Almost everyone who has tried their hand at freelancing will have, at some point, been burnt by a client when the time comes to pay up. If agreements have simply been made over the phone, via email or in person this is especially common. It is from these circumstances that clients may dispute the amount of money agreed upon or drag their feet on providing you with what you are owed.
This is incredibly frustrating when you are freelancing. If you have put many hours of hard work into delivering a service, you should be paid accordingly for it. So how does one avoid problems from occurring? An imperative method which many freelancers have implemented to counteract it has been invoicing. Invoices are a fantastic way of ensuring clients a properly informed about what work has been completed, how much is due and when they should be paying by.
Basic invoices are very easy to create. These single-page documents can be done as a template on Microsoft Word or made from scratch very simply. A good invoice will include your own name, phone number, email and address so clients know exactly who they are paying for the work. It will also provide a thorough breakdown of the work that was completed, when it was done, how long it took and the amount owed for each component. Most importantly, alongside a total cost of what is due, the invoice will also include details of how payments can be made (such as by PayPal or with a bank account like the Royal Bank Of Scotland) and when they should be done by. For more complicated freelance work one might wish to investigate software like Harvest or Freshbooks.
For one-off work you should invoice the client as soon as the work has been completed and the job is complete. If you are doing on-going work then you should figure out the regularity of your invoicing with the client before the job begins. If you have agreed to a date – for instance, the first of every month or the last Friday of every month – make sure you stick to this. Evidence suggests that clients are far more likely to pay you on time if invoices are regular and consistent.
Proper invoicing certainly doesn’t just ensure your clients are properly informed about the work that was completed and the exactly what they are paying for. They also help freelancers look professional (if you act like you’re just doing it as a hobby you will be treated as such by potential clients) and keep their own finances in order. Freelancers could find them valuable if they need to refer to them when they are doing their taxes, for instance. So, if you are looking to go it alone now or in the near future, the importance of invoicing must not be overlooked.