Why professionals should invoice effectively
As a professional, you bring your experience, skill, and knowledge to everything you do for your clients. That means you need to use clear, organized invoice templates that include enough detail to ensure your clients understand the advantage of working with you. Your invoice also serves as a reminder of the work you have done long after the project is over – so your clients will remember to call you again, as well as refer you to their friends.
Sending organized, well-designed invoices also instills confidence and credibility in the services you provide. You are an expert in your field – make sure your invoice reflects your skill and professionalism.
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 wide range of professional invoice 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 invoice template. It’s free!
- Add your business name and contact information. If you provide emergency or 24 hour service – make sure you mention it here where your clients will take notice
- Insert your logo, website, and any other professional-looking business graphics
- Add in your client’s name and contact information
- Generate a unique invoice number and add it to the template
- Include the date of the invoice and/or the dates the work was started and competed, 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. This can help eliminate any potential misunderstandings about the amount of money you have charged
- Add or remove lines to customize the invoice format to meet your billing needs for that particular client
- If you are including a discount for a high volume of work, or to encourage more work from a first-time client, add a line explaining the discount so your client knows they are getting a great price
- 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
- Why not add a personal line at the end, such as a thank you, or how much you enjoyed working with the client. It could lead to more work and some valuable referrals!
- Save the invoice – and send it off to your client!
When is the right time to send an invoice to your clients?
The right time to send an invoice can vary with the job and the client. Some professionals wait to send an invoice at the end of a job or project. As an independent business owner, you need to keep the revenue coming in, so many professionals ask for payment up front, or for a percentage of the estimated cost up front, with the remainder on completion of the project.
If you have been retained for an extended period of time, discuss the option of invoicing monthly, or at certain significant milestones in the project.
Handy invoicing tips for professionals
Keep a record of your work with numbered invoices
Numbered invoices help you keep track of how much money is coming in, and shows clients you have an organized system in place. You can also assign a job code if your work for that client is going to be spread out over a long period of time and involve several invoices.
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. It also helps you predict your future finances.
Include professional recommendations
Include a few lines to describe any future services you think would be helpful for your client. It lets them know you are thinking about their best interests and are providing them with your expert knowledge. It also encourages repeat business – which is always a good thing!
Change your payment terms
We live in an automated world where people are used to paying for products and services right away. You might consider shortening your payment terms from 30 days to three weeks, or even 15 days. You never know – your clients might appreciate the opportunity to pay faster and get the money off their books.
Don’t be shy about following up
If a payment is late, follow up immediately. The payment might have just slipped your client’s mind, or they may be bogged down in another matter. Be friendly and polite and they should appreciate the reminder. It also shows your professionalism by having a system in place to track your revenue.