Invoicing as a Freelancer: 7 Tips for Writers
Writing is an excellent—and increasingly popular— freelance profession. There are various types of writers who freelance: authors, bloggers, copy editors, freelancers, creative writers, technical writers and so on. In this article we will share useful invoicing tips for freelance writers—and they will be relevant even for other freelancers who are not writers!
For any writer, regardless of the genre, finishing a project is a true achievement. Writing could take hours of research, days of staring at your computer screen (the much feared writers’ block!) and weeks of playing around your keyboard to string your words together. In some cases, you might have to attend back-to-back meetings with your client and multiple rounds of reviews until you produce the perfect copy. However, seeing your writing project through to the end indeed produces a great sense of accomplishment.
Every successfully-completed work is a sign that you are on the right track to grow your clientele and building your writing portfolio. Your number of projects gets increased and your focus is fully centered on delivering best writing outputs. However, an important aspect of your business might be slipping slowly out of your sight, without your notice: invoicing.
Every writer would agree with me on the simple fact that invoicing is crucial for writers. It helps them to manage their cash flow and define the success of their writing business. But, how many writers invoice their clients methodically? How many of them use proper invoicing systems to keep track of their payments?
Invoicing is an art that every writer should master to perfection. In this article, we have put down seven important tips for freelance and experienced writers, so that invoicing doesn’t have to be an arduous task after all.
Let’s have a look then:
1. Create an agreement
It will not take you years to realize that some clients are rather lax about paying their invoices and still others will disappear without paying at all. As frustrating as it is, it is simply part of the reality of doing business.
But there is one thing you can do to help yourself: get it in writing. Prior to accepting the job, give the potential client a letter of agreement that clearly states your terms. After reading it, the client should sign off on it before you begin the job. The guidelines for payment (i.e, payment terms) should include:
- What your fee is and how long it will take you to complete the job
- What percentage you require as a down payment in order to begin the project
- What mode of payment will you will accept
- How long the client has to pay in full after being invoiced
- Whether there will be penalties imposed if the invoice is not paid within a certain number of days
- Whether you and the client will agree to use a third-party payment service provider, such as PayPal or Stripe, to process payment
Invoicing is always based on the specifications of the contract. Writers need to respect the contract and to write clear invoices, with a different line for each service provided. For instance, it is not enough to write an invoice for four articles. Each article title should occupy a different line on the invoice, with an individual price. Occasionally, word count is important to have the description complete. For other writing services, a written agreement with the contractor as to how to issue the invoice – on an hourly basis, per content marketing campaign, etc. – could come in place.
2. Know your real value
As a writer, you need to get paid a decent amount for what you undertake. If you are a fresh writer, you can charge comparatively low rates and provide quality service in the beginning. With experience, you can start increasing your rates gradually. If you continue to provide quality service for your clients, they will have no hesitation in staying with you, even by paying a higher price.
According to Small Business Trends, writers have to think about certain aspects before deciding on rates such as:
- Do I charge per hour or per word or should it just be a flat rate for the whole article?
- Do I need to charge a different rate for sponsored posts?
- Should I offer discounts for my clients?
Even though the pricing seems to be fixed for certain projects, it is always negotiable. However, most writers consider the process of negotiating to be practical because it helps you to communicate better with your client and create a positive impact on your relationship with him— a win-win situation for both parties.
3. Use an online invoicing service
Many freelance writers do not consider their writing career to be a small business, which is a big mistake. It is important to keep track of your invoices other important documents, even though you consider it as a part-time activity.
Getting on board with an online invoicing service for writers will always speed up your invoice-related chores. As opposed to maintaining spreadsheets or manual documents, an online service brings better organization as well as high accuracy to your financial data while significantly reducing both cost and time. Easy-to-use online invoicing services such as Hiveage have powerful features that will help you to send invoices and estimates, track time, expenses and mileage, using a single platform.
On the other hand, if you are in a hurry to prepare an invoice for a client, our customizable invoice templates or the Free Invoice Generator are great options. We created these free tools—and our invoicing service—to eliminate these hassles surrounding the invoicing process.
4. Send your invoice quickly
According to Quitely, cash flow issues is a pain point for freelancers and one of the reasons for that has been the late submission of invoices. After a project has been completed (or before you start any work, depending on the way you run your business), do not delay sending the invoice. Get it done immediately. A delayed invoice is only going to delay your payment. It will also give out the image that you’re unorganized and your clients may try to take advantage of that.
The thing I live and die by is timing. Regardless of the end of a project, I invoice everything at the end of the month. I set aside an hour the last day of the month to invoice last month’s work and follow up on any unpaid invoices. This helps me stay on top of all paperwork.
5. Include necessary details
When you complete a project and the client agrees on the final price, it is time to send the invoice. What goes in an invoice? Here are some of the basic components:
- Contact details – The invoice should include your contact details as well as the contact details of the client
- Invoice number
- Invoice date
- Invoice due date
- Description – A detailed description of the services rendered for the client. This should include quantities, rates, taxes and discounts
- Total due
- Payment details
Here is a sample Hiveage invoice for your reference:
6. Be professional
As a writer, you often to get to interact with your clients closely. By asking right questions and listening to them carefully, you understand what they require from you.
Sending an invoice to a client does not mean that you are asking for free money from your best friend. The whole process of invoicing is strictly business. You are doing nothing more than requesting payment for services rendered and personalizing this in any way is bad for business. Even if you are in a position to know that your client has exceeded his or her budget, you can’t let it affect when you invoice them the amount requested, or when you send a follow-up reminder.
Good writing requires both a structured approach and insisting on that approach. The same is true of invoicing. Clearly defining your structure from the beginning and sticking to it is the key to getting paid and getting back to work.
7. Follow-up on your invoices to get paid on time
When your unpaid invoices get near their due dates, take a moment to follow up with the client, remind them, and see if payment is on the way or if there are any problems. Just send them a casual email. Ask them how they are and remind them about their payment very politely, using words such as ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. You can also follow up with a polite phone call. Do not be rude and ask for money: just have a friendly chat with them and grab the perfect moment to remind about the payment.
So, on invoicing and getting paid . . .
In your writing business, you are your own boss. This means you have to play different roles at different stages. At some point, you have to send invoices and manage payments as well. Unfortunately, many writers find it tough to manage and keep track of their financials. In this article, we looked at seven simple invoicing tips that every writer should champion in order to get paid on time.
Do you have any other tips which will make invoicing a pleasant experience for writers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
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