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Bonsai handles the back office

Nothing is as pleasant as receiving money from a freelance client after doing some work. The payment proves that you did a good job. Otherwise, the client wouldn't have paid. There are a number of strategies that freelance businesses can adopt to grow.

However, a growth in the number of clientele should come with an increase in cash inflow. You need to have money to finance the operations and pay the bills that allow you to provide the services. This means the clients you get should be paying for the services you provide and on time. Otherwise, you risk being cash-strapped and bankrupt.

Many freelancers and small businesses find themselves on the verge of closing shop not because they don’t provide relevant or good quality services. For a number of them, clients drag them to their knees due to payment delays, some of which extend for months. Having a contract helps a lot, but that in itself is not sufficient.

The contract needs to be solid and well written. You would also struggle being paid if you don't prepare and send an invoice professionally. The good news is that you no longer have to wonder how to do it painstakingly through a manual, from scratch process. This is because you can rely on freelance invoice template for ideas. The template is a resourceful tool that all freelancers must have.

So, how does the template make you appear more professional and improve your chances of getting paid?

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Credits: Image courtesy of Pinterest

Eliminates Errors

Nothing screams unprofessionalism more than sending an invoice full of errors. According to einvoicing basics: up to 40% of paper based invoices have some errors. Some mistakes will have minor consequences such as causing your business a little embarrassment. This is often the case when you are dealing with kind, understanding clients.

Other errors are capable of destroying your fledgling career as a freelancer or at the very least make you lose a few good clients. However, if you don’t adopt strategies to avoid those errors in future, the consequences can be dire. As long as you're keen, you will not commit these costly mistakes.

Common invoicing mistakes that have the potential to damage business relationships include incorrect invoice amounts, wrong address or person, missing or unclear payment options and due dates, and failing to specify what services are being for. Other mistakes such as failing to include your business logo and not sending the invoice on time can also be costly for the business. For example, failure to include certain terms on the invoice can be damaging for your business.

With a template and some proofreading effort before sending the invoice, you can make sure all the necessary details are there and correct before you send the invoice. The template already features the terms necessary, thus reducing your chances of failing to include the crucial ones. It also makes it easier and faster to prepare the invoice so that you can send it on time.

Stick to Company Policies

It's common for a new freelancer to begin working without the right policies in place. This is often a mistake because policies are good for your business. They are also good for your clients. It's common knowledge that customers don't want surprises, especially when it comes through invoices. The only surprise they would not mind is a discount.

Avoiding surprise can be achieved by ensuring that you have set some policies addressing things like down payments, penalties for delayed payments, and whether the service/product will only be received after full or partial payment. Including these and other relevant policy reminders in the form of bullet points, or otherwise, in the invoice can be helpful. It helps you keep the client aware of what is expected and the associated consequences of failing to adhere.

A good template would provide for this. Therefore, using the freelance invoice template informs clients about your policies. The result is that it eliminates the unwanted surprises. It also lets them know that the policies in the contract still hold. Therefore, they are expected to meet what is specified in those policies.

An important thing to note here is that the policies presented as part of the invoice serve mainly as a sort of reminder to the client.

It is proper practice to make these policies clear in the contract you sign with your client. Otherwise, if you include policies for the first time in the invoice, the element of surprise will still be there. Further, if the policies have changed in any way, make sure the changes are made clear to the clients.

Failure to make known and stick to the company policies will likely affect how quickly you get paid.

Helps You to Charge Correctly

When it comes to invoices sent out to your freelancing clients, one thing you should avoid doing is undercharging for services offered. Make your prices close to what's prevalent in the market right now. Quoting low simply to attract more clients to your business is a mistake. If you continue undercharging, there would be nobody else to blame but yourself when your business appears only capable of attracting cheap clients, some of whom take off without paying.

The benefit to charging correctly is also provided by the fact that you are less likely to leave some things out as discussed in more detail below.

Includes all Services Offered and their Charges

The freelance invoice template is a great resource for anybody who wants to be as professional as possible in the eyes of his clients. The template ensures that you include all the services you have offered and their respective charges. This way, clients have no problem understanding the invoice and sending the payment on time. This is a great way for both of you to monitor what has already been done and paid for, thus keeping a proper record of completed tasks and payments.

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Credits: Image courtesy of orianart.com

It’s very embarrassing and potentially damaging to the business to send your clients an invoice quoting charges that are too high above the market prices. It’s one thing to charge a high price for a high-quality service that the client has asked for and that you have actually delivered. It’s another to send an invoice charging them extravagantly for services that they didn’t request or over-charging for a poor service. This is a real possibility if you are creating an invoice from scratch each time you are billing a client.

It helps you to be quick about invoicing

When you are a freelancer, you probably want to cut down on time spent preparing invoices and chasing payments. Much of your time should be spent looking for and providing services to more clients. You also want to spend it running the administrative functions of your business such meeting your tax obligations. You also don’t want to keep a client waiting too long for an invoice when they are ready to pay.

Further, fewer lengthy delays in your processes help make you appear more professional. This will be difficult without templates. They allow you to create invoices faster with fewer errors and are also essential in automating the invoicing process.

Displays Acceptable Methods of Payment

Some clients might send you payment using methods that you don't accept. Some of the methods might not even exist in your country. After all, freelancing allows you to work with clients from all corners of the world. The freelance invoice template ensures that the client only uses methods you accept to send payments. The clients can't say they made a mistake, because the acceptable methods of payments are clearly displayed.

Common methods are PayPal, AlertPay, and Skrill. The specific payment terms will, of course, vary depending on what works well for you and your clients. What you should however do is to find out the norm within the industry. Which payment methods are most businesses similar to yours using and which ones do customers prefer? Once you’re clear on this aspect, your invoice and your business will look more professional by indicating the methods clients can use to pay.

