Most freelancers don’t like invoicing, but it’s just as important as the quality of their service. Writing an invoice is boring and eats up time which could be used working on creative projects.
But regular payments are important for three reasons. First, your business can’t survive without a cash flow. Second, when you are nervous and work with bad emotions, you can’t do a good job for a client. Third, you don’t work for peanuts or for someone to pat you on the back. We live in a material world.
Act like a professional and invoice well by following these 7 important tips.
1. Stick to your terms and conditions
There are clients with whom it’s wonderful to work, but there are also clients who procrastinate in paying. Although you probably won’t work with them in the future, it´s important to get them to pay you.
Some clients disappear, and in that case, an invoice might not help you. But, invoices do increase the likelihood that your job will actually be paid, especially if you use online invoicing.
Minimise the chance that something like this happens and think about your terms. You should write down the method of payment, advance payment and penalties for payment delay. Also, it´s a great idea to motivate your clients with a little discount if they pay the full amount on time.
The words “please” and “thank you” never hurt anybody. As a freelancer, you need to develop a trust with your clients and make everything crystal clear before you even start to work with them.
2. Set a good price and divide your invoice into smaller amounts if necessary
First of all, don’t underestimate yourself. Set the price at which you feel good, rather than the lowest fee possible.
Select your pricing method (pricing per hour, monthly, per project,..) and if you want to charge a larger sum to your client, you can break it into smaller amounts. At the beginning of a job ask for a deposit, ask for another sum in a middle of a project, and for the final payment at its completion. Be flexible and keep the cash flowing. Good clients will appreciate your gesture.
3. Use invoicing software.
Online invoicing software makes your headache disappear. The benefits are huge, and definitely, the biggest one is that the whole invoicing process will become automated. So, you will have much more time for focusing on other important activities.
With online invoicing software, you can track the status of every client. On one dashboard you could see the exact amount of money they owe you.
Also, you can choose from many attractive templates and your invoice will look professional. Whether you choose a corporate invoice template, legal invoice template, or any other, your invoices must have the same format. That is the rule that most templates follow. Think about branding your invoice, too. All this is easy with a simple invoice creator.
Online invoicing software shortens the time between sending an invoice and receiving a payment. Also, you will get the notification when a client opens an invoice, so you will know that he or she received it.
4. Set the payment due date
It´s important to set the due date to your clients. With invoicing software, you don’t have to think about that, because it will automatically remind your clients when to pay you for your services.
5. Include your contact details
When you design your invoice with an easy invoice generator, be sure to include your name, address, phone and email. Because of that the person who received the invoice can reach you easier. This is especially important if your invoice goes to a person you’ve never contacted before (e.g the accountant for a business).
6. Keep track of your invoices
As a freelancer, you probably have lots of clients. It’s crucial to organise your invoices, monitor them and be accurate. Keep track of your payments and number every invoice. You will see which clients have passed the due date.
7. Back up everything
Imagine your hard work is gone with the wind, and you haven’t stored any important data. Nightmare, isn’t it? Sadly, this happened to me, but I learned a great lesson in a harder way. I was so nervous that I didn’t sleep for several days . I tried and failed to get it back.
When you do a regular backup, you will save yourself any trouble. Save all of your invoices. Even if disaster happens, you will know which clients have been billed, and which have not.
Make an additional backup by photocopying or saving data on your external hard drive. That is what I do, taught by bad experience.
And one extra tip: take care of your invoicing
The invoicing software will notify you of everything, but you must monitor everything in order to be accurate. Set one day a week for writing new invoices and for reviewing the existing ones.
Even with all these tips, maybe there will still be clients who will pass the payment due dates. In that case, you have to take matters into your own hands and kindly remind them. You have the full right to ask them whether they intend to pay and check if there have been some errors in the administration. Be calm and polite, because it often happens that clients simply forget to pay without any bad intentions.
Whether you like it or not, you can’t bypass the invoicing process. It’s an integral part of your job. You have to accept it and do it professionally. Invest in online invoicing software and save your time, because your time is your money. You’ll have more time for strategic thinking and to work on the creative part of your job!
Do you have any troubles with payments? Do you already use any invoice software? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Mark is a biz-dev hero at Invoicebus – a simple invoicing service that gets your invoices paid faster. He passionately blogs on topics that help small biz owners succeed in their business. He is also a lifelong learner who practices mindfulness and enjoys long walks in nature more than anything else.