10 Things to Know (How to Do) to Be a Freelancer
How to Handle Invoicing Without Getting Lost
If everything went well, all this time spent on sales & marketing, all these contracts signed and all that follow up of your prospects will turn into invoiced jobs. However, here too, there are some steps to take so you don’t get overwhelmed.
First, the easiest is to create an invoice template that includes everything you’re legally required to write (and that differs from country to country, although usually it’ll include your details, your customer’s details, the invoice number, the invoicing date and payment deadline, bank details, VAT number and that of the customer (if applicable), the list of products or services you’re invoicing and the amount for each, along with the total amount without and with VAT if needed). From there you only have to modify what needs be for each project you’re invoicing and then send the invoice.
Next I advise to store each invoice sent in its customer’s folder, in order to keep them close to the projects they’re about (and possibly other documents received that are relevant to the invoicing process, such as purchase orders). However I also advise to store a shortcut to each invoice in another folder, which allows to get a direct overview of all invoices sent. I usually rename these shortcuts so that they display the invoice number (which lets me sort them and quickly identify what number I’m at when creating new invoices), the customer’s name & project (not mandatory but allows to quickly identify what project is associated with what invoice), and finally the payment status: expected date (for instance “payment end of September”) and “paid” once paid, which lets me quickly identify and act upon delayed payments.
Finally for those working with many customers, I strongly suggest to keep track somewhere of all invoicing processes. Indeed, sometimes it’s as simple as sending our bill as a PDF to our contact along with the deliverable, but sometimes there are specific processes to adhere to: invoicing after each project VS at the end of the month for all jobs done, sending an invoice by e-mail VS uploading it on a dedicated online portal (or even just withdrawing funds from an online account that receives automated payments and creating an invoice at this point), waiting for a summary of all jobs to invoice VS having to keep an eye on them ourselves, etc. That document is also the perfect place to indicate each customer’s payment policy: method, potential minimums and costs, payment deadlines, etc.
Depending on how you invoice your customers, you may need to remember once a month to:
• Invoice clients that only want to receive one invoice per month for all jobs of that month BUT do not send any reminder (so unless you set up your own, these projects will never be invoiced).
• Generate invoices for the money received through automatic payments from clients that don’t request invoices. To keep things simple, I personally ensure all such automatic payments land in an online account (the customer’s proprietary system or an account provided by Wise, Payoneer and such as explained before) rather than straight to my Swedish bank account. That allows me to gather everything in one place and to make a unique withdrawal to my Swedish account when I want to, and to create an invoice for this amount at that time.