Sending in an invoice is an integral part of just about any business interaction. As a freelancer, this becomes even more important due to it directly correlating to your payment and integrity. This is why knowing how to properly fill in and send invoices is a huge part of doing freelance business.
However, there are some common mistakes freelancers make when filling an invoice. To help you prevent these mistakes we’ve listed them below, so you can keep them in mind when you are filling invoices and improve the quality of your offered services.
Improper timing of sending an invoice
The thing freelancers usually unnecessarily think too much about is the optimal time to send an invoice. Some freelancers don’t want to send them in early, thinking this makes them seem hasty and inconsiderate during the contract. These freelancers can find themselves skipping proper invoice sending periods, having their payment requests arrive late, and then waiting even longer for customers to pay. The main issue sending a late invoice poses is that it makes your business seem slow to properly respond when it comes to financial obligations.
The most suggested timing seems to be as soon as the work is done. Said approach is usually the right one to take, as delaying the mailing of the invoice also delays our payment. The exact proper timing to send an invoice usually depends on the work itself, if it’s a single item you are working on it’s best to send an invoice after its completion and before actually forwarding the product. If the engagement with your client is composed of multiple components that count as a single contract the choice of sending invoices for every finished part or sending a single invoice after the job has been fully finished is also an option. These approaches allow for changes to be made to the invoice before sending it in.
A frequent mistake freelancers make here is sending the invoice before the final draft has been completed. While it does avoid the usual mistake of prolonging the delivery of an invoice it does create another issue. If your terms and conditions include optional costs or the draft you are currently on requires a complete revamp, which by itself can lead to more expenses, the invoice you sent will be outdated. Make sure to never send an invoice before you are certain about the final cost of your product and other variables that may change during revisions.
Improper invoice filling and readability
Invoice filling mistakes affect the overall readability and usefulness of an invoice. It is important to maintain these two attributes when making an invoice. The best way to do this is by fully explaining each item on the invoice and making sure your client understands what they are being billed for. This approach is useful for bookkeeping as well, as you’ll know what line to look for as soon as you open the invoice.
The important part of filling out your invoices is having additional important information listed on there. The date of services provided can give better insight to your client on where the added cost comes from, if there’s any, and gives them a better grasp on your operating procedure if they decide to engage in another contract. However, there’s a balance to be kept in the amount of information.
If you overburden the invoice with miscellaneous information it may become difficult to read for the client, making it a hassle for them to proceed with the payment. Make sure to provide additional information while keeping it easy to discern the obligations of your customer, as well as keeping every component direct and to the point.
Using improper invoice creating and maintaining software
The use of improper software to do invoices can create a lot of minor inconveniences that accumulate. There will be a lot of hours lost if you manually create and manage an invoice with programs such as Microsoft Word. Even more capable software like Adobe’s PDF editors may provide difficult to work with despite the ability to code additional functionality.
While it can work out it will be very time-consuming. To create invoices that are exceptionally readable and easy to search through should check out invoice software providers. One of these is Billdu and it comes with a variety of features that enhance your business without putting much strain on the budget.
It also helps with storage and archiving of invoices. Storing invoices is a rather important part of running a business. If there are any errors or troubles that crop up and require you to revise older invoices organizing them is the best way to keep these interruptions brief.
Lack of courtesy displayed in invoices
Whenever we are doing business certain pleasantries are included. These should extend to your invoice writing and mailing as well. After all, if the customer doesn’t feel appreciated they will be left with a sour taste in their mouth when the contract is finished. Make sure you have written out courteous phrases such as “Thank you for your business” when sending an invoice in, either put these phrases in the mail or material accompanying the invoice. While the time investment required to put these in is almost non-existent its effects can be rather tangible.
The benefits can be subtler, like clients having a better disposition towards you, or more overt, invoices are paid on time and future cooperation is hinted at. Although these benefits can straight up improve our business relations it’s just good practice to maintain courtesy with clients. It makes them feel appreciated during engagements, improving the overall experience both of you will have during contracts.
Keeping books on your own can be difficult and rather time-consuming but it should never be done carelessly. As we’ve seen, there’s a slew of problems that can appear while working on invoices alone. These can snowball into more difficult to resolve troubles and even legal issues later down the line.
Learning to recognize our failings in this category will make for a better business experience in the future as well as free up more time for other aspects of our business interaction to be improved. In the end, fixing some of these mistakes simplifies your process allowing for more free time. Engage with these flaws of your business today to enhance future jobs without expending much effort.