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Freelancing has undoubtedly gained unprecedented popularity all around the World. In recent years, loads of skillful people have taken to freelance for earning money, and in a short time, this professional cult has acquired enough potential to influence economies. This article from Forbes and this comprehensive study by Upwork and Freelancers Union are testament to these facts. 

But as it goes, where there is good there is always bad as well. No matter how attractive freelancing is to you, it has its cons. The immensity of the whole online community has also caught the eye of wrongdoers who are in constant search of vulnerable and careless freelancers to trick and get their work done free of cost.

Working as a freelancer has its own dangers. For example, your social life is likely to suffer a lot, especially if you’re the kind of freelancer who never stops working. You have to be disciplined enough to know when to say “enough is enough” and spend time with family and friends. Step away from that laptop or desktop to do something different that leaves you feeling reinvigorated and ready to push harder.

Freelancers whose work involves spending a lot of hours on the Internet are always at risk of getting distracted. As you know, the Internet is full of stuff that can distract you – or anyone else for that matter – and make it impossible to do meaningful work. You have to be really disciplined to keep away from all the distractions. Therefore, train yourself to be disciplined enough to avoid such distractions.

How to Avoid Exploitation

The freelancing world is replete with its share of unscrupulous workers just like any other. This explains why signing a contract with clients is a good move. Also, some clients are not trustworthy to send payments on schedule. In fact, many clients prefer not to pay at all. Freelancers who work in creative industries are some of the most exploited lots. In the United Kingdom, estimates show that each of them loses roughly £5,400 each year.

Freelancers should, therefore, be vigilant and take all necessary steps to avoid such frauds. The biggest issue facing freelancers is regarding payments since many a contract often either goes unpaid or payments are made after considerable difficulty and persuasion. But these issues can be significantly decreased by invoicing properly. Sending an invoice right on schedule takes a lot of the worries regarding non-payments and late payments away.

All you need to do is to prepare an invoice for your client and send it along with the final project, and this simple act can save you lots of apprehension regarding your pay. Bonsai offers you an excellent invoicing service. We have several freelance invoice samples and templates that you can choose from and get your invoices ready within a few minutes. The invoice freelance you prepare and send must be professionally done.

Such an invoice must clearly indicate:

  • Business name (branding)
  • Form of payment

Around 60 percent of the freelancers in the USA say they started working in this industry by choice. More crucially, 1-in-every-2 freelancers say they would never entertain the thought of giving up on freelancing and returning to traditional jobs where they have employers and bosses over them. One out of three workers in San Francisco and New York are freelancing. Without a doubt, the independent workforce in the USA is thriving.

Three Essential Features of Professional Invoice Freelance

Here are a few things you should include in your invoice to make it look professional.

The Details of Each Party

These include the company names, addresses and other important bits of information. It helps in identifying the parties involved in the contract. A valid invoice should have these details. Never send any invoice to a client without checking it for such information. Otherwise, what you will be doing is setting yourself up for a major failure. The client will not pay when the invoice lacks such information.

Some of the details worth including on the invoice are:

  • your business name
  • anything that identifies your brand (such as the relevant trading name)
  • postal address
  • email address
  • website
  • contact phone numbers
  • facsimile numbers

It’s not enough to include your business details. Customer details are also crucial here. Without such details, clients will have no reason for remitting the payment. It is good to know the kind of customer details that must appear on the invoice. Do not take chances here as your payments depend on some of these details. Some of the most common customer details to include on the invoice are:

  • Contact details (such as phone number, email address, and mailing address
  • The name of the person responsible for placing the order
  • Name of the person responsible for paying or clearing the invoice
  • The purchasing order number
  • Contract agreement dates

The date you prepare and send the invoice should also be clearly visible. Date is crucial in invoices that are to be paid within specific time frames. Ascertain that the invoice has a date, especially if it has the following payment terms “30 days from the date of invoice”, “45 days from the date of invoice”, and “60 days from the date of invoice”. The invoice should be consistent with the payment terms indicated on the contract.

Remember, date here refers to the date you created the invoice.

Date doesn’t refer to the date you provided the goods or services you need to be paid for.

You’re not as helpless as you think when it comes to convincing clients to settle their invoices.

Working as a freelancer is hard work. Getting paid as a freelancer is even harder work. Many freelancers spend days, weeks, and months convincing clients to pay for services rendered and work done. With a bit of creativity, tenacity, and a never-say-die attitude, freelancers can convince all clients to pay what they owe. A proven ways of convincing clients to pay on time include:

  • Using positive reinforcement
  • Using negative reinforcement when it is the best option
  • Making it convenient for clients to pay on time
  • Automating the invoicing process
  • Switching to recurring billing
  • Writing everything down
  • Asking clients for upfront payment
  • Nurturing client relationships
  • Creating and encouraging clients to pay you retainers
  • Negotiating favorable terms with clients
  • Increasing the number of payment forms
  • Withholding work until clients pay you
  • Speeding up invoice delivery
  • Pursuing legal routes and options

An invoice number or reference should appear on any invoice freelance that you prepare. Come up with unique invoice references and numbers. Give each invoice a unique number or reference that sets it apart from the rest. No two invoices should be the same. Maintain an accurate record of all the references and numbers that you have used, as it’s the only way you will avoid duplicating one accidentally and causing unimaginable confusion.

Feel free to use a sequence of numbers.

Make it a habit to include letters in any invoice reference that you have chosen. Find one way of identifying repeat customers. For example, you may put some letters in front of each number or reference to make it more unique. Do whatever it takes or choose a system that allows you to create unique numbers and references. Failure to do this would be setting yourself up for non-payment or late payments, which is bad news for your freelancing work.

