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Retainer Invoice

Are you working without a detailed retainer invoice as a freelancer? Well, you’re at risk of delayed payment or some serious payment conflicts between you and your client. A retainer invoice ensures that you don't work in vain as a freelancer. It is one of the security measures you can establish for the services you provide. Therefore, start working with a detailed retainer invoice to avoid brushing shoulders with your client during payment - you can use an online invoice maker to quickly create yours.

A retainer invoice is a document that entails all the details about the service you want to offer to the client. This is what you use to request an initial payment before you can start the work. 

A retainer invoice is a critical aspect of a retainer agreement. The agreement guarantees your work and – most importantly, money. As a freelancer, you can easily fall into the wrong hands and find yourself being frustrated when it comes to time for payment. For this reason, it is important to establish a measure that ensures you get paid for the services you offer without delay or conflicts. Remember, that money matters can be a little tricky, especially now that you're working with a total stranger whom you've got no option but to trust. So, it's important to state your grounds concerning your payment, to be on the safest side.

Remember, your business needs money to remain afloat. The money can't come in if you fail to prepare a retainer invoice on time. When your client understands the value of what you are offering them, then it becomes easier to agree on drafting both a retainer agreement and a good retainer invoice as part of it. Well, your client knows they've got to pay for your project milestones, but they can't just do it without a retainer invoice. Some of them are usually very busy, and, therefore, if you don't prepare a detailed retainer invoice on time, you may end up receiving your payment late. Delayed payments can put you under a lot of pressure which can result in poor performance and eventual loss of contracts.

So, have one in place. Other than ensuring that the job you do is paid for, a retainer invoice also serves to sell your value. A well-drafted retainer invoice can either make the client have confidence in you as a professional or otherwise. The invoice needs to be ready to send without any delays, not unless you don't mind payments that go late into the month. Businesses that prepare and send it in good time are assured of doubling their sales and revenues. It's easier for such businesses to be profitable too. This is especially because when the flow of income is stable then it is easier to have a growth plan. You can budget and know your monthly expenses and how much you can invest or save towards growth. So, why not do the same.

As a freelancer, you could already be having a freelance agreement, in place, but don't leave out the retainer invoice. It's equally important and is essential to experience rapid growth and profitability.

Now, what makes a good retainer invoice? Well, it's not something out of the ordinary. But it also requires a lot of attention and professional outlook. With the retainer invoice samples and templates available online, you can always design a perfect one. This happens to be one of the most important documents that need to portray you as the most valuable freelancer. You just need to check one and you're good to start. 

To help you understand why you need a retainer invoice as a freelancer, we'll look at some of the benefits of having one. We will highlight some of the reasons why every freelancer should consider having a retainer invoice and what impact it can have on your freelance career. But before then, take a look at the image below to get an idea of what a retainer invoice looks like.

Image Credits: smdlab.co

1. Perfect for Improving Quality

A retainer invoice is great for a freelancer – or business owner – who is intent on improving the quality of service offered to the client. The truth is, you'd like to maintain a good relationship with your client so that he can hire you for more projects in future. That's only possible if you're always striving to improve the quality of your services. What a retainer invoice does is to ensure that you are always on the toe, you will give your best to the project. Especially because you have it at the back of your mind that without delivering quality, then the retainer fee received becomes a liability. 

For example, let's assume that you are a web developer. Clients hire you to design and develop their websites. Use the retainer agreement and invoice to offer the client a better product than the original one. In other words, because funds have been availed to you, you are at a better position to make adjustments here and there without having to always run back and forth to the client. This way, the client feels obligated to pay. Clients who receive value for money look forward to retaining you for the long haul.

Since winning a freelance project isn't that easy, why not take advantage of this and maintain a lasting relationship with your client. As a freelancer creating a list of loyal clients who trust your services is an added advantage. This will not only ensure that you have a reliable cash flow, but it will work to push your reputation to the forefront against your peers. 

Who knows, they may refer you to other clients who may be interested in the services you're offering. This essentially means that establishing a great relationship with one client could pull in a lot more for you. Therefore ensure that every relevant stage is taken with as much attention as required, the retainer invoice included.

Giving clients value for money is one of the many ways of getting them to pay you faster. After all, who would like to spend on services that don't improve their business? So, get it right with your retainer invoice. The invoice should portray you as professional as possible.

2. Acts as Insurance

Did you know that the retainer invoice also acts as insurance? Somehow, it offers you a bit of protection by guaranteeing your work and money regularly. A retainer invoice is only a liability if you do not fulfill your end of the deal. But if you are a professional in all that you do, then it becomes a measure to secure payment. 

Therefore, as a freelancer, apart from working on the client's project, make sure you've got an invoice to spell out the amount you're supposed to be paid at the end of every stage. Retainers help you to ensure that you as a freelancer are not taken advantage of. It highlights your scope of work and details any additional cost the client may have to pay in case of revisions.  Most freelancers and business owners, who are not on retainers, have to do more to get paid.

