Just like with anything worthwhile in life, there are certain rules or standards to adhere to. Whether dining in a fancy restaurant or simply walking down the street, there are things we can do and things we really shouldn’t do. The same applies to invoicing. There’s an invoicing etiquette to learn.
Good invoicing procedures not only help you get paid on time but also positively influence the experience your client has with your freelance business. Sending an invoice is every bit a part of your professional brand identity as the billable work you do.
When you ensure making a payment is easy for your client, they automatically perceive you as a trustworthy professional.
This all boils down to getting invoicing right.
So what are some of the invoicing etiquette rules new freelancers (and experienced ones) should know? Here are the main ones:
Prompt invoice delivery
The dream of all freelance professionals is to send an invoice and get paid within hours, or at least a few days. However, this only really happens when you send your invoice promptly. The longer you delay sending an invoice, the less importance a client will place on that invoice. They’ll put it to one side to be paid later, except “later” has a habit of being forgotten.
To avoid the hassle of sending late payment reminder emails and fretting over your cash flow, send your invoice as soon as possible, while your good work is still fresh in the mind of your client.
Ask for relevant information
One way to waste your time and that of your client is to input incorrect invoice details. This forces the client to request additions or modifications to the invoice document, which can cause embarrassment, frustration, and in a minority of cases, even outright client anger.
Always ensure you have all the correct information you need before writing the invoice. Ask the client to whom it should be addressed together with their details (name and address). Sending an invoice to the wrong person can delay payment by weeks, especially in a big company.
Other information you might need to confirm will include any deposit amounts, recurring billing options, VAT requirements, and currency preferences.
Input the information correctly
Always make sure the information you input into your invoice is accurate. Accidentally adding an extra 0 somewhere can cause havoc when it comes to getting paid promptly and avoiding damage to your reputation. It’s worth double and even triple checking your figures.
At Invoice Ninja we provide a real-time preview screen which shows exactly what the client will see. This also helps your brain spot any innocent errors by showing the data in a slightly different format.
Good design and formatting
You can have a fully accurate invoice but if it’s presented in a confusing way, then the damage can be just as bad. A poorly designed invoice document impacts negatively on how prospects and clients perceive your expertise and professionalism.
When they find it difficult to quickly understand the payment totals and for which services, they’re likely to delay payment or phone to request assistance (which is a pain if you’re an introverted freelancer).
A good invoice is aesthetically pleasing, brand aware, and intelligently formatted, with all the different parts of the job clearly named and succinctly described. There should be no room for confusion in the client’s mind, at all.
Make it easy to pay
The easier it is for your client to pay, the faster you’ll receive your well-earned money. When a client has to jump through hoops in order to send you a payment, they are more likely to delay tending to your invoice and put it in their ‘to-do later’ pile. They’re busy people and are probably juggling multiple tasks at the same time.
Make it very easy to make a payment. With Invoice Ninja’s free invoicing software, you can integrate multiple different payment gateways into your account. This means a client simply has click a link within the invoice and they are taken to a payment page. It’s very easy and straight-forward for everyone.
Send all relevant information in one email
Sometimes you need to send a lot more information than can ordinarily fit into a standard invoice document. Whether it’s copies of proposals, contracts, project files, images, translations, timesheets, or any other important info, it’s always good etiquette to make it as easy as possible for the client to access.
With Invoice Ninja, you can upload and attach the documents to the invoice, allowing the recipient access to everything they need in one email. This saves them having to open multiple emails, which can be a hassle and also confusing when they’re trying to find a particular document later on.
They’ll love you for it.
Provide a client-side portal
Clients can get a little nervous about working with freelancers, especially if they’ve had bad experiences in the past. They also worry about budgets and can forget what’s been paid and what has yet to be paid. Instead of constantly updating them via email, you can give them access to a client-side portal showing all their previous and pending transactions with you.
This gives them peace of mind. The portal also allows them to download or print the records, which makes it very easy when calculating future budgets. When working long-term with a client, this is especially beneficial and they will appreciate your transparency. It also builds client confidence.
Your reputation depends on good invoicing etiquette
These are just some of the main invoicing etiquette rules to get right when sending invoices to clients. It can be tempting to send off a quick invoice after a successful project but a faulty document can cause unexpected hassles that sour the client-freelancer relationship.
For this reason, it’s vital to really ensure your invoices look good, are well formatted, delivered properly, and tick all the right boxes when it comes to fluent payments.
Your reputation depends on it.
At Invoice Ninja, our cloud-based invoicing software can help you with all of the above and a lot more.