Credits: Image courtesy of Matt Dayton on Dribbble.com

The Payment Details

These details are perhaps the most important bit. You need to give the client a complete list of all the costs involved, so the demand for money is clearly conveyed. You should include per unit costs, quantities, miscellaneous charges besides the total amount of due payment. It’s wrong to assume that the client knows what the payment is for.  After all, chances are high that you’re not the only freelancer your clients interact with.

Some clients prefer including their banking details on the invoice freelance. If you’re comfortable enough taking such a step, let nothing stop you but proceed. Many times, the advice coming forth from cyber security experts is to avoid publishing or displaying sensitive information, such as bank details, on the Internet. However, it’s important to include a non-disclosure clause in the contract, so the other party doesn’t post or misuse such information.

Do not forget to include the date the two parties agreed upon for making payments. For example, assuming that you prepare the invoice on February 1 and the contract says the due date for making payments is after 14 days, the date the client ought to send payment is February 15. This way, everybody is clear on the date when payments are expected. You should only do this if the contract is clear on such an issue.

The Payment Policy

A good practice is to include a payment policy as well. This helps in bringing authenticity to the whole contract as well as intimidates any potential fraudster. Make sure to tell the client to pay by a certain deadline via a certain payment medium. Also, include what fees would apply if the policy terms are ignored and what legal action you can take against the offender. Payment policies play a crucial role.

The policy is crucial in determining whether your clients settle your invoice. They answer the “how” question well. Clients who have no idea how to make payments will not struggle once they see this on the invoice. Getting clients to pay when they should is a struggle that most freelancers struggle with. Unfortunately, this is often not the clients’ doing. Instead, this happens because freelancers forgot to include the appropriate payment policies.

The freelancer’s primary responsibility is to provide the appropriate services. Quality services guarantee more work, which increases the likelihood of getting paid what you’re worth or ask for. Once the freelancers render their services or complete the project they were doing, it’s only right that they ask for payment. An invoice offers freelancers a gentle and professional way of asking for payments.

It’s vital for freelancers to understand a few payment policy essentials.

For example, their invoices must always be accompanied with details regarding the date when payment is due. Unlike other industries, it’s alright to not ask or demand for payment on the day the freelancer provides services. Instead, payments are subject to the arrangement signed between the freelancer and client. Often, payment is expected a few days after the client receives an invoice.

Also, an essential of payment policy that freelancers must observe is indicating the person responsible for making payments. Freelancers need this information to know who to ask for more information on payments, especially when there is any sort of delay. The person responsible for payments is the one worth seeking out when you feel that the client might be considering non-payment.

Additionally, the following forms of payment are worth mentioning to your clients:

  • Personal checks
  • Debit cards
  • Credit cards
  • Electronic transfers
  • PayPal
  • Square Cash

Payment policies should also cover the issue of non-payment. It’s important to let clients know the measures you are likely to take in case they fail to make payments at all. For example, you may let them know that you will not hesitate enlisting the services of a debt collector or collection agency if clients fail to pay the invoices within three months from the date they received these documents.

http://rabitah.net/wp-content/uploads/17-best-ideas-about-invoice-template-on-pinterest-invoice-design-2.jpg

Credits: Image courtesy of rabitah.net

There are several ways of dealing with clients who refuse to pay.

First, take proactive steps. Be ready with a process for following up and making the clients know that you won’t hesitate to take actions to recover what they owe. Be ready with a clearly defined policy and process. Pursuing clients who appear unwilling to settle their invoices is a time-consuming process. Without the appropriate policies and procedures, your sanity and the profitability of the freelancing business will suffer greatly.

It’s wise to contact clients immediately, especially when convinced that they are not about to clear their invoices. Do not hesitate to contact the client the first day or time the payment is past the due date. Emails are less effective ways of following up on such clients. Instead of emails, try using face-to-face meetings or phone calls. While conversing with the client, ask the following questions and seek clarifications.

a)            Have the clients noticed problems with the work you did?

b)           Why haven’t you received payments? Are the clients facing difficulties paying you?

c)            When should you expect payment? Ask for a date when the clients will send payment and agree on a fresh date

It’s not wrong to nudge the non-paying clients’ harder. Disturb them until they have no choice other than to pay what they owe for the services you rendered. Find a way of contacting the person who is responsible for settling invoices. Larger companies are the best to deal with this way. They employ receptionists that you can call to obtain this information. Ask whether the large organization uses a payment policy that’s different from yours.

Continue persisting even when dealing with one-man or small companies. The calls you make regularly might just embarrass the non-paying clients sufficiently to force them to pay. The regular face-to-face visits you make to the client’s offices might also have the desired effect. Persistent and consistent nudging is allowed when following up with clients who appear unwilling to settle their invoices.

Invoice freelance should indicate the total amount the client is expected to pay. While at it, do not forget to include any discount you agreed upon with the client. As for the total amount, feel free to the total cost of every product, good, or service that you sold to the client. Clarify these issues clearly on the contract to avoid making mistakes that are likely to make your clients mad. An angry client is likely to abandon your business and move elsewhere.

Clients are careful with money. They will never hesitate to depart whenever they feel aggrieved. They take issues regarding the amount you include on the invoice seriously. Most of them never hesitate to ask for an in-depth explanation on each item or fee you display on the invoice. As long as your figures are accurate, clients will be happy to pay. Therefore, take as much time as possible to go through these figures well.

Just take care of these things, and you are ready to invoice your client.