Are you a freelancer making some common invoicing mistakes? Preparing and sending invoices to clients is an inevitable part of freelancing. It should be a quick process but when you’re repeating the same mistakes over and over again then invoicing becomes not only a burden but also makes you look bad.
When you’re self-employed it’s vital you maintain a smooth cash flow and get paid quickly and without hassle. Quick payment depends on clear, accurate, and professional invoicing procedures, which ensure a client knows exactly what to do when the invoice is received.
A poorly written or formatted invoice can result in payment delays owing to client confusion and complaints, which can derail your schedule and result in longer hours and fractious working relationships.
So, what are common mistakes freelancers make?
Making it difficult for clients to pay
How easy is it for your client to make a payment once they view your invoice? Poor invoicing practices can leave a client confused. This means they need to contact you to clarify payment methods, which results in delays. All this is a headache for both parties.
There’s a better way. Intelligent invoicing systems allow for the freelancer to set up multiple payment gateways at once. This provides the client with an easy one-click procedure to make a payment directly via the invoice itself and with their preferred payment method. Clear, quick, and hassle free.
Writing poor service descriptions
It’s easy to assume the client is fully aware of each small project task or job that will be, or has been, completed. This is not always the case. When you write very basic three or four-word service descriptions without highlighting succinctly exactly what was involved, you create the potential for confusion and criticism from the client.
Itemize your invoice by breaking each project down into sections and writing a brief summary of each task. This will provide a neat and accurate project payment summary for your records and also for those of your client.
Forgetting important details
Every invoice needs to include some important details, which are often required by different state and national laws. When you leave these important details out you open yourself up to potential legal problems later on. You also look less professional as a service provider which can have a negative impact on your freelance brand and a client’s impression of you.
Make sure to include important invoice information such as an invoice number, your client’s name and address, your name and address, tax numbers, payment terms, and the total amount due in the correct currency.
Sending to the wrong person
Larger companies usually have separate billing departments from where invoices are paid. If you send the invoice to the wrong person or department, it can easily get lost in the system, resulting in delays, and reminders needing to be sent.
Establish prior to sending your invoice who the most appropriate person to send it to is. Confirm you have the right email address for that person. What’s more, before pressing send, make sure you’ve not accidentally copy and pasted a completely different client email address entirely.
Failing to set a due date
When you leave an invoice payment date open you risk a long delay before being paid. It’s all too easy for businesses to file away your invoice for later and then forget completely when there’s not a pressing payment deadline. You also have no way to enact late payment fees and it’s much more difficult to take appropriate legal action.
Always set a due date and one that’s not too far into the future. State exactly what day you want the payment completed by and make it clear.
Postponing late-payment reminders
If a client is late with their payment, then it’s wise not to wait weeks to remind them. As a freelancer you can’t afford to wait for delayed payments. On the majority of occasions, the client will merely have forgotten about the invoice and will pay immediately when being politely reminded.
It’s worth setting up a payment reminder system where reminder emails can be automatically sent after a certain number of days have elapsed since the due date. This will save you time and allow you to focus on work until such a time when it’s obvious the client will not be paying and further action is required.
Failing to differentiate between invoice types
It’s an easy mistake to assume, especially when you’re a new freelancer, that there’s just one type of invoice. In fact, there are quite a few. These include the standard invoice, a deposit invoice, a progress invoice, a reoccurring invoice, a quote (or pro-forma) invoice, a time-billing invoice, and more besides.
If you don’t state clearly what type of invoice it is you’re sending, you can confuse the client, and this will result in delays and potential payment errors. Simply write the invoice type at the top of the document and reference it in the terms or payment box.
Clients expect you to send your invoice as soon as the project has been completed or when stated in your contract or agreement. When you delay sending your invoice by days or even weeks, you signal to the client that payment is not an urgent task. It also looks bad on you and makes you look unprofessional.
Prepare an invoice ahead of time so it’s ready to go as soon as the project has been signed off. You can also arrange for reoccurring invoices for repeated projects, which will automatically be sent on a particular date each week or month.
Accepting poor design
A shoddy and poorly designed invoice can detract from your brand and that’s a shame if you’ve completed some excellent work. Brand continuity is vital for freelancers. Whether it’s your website, social media profiles, business cards, or your invoice document, all components of your freelance brand must work as one.
When a client opens your invoice they should see the same logo, color scheme, fonts, and high quality work, as they do on your website and throughout your brand materials. Make sure your invoice looks good, really good.
Making it difficult for yourself
Preparing and sending invoices shouldn’t take up a lot of your time. If you feel overwhelmed with the invoice and payment process, then you need to consider whether you need better tools and procedures.
Good quality invoicing software can make your life a lot easier by providing a multitude of features that make invoicing and getting paid simpler. These features ranges from professionally designed templates and third party attachment abilities to invoice time tracking tools, secure client-side portals, and a variety of automation systems, and a whole lot more.
With Invoice Ninja you can create and send professional looking invoices quickly, easily, securely, and with minimal fuss. Every invoicing mistake highlighted above can be avoided with intelligent software that guides you through the process and ensures your invoices arrive on time.
By avoiding the most common invoicing mistakes you’ll improve your cash flow, strengthen your brand image, make life easier for your client, and free up more of your time to make even more money.