One of the toughest things that freelance designers face is figuring out how to invoice their clients. Whether you’re just starting out, or even if you been around a while, collecting payment from your clients can be nerve-racking. Every client is different. You may have a client that beats down your door for you to do work for them, but when it comes time to pay, they seem to disappear. Other clients may receive an invoice, only to pay by the end of the day. It’s important to understand how to set up your invoicing system to make things easy on you and your clients. I’ve put together a simple guide to invoicing clients to make your life easier.
Decide On A Dedicated Payment System
Whatever choices you make, it’s important that you have a system put together that is easy to understand. It has to be easy for you to do, and easy for your clients to do as well. The harder you make it on clients to pay you, the less likely you are to get paid on time or at all.
Offer Flexible Payments
Depending on the type of clients you work with, some may have a big budget for design and marketing services. Others made just be starting out, which means that they may not have the funds to pay you all at once. It may be a good idea to set up a system where you can accept payments throughout different milestones of the project. One thing I commonly do is break up payments in 25% intervals. If a project lasts eight weeks, I’ll build the client every two weeks for 25% of the overall payment.
You can set it up however you like, within reason. You don’t want to be accepting 5% payments for the next 20 months. This is difficult for you to keep up with, and it’s likely that the client may abandon payments somewhere in the middle of the invoicing process.
Accept Different Payment Methods
In the spirit of making things easy on your clients, it’s important to be flexible in how clients can pay. Some clients may be using a business credit card. Other clients may have a business bank account that they use to make payments. Some clients may be remote, so it’s important for you to have a way for them to pay you online. The easiest and most widely accepted payment method online is PayPal. I use PayPal to invoice roughly 60% of my clients. Many of them prefer to use PayPal because it is secure, fast, and easy.
Be Clear About Due Dates
One mistake I see a lot of designers make is to just send an invoice without any particular due date. They’ll put a date on the invoice itself, stating when it was sent, but that doesn’t tell the client much about when payment is expected. It’s important to put an expected due date on the invoice. You cannot make it five or 10 days from the day that the invoice was sent. This gives clients a clear grace period in which they can make their payment.
Be Firm When It Comes To Due Dates
It’s important for clients to know that you’re serious about receiving payment when it is expected. Placing a statement on your invoice, which mentions a late payment penalty, can deter clients from missing the due date. The last thing clients want to do is pay more money than they really have to.
If you use a form of electronic billing, such as PayPal, you can send reminder emails to your clients. Don’t send them a reminder every single day, because that can easily be seen as harassment or just plain being annoying. Instead, send a reminder 2 days before the final due date. If you haven’t received payment by the final day of the grace period on the invoice, send them another reminder in the morning of the final day of the grace period.
The reason that this can be helpful is because, like us, clients can be extremely busy. They’re trying to run their own business, too. Many times it just slips their mind. Helpful reminder a couple of days before the final due date can help them to get their payment in on time. With that being said, it can still slip their mind, or they may push it aside because I feel like they still have time to get it sent in. Sending a reminder on the morning of the final day will let them know that time has run out, and that the invoice needs to be paid by the end of the day to avoid a late charge.
If you are tech savvy, and you’re great at multitasking, then using an invoice system like PayPal could be perfectly fine for you. However, if you have a lot of clients to keep up with, and invoicing service can help you to keep track of payments, due dates, and unpaid invoices. Here’s a list of a few useful invoicing services that freelance designers prefer.
Fresh books is considered one of the easiest invoicing services on the web. You can start out for free, but services are limited. They can quickly become one of the most expensive services, coming in at over $100 per month. Fresh books does everything you would expect out of accounting software, such as keeping track of expenses, and generating reports.
QuickBooks online can be a great option if you’re already using it for your accounting services. If you’re already paying for it, it only makes sense to use QuickBooks to generate your invoices. They have some basic templates available, but you may be better off creating your own. You can do things such as set collecting reoccurring payments, and you also get access to a lot of analytical tools. This will help you to understand where your money’s coming from and where it’s going.
Blinksale is considered a popular option because of its affordable price at around $15-$20. You can create your own invoices, and handle invoicing clients electronically,which is definitely a plus. It’s also considered very easy and intuitive to use. It also integrates with PayPal, making it even more desirable.
Free agent is another option, ringing in and around $20 per month. You can create your own invoices, but they have many templates available. Free agent is easy to use and you can integrate everything. You can connect Free Agent with your bank account to make deposits easy.
Create Your Own Invoice
You can also create your own invoices. You can choose from just about any software you would like. I have an invoice template for when I meet clients in person. I created it in Photoshop, but you could create yours and Illustrator or InDesign and it will look just as good, if not better.
I’ve put together a few invoice templates that you can download and use to get started on your own. There are a few different layouts, all useful for creating itemized invoices for your clients. Invoicing clients has never been easier. Simply click the banner below to begin downloading.