As we’ve seen, freelancing is massively on the rise and with it, the need for new freelancers (or baby-lancers as I have coined them) to learn how to invoice and why it is still best practice.
Here’s one that used to be a real hurdle for me. Even when I was at university, doing art commissions for side-money, actually billing and invoicing clients used to be enough to send me into an absolute freak out… Even though I’d provided the service and the client was happy!
Invoicing and invoicing systems are a fantastic way to prove you’ve provided a service, to track who owes you what, and to keep on top of how much money is actually going through either your personal or business account (depending on if you’re a sole trader or business owner). Shifting my mindset about invoicing and charging was a real struggle and actually, if I’m totally honest, I still don’t charge nearly as much as I should but we’re getting there.
But for those of you that are still invoice-shy, I’d like you to consider shifting your mindset on invoices from ‘bill collector’ to considering it part of coming across as professional and giving better customer service – even for a small side-hustle. Boundaries with clients actually make you come across as more professional and put clients at ease. You do not need to be your client’s best friend, friendly but professional will usually get you a lot further. It builds trust that you will behave professionally with the rest of your services and the quality of your work. This extends far beyond just invoicing and to set the boundaries on when clients can contact you, if appropriate, and far more.
Those of you working with businesses know that all businesses have to track their finances, so invoices provide an easy, documented trail for your clients to keep track of their spending and see how much value you’re bringing them. That awkwardness you might feel sending the invoice is unwarranted. They have asked for a service you have provided, and with best practice, you discussed budget and pricing before doing the job. It’s very unlikely they expected you to do the work for free and when payment expectations are clear cut, it actually saves clients, particularly business owners, a lot of mental gymnastics and insecurity of knowing what payments are going when, and how much. Clarity and simplicity are what they need from you, and invoicing provides that.
Finally, in a worst-case scenario – they don’t pay on time, or sometimes at all. No-one wants to chase clients for money. When the invoice contains a date when the payment is due, there is no grey-area and both you and the client are clear on when it should, or shouldn’t be paid. So when you send up that email chasing them up for the payment, both of you know the terms were already set and you don’t end up feeling like you’re “hassling them”. You did a service, you set a date for the payment, and for whatever reason, they are running late and you are fully entitled to chase them up or remind them as a result. It gives you the legal protection and paper trail proving you provided the service, and expected payment of a certain amount, at a certain date. If worst comes to worst, this will be your safe-guard and an extra layer of protection for you financially if you have to go down the legal route to chase any payments from rogue clients.
Personally, I use a Canva template, and branded mine with a logo and other details but even a simple spreadsheet can work. Plenty of banking apps also provide invoicing services, and some even track them for you. So a quick shop around and you can see what options work best for you. If you’re fortunate enough to hire a virtual assistant, there’s absolutely no shame in paying someone else to do it for you so you can focus on the parts of your services that you’re best at.