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6 Tips For Invoices That Get You Paid

freelance writing invoiceOften enough to surprise me, writers ask me about invoicing. The questions fall mostly into two categories. The simplest to answer is the ‘how do I create an invoice?’ Or ‘what should an invoice look like?‘ As I show in those two linked article setting up a freelance writing invoice is actually easy.

Setting up a business account with PayPal, which is also simple, will allow you to easily send invoices to your clients. The advantage of this is they can pay you with a single click, entering their credit card number even if they don’t have a PayPal account. Yes, PayPal does charge a fee – about what you’d pay if you had a merchant account to take credit cards. The biggest difference is you won’t be saddled with a monthly fee.

The other questions fall in what I’ve come to call the I’m-not-sure-I-deserve-to-get-paid category. The typical symptoms include failing to invoice in a timely manner and failing to re-invoice when payment isn’t received.

These 6 steps to a freelance writing invoice

  1. Understand that you truly do deserve to get paid for your writing and editing work. If acceptance of your real worth as a writer is a major problem get help to solve it.

  2. Make sure you have a written agreement about  the nature of the work, the amount of pay and the payment terms.
  3. Set up a regular time to send invoices and put it in your calendar. How often you send your itemized bill will depend on the nature of your writing business, but will range from once a week to monthly. You’ve got to get the invoices out if you want to get paid.
  4. Develop your own template, or use a program like Quicken or FreshBooks to keep invoicing simple and get it done.
  5. If you have a late payment charge, and you probably should, include it on every invoice as a way to politely encourage payment.
  6. If you haven’t received payment, re-bill!

As a freelance writer it’s up to you to make sure you get paid. Invoicing is a powerful tool that’s easy to use and effective.

How often do you invoice? What invoicing system do you use?

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman freelance writer



Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Finally i have found some information on this topic, great! Thanks for the reading.

  • Anne

    Tina, it depends on what you agreed to in the beginning… look at your market guidelines. And just btw, a publication that buys your manuscript is under no obligation to print it in most cases.

  • Nan

    Do you think paper invoices by mail are better than email invoices? I am used to sending paper invoices for my ‘other’ business, I’m thinking maybe I should have an invoice book printed for freelance writing. Easily done, and looks professional.

    • Nan, in my experience it varies… some clients want paper invoices, others want online/emailed invoices and some don’t care… so I ask. I’ve set up a word template that also looks professional but my business doesn’t require a whole lot of invoices to be profitable.

  • I ten to get many of my clients through places like Elance. Their system allows you to invoice through them and they take a deposit in advance for you. For new clients I always ask for 100% to be paid to the escrow system before I start the work.

    However for my regular clients, I feel that trust is very important, so I invoice them once a month, after the work is complete. This way they know when to expect an invoice and they are not receiving upwards of 4 or 5 a month.

    Some clients pay immediately and others need a little coaxing. Thankfully I have never been stood up when it comes to payment of an invoice.

    I accept payment through Paypal or direct to my bank account. Of course direct is always better as it saves on fees.

    • Sounds like you’ve got a good system that works for you Megan, good job.

  • Paypal has a great invoice service and it’s very easy to use. If you’re looking for printable invoices, use microsoft templates. A Google search for “invoice template” will lead to a number of such documents.

    If you put in the time and energy it takes to create great writing, you deserve payment! Good luck to all.

    • Good idea… I’ve used Paypal once in a while and had forgotten about them… thanks

  • I invoice for my 50% deposit and I invoice at the completion of the project. For some established clients, I send the balance billing when I deliver the draft. Sometimes there are no edits (or so minor they handle them) and if it does need editing, my contract states I do up to two rounds. I’ve never had to go to a 2nd round.

    One of my clients has review by executive physicians and it is not unusual for them to get around to their feedback a month or so later. That’s why my client suggested I send the final bill with the draft. Love clients like that!

    I created my own Excel invoice system that assigns Invoice #s, the actual invoice, and tracks when it was sent, the amount, and when payment was received.

    • Anne

      Sounds like a good system Cathy, and yes, I love those kinds of clients too, and there are more out there than many recognize.

    • Tell you what, the biggest problem is NOT preparing the invoice, BUT procuring the payment at times. Think about all those clients you worked with, who fled away somewhere under some shed only to shirk away from the payment thingy. What would you do then? I would remove the serious gracious writer personality then and kick his butt (pardon my language!).

      • Late fees… late fees are a good way to urge them to pay!

  • Great post, Anne. I think many new writers (and a few veterans) are afraid to push for what’s owed them. That comes from viewing yourself as a writer and not a business owner. You’re both.

    • Anne

      yes, we’re both business folks and writer folks… and we deserve payment… can’t say it often enough.

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