As a freelancer, you take pride in your work and love pleasing your clients. As such, you probably expect to get paid on time when you send your invoices! However, as any experienced freelancer will tell you, sometimes you send an invoice and hear… crickets.
This can be really frustrating when you’re working hard for your income but it seems like your client doesn’t have the time to process your invoice. Luckily, there are a few things you can include on your invoice to make sure your clients pay attention to your invoice and send that check when you need it.
After much trial and error and years of freelancing, I’ve found that if you include the five things below on your invoices, you’re much more likely to get paid and get a long term client in the process.
Your Contact Details
It might seem like a no brainer but many freelancers forget to include their contact details on their invoice. If you have a business name, you could use that as well as your phone number, email, and even address if you are comfortable.
It’s important to put in the note section of your invoice how you’d like the check to be addressed as well, so you don’t get a check address to your business name when in reality, you’d rather it be addressed to you.
Sometimes clients have questions about their invoices or need clarification on any number of items including how much you worked. By providing your contact information, you are allowing a client to reach you with their best method of communication. Contact details are something every freelancer should include on their invoices, because it helps the client, it helps you, and it can make the process of asking (and answering) a question a lot easier.
This also makes it easy for your client to file away your invoice under your name or business name for business purposes. Any client can appreciate a streamlined filing system.
In sum, make it easy for someone to get in touch with you. People get busy, and if they don’t know how to reach you with questions, it can delay your payment.
Late Fee Clause
While a late fee clause should be added to any contract that you sign with a client, it is also worth putting into your invoice as well. If you’ve been working with a client for a while or if they have multiple freelancers working for them, it can be hard for them to keep track of all of the terms. While this shouldn’t fall into your lap to remind them, it can be helpful to include this clause.
In the note section of every single one of my invoices, I make sure my clients know that I charge a 5% late fee if their payment is late. I’ve never had to enforce it because when clients see my invoice, they know I’m waiting on the payment. Putting in a late fee clause is simple, easy, and it gets your point across.
Another great reason to have a late fee clause is for a paper trail. Sure, a contract should cover you in a case of a lawsuit, but it’s also nice to show that you added it to every invoice when you sent them. There shouldn’t be any reason a client doesn’t know why you are charging them a late fee if they are late.
Do you have a specific way that you like to be paid? Maybe it’s via check, PayPal, or even credit card. Whatever you choose, it’s best to state it on your invoice. It would be frustrating if a client tries to send you a check when you only want to be paid via credit card. It’s also hard when you think a client is paying you by bank draft or PayPal when they really mailed you a check, making you wait longer than you expected.
These are the types of things that can strain client/freelancer relationships, so be sure to talk about this ahead of time, especially if you accept multiple types of payments. Essentially, make it easy for your client to be able to choose which payment method they want to use. If you want to be paid quickly and easily, make it easy for your client as well!
When Payments Are Due
Every freelancer has a time limit on when they expect to be paid. Some freelancers even have different net pays for different clients. Whether you choose net 7 or net 30, it’s important to list the time frame in your invoice. Clients can get busy too, so they can prioritize your invoice if they know when you expect your hard earned money.
While some clients may pay you right away, even with a net 30, some clients can try to wait a little longer. If this poses a problem for you and the way you run your business, you can always inform the client that you need payment earlier, get a new contract signed, and update your invoice.
Send follow up invoices. Make sure to note that you put the payment due date on the first invoice. Next, continue to do so for the ones afterward. A paper trail is always an important thing to have.
A Thank You
Now that you’ve gotten the important payment information written down and visible on your invoice, it’s time to put something in your invoice that your clients will enjoy reading! So, add a little personalized note telling your client that you appreciate them and their business.
It doesn’t have to be anything long or drawn out. A simple and sincere message can go a long way with any client. There should be a place to do this on the invoice in the note section.
Ultimately, after several years of freelancing I’ve learned that if you include the 5 things mentioned above on your invoices, you’ll be well on your way to forming strong client relationships and most importantly, establishing your business and getting paid on time!