Freelancing is a great option if you want the freedom of choosing the work you do and the flexibility of dictating your own availability. But, like everything else, freelancing comes with a learning curve for most.
Being highly skilled in your given area of expertise doesn’t necessarily equate to knowing your way around the financial aspects of working for yourself.
A good place to start is with professional invoicing. Properly billing your clients will help you to get paid on time and via your preferred payment method. It also helps to document your income and track payments from individual clients, keeping you organized and on top of your financial freelance game.
What to Include in Your Freelance Invoices
Although every professional freelancer will need to include different details in their invoices, there are a number of standard basics you should have.
1. Contact Information
Contact information for both you and your client is essential for any invoice. At the very least, be sure to have:
- Your client’s business name and address
- Your name, company name, address, phone number, and website
Including contact information in your invoices serves a few purposes:
- It helps to organize your information by client
- It gives the client a number of ways to contact you with questions or concerns
- It helps to distinguish the tax amount you should charge based on your client’s location
2. Invoice Number
Each invoice you send to a client should have a unique invoice number. Regardless of how you choose to number your invoices, each one should be customized every time you send an invoice to a client, whether it’s for the first time or you bill them regularly.
For example, you can order invoices in a variety of ways, including:
- Basic sequential invoice numbers, starting at 001 for your first invoice, 002 for your second, and so on
- Using years or months with an individual invoice number (2022-001 or 2022-01-001)
- Mixing letters and numbers to indicate a specific client associated with an invoice number (like GS-001 for Greg Smith’s first invoice)
Invoice numbers allow you to track payments for specific billing periods, helping you to keep track of which invoices have been paid and which clients need a gentle reminder.
Don’t spend too much time worrying about how to organize your invoice numbers. If you only send out a few invoices per month, keep it simple and straightforward. You can always change or update your numbering system when you get a new client or come up with a better method.
3. Payment Information
The purpose of your invoice is to get paid, so it makes sense that you would include payment information on it. But there are some details that may not have crossed your mind that help you to get paid on time and using the method you prefer.
Include the following information to get paid when and how you want to:
- The date you send the invoice
- When payment is due
- How the client can make a payment
- Any additional payment information, like who to make payment out to or what email address to use
It doesn’t have to be complicated. You can write a message as simple as, “Please make payment via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org within 14 days.”
As long as you include the sent date and the payment terms, it will be easy for the client to determine by when they must pay your invoice. And adding in your payment details means you’re more likely to receive payment via the method you prefer and to the account associated with your business.
Plus, by not including a specific payment due date, you won’t have to update it each time you send a new invoice.
4. Service Description and Cost
The biggest and most detailed part of most invoices is the section where you describe the services you rendered and their associated costs. How you detail this information will vary greatly depending on what you offer and how you bill your clients.
Most invoices will include a column for:
- Quantity of items, like how many articles you wrote or webpages you created
- A description of the items, like a blog title or client phone call
- How the price is calculated, if applicable, such as the cost per hour or per unit
- The total price for each individual line item
For example, a line item for a blogger could look something like this:
|Number of Hours||Description||Hourly Rate||Total|
|5||Article (10 Best Hiking Spots)||$25.00||$125.00|
Individual line items should clearly indicate what a client is being charged for, how much your rate is, and the total amount for the project. Breaking information down into sections keeps both you and the client organized and on the same page.
If you have multiple rates with a single client, break your invoices into sections by including a table like the one above for each separate pricing structure.
For example, your rate might be different for writing versus editing. If you provided both services to a client in the same billing cycle, break out your writing charges from your editing charges as separate line items on the invoice.
5. Additional Charges or Discounts
Before you calculate the total amount due, account for any additional charges or discounts that apply to your client’s bill, such as:
- Costs for subscriptions, materials, or supplies the client has agreed to pay for
- Outstanding amounts owed from previous bills
- Travel costs being reimbursed by the client
- Charges for work that you subcontracted to another freelancer
Describe these billable amounts and their corresponding costs in the same way you document your services. Group any additional costs together so that your invoice is easy to read and understand.
6. Total Amount Due
At the end of your line items, include the total amount due. This amount is made up of your service costs, additional charges, discounts, and any applicable taxes or fees. It’s the total amount due
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