How To Achieve That Perfect Client Mix For Your Freelance Business
Growing your list of active clients is much like growing a garden. Some plants shoot up quick and are gone before you know it. Others give
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When you take the leap into freelance writing full-time, learning how to generate an invoice likely isn’t your first thought. Instead, your mind is focused on an immediate sense of validation.
The naysayers aside, you’ll have family, friends, and professional contacts all congratulating you on the leap in one way or another.
“Good for you!”
“How brave. That’s something I could never do.”
“So cool. You’re so lucky to be your own boss and work whenever (and wherever) you want to.”
It may be premature but not unwarranted. You should celebrate the actions taken on your part to begin freelance writing.
The phrase, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” that you’ll find plastered across inspirational quote boards on Pinterest is a bit misleading. Starting out on your own—whether its your main focus or a side hustle—requires its fair share of logistical and mental preparation.
When you do what you love, you’ll likely challenge yourself in ways you never have before. Some days may feel like a hustle. Some days may feel like a grind. But ultimately, there’s joy to be found in the process—and success.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. First thing’s first, you have to get paid.
It’s something that, after working a traditional 9 to 5, many first-time freelance writers take for granted. And fail to prepare for.
As a freelancer, you’re likely wearing not just many, but all the hats. This includes that of Chief Financial Officer.
More broadly speaking, it’ll work in your favor to think through how to handle your bookkeeping efficiently sooner rather than later. Keeping track of your finances is something that can easily fall through the cracks and cause unwanted issues down the road.
In the world of freelance writing especially, you’ll find that the more attention you pay to the numbers, the easier it’ll be to set your rates. You can be confident knowing what you’re charging factors in expenses, taxes, and available resources accordingly.
In addition to finding consistent freelance writing work, closing deals, and making good on promised deliverables—you’ll also need to master a process for receiving compensation within your first 30 days.
This means learning how to write and send an invoice to clients.
Let’s dig deeper into how to invoice for freelance writers:
The great thing about freelancing nowadays is the volume of resources available to learn from. You don’t have to reinvent the invoicing wheel.
What you do have to do is invest the time and effort to create a process that works for you. The good news: once you’ve created a workable invoice template for your freelance writing, you can recycle it across all future projects sold.
To get started, decide on a tool to use in creating your invoice template.
If you choose to start from scratch with a basic tool like Google Docs, consider how it’ll factor into the invoicing process in its entirety. Since it’s not connected to any other systems, using this bare bones approach may result in many manual hours of your time spent downloading, generating emails, following up, receiving payment, and so on.
Alternatively, you can opt to use a free invoicing software that helps streamline the process from sent to paid. The benefit of a smart invoicing app is efficiency—it allows you to create invoices automatically and stay in the know with triggered alerts.
In general, the easier your invoicing process, the easier it is to get paid.
When you’re freelance writing, you’re running a business. Realize that if you don’t take the necessary steps in protecting your time, effort, and work—no one else will.
In the beginning, it’s easy to be blinded by the aforementioned validation and self-motivation high. Especially when you book that first client.
As a party of one up against larger corporations, you may be more apt to bend to their prescribed way of doing things or foregoing your chosen process. While there’s a time and place for being flexible, don’t think of your payment terms as one of them.
You’ll likely have to negotiate on pricing initially, as you build out a client base. But net 90 payment terms and a handshake agreement will never work in your favor.
As a freelancer, why should you be expected to extend credit to an enterprise organization?
Invoicing is a means of keeping your payments on schedule, yes. But it’s also important for you and your clients’ records. Their finance team will benefit from the documentation come tax time, as will you.
As you’re building out an invoice for freelance writing, don’t overcomplicate things. Unlike your website, things like look and feel shouldn’t be a main concern.
If you have a logo, feel free to insert it in the header area for brand consistency. But don’t overdo it.
Your client’s finance team is really only concerned that it looks professional and includes all of the information they need to record and match payments.
Depending on the size of the company you’re writing for, you may also end up having to submit invoices into an automated payment processing system like Tipalti or Bill.com. In these cases, there may be specific formatting needs to ensure an invoice is submitted successfully.
More often than not though, you’ll cover your bases with an invoice template that includes the following.
On every freelance writing invoice you send, don’t forget to include who should be getting paid—you. If your client goes the route of mailing checks, this will give them access to your most up-to-date billing address.
Format it to include your business’ name and mailing address. You can also include your website address, email, and phone number to provide additional ways for them to contact you.
Flyingbird Social Media
401 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
Don’t forget to leave space for your client’s contact information on your freelance writing invoice template, as well.
This will help from a records standpoint. If you ever have to cross-reference or follow up on payments down the road, you’ll save time with all of the information needed living in one document. For US-based freelancers working with international clients, oftentimes, including the client’s contact information is necessary for compliance.
Both you and your client’s information can be left-aligned on your invoice. Or you can format them on opposite sides of each other in the header.
Every great invoicing process starts with the solid foundation of a contract that clearly outlines your payment process and expectations.
Make note of when an invoice is submitted, when it’s due, and your payment terms. If you ever get pushback from a client during a follow-up, you can reference this information as a back-up.
In the same vein, if you’re documenting payments in a centralized location, you should be able to track trends across clients over time. As your workload increases, this will help you better determine who’s worth your efforts.
If you’re using an invoicing software, it should automatically generate these numbers with every new invoice created. If you’re not, create a system—with numbering starting at 001, 1001, or whatever consistent convention you prefer.
The key is that you have a way of matching records back to each other as invoices are sent and paid.
How you map out deliverables may change based on client preferences. For the sake of your freelance writer invoice template, however, you’ll want to list items around project type.
For example, if you were contracted for two blogs and one white paper, list them as two separate line items. Include relevant details like word count and titles as desired.
How you document work performed will depend on whether your agreement with a client is based on hourly or flat fees. Take note of the number of hours worked or pieces created to help in calculating final costs accurately—and ensure you get paid what you’re due.
You can align your time spent or the number of deliverables produced with a corresponding price.
If you’re working with an invoicing system that also accepts payments, options for how to pay should generate automatically alongside your invoice template. This simplifies things for your clients, which usually translates to more money in the bank for you on time.
Download invoice templates to customize for your freelance writing business.
With your freelance writing invoice template all laid out, you’re ready to start requesting those dollars and cents.
Make sure every invoice you send is accompanied with a personalized note. This is crucial for the sake of relationship-building and retaining clients for the long-term.
In the subject line of your email, make reference to your business’ name and the invoice number. Then attach your invoice. Make sure it’s saved as a PDF so it can’t be easily altered on their end.
For the body of your email, keep the tone short, sweet, and above all else—thankful. For example:
Dear [Client Name],
Find my most recent invoice for [X] work completed attached to this email.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this project. Working alongside the [Company Name] team is always an enjoyable experience.
Please let me know if there are any questions or issues to address.
If you’re using an invoicing tool, much (or all) of these details can be generated automatically.
Give an edge to your professionalism while making your business look bigger than it is with an automated email signature. This is where you can include links to additional recent work for the sake of sparking future business as well.
Freelance writing is a great job—as long as you’re getting paid. This is why it’s crucial to spend the necessary time upfront creating an invoice template you can use time and time again across clients.
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