How to Make an Invoice As A Freelancer: A Step-By-Step Guide
No matter how much you love your work, you still need to get paid! Whether you’ve got several smaller clients or a couple of big contracts, ensuring you have a professional and accurate payment system is crucial.
Creating an accurate invoice helps ensure you get paid correctly and on time, and it can also increase your credibility — nothing looks more unprofessional than a hastily slapped-together invoice full of mistakes!
Clients are likelier to want to work with you again if you present a polished, professional appearance in all your documentation.
You can start an invoice from scratch (keep reading this guide!) or use invoice templates to get you started faster!
Let’s take a closer look at precisely what you need to include when you send an invoice for freelance work
1. Create an Invoice Header with Your Business Information
What’s the first thing clients will see when they open your freelance invoice? The header, of course! Your header needs to display all your business information clearly and aesthetically. It should include the following information:
- Your business name, or if you don’t have one, your full name
- Contact information, including your phone number, email address, and website
- A tax identification number for your business, if you have one.
In terms of graphic design, make sure your logo and graphics are easy to read and professional-looking. The information should be aligned to the left at the top of your invoice to ensure readability.
If you don’t have your own logo or branding yet, just make sure all of your information is clear and easy to see.
2. Include Your Client's Contact Details
Next up, when you make an invoice for freelance work, it should always include your client’s information, including:
- The client’s name or their company name
- The client’s business address
- The name of the contact person receiving the invoice (if applicable)
- Contact information for the client or business, including phone number and email.
Ensuring accurate client details demonstrates that you’re professional and pay attention to details, which reflects well on you as a freelancer.
It’s also essential to ensure that the client will process your invoice quickly and efficiently — particularly if you’re billing a large company with many different departments.
Accurate details help it reach the correct person within the company so you can avoid unnecessary payment delays.
3. Provide Invoice Information
Also necessar to include on your freelance invoice — the date the invoice was issued, and the invoice number.
The date is essential for your tax records and is useful if you have a payment delay and need to refer back to the invoice.
The date the invoice was issued often dictates the payment due date (commonly 30 days from issue) and helps your client know when payment is expected.
Equally important is issuing a unique invoice number for every invoice you send. Doing so helps you keep track of payments related to specific projects and is essential for clients who may have received multiple invoices from you.
Your invoice numbering system can be up to you — some freelancers choose sequential numbers, while others prefer to use specific codes for certain project types or clients. Both the date and invoice number help you keep an orderly record-keeping system, which is vital when tax time comes!
4. Description of Goods/Services Delivered
This part is possibly the most important — you need to describe all the goods or services you’ve provided to the client. It should include a clear cost breakdown of each item or service. If applicable, make sure you include:
- Quantities of units provided
- The rate at which services are charged.
Ensuring clarity will help to avoid queries and misunderstandings, and will help to speed up the payment process.
If you charge for costs, such as travel expenses, use of props, or any other expenses related to the performance of your job, please make sure you clearly outline these in the invoice. The terms surrounding these should have been agreed upon with the client before completing the work.
5. List Applicable Taxes
If you need to charge taxes on your work, you need to itemize the applicable taxes on your invoice. Clearly state each type of tax — these will depend on your location but could include state-specific sales taxes, GST, or VAT.
Include information about the tax calculation so your client can easily see how you calculated your totals. This ensures that you comply with all legal requirements and will make your life much easier when it’s time to do your taxes!
6. Specify Your Payment Terms
Setting clear expectations with the client for when you should be paid is essential. Your invoice should always include the payment due date and any other payment terms, such as late payment fees or prompt payment discounts.
This is also the place to list the types of payment you’ll accept, such as checks, credit cards, online banking transfers, or any other platforms like PayPal or Venmo.
Clear terms mean you’ve got something concrete to refer back to in the case of a payment dispute or late payment.
7. Consider Adding Notes with Terms and Conditions
This is the section where you can add specific terms related to the goods or services you offer. It could include a returns policy, information on your product warranty, copyright information, or anything else that applies to the type of work you’re providing.
Including this information in your invoice covers all your bases and gives you something to refer to in the case of a legal dispute. It also shows that you’re a professional and meticulous worker, which will increase your client’s trust in you.
Five Things to Include on All Freelance Invoices
While freelance invoices will differ depending on your line of work, there are five things that always need to be included on every freelance invoice!
- Your Contact Info: This is a reference point for your clients. It should include contact details, your full name, and your business logo (if you have one).
- Client's Contact Info: This ensures your invoice gets to the correct place/correct person.
- Invoice Number and Date: Every invoice should have a unique invoice number and an issue date for tracking. This is useful for your tax records and also for your client when it comes to tracking their various payments.
- Clear Payment Terms: Clearly state when payment for your goods or services is due and outline any other payment terms, such as late payment fees. List the methods of payment you will accept in this section.
- Detailed Services and Costs: Every freelance invoice should include a detailed list of what was supplied to the client and a clear breakdown of the costs. This provides transparency and makes disputes far less likely.
Together, these components will help you make a professional and informative invoice that makes the entire invoicing process go smoothly and efficiently.
How to Create an Invoice for Free With Bonsai
So, we’ve outlined everything you need to include in your freelance invoice. You may be wondering how to create your invoices. Can you use Google Docs, Word, or Excel? Can you create an invoice on your iPhone? There is a wide range of tools available for freelancers, but one of the easiest and most efficient ways to create an invoice is to use one of Bonsai’s free templates!
How to sign up
Bonsai is a business management tool, and one of its features is a huge range of documents to help you do business better. Signing up is easy and completely free, and once you’ve signed up you’ll have access to Bonsai’s range of free, easy-to-use templates.
Choosing the right template
Once you’ve signed up, you must choose a suitable template! There’s a wide variety of different templates to suit all different professions — here are some of the best choices for freelancers!
Freelance Invoice Template
This is the gold standard of invoice templates for freelancers. It’s fully editable with your branding and includes all the essential information you need to ensure your invoice is professional and accurate.
Self-Employed Invoice Template
This is a great choice for any self-employed person — whether you’re freelancing as a side hustle, or have a thriving rotation of clients, this template allows you to create polished, accurate invoices quickly.
Recurring Invoice Template
Freelancing doesn’t mean a lack of regular work! If you have a regular client that always uses the same services, you can use this recurring invoice template to keep from writing the same thing out repeatedly! This invoice is ideal whether your invoicing recurs over a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or other timeframe.
Some freelance jobs need specific templates to take into account the unique characteristics of the work.
For example, if you work as a freelance photographer, you can use the Free Photography Invoice Template. This template allows you to customize the information to reflect the type of services you’re offering, such as whether you’re offering wedding photography, portrait photography, or any other services. It also allows you to list any costs incurred during the photography session, such as travel, props, or other expenses.
Bonsai also offers other specific templates for other freelance careers, such as a Personal Trainer Invoice Template, a Tutor Invoice Template, and a Life Coaching Invoice Template — just browse their wide array of template options to find the one best suited to what you do!
Entering your information
Once you’ve chosen your preferred template, you can then edit it. If you have company or personal logos or designs, you can add those in so that the invoice reflects your branding.
Ensure you edit the other sections to reflect your contact details, your client’s details, the products or services you’ve provided, the payment details, and any other unique details.