This is Part 1 of charging and invoicing for your writing
If you’re freelancing you’re also going to have to learn invoicing if you want to get paid. Oh sure, you can stick with outfits that pay automatically, but if you want to grow your business you need a wide variety of clients and most of them will want you to send an invoice.
And if you find you resist the idea of invoicing clients, know you’re not alone. Many freelancers, particularly on the more creative side, find themselves loath to bill their clients. They have all sorts of excuses and reasons – from not really knowing how to feeling guilty about charging for their services. Yes, creative freelancers sometimes have odd ideas about money. Fortunately you can learn to let go of those if you have them and adopt new ideas that support you and your business.
Invoicing is easier than ever
For years I generated every invoice almost from scratch using Word™. That method still works and you’ll find invoicing from scratch instructions and a real sample here.
Today, I use PayPal’s invoicing system. If you’ve got a business account with PayPal just log in, choose tools, then choose invoicing. (And if you don’t have a business account with PayPal it’s easy and you should consider it.) You can upload your logo, create even a long list of items at different prices, and know your total will be correct. You can also set the terms – I usually write “payment due upon receipt” unless some other arrangement has been made. There’s room for some notes for you only, and a note to your client. I also like that it’s easy to send reminder invoices if someone hasn’t paid.
From the client’s side, they don’t even need a PayPal account, but can click a link on the invoice you sent and use any credit card they have to pay you. Sure, you’ll pay a fee, but it’s less than most bank merchant accounts and doesn’t require monthly payments to retain the privilege of using them. Plus any fees you pay are business expenses and, in most cases, deductible, at least in the U.S.
PayPal isn’t the only payment system out there. Just be sure you understand any fees you’ll need to pay to use the service you choose.
3 Must haves for effective invoicing
Part of the key to successful invoicing is putting the right system for you in place so it and you operate as close to automatically as possible. You’ll need to make sure these three things happen:
Ability to time your work, unless you’re using flat fees
If you’re charging by the hour, you’ll need a reliable way to track your hours so your invoicing is accurate. This will be the topic of Part 2 of this series.
Away to keep track of what flat fees your charging when
We’ll talk about the ins and outs of charging flat fees in Part 3 of this series.
Establish the habit of invoicing regularly
Becoming willing and then implementing a regular invoicing system you’ll actually use is probably the most important part of this series. If you’ve got the other pieces in place you’ll find it easier to do.
If you have any questions about invoicing, please ask them in comments and I’ll answer them as we go along.
Write well and often,