They have to put in more effort into finding consistent work. You are already miles ahead of the rest of them. So, why work without a retainer invoice. However, it's important to treat the work – and the client who offers it – properly and professionally lest you lose everything. The relationship you establish with your clients will build your portfolio and sell you to other prospects. Some clients focus more on the feedback of other clients who worked with you before to determine whether it is safe to trust you. Plus your first interaction with him will either make a good impression of your worth as a professional or a wrong one. Just as we mentioned earlier, how you relate with your client determines whether they'll continue working with you. 

So, take care of the relationship.

Let's return to the example of web developers. These professionals have to ensure the client's website never goes down. They also have to put in better security features to protect the data from being compromised. Therefore, take the retainer you get from the client after sending the invoice as evidence of the client's satisfaction with your input. If anything interferes with this, probably because of your failures, you could lose a fortune in guaranteed income.

Retainer invoice is meant to work in favor of both you and the client. However, it is more inclined towards benefiting you as a freelancer so ensure it looks good. Do everything to make sure that the draft is well detailed, clearly written and agreed upon with the client. Small mistakes on this document could result in delayed payment or unnecessary frictions with the client.

Use the retainer invoice templates and samples available to make sure you're on the right track. At least with these documents, you'll have an idea of how to go about writing a retainer invoice. And your end product will be presentable enough to get you aid now and into the future!

3. Evaluate Yourself

Before sending a retainer invoice, you should evaluate your ability to provide the service the client needs. Ask yourself if you can deliver the quality you have promised. Can you be able to complete the assignment within the stipulated period? Are you well equipped with the necessary skills to satisfactorily complete the job? The answers to these questions should inform your decision to take up the job or inform the commitment you make to a client. The invoice is a commitment from which you cannot or should not escape. Never provide excuses regarding the inability to meet your end of the bargain. Always be accountable for every action taken and every mistake made along the way.

Remember, the client has already proven to be trustworthy and professional by making the advance payment. After receiving the payment, the ball is in your court. You have to ensure that everything from how you communicate to the day you deliver the job, displays your professionalism. Look at it as though you are not just working for that one client but for many more prospects that may just follow after. 

Therefore, don't ruin this trust. It could cost you future projects or you may end up losing the project. The least you can do is to reciprocate by delivering what's expected. That's just what the client expects you to do.

Trust is one of the strengths that successful freelancers have learnt to bank on. And because as a freelancer you are your boss, ensure that while working with one client, you look at them as your employer for that particular period. Treat them with respect, devotion and esteem. This may seem like too much but it will all pay at the end. Remember that one client could be having many more behind them, so tread carefully.

If any of your clients with whom you signed a retainer agreement expresses displeasure at your inability to do what you promised, find ways of turning that disappointment to opportunity. You could offer a discount. Indicate the discount on the invoice to avoid losing this client. Ensure that the client doesn't feel cheated; rather they should at the end see your shortcomings as only a slip that can be corrected. Failure to do this could expose you to huge ramifications, which could include losing clients and gaining a negative reputation. You can avoid such misfortune by establishing trust between you and the client. This can be done by ensuring communication is clear and agreement made beforehand. Work always with the client in mind, even as you draft the retainer invoice. Don't make the mistake that many freelancers do by coming off as selfish or greedy. The client will not want to work with you again.

As a freelancer, it's important to prioritize the needs of the client. So, if the client isn't happy, go the extra mile to win their trust again. A little sacrifice on your art could just be what you need to turn the client's heart around. And it may seem like a sacrifice at the time, but when it saves your project and earns you trust then you will appreciate it. Take it upon yourself to ensure that things are solved in the most amicable way and with the client in the heart. That may not be easy, but the client is human enough to notice some little actions after turning them down. So, go ahead and do something before it's too late.

Image Credits: timesolv.com

4. Maintain Proper Records

Keep good records of the payments you receive from the invoices sent to clients. Most clients have other commitments and, therefore, the clients may or may not keep a record. And when you think about it, they have no real need to keep records of the retainer invoices. It's not their responsibility to keep the retainer invoices. So, don't be shocked if your client doesn't have all the invoices you've been sending them.

Take up responsibility for both you and the client to ensure records are safe. Show that you deserve what you are getting by making work easier. Always think ahead of the client, by being resourceful in all situations. Make them see that you are dependable and that they can trust you to look after the project with minimum supervision.

Remember, your role is different from the client's. You get paid for services you are yet to render. The client probably pays you each month even when you have nothing to do. But ensure that the client is motivated to keep paying because they see your value. In other words, be worth the money you are getting paid. The least you can do is to ensure your record of all these payments is up to date. Impress the client with your record-keeping skills.  

In summary, remember to treat the retainer invoice well. Be careful with the payments. Interpret the invoice as a sign of commitment on the side of the client. Reciprocate the commitment with your display of dedication and professionalism. Remember you don't want the client to start thinking of hiring another freelancer. And if there are any future projects, let your professionalism secure that position for you.

Deliver your work on time, keeping in mind that any delays will not only affect the client but it will affect your reputation as a freelancer. Confirm that you give each client value for money. Never allow the quality of your work to diminish for whatever reason. Again, make sure you include all the necessary information in the retainer invoice to avoid conflicts during payment. Let there be mutual understanding in all aspects of the retainer invoice. Include everything to do with payment agreement on the retainer and ensure that nothing is left out. Ensuring everything is in order will ensure that payment is never late and your business remains afloat.

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