Invoicing 101 for Freelancers: How to Get Paid on Time

As a freelancer, perhaps the most important thing you need to know is how to generate invoice so that you’re paid for your work. Your time is precious, and while most freelancers enter their chosen field out of love for what they do, you deserve to be paid for your efforts — and paid promptly.

Clear, concise invoices

The first thing you need to know about creating an invoice is to make it as clear and legible as possible. For this reason, handwritten invoices should be avoided. Create your invoices digitally for consistency and clarity. You can achieve this in two ways: either by using the appropriate word processing software with or without templates, or by using a suitable app.

Using an invoice generating app

Many freelancers favor the use of an app for their invoicing because they often allow for you to record your hours and work produced as well as generating invoices and tracking payments — all in one go. Using an app can also simplify invoice generation as much of the hard work in terms of formatting and style, which can be largely automated. Most apps allow you freedom and flexibility in terms of how your invoices will appear, which provides a personalized approach to your billing. These semi-automatically generated invoices will also ensure that they contain all the relevant information for a complete invoice, which saves you time and uncertainty of knowing what to include.

Using a word processing software

If you’re creating an invoice from scratch using word processing software, here are some helpful guidelines around what should appear on the document. You must have your business name and company logo if you have one. Depending on business laws within your state or country, you should also include your relevant business registration number. The requirement for this differs between countries for freelancers, so it’s a good idea to investigate this prior to invoicing.

You should include your name in addition to your business name which shows your clients that you are accountable and stand behind your work as a real person. Basic psychology has us wired to be more sympathetic to humans rather than entities. This means that people are far more likely to pay a person sooner than what they would pay a faceless business.

In addition, a business address and contact details should be provided on every invoice. If you’re a freelancer and your primary work address is your home, you don’t need to include this if you’re not comfortable sharing such personal information with your clients. However, you should consider using a post office box, which will allow you to include an address on your invoices. This enhances your legitimacy.

As much detail as possible

Your invoice should clearly list each item of work completed, with the specific cost for each and a total at the end. Make sure you check your calculations carefully and include the appropriate tax being billed on top of your work if it’s applicable. Always separately itemized tax so that it’s clear for your client. 

Your invoice should be appropriately dated and should feature the invoice date prominently near the top. If relevant, the individual dates of each item of work or service should be included as well. A payment due date should be in large print near the bottom, preferably close to the total amount due.

Payment options

Finally, the surest way of getting paid as promptly as possible is to offer your clients a range of payment options. Note each of these clearly and accurately on your invoices. The key messages of invoice creation are to show your clients that you’re a real person running a legitimate business, to demonstrate exactly what they are paying for, and to make it as easy as possible for them to pay you by giving them multiple choices. Happy invoicing!

Staff Member


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