There is nothing like the experience of getting that notification for the very first paid invoice for freelance work.
I remember the first time I charged $1000 for an article. I didn’t believe that the client was really going to pay.
Of course things were delayed but one day I was on the phone with a friend as the email ticked in and I thought HOLY SHIT, ITS REAL. It was amazing.
In this article we’ll look at an invoice template you can download along with tips for how to send the invoice to the client and what to write in your message when sending them the invoice.
Downloadable invoice template
I’ve prepared a basic invoice template that you can easily copy and use. Open the Google doc and click FILE > Make a copy.
Keep in mind that I am not a lawyer and so you shouldn’t consider this legal advice but rather what has worked based on my experience with clients.
Adding tax depends on your specific country, so I can’t help and tell you what to add (and if you do need to collect tax at all).
What to say in the invoice message
Have you ever needed to invoice for freelance work and just kept delaying it over and over again? Why do we sometimes procrastinate over sending out an invoice?
I’ve had that experience and noticed that it might come from fearing what happens after we send the invoice. It could be the questions the client has about the invoice e.g. why a certain item is seems expensive or that they don’t want to pay, and we might fear getting into an uncomfortable situation.
Part of being professional is sending the invoice on time because otherwise, the client has to keep the budget set aside for whenever we send it which can be annoying for their planning.
I’ve prepared a simple script you can copy-paste, tweak, and send with your email. Generally, I like to have had a call with the client after the project and before sending this invoice to hand over the project, especially if it’s a large one.
That way, the client doesn’t get surprised and feel like we are just trying to get rid of the project and throw them an invoice.
What to say in the email you send with the template:
As mentioned on our call yesterday, I’m sending over the invoice. Please find it attached.
Item 4 might sound confusing so I figured I’d clarify here for your convenience. The strategy and planning included the entire project A, B, and C.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments.
Obviously, you need to exchange a few things in there based on your own situation. In my experience, clarifying doesn’t need to be a long essay. Just a little something to make things easier.
For new freelancers, you don’t need to add much extra to the message beside a thank you and clarify anything that might be unclear in the project (if at all).
Other useful tips for your freelance invoice
Let’s look at some other useful tips that I’ve discovered through experience. They don’t fit in anywhere so I created this section for you.
The invoice as marketing material
The invoice can also be an opportunity for marketing, if you want it to be.
For example by suggesting certain payment software with an affiliate link so if they sign up, you’ll get a commission.
I don’t recommend playing around with this if you are new to freelancing. Instead, focus on getting paid and landing more projects.
Which currency to invoice the client in
I like to ask for the money in THEIR currency to make it more convenient for the client.
With tools like Transferwise, it is affordable to transfer money between currencies and by making things convenient for the client, you are sending a signal about the quality of service you are delivering. It is a part of your product.
Don’t ask for different currencies or to sign up for random tools unless they are excited about it already. If you do, give them an incentive like that they can save $50 which might be the fee you pay Paypal to receive the money anyway.
What to do if they don’t pay on time
If a client doesn’t pay on time, assume the best. They are probably busy and simply forgot about it. Most people are just distracted and inherently good.
Send them one or two friendly reminders and if you still don’t get a reply, consider CC’ing the finance department or whoever is in charge of finances (you might be able to find the info on LinkedIn).
People don’t want to come across as bad payers (it’s embarrassing) in other’s eyes so that often helps.
One of the best tricks to get the invoice paid is to schedule another project that the client wants done. That incentivizes them to pay, so you can get moving on the new project – just like movie actors work to get booked for the next movie before their current one hits the cinema.
If they ask you to start before you are paid for the previous project, you could simply tell them that you’d like to but you aren’t able to schedule the hours to complete it until the other project has been paid for.
How to receive your money as a freelancer
There are different ways to receive money as a remote freelancer. Besides bank transfer, Paypal and Payoneer are popular options.
I don’t have experience with Payoneer. I tried signing up for the service but I couldn’t get it to work.
PayPal is good if you are starting out but as you grow, you might want to use a service with more control.
Transferwise is my favorite choice for bank transfers in different currencies because it’s as cheap as it gets and their dashboard is SO easy to use compared to standard internet banking.
The client experience
We can play around with the experience we offer to clients.
For example by deliberately giving them some small part of the project for free as a token of gratitude. It depends on how you want your services to look in their eyes e.g. if it is good value for money.
If you do something like this, the trick is to tell the client about it in a polite way since they might not notice it otherwise.
We might say something like “I don’t normally offer free projects but I was interested to see if this would be relevant so this one is on the house.”
Keep in mind that this is advanced tactics so don’t bother with them if you are just starting out.
Reducing transfer fees
I know it will be tempting to try to cut fees out or get the client to pay them. Don’t. It is the wrong thing to focus on and very off-putting to the client receiving it.
Instead, focus on getting another project that will earn you more money or calculate the fees into your fees before the project start.
Should you use invoicing tools?
Don’t bother with software if you are a new freelancer because you’ll have to spend energy learning it even if it is easy.
Just use the template above and focus on doing an awesome job for clients. That’s what matters.
How do I invoice as a freelancer?
Use the freelance invoice template in this article and you are good to go. A simple document is just fine as you are starting out.
Can a freelancer issue an invoice?
Yes, a freelancer an issue an invoice. I’ve created a free template you can copy in two clicks within this article. No signup needed.
What does a freelance invoice look like?
A freelance invoice is a simple document stating the freelancer, the client, the project details between them and how to pay the freelancer fee.
How do I create a simple invoice?
You can simply copy the invoice simple invoice in this article, fill in your information and you are good to go. It shouldn’t take you more than five minutes.