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5 Invoicing Mistakes To Avoid As A Freelancer

Written by on September 02, 2019

Preparing and sending invoices is an essential part of freelancing.

Ideally speaking, it should be a quick and a painless process, but for most freelancers – this is not the case. Sending the payment request email can be awkward at first. It’s a tedious, yet, a formal task for most people.

But with that said, It’s also arguably one of the most important activities you do as a freelancer: getting paid.

This is an area you can’t take any second chances on.

When your bottom line is at stake, you want to make sure you’re doing everything efficiently and there is no room for mistakes. Quick payments depend on accurate, professional, and timely invoices so the client knows how to react accordingly.

If done well, the whole process should go smoothly, everyone will be on the same page and you’ll get paid on time.

Of course, that is easier said than done.

So, to start getting paid quickly and increase your cash flow here are some of the 5 common invoicing mistakes you might want to avoid:

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1. Not enough information

Putting the incorrect details on an invoice is one of the most common invoicing mistakes and one of the worst ones you can make as well.

So, what goes in an invoice, exactly?

Just the task you did for a client and the amount you should be paid for, right?

Well, not quite.

You shouldn’t overwhelm your client, but at the same time, you should have just the right amount of details that will make their life easier.

To do this, first, focus on the services or products you’re charging them for. Make sure they’re in order, organized by date, and itemized specifically (i.e. no vague terms for your services). The idea is to make it as clear as possible for the client so they know what they’re paying for.

Invoicing-Details-Information
Try not to overwhelm them with your invoice, but at the same time, make sure they know what they’re getting into.

Other details you might want to include are the date of the services provided. Don’t make it any more difficult for them to pay you, because, chances are, they have a thousand other things they need to deal with.

Think of it from their point of view.

The easier it is for them to pay you – the sooner you’ll be paid.

Clarify your payment methods, make sure your invoice is accurate and straight to the point, and you’ll be on your way to getting paid.

To ensure this process is smooth for everyone involved – remember that there’s a person at the other end of the screen who’s going to go over your invoice.

Once your invoice is ready to send out, another common mistake you might make is –

2. Not sending invoices on time

If you’re not sending your invoices on time – you’re not getting paid on time.

This is another thing that makes it more difficult for a client to pay you. And in this case, this is another mistake that affects your bottom line directly.

So, when do you send an invoice?

This probably depends on your niche or profession. There are a lot of different ways this might go. And a lot depends if you signed a contract or not.

If a contract is involved, be sure to go over it thoroughly and you’re familiar with the terms and when your clients are going to pay you.

If not, however, then you might want to think about the following:

  • Are you going to go over your work for free? Are you doing revisions for free?
  • Is your work subject to review?
  • When exactly is your client going to pay the invoice?

As a rule of thumb though, you should try and submit your invoice as soon as your final draft is complete.

Submitting-Invoice-Once-Done
It might take some time for your client to go over your invoice, so, try to submit it immediately when you’re done.

Depending on your niche, if you’re a freelance writer, for example, you might be expected to go over your work before you get paid. Of course, this depends on the client and the work you do.

If you can, try to negotiate to be paid a certain amount upfront (for example half before, and the other half after you finish).

In short: the sooner you send the invoice – the sooner you get paid.

So, don’t wait until the end of the month as that makes you look unprofessional and signals the payment is not an urgent task.

3. Unprofessional invoices

One other thing that makes you look unprofessional is the design and the look of your invoices.

Now, there is nothing wrong with sending regular PayPal or Word created invoices. They’re free, and convenient. Especially if you’re a freelancer just starting out. Other options may be expensive and not worth it.

However, if you’re running a marketing agency or you want to become an expert in your field – consider your invoices as a marketing tool.

They reflect your brand and your reputation.

Branding-Your-Invoices
Consider branding your invoices to stand out.

If you want to stand out and make sure your clients remember you, treat your invoices as a separate branding tool. Consider imprinting your logo on your invoices, and if you want to go the extra mile – customize each invoice based on the client.

Generic looking default invoices are an easy way to make sure they get overlooked. They’re impersonal, and just might get lost in your client’s inbox along with the many other invoices they get.

To avoid this, start sending customized invoices for each client. This will include their personal details and contact information, your brand and logo, a custom color scheme, or even a handwritten “thank you” note or a link to your other content they might enjoy.

This also has the added benefit of advancing your relationship with your client.

You and the client get to know each other better. And in addition to getting paid faster, they’re more likely to include you in their future projects as well.

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4. No contracts or late fees term

Now, consider for a moment your client hasn’t paid for your invoice a week after you’ve already sent the invoice.

This happens for freelancers of all levels – from novices to experts.

The most traditional form of invoicing is the Net 30.

What this simply means is that your client has 30 days to pay the outstanding invoice. This is typically the case for small businesses and freelancers.

Depending on your niche though, and the work done – there are other ways you can look into getting paid earlier.

But what happens if your clients disappear and you haven’t been paid past the 30 days?

This is where the contract or the late fee term comes in.

So, to make sure you’re getting paid on time, consider setting payment terms for 14 days. And to make sure your clients don’t procrastinate on your invoices, you can set up a contract with your client beforehand or apply long payment terms.

Getting-Paid-On-Time-Invoices
Late payment terms are a great way to guarantee timely payments for your invoices.

In your terms and conditions, you can state all the late fees, pricing, and other details about your products or services. You should also have this briefly stated in your invoice so your clients know what to expect.

Charging an extra 3%-5% delayed payment fee within your invoice is a sure way to guarantee you’re getting paid on time.

5. Making it difficult for yourself

If this all sounds overwhelming, you might be getting caught up in the details.

Preparing and sending a good invoice shouldn’t be difficult and it also shouldn’t take a lot of time.

If you feel overwhelmed when making one and are stressed about some of the details you might be missing – then you might want to reconsider your approach.

Remember, you’re dealing with humans.

No need to make the process any more difficult than it is.

If you want to make your life easier, consider opting in for a quality invoicing software with plenty of features that make invoicing simple. These features range from creating high quality and professional invoices to automating them within a matter of seconds. This, in turn, saves you a lot of money and time in the long run.

Your invoices are a reflection of your brand and values. This is an important touchpoint with your client that establishes your reputation as a freelancer (or a business). You want to make sure your clients remember you after paying your invoice.

No more invoicing mistakes

If you follow the above steps, then you’ll be on your way to getting paid on time. 

Once your invoices look professional with all the important details printed clearly – then you’ll be on your way to seeing your cash flow increase and watching your business succeed.

When dealing with your finances, you can’t take any chances. You need to be prepared and know what you’re getting yourself into. Once you establish a clear invoicing system, you’ll be able to advance as a freelancer and start branding yourself as a professional.

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