Creating invoices is an important skill for freelance writers to have, as it 1) builds your credibility and 2) makes sure your payment terms are clear. The more professionalism you show as a freelance writer, the more comfortable clients feel about working with you.
The clearer your terms are, the more clients are encouraged to have open conversations with you. Just as importantly, the presence of an official invoice shows any third parties who may get involved that you as a freelance writer were clear and open with your client about your rates, processing fees, and payments due.
We will get into the importance of having a freelance writing invoice template in a while.
What is an invoice?
An invoice, according to Merriam-Webster, is “an itemized list of goods shipped usually specifying the price and the terms of sale.” Freelance writers, however, sell services rather than goods.
Therefore, a freelance writer invoice template is generally an “itemized list” of services rendered, specifying the specific services and the price points for each or a summary total amount due to the writer.
The invoice, usually based on an invoice template, is delivered from the writer to the address of the client.
What Is a Freelance Writing Invoice Used For?
Let us look at what professional invoices are used for in the freelance writing business, and why you should use one for your services or work.
Freelance writing invoices itemize the services rendered
Sellers of goods have an advantage when it comes to invoicing: goods are easy to itemize and price by piece. If a client pays for three working lightbulbs, they (ideally) receive three working lightbulbs.
On the other hand, for freelance writers, they can be paid any number of ways: by word, by page, by hour, by month. Invoices itemize the rendered and services provided, often clarify the unit prices (per word, per hour, etc.), and help writers explain their rates to clients.
Freelance writing invoices formally request payment from clients
For many beginning freelance writers and freelancers, negotiating rates can be nerve-wracking. Requesting or following up on payments can be 10 times more stressful.
An invoice template eliminates some of the stress by providing a more professional invoice framework you can work with. Rather than an email request that you need to worry about wording, you can send an invoice that has all the necessary details, straightforward and practical and professional.
When you have your own invoice template, you will discover how much easier it is to explain your services, present your rates, and request your payments.
Creating an Invoice As a Freelance Writer
You don’t need to create your own invoice from scratch. In fact, doing so might make you miss some details that should be in the document from the beginning.
There are quite a number of invoice templates that are provided that you can use as well. In the next steps, let’s look at how to write an invoice.
The last section will be devoted to templates.
Step 1: Know what your invoice needs
What details must your invoice template absolutely contain? Here is a list.
your BUSINESS name and business logo
Your client most likely receives more than one invoice at a time. Having your company name and logo (if you have one) clearly stated in the header saves both you and your client a lot of time.
your contact information
You might think, since you were the one who sent the invoice document, that they have your contact details anyway. However, you never know where that invoice will go once the document is downloaded by the client.
Having your contact details easy to find in your document means you lessen any back-and-forth that may happen internally in the client company or between yourself and the client.
the client you are invoicing
Make sure you use the client’s whole legal company name and indicate that the invoice is being prepared for them. It would be too easy for a client to deny that the work was done for them without this detail.
a unique invoice number
Unique invoice numbers are extremely important for bookkeeping, as well as for internal accounting. Whenever you look up that invoice number, you should be able to find that document, as well as any other documents that refer to it or include the invoice number.
The date of invoice
Make sure you date the invoice template for bookkeeping, but also to keep track of the dates that you plan to follow up if needed. You may add an “expiration date” or “due date” as well.
a table of services rendered
Lists are fine too, but we strongly recommend a table just to keep things clear and straightforward. Break down the items as much as you can.
For example, if you wrote content for a website, list down every page you wrote for (home page, about page, contact us page, etc.). Write down the pricing per page that you had agreed upon with the client.
the total due
Summarize the total at the end of the invoice template, and make sure that it is easy to identify. Don’t write the total in such a way that the smaller amount is clearer to see, and don’t add any fees, charges, or costs that the client did not know about beforehand.
how and when to pay
The payment terms should always include how to pay, with as many payment options as you can give, even outlining credit card processing fees. You can then set the terms of payment, such as down payments, installment payments if you are doing in that way, as well as intervals between the payments.
Again, none of these should be a surprise to your client. The payment rates and terms should all have been decided long before your invoice issue date.
Step 2: Assemble your official invoice for freelance writing
To ensure the freelance writing invoice templates have everything you need, you can consider creating the invoice yourself, or having an in-house (if you’re connected with a specific group) or external designer create one for you. One advantage of that is a design unique to you.
The disadvantage, of course, is that there are quite a number of templates that already meet your needs and make the invoicing process much easier
Step 3: Look for the best invoice template for your business
Google Docs’ template gallery has several free invoice templates that you can use or modify to include all the details your invoice should have. It is easy to edit, especially on the Google Doc template, so you have less to figure out and the invoice process goes smoothly. Microsoft Word also has similar templates.
Canva’s free invoice templates are also well-made and easy to modify for you to create professional invoices. Just be sure to review the details and make sure the template has everything you need for your freelance writing business. As long as you know how to write a professional invoice, this should not be a challenge.
You probably have a few more questions about the freelance writing invoice template, which we will do our best to answer. Don’t worry, you’re very close to the end!
When is the right time to send an invoice to your freelance writing clients?
The answer nobody wants to hear is “it depends.” However, if we look at the best practices out there, there are some factors that decide the “right time” for this.
Firstly, your goal is to be get paid promptly, upon or within the time frame you agreed upon with the client. So let’s look at some time frames, and the factors that make it the best choice for your project.
- As soon as the writing project is completed. This is the most common timeframe. What should exist before this invoice is sent: 1) an agreement where the amount was outlined, and 2) the client’s final approval of the project. In other words, they should be expecting the invoice, and have prepared for the requested amount in advance.
- At the beginning of the project. If your project has a deposit or the professional fee is paid in advance, you can send a partial or full invoice at the start of the project. However, we suggest not to receive full payment in advance, as that may put too much pressure on you.
- Per project milestone. If you have a long project with multiple milestones, you might want to decide with the client to be paid per milestone. This will keep your cash flow steady.
- Within 48 hours of project completion. If you are not that comfortable following up right after project completion, this gives you a margin to work with.
- Weekly or every two weeks. Entrepreneur Dejan Jacimovic swears by invoicing on Tuesdays; Tuesday invoices are paid in the same week. Vistr decided after studying 300,000 clients that weekend invoicing worked better, as clients would pay 10 days earlier than those invoiced on weekdays. Gravity Credit Control, however, sees Mondays as their best days, as long as the invoices are sent before the business day begins. Try out the suggestions and make your own rhythms as you discover your client styles!
- Monthly. This is not generally recommended, as customers with delayed invoices tend to expect a longer payment duration. However, if you send out multiple invoices, this may work for you. You may also opt to send these right after usual paydays such as the 15th or 30th.
How to send your invoice to the client
You can write an invoice and send it via mail, email, or via an invoice generator or accounting software. Here are some of the pros and cons when you send professional invoices.
- Mail. If you send invoices via mail, you will need the billing address or mailing address of your client. There may be some delay in delivery, you will need to pay shipping charges unless you bill clients for it (not recommended), and they may not receive it in a timely manner. This will inevitably slow down your payment.
- Email. If you send invoices via email, you will save time. Many freelance writers are comfortable with this, and most clients expect it. The whole process is simple, allows your business to easily track correspondence, and makes follow ups so much easier.
- Invoice generator or accounting software. This may be simpler because it delivers the total amount and all necessary contact information and other details without you needing to assemble it every time. It can create an invoice usually at the click of a button, and integrate it with whatever accounting you are already doing.
Invoicing can be nerve-wracking, but as you get used to it, you’ll see how it pays off!