The Freelancer’s Guide to Creating and Tracking Invoices
As a freelancer, you rely on invoices to get paid for your efforts. Creating useful invoices can mean the difference between getting paid on time and having to wait months before receiving payment.
Sending invoices is also a vital part of being a freelancer. Creating a smooth invoicing process will help your cash flow remain steady and get you paid without too much hassle. Getting paid quickly happens when you have and utilize efficient procedures. If your clients don’t know what to do once they receive your invoice, it’s going to take extra time to get paid.
This post will help you as a freelancer understand the best ways to create and track your invoices. When you have better invoice-tracking and project-tracking practices, you’re in a better place to get paid for all of your efforts.
Create Different Invoices For Various Types of Projects
There are two significant ways freelancers can charge for their services: hourly and per project. Each method has different types of invoicing and different ways to track work.
Billing hourly is simple to track. All you need to do is find a way to track the time spent on each project and charge for each hour you complete, and Timing can help with that. Some clients have a maximum amount of time you can spend on their tasks each week. If this is the case, you need to have measures in place to stop you from working too much. If clients have listed a hard limit, they won’t pay you for any work done over that.
Tracking per project is a bit more complicated. You can get into trouble charging fees if you don’t communicate them to your clients ahead of time.
Many freelancers will charge a flat fee for most project work. However, if specific project scopes grow too large, then freelancers may charge extra or change the overall project cost.
Trying to justify this to your client can be difficult, especially if you didn’t specify scope limits ahead of time. It’s still smart to track your hours, what you’re doing, and edits even if you aren’t charging by the hour.
Many freelancers face invoicing challenges that prevent them from getting paid on time. Most of the time, they don’t realize these things are happening. Identifying them and finding ways around them can help you get paid faster.
Making it Hard For Clients to Pay
Do your clients know what they need to do once they receive your invoice? Do they know where to send payment?
Some software programs make it easy for clients to pay you. These programs can send your clients directly to a payment portal, where they can pay your invoice right away.
Formatting Your Invoice Poorly
Can your clients easily read your invoice? Have you included service descriptions for all the work you’ve completed on their projects?
Confusing invoices can make it difficult for your clients to know what to do next. It can also make it your bookkeeping process more challenging than necessary.
We’ve detailed later in this article how to format your invoices clearly.
Leaving Out Important Details
Some freelancers use minimal descriptions to convey what they’ve done on a client project. Doing this leaves out important details that you and your clients need to have to know what you’ve done.
While you might think your clients know every detail of what you’ve done, it’s better to over-communicate effort than to leave out crucial information. Leaving out essential information can give your clients a bad impression of your work. It may even lead to them dropping you because of that impression.Confusing-to-read invoices can make it difficult for your clients to know what to do next. Click To Tweet
Sending your Invoice to the Wrong Person
Depending on the size of the client company, you might mistakenly send your invoices to the wrong person. The marketing liaison you’ve been communicating with may not be the person who handles billing.
Know whom you need to communicate with before you send off your invoice. Otherwise, you may not get paid for quite some time.
Not using Invoice Tracking
Are you tracking your invoices, or are you merely sending them off and then forgetting about them? Not tracking your invoices means you have more work when it comes time to filing taxes.
Tracking your invoices can also help you see which ones are still outstanding, and which have already been paid. Doing this practice will help you improve cash flow and have a more stable income.
Tips For Creating Effective Invoices
Effective invoices make getting paid easier for you and your clients. There are some steps you can take to create clear invoices that support your workflow instead of detracting from it. Implementing some or all of these steps will help you create better invoices as a freelancer and get paid faster.
Create an easy-to-read invoice format
There are some necessities on all invoices. It’s easy to create a template and then change that when you send an invoice.
At the top left, include your company name and logo. At the top right, add identifying information, like address, website, and email.
Under your company name and logo, you’ll put the “bill to” section. Usually, this section has client information necessary to get paid.
Then you’ll want a thick line separating this section from the rest of your invoice. You can choose to color it or not depending on your branding.
Include words like description, quantity, and cost in this thick line. Then, under the heading, you’ll list descriptive line items.
When you’ve finished, you should have something that looks like this. Of course, your prices and details will vary.
Emphasize brand continuity
Once you have an easy-to-read format, focus on designing your templates. If you’re not a designer, you can have someone else create your invoices. It needs to bring brand awareness to this process. Your branding should be the same as what’s on your website and social media.
Use invoicing software programs
The great thing about freelancing is the number of apps that help you track what you’re doing. Instead of sending and tracking your invoices manually, you can use software programs to track them for you. Have your clients sign on to your app to receive and pay invoices, so it’s done quickly and easily.
If you prefer not to stray too far from what many of your clients will use, PayPal has invoicing options. Even if your clients don’t have a PayPal account, they can still pay you through your PayPal.me link.
Utilize time-tracking apps
Time-tracking apps are a great way to automate tracking. You shouldn’t have to take any extra time to catalog what you’ve done when there are software programs that will do it for you.
Timing tracks what you do automatically. You don’t have to stop or start timers, and you don’t have to monitor what websites, apps, or documents you use because it does all of that for you. With Timing, you don’t have to guess how you’re using your time because it will tell you where your time is going. You can create more specific descriptions in your invoices with this, so clients know what you’re doing and why.
How to Integrate Invoice Tracking Into Your Freelancing
Trying to track your invoices manually will waste time and take away from hours you could be spending on client projects. That means less money in your pocket.
You’ll need to make this process part of your communication with clients. Let them know what’s billable and what isn’t. Do you charge extra for meetings, or are those included in the per-project cost you send them? Create line items for everything included in your charges, as well as the amount charged for those items.
Timing integrates with GrandTotal, a Mac-based invoice tracking software that makes it easier for you to track estimates and invoices. Once you have installed the Timing plugin inside GrandTotal, GrandTotal will automatically list all your Timing tasks. You can then create an invoice with those tasks. This helps you with invoice tracking automatically, as your responsibilities are already recorded in your invoices.
Having an efficient process for creating and tracking invoices can help you be more effective in your freelance work. Timing is a great way to help you create thorough descriptions and accurate invoices for all of your client projects.