Being self-employed – whether you’re a freelancer or running your own small business – can be a balance between pleasure and pain. One of those pains is managing your cash flow so you always have enough money to cover your expenses, and, more importantly, pay yourself. It’s more important than ever now to stay on top of your invoicing to make sure you get paid on time, every time, with every customer. There are a number of tips and tricks to help you create and practice healthy invoicing habits without adding any extra stress to your already busy day.
How to make invoicing problems a thing of the past
To be blunt, invoices are a pain when it comes to freelancing. Since most freelancers decide to take a DIY approach instead of outsourcing to an accountant or working through a platform that does it for you – such as Upwork – it means that you also have to learn how to stay on top of invoicing and make sure that you are getting paid on time. If you’re looking for tips to make the most out of it, here are some of the leaders to consider.
Confirm the details in writing:
Before your start, make sure that you’ve got all of the details clearly confirmed in writing with your customer’s explicit approval. This includes the rate, a quote, payment terms and delivery timeframes. If possible, consider using a customizable template to create a contract that focuses specifically on rate of pay and other invoicing details that they need to formally approve if you feel apprehensive.
Create project-based invoices whenever possible:
While many freelancers invoice monthly or quarterly, it’s always a good idea for your cash flow to invoice as soon as a project is complete. This shows your client that your skills are valuable and it also means that you can use smaller invoices that are easier for your client to pay quickly– a win-win.
Make a schedule and stick to it:
If you do need to go with longer-term projects and invoices, consider designing invoices that are focused on milestones or other markers so that they can still pay as they go and you can collect what you’re owed. Even though they’re milestone invoices, make sure you still include all of the correct contact information, professional branding and other important details that make an invoice formal.
Always follow up:
If you’re using online invoicing software, consider automating payment reminder emails. You can customize when these are sent– weekly, fortnightly, monthly – and they will be automatically be delivered if your client doesn’t pay the invoice by its due date. Always make sure that you follow up, too, if your client gives you nothing but radio silence. A phone call or, if possible, an in-person visit can do a lot to show them that you mean to be paid. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, so the saying goes, and if you want to get paid as painlessly as possible – on time – get squeaky about it!
Automate whatever you can
If you want to take a DIY approach to invoicing, you’ll also need to take an equally DIY approach to stay on top of those invoices to make sure you get paid on time, every single time with all of your customers.
The smart option is to use online invoicing tools to automate your tasks from email reminders to invoice templates. It takes a load off of your plate and maintains your professionalism and timeliness.