Nothing can develop into a prickly situation more quickly for a freelancer than being unsure when the final payment due for work is going to arrive.
Invoicing is the worst. This isn’t a controversial statement. Ask any freelancer that bills more than $100 a month, and they’ll tell you that the prospect of invoicing sits somewhere between a Kenny G concert and getting mauled by a bear on the continuum of horrible ways to spend your time.
It’s an exercise in frustration. Not only is invoicing a major time drain — keeping tabs on expenses, tracking time, billing clients, and collecting payments, you also have to deal with hassles of clients that feel they have the right to pay you whenever they feel like it. The classical invoicing process is like death by a thousand tiny slices. And it’s your productivity that winds up in the ground.
But it doesn’t need to be this way. Invoice automation can help. There are tools available that allow you to automate many of the labor-intensive tasks that cause invoicing to be such a time-consuming chore. The more of your invoicing responsibilities you can set on auto-pilot, the more time you’ll have to focus on growing your business, doing good work, and really doing nearly anything else that doesn’t involve invoicing.
Track Your Time With Invoice Automation Software
Having an accurate accounting of how you spend your time is critical if you want your invoices to properly reflect the work you do. If you currently track your time using inefficient methods like spreadsheets, timesheets, or cocktail napkins, you’re doing an awful lot of work you don’t need to. And you are running the risk of missing hours you could bill for, or overbilling and upsetting clients.
Time tracking software is built to take the drudgery out of charting your hours. There are a number of packages available that allow you to rapidly, and accurately track your time by automating the data entry portion of the task. The faster, and easier it is to get your time in, the more likely it is that you’ll do it on a regular basis, and consistency is key.
Packages like AND.CO also incorporate automated invoicing based on tracked hours. With a few clicks, the software will take all of the hours you’ve logged to a specific project or client over a given period of time and instantly generate an invoice to bill for those hours.
Imagine if your kitchen could automatically prepare meals based on the groceries you put in your refrigerator. That’s essentially the same thing.
Create Recurring Invoices
Invoice automation software lets you set invoicing schedules for clients that purchase the same products or services on a regular basis. Instead of manually invoicing them each month, you can let your software bill for you.
Depending on the automation package you choose, you can even create recurring invoices for clients that purchase regularly but vary the amount. By hitching scheduled invoices to automatic generation based on tracked hours, your software can build truly automated invoices that you need only check for accuracy and then send.
Move Away From Paper Invoices
If you’re still printing and mailing paper invoices, in envelopes, with stamps you have to pay for, stop. Put down the return address stamper and back away. There are far better ways to invoice today. Moving to digital invoices allows you to have your invoice in your client’s “hand” immediately.
You get far more control over how your clients interact with your invoices. You can have integrated conversations, track where your invoice is in its payment cycle, and create automated payment reminders. On one screen you can see all of your outstanding invoices for a complete picture of your receivables.
Digital invoice automation also allows the inclusion of payment methods directly inside of your invoice. The easier you make it for your client to pay, the more likely it will be that they do it, and do it on time. AND.CO’s integrated invoicing system offers all of these features plus many more. It’s built specifically with freelancers in mind, so you’ll find everything you need to make your invoicing work for you, instead of the other way around.
Automate Expense Collection
Income is only half of your financial equation, albeit the half you get excited about. Tracking expenses is just as important, particularly if you don’t want the IRS beating down your door and carrying you off into the night. That probably isn’t something they do, but it makes for great narrative drama.
Instead of collecting receipts in manilla folders and manually entering each one into a spreadsheet, or worse, not entering them into a spreadsheet, leaving you clueless about what your expenses are until tax time, use a tool like AND.CO to automate the process. Their expense tracker lets you snap pictures of receipts with your mobile device for instant inclusion in your expenses tally. You can also forward any receipts you receive through email.
Tie your credit cards and bank accounts in, and you’ll have a fully automated pipeline from expense to register that requires almost no effort on your part.
Imagine if your kitchen automatically created shopping lists based on the groceries you use. That’s essentially the same thing.
Do Everything You Can to Never Create Another Manual Invoice Again
Invoice automation tools like AND.CO provide a number of other efficiency features that help to automate your entire invoicing process. On top of creating invoices based on tracked hours, you can also generate them directly off of the information included in the proposals you create when bidding for projects. Do the work once instead of twice.
You can also set project milestones, that automatically trigger invoices when those milestones are reached. This is ideal for larger projects and can help with cash flow.
You’re also not tied to your office when you move to an online, digital invoice automation package. Your information is saved in the cloud, which means you can use a mobile app to create and send invoices anywhere you happen to be.
Invoice Automation Is a Freelancer’s Best Friend
Invoicing is the lifeblood of a freelancer’s business. If you don’t invoice, you don’t get paid. And if you don’t get paid, you don’t eat. As your business grows, all of the manual tasks surrounding invoicing can swallow up huge portions of your day. Invoice automation gives you that time back.
Imagine if your kitchen could create food from thin air, make everything taste like bacon, generate rainbows at will, and project beams of pure happiness directly into your heart. That’s essentially the same thing.