Why professional-looking invoices are important to your graphic design business
As a graphic designer, you provide a unique mixture of the creative and the technical – and you need to reflect that specialized service in a way your clients will understand. So while you need to make your invoice simple enough to understand, it must accurately detail the scope and expertise of your work at the same time. After all, your clients are not designers, and they may not understand all the hard work and skill you put into completing their projects.
Sending organized, professional-looking invoices that are easy to understand also instills confidence and credibility in your brand as a designer. You do amazing work – make sure your invoice reflects your professional expertise.
Once you've downloaded your free invoice template, you'll need to customize it to fit your specific business. Here are the 10 key things to include on your invoice:
- Title and Description: Name the project and briefly describe what type of work your client is being invoiced for.
- Company Details: Add your company name, address, phone number, and logo to the top-right corner.
- Customer Details: Under "Bill To", add your customer's name, address, and contact information.
- Invoice Number: Include a unique invoice number to help you track down this invoice in the future. You can format this based on sequence and customer. For example, if you're sending your very first customer their first invoice, the invoice number could be 001-001.
- Dates: Include the date when your invoice has been issued and the date when payment is due.
- Line Item: Add individual line items for each unique good or service you provided. For each line item, include a brief description, quantity, individual unit price, and total price.
- Subtotal: Add up the subtotal of your goods or services, before tax has been applied.
- Tax: Indicate the tax rate applied to the subtotal. This is legally required to provide on invoices, and your rate may differ depending on where you run your business.
- Total: Outline the total amount due from the customer, after tax.
- Notes: Include any additional info your customer should know, including terms of service and payment terms (for example, payments are due 30 days after the invoice has been issued).
- Look through our variety of templates in different designs and colors, and pick the one you like in the format you want – Word, Excel, PDF, Google Docs, or Google Sheets
- Download the free invoice template
- Add your business name and contact information
- Insert your logo and any other business graphics
- Insert your client’s name and contact information
- Create a unique invoice number and add it to the template
- Add the date of the invoice and the payment due date
- List the work you’ve done, and the price for each portion based on your hourly rate or a flat rate. Make sure your client understands how much work was involved by describing what you did for each portion.
- Add lines for additional information or take lines out – you can customize the format to meet your needs
- If you are including a discount for a high volume of work, or for a first-time client, add a line explaining the discount so your client knows they are getting a special deal
- Calculate the total price of the project, including applicable tax, and list the total at the bottom of the invoice
- Include your payment terms, such as the methods of payment you accept
- You can always add a personal line at the end – such as a thank you, or a note about the project
- Save the invoice for your records – then send it off to your client!
When is the right time to send an invoice to your clients?
Usually payment is received upon completion of a design project. To make sure you are paid as soon as possible, it’s a good idea to send your invoice along with the finished product. That way your client can see exactly what they are paying for.
Sometimes design projects span a long period of time. You need to keep revenue coming in, so if the project is going to take several weeks, or even months, to complete – you have options. You can ask for a percentage of the estimated cost up front, with the remainder due upon completion, or you could send in monthly invoices. Whatever payment cadence you choose, make sure to reflect that on each invoice, and clarify what portion of the final “cost” has been paid to date.
Quick invoicing tips for design professionals
Keep a record of your work with numbered invoices
It is a simple thing to do, but it will help you keep track of how much money is coming in, and shows clients you have an organized system in place. All you need to do is assign a number to each invoice you create, starting at one and going up from there.
You might also want to consider giving large projects a job code if they are going to be spread out over a long period of time, or involve elements that you will be invoicing separately. A job number can help you keep track of all the invoices you have coming in from that particular project or client.
Always include a ‘payment due’ date
This really does encourage on-time payment. It’s a clear indication of when you expect payment without sounding too aggressive.
Make sure your contact info is correct and accessible
You want to make it as easy as possible for your clients to pay you. Your contact information can’t be missed if it’s the first thing they see at the top of your invoice.
If you can – accept a variety of payment methods
Another way to make it easy to get paid is by being flexible in how you get paid. Look into e-Transfers, bank payments, and other online payment options so you can get that revenue coming in faster than snail mail.
Send your invoice to your client contact
If you are doing a design project for a large company, make sure you add an “Attention to:” line on your invoice so it is sent to your contact. That way it won’t end up with the wrong person and cause delays.