What would a freelancer do without invoices? Absolutely nothing! Learning how to write a special invoice is a crucial skill for any freelancer. Not receiving the correct amount of payment or not receiving it on time is a problem many freelancers face. A good invoice is often the key to solving these problems.
The term invoice refers to any document in which an entrepreneur informs his customer about the fee due on the basis of a purchase contract. However, it is not mandatory that the document is also explicitly referred to in business transactions as an “invoice.” Instead, the bill may also be named, for example, a receipt or settlement.
Invoices must be issued either on paper or, if the recipient agrees, electronically. But in any case, in an invoice, deliveries or other services are billed to a customer. It must therefore contain all important information about delivered product, payment, seller and customer.
If you work as a freelancer, you will need to bill your customer for each order or project.
But an invoice is not only that – it can be a statement for your professionalism and abilities, highlighting the fact that you know your business in detail, which helps your image. This is why we decided to write an article to guide you through the process of an invoice.
The next lines will provide you with some vital tips on writing an invoice, as well as a couple of great templates to spare your time.
The most important elements of an invoice
Let’s start by listing the most important details an invoice has to include. You want to make sure you include your company name and logo if you have one. This way the company knows who you are from the first glance at the invoice. Secondly, you want to have your contact details – email, phone number and address, everything the company will need to contact you in case there is a problem with the invoice. Similarly, you want the same details for your client. Make sure to send the invoice to the right person, especially if you are dealing with a big company. Invoices have a way of getting lost and addressing them to the person that will deal with your payment is a foolproof way to avoid that.
Next off, make sure you include the date and an invoice number. The invoice number is essential, as it will be helpful for referencing it later and will help both you and your client in organizing the paperwork. So make sure the number is unique and consequential with your other invoices. A good way to keep things nice and tidy is to number your invoices by year – for example 201808 will be the eighth invoice for the year 2018. Alternatively, you can order invoices by project names or by client numbers. The important thing is to pick a system and stick to it, saving yourself a lot of time and frustration.
The next step in writing your freelance invoice is describing what you did and the amount due for that service. Be specific, since people don’t usually want to pay for something as vague as “design”. Tell the company exactly what you gave them, so specify your freelance rates for your activities. Keep things nice and simple as well, making sure both you and your client know exactly what has been done and how much it cost. Make sure you note if the service is due to be paid by the hour or by the amount of work done. Once you have listed everything, make sure you add that up and include the total amount due.
Make sure you include a deadline for your payment as well as your payment details. Typically, you want to discuss the payment options with your client beforehand, or include as many as you can – check, bank transfer or even PayPal. Be aware of the transfer fees and make sure you include every detail the client needs to actually pay you. Don’t forget your terms as well – what will happen if the client misses the deadline? Having it written out black on white is a great way to make sure you get your money and/or interest if the payment is overdue.
There are more things you can include in an invoice, but these are the essentials.
So, what information should be included in a freelance invoice?
Mandatory information in a freelance invoice:
- Name and address of the invoicing party – that’s you
- Name and address of the invoice’s recipient – that’s your client
- Customer number and invoice number
- Date of invoice
- The word INVOICE as the title
- Description of the services/product delivered
- Total price before taxes
- Value added tax / Discounts – if applicable
- Total amount due
- Specification of the payment terms
- Payment information
- Optional: A personal note
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Should I, as a freelancer, always send an invoice?
Short answer: YES
Long answer: Yes; providing an invoice not only provides you protection in the content of your project, it also makes filing taxes and finding important financial information easier in the long-run.
After you’ve been working as a freelancer for many years, being able to find an invoice by year and date is much easier than sorting through hundreds of disorganized emails that may or may not confirm payment.
General tips on how to write an invoice for freelancers
- Don’t be afraid to invoice people. Sometimes friends ask to do something or you’ll be afraid to charge a lot, but remember it’s what you deserve for the quality of your work.
- Send the invoice ASAP. You probably agreed that the final payment will be done at the conclusion of the proyect, so send the as soon as you’ve completed the last task. It takes client’s a bit to process it, so the longer you need, the later you will receive the payment.
- Use a Freelance invoice checklist before sending it. It’s an important document so you want to make sure it’s written in a professional way, is error-free and also have no grammar mistakes.
- Keep the final delivery until the client pays (for some niches). This wouldn’t work for all fields but if you were doing a logo design or designing a website you can withould the final work until you receive your money.
- Be thankful. Thank the client for trusting you and if everything went well, make sure you take care of your client. This could be the start of a strong and long business relationship.
- Make the payment easy to make. Ensure that the client can easily access your preferred payment method. If possible, send them a link and directions on how to complete it if it’s an alternative to the typical wire transfer. We recommend you to take a look at our partner Transferwise’s borderless account, as it allows freelancers to receive money with zero fees and the real exchange rate when working with different currencies.
- Do not forget taxes. Depending on where the client is you will need to charge them VAT. Make sure you get this from the client, otherwise you will have to pay it out of your own pocket.
Free Invoice Template for freelancers
If you don’t have the time or desire to create your own invoice, we have the perfect sample for you. You can download it and personalize it as you need and it’s available in various formats.
Freelance Invoice Template in Word, PDF and PTT
There are some great templates over at Google Docs that you can also use for free, amongst these samples you can find an invoice template that you can edit here.
Remember that an invoice is not only about being clear about what you did and expect in return, but keeping a professional image as well.
Now that you have your freelance invoice template, go ahead to find new clients on our job board!
*NOTE: The staff here at freelancermap are in no way claiming to be specialists on taxes or financials, nor do we claim that this is the penultimate source of advice concerning invoicing. If you ever have questions, be sure to reach out to a proper professional to obtain the most current and accurate information.*