Indicates Due Dates for All Payments

A good template should have a section that allows you to indicate when the payments are due. The client should not feel confused. The invoice should be clear on this matter. Otherwise, clients might remain with the invoice for long without settling the debt they owe you simply because you failed to tell them clearly when the payment is due. Each invoice must have a due date.

Indicating the due date gives you the security needed. Therefore, as long as you get the right freelance invoice template, your clients will see you as a true professional. You must prove your professionalism. Don't forget to include your contact details. In fact, get a software that includes your contact details automatically on the invoice to avoid making mistakes. The template should also number the invoices automatically for future reference in case problems arise.

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Credits: Image courtesy of allbusinesstemplates.com

It creates the impression of a classy business

Freelance invoice templates allow you to move from the basic, drab invoice to one that makes your business appear classy as well as professional. What’s more, you can achieve this with so much ease.

It creates consistency

Regardless of whether you are issuing printed invoices or sending them online, it is important to maintain consistency. This helps cement your image, identity, and brand among clients. It may have been difficult if every single time you want to invoice a client, you are scribbling down an invoice. With invoice templates, however, it becomes much easier to maintain consistency in the appearance, correctness, and effectiveness of your freelance invoices. You can, of course, change the layout, font and overall look of your invoices, but not too often that your regular clients are left confused. In this regard, it’s also easier to change the appearance and your business information when you are dealing with templates.

These features and benefits associated with a freelance invoice template can make your business look professional. They can also improve your chances of getting paid. There are a lot of free and paid for freelance invoice templates available. Therefore, freelancers have a wide variety from which to choose an appropriate template for their businesses. There are modern, clean, simple, complicated, corporate, and creative designs. However, you need to select the right template for your invoices. It’s not a matter of just picking a template that has your favorite colors and font. There are a number of factors that you have to consider when making these choices.

Select the invoice template with the type of impression you want to make on the client who receives it on your mind. The template will largely depend on the type of freelance service you are providing. For instance, an origami-inspired template might not be so appropriate for a freelancer providing legal services. There are times when a clean, simple design is what works for the business brand. There are also businesses where a more adventurous, complicated design is okay.  It all depends on the type of business you are engaged in and the nature of clients you are sending the invoices to and the impression you want to make.  Your business brand will also help you determine whether you pick a personal, friendly, bold, vintage, minimalist, graphic or playful type of invoice template.

What platform is best?

With many freelance jobs being provided online, it makes sense that the invoicing process should be free of geographical limitations that affect the time of receipt of the invoice, the effect if which spills over to when payments are made.  Online invoicing has, therefore, become the norm; reducing reliance on paper invoices. For this, invoicing software are used as they automate the invoicing process, making it faster to prepare and send the invoices as well as keep track of what has been invoiced.

There are many types of software, some as basic as Microsoft Word and Excel, that you can use to create invoices. Others like Bonsai with which you don’t have to manually create the invoices yourself. The software platform used should be selected carefully with consideration being placed on factors such as costs, ease of use, and the number and type of payment methods supported. The features should also be a perfect fit for your specific invoicing needs, how tech savvy you are, and the reputation of the template software. It makes no sense to try and use software that you are not familiar or comfortable with when the invoice needs to be sent as soon as possible. Doing so would likely increase errors in your invoice; a mistake that you should avoid.

Is it customizable?

A fully customizable freelance invoice template is essential for your business. You may want to add your business logo, change the colors to match those of your business website, card, or social networking profile. These features help clients recognize your business better. You also need to be able to change fonts when you wish and edit details such as your name, contact details, client’s name and contacts, invoice number, and date, descriptions, payment dates and terms, as well as currency due.

It should also allow you to include a thank you message to express your appreciation for the client who has ordered a service from you. A good template should allow you to make these changes whenever you deem necessary. It should also be relatively easy to make these changes.

Are the small details right for you?

There are minor details to the template that one can easily take for granted, but which affect how well the freelance invoice template serves your business. Things such as the margin sizes, distribution of white spaces, font size, and scaling can easily be forgotten. Despite the ease with which these features can be ignored when selecting a template, they are important. This is so regardless of whether it is for an online or printed invoice. They contribute to the appearance of the invoice; whether it looks professional or as though an amateur prepared it.

These details, though minor also affect the readability of the invoice. You want a clean, professional-looking freelance invoice that is easy for the client to read.

A simple thing like making the total amount bold makes it easy for the client to find the amount s/he is expected to pay. Therefore, focus on what will make it easy for your client to read and understand the invoice; not just what looks attractive to you. After all, the client is the one enabling you to pay your bills, and you want to be paid quickly. Achieve this by making it easy for the client to clearly tell what s/he is being charged for, how much the charge is, and how the fee should be paid.

You also don’t want the clients to have any doubt or excuse regarding your policies. Make them clear by paying attention to these minor yet important details whenever you are selecting a freelance invoice template.

The typical large business will have an employee/s that is tasked with handling the invoicing and debt recovery. For the freelance business, until such a time when the business has grown enough to employ some people to take over certain tasks, you perform all the tasks that need to perform. Therefore, even if invoicing is not one of your favorite activities, you just have to handle it. It, however, doesn’t have to be so unpleasant.

With the right tools, freelance invoicing can become less of a nightmare and more of a business activity that you can do easily, comfortably and perhaps even enjoy it. Having a professional-looking invoice is one of the several measures; an important step to improving the chances of getting paid for your freelance work quickly. However, there are other strategies too, that you should learn too in order to improve chances of your invoices getting paid on time, including making follow-ups. Use the templates, tools, and strategies that can help you get paid.

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