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5 tips on writing invoices for freelance work
So you’ve become a freelancer. Congratulations on choosing a career solution that allows for plenty of flexibility to set your own value, work on your own timeline, vary your own work and tasks, and choose your own “office” environment. Bonus points awarded for the fact that as a freelancer working from home, pants are typically optional. It’s no wonder, then, that freelancers report being happier than traditional 9-5 workers.
While the seeming wealth of options as a freelancer is enough to make most of us giddy, the sheer amount of choice and independence also poses its own unique hurdles. From getting started out as a freelancer in the first place to navigating health care options, there are a host of not so obvious freelancer-specific stresses that come along with the obvious benefits of your status.
One of the most common topics, for obvious reasons, revolves around collecting your paycheck for freelance work. Before you can get paid for that gig, however, you need to develop a firm grasp of invoicing terms and request payment from your client. Sure, it may have been tough to ask your parents for money when you needed to cover your rent in your college years, but getting paid for your independent work shouldn’t fill you with the same level of dread.
Here we break down our top five tips on how to write an invoice for freelance work.
1. Review your contracts
Before you start prepping your first invoice for that new client you found through hours of perusing freelance job websites and listings, you’ll need to review your freelancer agreement, contract, or work offer. Keep in mind that up to 58% percent of freelancers have experienced not getting paid for their work. One of the most common delays in payment for freelance contracts is due to the request for payment not quite matching up with the original contract terms.
The first step in writing an invoice for freelance work should begin with pulling out your freelance contract and carefully reviewing the terms. You should ask yourself...
- Did you meet your required deadlines?
- Were there any special payment terms such as the method of delivery (check, PayPal, etc)?
- Are there accumulated minimum totals, or net 30, 60 or longer parameters?
While much of this should have been dealt with when drafting your original freelancer agreement, if you have multiple clients, terms can vary greatly or you simply may have forgotten key elements.
2. Describe your work
While you may cherish your relationship with your freelance clients, we hate to break it to you that they’re probably seeing other people on the side. Just as you manage multiple accounts, projects, assignments, and contracts, the uptick in attractiveness for freelance work means that your client is most likely utilizing numerous individuals to create content, manage websites, and more.
This “let’s see other people” relationship has a significant impact when it comes to how to write an invoice for your freelance work. Providing a detailed description of the assignment including the original assigned date, due date, internal contact (if any), invoice number, and key contract characteristics will allow your client to easily identify the individual work. This, in turn, will speed up payment of your invoice and get your well-earned cash burning a hole in your pocket. Need help remembering those key terms on your end? Bonsai’s host of products, including freelance time tracking and project dashboards, allow you to easily document and recount critical elements of your freelance career on demand.
3. Name your price
Another thing that drafters often overlook when thinking how to write an invoice for freelance work has to do with pricing. The first step of accepting any freelance contract should be a clear communication of potential fees, followed up with a written or otherwise documented, agreement between client and contractor. If you have somehow managed to miss this important step, it’s never too late to have the hard conversation about pricing. Open up a dialog before sending out your invoice to avoid delays in payment or potential hard feelings.
Another handy tip when it comes to pricing and freelance invoices is to be sure and clearly list outline items for individual projects. Rather than writing one large description for “work performed” create a new invoice line for each individual assignment, in some cases breaking down the task into component parts, if appropriate. If you are maintaining multiple contracts for a single client organization, consider invoicing out individual projects rather than grouping together. A clear price for each task makes it easier for the client to route to multiple approvers or double-check their records to ensure the work was performed and approved.
4. Don’t forget the taxes and fees
Pricing isn’t the only money detail that is important when it comes to writing up an invoice for freelance work. Complicated, multi-part contracts will often require out of pocket expenses or fees on behalf of the freelancer. If there were fees in addition to your freelancer service cost, be sure to line those items out for easy reference.
Another critical element that is often overlooked in writing invoices is the inclusion and clear separation of any applicable taxes. Most freelancers have a basic understanding of the unique tax rules and regulations that affect non-traditional jobs. Uncle Sam likes his money just like the rest of us and in some cases tax may be added directly to the invoice to be paid by the client. If listing out these details is sounding a bit...taxing...you’re in luck.
Bonsai’s freelance expenses & reporting tool makes tracking and calculating the add-ons in your freelance invoice a breeze. Nobody likes talking about money, but making contract pricing clear is a sure fire way to help avoid any delays in your invoice payment.
5. Communication and follow up
Speaking of communication, our last, but certainly not least, tip on how to write an invoice for freelance work focuses on keeping the lines of dialog open, even after you’ve sent off your initial invoice draft for payment. When writing your initial invoice request, keep things as clear and succinct as possible to help make your request for payment as understandable as your freelance work product. A professional invoice will clearly list your terms and potentially even the repercussions of non-payment, including additional fees.
Also important to note is that your perfectly crafted invoice is only as good as your method for getting the document into the client’s hands. Delivery of your invoice, along with a friendly cover letter, email, or another brief missive will go over much better than a simple attachment with instructions to “please pay”. Including a thank you note in the body of your invoice itself is always a great extra touch and is also a great way to let the payor know that you’re open to more work in the future.
Invoice creation made easy
Hopefully, these tips on how to write an invoice for freelance work have given you inspiration for sprucing up your payment process. If you’re looking for a little more assistance in the invoicing department, we have a final tip in mind: Bonsai’s service for freelance contract management and invoicing provides a streamlined method for payment processing and more.
With an integrated suite of products designed specifically with the freelancer in mind, Bonsai’s intuitive and easy to navigate platform can not only assist in drafting your next invoice, it can also track all aspects of individual contracts and even entire freelance portfolios.
Sign up today to give Bonsai a try and find out why freelancers everywhere are relying on us for writing invoices and beyond.