
With Invoice Ninja, for example, you can integrate different payment gateways with your invoice software. This allows a client to pay you in their preferred manner and straight from the invoice itself. This makes their life easier, helps you get paid promptly, and also makes you look highly professional and easy to work with.
The importance of proper invoicing
There’s more to keeping a client happy than simply delivering great work. Every part of your freelancing business the client comes into contact with needs to be of a high quality. A continuity of excellence across all touchpoints of your business ensures your perceived value remains high. Your invoicing software is no different.
Invoice mistakes or payment confusions can negatively impact on a client’s perceptions of your ability and professionalism over time, especially in the early stages of a new client project.
Invoicing really can make or break a freelancer-client relationship.
Make sure to get it right the first time by investing in high quality invoicing tools and software.