What is a Custom Invoice?
A custom invoice is a document that freelancers and contractors use to request payment from clients after they’ve completed work on a project.
Custom invoices allow you to create unique invoices for each client and project that include important details such as:
- An invoice number
- Your business name, logo, and brand colors
- Payment terms
- A description of the work
- A cost for each of the line items
- A total amount due and due date
- Additional charges, like taxes or expenses
- Accepted payment methods
READ MORE: What is an invoice?
Who Should Use a Custom Invoice?
Any part-time, full-time, or casual freelancer or independent contractor who provides professional services to clients in exchange for payment should use invoices. Custom invoices can be used in any industry by a variety of professionals, including:
- Writers and editors
- Web designers
- Graphic designers
- Digital marketers
- Social media marketers
- Photographers and videographers
- Software developers
- And more
If you’re a small business owner, you should use invoices to bill customers, track payments, and provide proof of income for accounting and tax purposes.
When to Use a Custom Invoice
When you send invoices depends on your billing cycle and the projects you’re working on.
For one-off projects, you may wait until a project is finished to bill a client.
For ongoing projects, you may choose to send recurring invoices on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis.
Ideally, you should choose a consistent billing cycle based on the services you provide and the clients you work with. This will make it easier for you to keep your accounting organized and under control.
For example, many freelancers bill ongoing clients on a monthly basis. In this case, you would track the time you spend working for each client during each calendar month and send out an invoice at the beginning of the next month.
Consistent recurring invoices help you to have predictable cash flow and help you to get paid faster by providing clients with regular billing.
Pro Tip: Use Bonsai’s Time Tracking to automatically track your working hours and convert them into timesheets and billable invoice hours.
What to Include in a Custom Invoice
When using an invoice generator, there are some elements you should always include regardless of the client or project. Professional invoices should always have:
1. An invoice number
Invoice numbers usually go at the top of an invoice and help you to organize and track each invoice that you send to a client. While you can choose to number your invoices any way you like, it’s recommended that you choose a numbering method and stick to it to keep things organized and consistent.
For example, some common numbering methods include:
- Numerical (001, 002, 003)
- Name-based (BruceWayneJanuary, or BWayneJan)
- Date-based (BWayneMay2022)
- Or, a mix (001-BWayne-May2022)
2. Service and pricing details
All invoice templates should have a detailed list of the services you provided and their associated costs. Some invoice templates describe this information in a pricing table while others use a bullet list.
Regardless of how the information is organized, it should clearly outline exactly what the client is being billed for and how much each line item costs before sales tax, discounts, or other fees.
3. The total amount due
In order for you to get paid, your clients need to know how much they owe you. When invoicing clients, it’s best practice to not only include the total amount due but to highlight it so that it stands out and is easy to identify.
Bonsai’s invoice template makes the total amount due clear so that clients (and their accountants) don’t have to search to find it.
4. Payment terms
Payment terms refer to the guidelines and restrictions you set around payments. For example:
- How you accept payments (like whether you accept payments online or prefer checks)
- Whether the client will be responsible for fees associated with payment
- Whether interest charges or late fees will be applied to overdue invoices
- When payment is due (net-7, net-14, or net-30)
Payment terms are typically the same across clients and projects, so, most of the time, they can be reused across all of your professional invoice templates.
5. Instant payment details
While not all invoice templates include “pay now” options, they do help freelancers and contractors to get paid faster and to save time spent chasing unpaid invoices.
When possible, incorporate instant payments directly in your invoices to make it easy for clients to submit the money you’re owed.
For example, Bonsai’s invoicing templates have online payments built right in, meaning that, once you get set up, clients can pay you straight from your invoice using a credit or debit card.
Set up Bonsai Payments today and make getting paid a breeze. Get Started.
Why You Should Use Custom Invoices
Generic invoice templates get the job done, but they aren’t always easy to customize and they don’t give off a professional vibe. Using custom invoice templates comes with benefits to both freelancers and their clients. For example:
1. They save you time
Although you can create reusable invoice templates in Google Docs or Microsoft Word, they don’t automatically update based on the billable hours you’ve tracked or the last invoice that you sent.
Bonsai’s invoice generator saves you a ton of valuable time by seamlessly integrating a variety of important freelance accounting elements, like timesheets, invoices, and payments into one platform.
Instead of manually entering every single detail on each of your invoices, our invoicing software helps you to create and send professional invoices using information you've already tracked or entered in your account.
2. They help with branding
When you create and send invoices using customized templates, they help you to look more professional. And, adding your logo and brand colors goes a long way in building a recognizable and cohesive brand for your small business.
Plus, giving off a professional impression encourages clients to take you more seriously and helps you to stand above the competition.
3. They help you to get paid fast
One of the woes of freelancing is getting paid in full and on time. Custom invoice templates that include specific payment information and instructions are more likely to get paid in a timely manner than generic invoices that don’t.
And, invoices that allow clients to make online payments make the process even easier to complete, saving you from having to send out payment reminders and track invoices long after they’re due.
4. They facilitate good accounting
As a freelancer, it’s up to you to track your income, set aside tax money, and ensure your clients are paying you when they’re supposed to. Custom invoices are one of the most important tools in your accounting toolbox since they support all of these tasks.
Invoices are an easy way to record who has paid you in full, who you need to follow up with, and how much you have made each month.
This information keeps your accounting tasks organized and easy to review, making it easy for you to track, store, and retrieve important information when you need it.
Creating a Custom Invoice is Simple with Bonsai
With Bonsai, it’s easy to create and send invoices that look professional and get money in your bank faster and with less hassle. All you have to do is customize your free invoice template with your brand, client, and payment details and hit send.
Bonsai will automatically send your finished invoice to the client of your choice. Or, you can download and print it yourself to send later.
Start creating your professionally designed invoice with Bonsai today. Sign up now for free to make yours.
Custom Invoice FAQs
How should I customize an invoice?
Each invoice you create should be unique to the client and project you are billing. However, you can customize your invoices to match your business branding by:
- Including your business logo
- Using your brand colors
- Highlighting your business name
- Linking to your professional website
- Including your professional email address
How do I create a custom invoice?
You have a number of different free and paid options when it comes to creating a custom invoice. Basic invoice templates can be created using:
- Microsoft Word
- Google Docs
- Google Sheets
However, they can be difficult to customize or add your business branding to. Instead, consider using invoicing software that's been built with freelancers and independent contractors in mind, such as Bonsai.
This means we’ve designed our free invoice template with the needs of freelancers at the forefront, incorporating user-friendly customization, time tracking, and built-in payments.
As an added bonus, Bonsai’s custom invoice templates also work for a variety of business types and industries.
- Industry-specific invoice templates: From bookkeeping and project management to SEO and software development, we have a variety of invoice templates for you to choose from.
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