The most important part of being a freelancer is getting paid. There are a variety of ways to do this: some companies will pay you through a billing system, others will ask you to fill out a timesheet, and still others will need an invoice. An invoice is simply a list of services provided to your client that includes the cost for each service. Essentially, it's a bill.
Sending an invoice is a great way to ask to get paid without being impolite. It allows you to say, "this is what I did and how much you owe," so that they understand why you are asking for pay. An invoice can be given in person, via email, or sent in an envelope.
Typically, a company will give you a timeline for providing invoices. It may be as soon as the work is complete or, if you are doing on going work, it may be every few weeks. I typically bill my clients for ongoing work every other week. Other clients may forget to request an invoice, and in that case, you should be prepared to send an unrequested invoice.
A Closer Look
So what exactly does an invoice look like? Most invoices follow a similar template, and there are hundreds you can download online. But there are a few key elements that an invoice should always have.
Here I have created this handy dandy JPEG of my own invoice, in which I have grotesquely overbilled Osmosis for writing this blog post.
As you can see from my wonderful sense of artistry, I have used 6/7 items that should be included in an invoice. I left out payment delivery, simply because we have a system in place, and in this case, that information isn't necessary. I have also included my logo, because it makes my invoice look more professional.
Invoices are important, especially in instances where there isn't a specific system already determined. But they are flexible. A client may ask you to include additional details about the project or timeline, or if you are working at an hourly rate, your invoice is likely to look slightly different than this.
Having a good invoice is a sign of professionalism. If you don't know how to build your own, you can download a template, or use a program like Invoiced to generate an automatic invoice.
However you choose to do it, get started today. It feels good to get paid!