For most freelancers, contracts are either: complicated, intimidating, mysterious, and bothersome — or— simple, rewarding, and worth the effort. At least that’s what I’ve seen while
There are few things more exciting as a freelancer than getting an “invoice paid” alert in your email and seeing real money hit your business bank account.
Yes, the work you do is fun. And the clients you work with may be great. But until you get paid for your freelance work, you might as well be spending your time on an interesting hobby, not running a business.
Whether you have a happy or complicated relationship with money as a freelancer, one thing remains true:
You’re not in business until your invoices get paid.
So in today’s Pro Freelancer Fundamentals article, we’ll tackle two critical elements of getting paid as a freelancer:
- Invoice clarity and
- Invoice consistency
If you can master these two elements—clarity and consistency—you’ll eliminate 99% of the reasons your invoices are not getting paid on time (or at all).
Why Clarity & Consistency?
Before we dive into the “how” of clear and consistent invoices, it seems worth taking a moment to answer this question:
“Why do my invoices have to be clear and consistent?”
The reasoning is simple. Your invoicing habits say A LOT about you as a freelancer. How and when you invoice your clients speaks volumes.
If you’re clear and consistent in your invoicing, your clients will know you mean business and take paying you much more seriously.
If you’re unclear or lazy when it comes to sending or collecting invoices, your clients will also be lazy when it comes to paying you.
That’s never good.
So take it from me: putting in a small amount of extra effort up front will pay off massively as you grow your freelance business.
Invoice Clarity = Quick Payment
Let’s start off by talking about your invoice clarity. When I say “clarity” I’m referring to ensuring your client can quickly and easily see:
- Who the invoice is from
- What the invoice is for
- How much they owe you
- Where, when, and how to pay
Of course, this all becomes automatic and easy when using our free invoice generator or our invoicing app within the AND.CO Suite, which will generate a professional, clean invoice automatically once your client accepts your proposal.
Let’s break down each of these with a little more detail.
Clarifying who the invoice is from
Aside from the word INVOICE in large letters at the top of the page. Including your company name, personal name, logo, and contact information is among the most important aspects of creating an invoice as a freelancer.
Ensure you use the same business name or personal information your client is used to working with and the same information the accounting department is likely to have in their system in order to avoid delays in getting paid.
If at any point, you have to change your name or any contact information, notify your client before sending an invoice with that new information in order to clarify the invoicing process as much as possible.
Clarifying what the invoice is for
Next, your invoice is likely to get paid much more quickly when the client knows exactly what they’re paying for.
You’ll avoid emails like: “remind me what invoice #1234 was for again?” which are just another pit stop on the way to getting paid for your freelance work.
If you charge by the hour, consider using AND.CO’s time-tracking capabilities to add time-based line items directly to your invoice. There are lots of reasons to be using a time-tracker, but adding clarity to your invoice is definitely at the top of the list.
Clarifying how much they owe you
This may seem obvious, but if the client doesn’t immediately know how much to send you, your invoice payment could get significantly delayed.
That’s why it’s important to include all relevant price information clearly on your invoice. If you use AND.CO’s invoice templates, you’ll always have a place to include relevant cost information including:
- Line Item Costs
- Additional Fees or Taxes
- Total Due
Remember, the goal is to give your client as much clarity and information as possible in order to expedite and guarantee your payment.
Clarifying where and how to pay
Finally, it’s critical to remove any confusion or roadblocks around where, how, and when to pay your invoice.
If you’re sending a PDF invoice via email, make sure to include a clickable link where your client can enter their payment information and send a payment.
Even better, we recommend using an invoicing app like the one in the AND.CO suite to take the pressure off getting your invoices perfect every time.
You can create an AND.CO invoice in around 20 seconds. And easy, secure payments are directly embedded which means you can accept credit cards and ACH payments online right from your invoices without an extra step.
Clarity: Next Steps
There are, of course, lots of other factors to consider when it comes to making your invoices extremely clear.
Design, font choice, file type, email subject line, language, and lots more play a role in making your invoice as clear as possible.
As you focus on the ideas suggested in this section, your clients will be as clear as possible on who to pay, when to pay, and how to pay and you’ll see your invoice payments come in consistently.
In the event that you don’t, you may have some work to do when it comes to consistency in your invoicing. We’ll tackle that next.
Invoice Consistency = Full Payment
In addition to being as clear as possible about your invoice and the details therein, one of the most critical elements of getting paid as a freelancer comes with consistency.
Consistency not only shows you’re a professional but also shows you’re serious about collecting payment for the work you’ve completed.
Here are a few key ways to improve your invoice consistency.
Consistently following up
First, it’s critical you’re consistent when following up with a client who hasn’t paid your invoice.
In one study, researchers found follow-up emails get an even better response than original emails: an 18% response to email #1, 13% to email #4, and 27% to email #6.
The moral of this study: be consistent in your follow-up.
That’s why we’ve built automatic reminders (for you AND your client) into our invoicing tool.
We’ll let you know if a client is late in paying their bill and we’ll remind them of their duty to pay. Easily receive alerts on your desktop, device, or even through Slack.
Keeping invoice design/layout consistent
If you have a long-term client who regularly processes your invoices, you should maintain consistency in how each invoice looks.
Keep critical information (covered in the “clarity” section previously) in the same place on the invoice each time you send it.
You can also make consistent design easy by using our invoicing tool or even these free invoice templates instead of re-creating an invoice in spreadsheet software or page design app every single time.
Maintaining consistent communication & organization
Finally, it’s critical you’re consistent in the way you communicate your invoices and organize them.
- Keep your invoice numbers consistent.
- Always send invoices the same way (email, in-app, messenger, etc.)
- Consistently include any information your client needs in order to pay you.
Consistency: Next Steps
Consistency doesn’t have to be hard. Running your business in a consistent manner is as important (or maybe more important) than the actual service you provide to your clients.
We know time can easily get away from you as a freelancer making it hard to send follow-up emails on unpaid invoices or draft up invoices in the first place. That’s why we encourage you to leverage the power of our freelancer suite to automate your invoicing for maximum consistency.
By following the advice in the section above, consistency will pay off for you and your business over the long run by rewarding you with consistent payments from clients.