A successful freelance business means repeat customers. You might do regular work for some of your clients, or perhaps you work on a retainer basis for clients.
And one of the key parts of running your business is invoicing clients so you get paid on time. But it can be time-consuming, not to mention mundane, to write the same invoice time and again for the same client, or the same invoice to remit in exchange for retainer work on a regular basis.
That’s when having a recurring invoice template can be a real help. You won’t have to keep writing the same invoice, and you’ll free up time usually spent on administrative tasks. That time can be spent doing business development or other important work.
So whether you want to use a professional service for your template or create one on your own, let’s look at the 3 considerations in developing a recurring invoice template.
1. Build repeat information into a recurring invoice template
Every invoice you’ll prepare and send to clients will have similar, or exactly the same, information contained in it. That means as you develop a recurring invoice template, you can build in the information that will be relevant for every job and every client.
Here are some examples:
1.1. Your business information in the recurring invoice template
This will have to be part of every invoice, and should be the same on every invoice. This section will include your business name, contact information, and a business number or tax number if relevant, along with a mailing address and email address. You can add a logo if you have one, and a website address if you like.
1.2. Client’s business information in the recurring invoice template
While this will change for every client, you can have a section in your recurring invoice template that’s dedicated to client information. Once again, this will include the business name and contact information. In the case of invoices, it also needs to include a spot for the name of the person who actually pays the bills, as this may be different than the person you worked with on the project.
1.3. Invoice number in the recurring invoice template
Every invoice should be numbered, so include a place for a number and a reminder to yourself to update the number for every invoice based on your record-keeping system. A number makes it easy for the client to reference the invoice if there are any questions, and it makes it easy for you to document that the invoice was sent, paid, or needs to be re-sent with a reminder.
1.4. Dates in the recurring invoice sample
There should be a spot for two dates. One is the date the invoice is created and sent, and the other is the date the payment is due. Make sure you leave enough time for the clients to receive the invoice and pay you within their billing cycle, while also ensuring you don’t wait too long to get paid.
1.5. Description of the job in your recurring invoice template
This is a dedicated section for a description of the work you completed for the client, with as much detail as you think is necessary. This will be updated for every new invoice. If you do similar kinds of work for multiple clients, you can have descriptions of the work ready to insert when you update the template for a specific client or project.
1.6. Empty cells for cost details in your recurring invoice sample
This is where you will update the template for every invoice, outlining how much the work is worth, along with any taxes, expenses, and a grand total owed.
As you do more work for various clients, you may find there are other details that are the same across jobs, and you can add those to your recurring invoice template.
2. A recurring invoice template should include payment terms
You may think that because you work for a client on a regular basis, even on a retainer, that you don’t have to include payment terms.
But every invoice you send, whether to a regular client or a new one, needs to include payment terms. That means specifying a date that payment is due, any late fees or charges for late payment, along with specific information about how you accept payment.
Make it easy for any client to know how to pay you, whether you’ve worked for them for years, or you just completed your first project for them. Be sure that you do specify late payment fees. It seems heavy handed, but you’re running a business and need to be sure you get paid on time. Most clients will understand this and will be sure to meet deadlines, within their payment schedule.
You should also ensure your payment policies stay the same. For instance, don’t make one invoice due on receipt and the other due in 30 days. This is true for any client, but in particular those for which you would be sending regular invoices. It’s part of invoice etiquette to make sure you aren’t rushing, confusing or surprising your clients.
3. Create a recurring invoice template for all regular clients
Let’s say you work on a retainer for a particular client. In exchange for an agreed-upon amount of work each week, or month, you get paid a specific amount.
Or, you do similar work for a client on a regular basis, so each invoice you send to that client is very similar.
In instances such as these, you can build a recurring invoice template for each client. In the template, you can include the work description and the cost or payment owed for that work. In this way, the template will only need a few changes each time you prepare to send an invoice. The date, invoice number, and date payment is due will be the only information that should need to be changed.
This is a form of automation that will help save you time in the long run. Having the contact details, job description, and prices all saved in a recurring invoice template means you won’t be entering this information each time you bill that regular client.