As a freelancer, your invoice is the key to collecting your bread and butter from your client after a writing job well done. But if you’re new to freelancing, you might be wondering how to make your own invoice.
What elements do you need to include? How do you format it?
These are the questions I’m going to answer in this article.
As a quick review, you likely already know that your quote is what lets your client know how much the freelance job will cost before they hire you. And your contract lays out the terms for the work when the client retains your services.
Then, finally, your invoice lists the goods and services you provided for your client and the sum total you want to collect — usually after you have completed the job. In short, your invoice is the way you ask to be paid.
Your invoice is an important record for your client, too. It’s proof that the job was completed so they can release payment to you.
Therefore, if information is missing from your invoice — or if you don’t send an invoice at all — you risk slow or no payment. Not good, am I right?
Let’s get into the details on how to make your own invoice.
Essential Elements to Include When Making an Invoice
While there’s no single format for an invoice, always include these essential elements in a neat and professional-looking form.
It will increase the odds of your getting paid the right amount, in the way you want to receive payment, and right on time.
Front and center, label the form Invoice so it looks different from other similar-looking records, like a quote.
Include your full name (or business name) and mailing address. And make sure to add your phone number and email address so your client can get in touch with you easily if they have any questions.
While a logo isn’t a must have, it adds a professional touch. It serves as a visual reminder to your client of you and your company and reinforces your brand.
2. Client Information
Your contact might ask you to send your invoice to a specific person responsible for billing, or — in a large organization — to an accounting department.
To ensure your paperwork doesn’t get lost (hey, it happens) and that your invoice arrives in the right hands, go ahead and include that person’s or department’s full name, address, and phone number.
3. Invoice Reference Information
Having a tracking system that includes the date of invoice issue and a unique number for each invoice makes it easy for both you and your client to keep tabs on your payment.
The invoice date is essential if you have terms for receiving payment and/or a late payment penalty (more on this later).
If your client provides you with a reference number such as a PO (Purchase Order) number, you can use this as your invoice number. Even if you have your own numbering system, include the client’s number on the invoice, too, so it jives with their records.
And if you don’t have an invoice numbering system? No worries: Assign invoice numbers using the date of the day you send the invoice (e.g., 141121 for November 14, 2021).
4. Itemized Goods and Services
This is where you describe the work you’re billing for. Make sure the invoice details reflect your contract in terms of:
- Hours worked providing a service (e.g., editing)
- Number of products delivered (e.g., words, articles)
- The rate you charge per product or service
Be sure to deduct any previous payments your client has made on the job, like a 50 percent deposit paid before you started work. And if your business is collecting a tax, add it here.
Then tally everything up and boldface the total amount payable to make it stand out.
5. Payment Terms
If you have a preference for how you get paid — a check made out to you or your business, a PayPal account, or direct deposit to your bank — give your client all the details in a “Notes” or “Remarks” section of your invoice.
Let them know any terms you want to set, like payment of the invoice upon receipt or within 30 days, which is why dating your invoice is so important.
And specify whether you charge a fee for late payment, and how much.
Creating an Invoice
If you’re experienced with word processing or accounting software, it’s easy to create and save your own customized invoice. Many software packages also come with ready-made templates, which let you skip time on form design. And a Google search will turn up a load of free templates for download.
Using an online invoicing service takes things to another level, with added functionality and features such as the ability to track your hours on a job or the status of invoices for multiple clients, among other bells and whistles.
Check out online reviews of invoicing services like Due, Harvest, Freshbooks, and Simplybill, among others, to see which one meets your needs.
Some services can be used free for a trial period — or longer if you have a small number of clients or invoices — then locked in or upgraded for a small monthly fee as your client base grows and you need to manage a higher volume of invoices. Which is a rather nice problem to have!
The bottom line is that knowing how to make your own professional-looking invoice with the right information goes a long way in underscoring your professionalism as a writer and making sure you get paid what you’re worth.