When dealing with invoicing, there is a dream goal: Information laid out clearly, systematically, and efficiently. Payments from customers coming in on time, with less time spent on the challenge of hunting for information. This doesn’t have to be a dream, but effective invoicing takes some intentional steps. We would love to give you some tips on things to do, as well as things to avoid, in invoicing.
No one likes a surprise charge on an invoice, nor does anyone want to go through that awkward conversation. When you are writing an invoice, make sure the language you use matches the language of when you were talking about the services provided. For example: what is your unit of measurement for a job? What are your customers paying for? If it is an art commission, are they paying for the painting, or the time you spent on it, or both? Are your customers paying per word, or per article you write? Whatever unit you use to evaluate your product or service, reflect it in the invoice.
Invoices are the way in which we get paid. Therefore, it is important that the information on the invoice is as accurate as possible. Make sure that the invoice is correctly addressed, both in destination and to the person to whom it is concerned. When that isn’t entirely certain, perhaps when dealing with a business, address it to the business instead. The easiest way to do this, particularly when dealing with recurring invoices, is to make a record you can access for clients. Putting the information in one time correctly, and being able to transfer it in makes it much less likely for you to make mistakes!
Make it clear who the invoice is from. Many people do business with a number of companies and individuals. If they are pleased with the work, they are even likely to go back to the same person. Often, customers look at previous invoices to see who had done a job previously. If the invoice doesn’t clearly state who did the work, and what was done, they may not be able to remember and contact you for more work.
Being organized is a huge part of a small business. Invoices can help keep track of payments, as well as keep a record of business you have done in the past. This can be important when doing taxes. Make sure you save the correspondence in relation to the work being done, as well as copies of the invoice, to help keep records of the arrangements made. Doing so electronically is the most convenient way to do this, but it can also be done simply by printing and storing in a filing cabinet.
Make it obvious how you accept payments on the invoice. While this is something to be done before beginning the work, it never hurts to be direct. If there is a specific web-address for a person to go to, make sure it is included. Alternatively, when dealing with offline payments, make sure it is an easy process for an individual to follow. The goal is to make payments as easy as possible for the customer, while still meeting your needs. If a customer has to spend time trying to figure out how to pay, they will put it off. Also, if there are stipulations or fees tied to late payments, make it clear on the invoice as well.
An invoice delivered quickly will be helpful to all parties involved. Depending on what sort of business is being done, there are a couple of ways to do it. Some people can do invoices as they are needed, and others carve out time specifically each week to invoice their customers. For example: if you have multiple customers and are working throughout the week, it may not be practical to stop what you are actively doing to send an invoice. It may be easiest to just go from project to project. In that case, dedicating time each week to be ‘Invoice Hour’ may be a better solution. Try not to let the need for an invoice go beyond a week, as it can be seen as rude, or simply be forgotten. On the other hand, some work can quite easily transition to invoicing at any stage. The trouble is, you do not want to do the work and forget to send the invoice. The best way to avoid this is to add the invoicing process into a step of whatever project you are working on.
Select an Invoicing System
One of the most important parts of invoicing is consistency. Whatever way you choose to do any of the above tips, make sure you have a system and know what it is. Be intentional about setting up an invoicing system, otherwise it will become haphazard and confusing for you to follow. Settling into a rhythm with invoicing will make the process faster for you, as well as familiar and trustworthy for your customer. Further, having an organized system makes being able to track payments and records much easier. It is important to know where to look to see if your customers have paid. While this may seem like overkill early on, it saves headaches later down the road. Figure out a system of invoicing and a process that works best for you!
When dealing with invoicing, the whole process can be fairly overwhelming in the beginning. It seems rather simple at first, but you can easily get lost in a number of rabbit holes and confusion. One of the best ways to go about dealing with invoices, is finding a tool to help you learn. Sprout Invoices is an invoicing plugin for WordPress. With multiple payment levels for different business sizes, it is a convenient method to start invoicing, even for freelancers just starting out. Sprout Invoices allows you to send a digital invoice to a customer, and includes payment methods for the customer to act on in the email. Sprout Invoices also allows you to store previous client information, set up recurring invoices, and keep a clear record of payments. If invoicing is something that seems difficult, Sprout Invoices is a way to make it easier, and help you get paid.