Writing and sending online invoices to clients can seem a rather daunting process if you’re a newbie freelancer. You may be used to a regular job where a dedicated financial department took care of payments and finances. Now you’re the boss of your own freelancing business, the onus is on you to look after your income and expenditures.
Invoicing isn’t difficult at all once you know the basics. There are certain features every good invoice contains. With modern invoicing software, it’s often a case of setting things up once, and then simply adding a few client and service details for each different invoice. Everything else is automatically calculated, securely processed, and safely recorded.
So what do you need to know in order to quickly begin invoicing like a seasoned pro?
Design attractive branded invoices
Brand continuity is an important aspect of positively presenting your freelancing business to your prospects and clients. Part of this continuity is present in the documents you send to your client including quotes, deposit invoices, and final invoices.
Your brand image is comprised of your logo, color scheme, and even the font you use for your text. Your brand design for an invoice should match with your brand designs elsewhere, such as on your website, social media platforms, and any printed marketing materials.
Know the required invoice information
Your invoices should follow the standard invoicing structure used by businesses worldwide. This makes it easy for the client to quickly see what they are being billed for and to make the necessary payments.
Invoices typically include: the contact information of the freelancer and the client; invoice number; invoice date; an itemized breakdown of services; payment total; terms and conditions; and payment method. Any further information can be added as an attachment to the invoice document.
Know your payment terms and conditions
Prior to working with a new client, it’s important to set out some terms and conditions. These terms can also be included in deposit invoices and final invoices. When a client knows what you demand of them when it comes to payment, they’re more likely to pay on time and also see you as a true professional.
Your payment terms and conditions can include: deposit amount or percentage; when payments are expected; late payment fines; early payment discounts; retainer details; delivery methods; and payment methods.
Track, record, and include your hours
If you’re billing clients by the hour, as opposed to by the project, then it’s imperative to track and record your time. By doing this, you ensure you get paid for exactly the amount of time you have put into a client’s project. With good invoicing software, the recorded time data is automatically included in your invoice, for the client to see.
Time-tracking is not only beneficial in getting paid accurately but also for your own productivity assessments. When you track your time you get a better idea of where you can streamline processes, automate tasks, avoid distractions, and ultimately work a lot faster.
Automate late payment reminders
Late client payments are the bane of a freelancer’s life. It’s frustrating and also potentially hazardous when you need to pay your bills, rent, and buy food. Chasing late paying clients is time consuming and distracts you from the important work you need to do for other clients or for self-marketing.
It’s for this reason, it’s a good idea to set up automatic late payment reminders. These are email templates you write once and then set to go out at particular intervals after an invoice has passed its due date. You then don’t have to lift a finger until you decide it’s time to take legal action (usually after the third reminder has been met with continued silence).
Use the best invoicing software
Years ago, sending an invoice involved creating a Word document and filling in the relevant details, before then attaching the document to an email. This worked well enough and still can. However, it has a number of drawbacks when compared to the modern invoicing software you can use today.
It was time consuming. You not only had to write and send the invoice but also add details of the invoice to your records and then tally all the totals up when it came to tax season. With invoicing software, everything is calculated, recorded, and sent out automatically and instantly. Invoicing software also allows you to seamlessly integrate time-tracking and project management tools, which further speed up the invoicing processes.
And the best bit. Modern invoicing software allows your client to click a button within your invoice and pay directly and securely through their preferred payment gateway, within a matter of seconds. This is something impossible to do with a simple Word document.
Investing in good quality invoicing software not only saves you time but also adds an extra level of security and professionalism to the invoices you send out to clients. It also makes things so much easier and straightforward if you’ve rarely sent out an invoice before.