Congratulations - you have completed your first project for a client! But, now what? We’ve already written a blog about how to quote a client, but billing is a whole different topic. Billing a client is a necessary part of freelancing, but there are a few ways that can make invoicing easier! These tips should make your invoicing easier - as the best way to prevent any potential payment problems is to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Have a Strong Payment Policy
When signing on with a client, ensure they agree to your payment policy. Without this, problems around payment can happen. Your policy should dictate a payment deadline, as well as what will happen if there is a case of nonpayment. It’s crucial you deal with these potential errors ahead of time, so as to avoid awkward or difficult conversations in the future.
Sometimes a client will have their own payment policy that they will ask you to adhere to. Sometimes this is beneficial as it makes things easier on your end, and sometimes it's annoying. Understand when it makes sense to push back and when it makes sense to go with the flow.
Create Invoices to Send to Your Clients
When you're getting ready to bill a client, creating an invoice is how you communicate to your clients that it is time to pay you. A basic invoice includes the work that was done, the client name, your name, and the price. If you're interested in a template, Tispr has a free invoicing tool that will help you bill your client for the first time.
When you're invoicing a client make sure that you have all the information correct. Making a mistake on an invoice is not a fun thing to learn. For example, if you have international clients, are your invoices in the correct currency? Are you sure they haven’t already paid you? Sending an incorrect invoice, or chasing an already paid payment is embarrassing for you, as well as not particularly professional, so make sure you keep track of what is owed to you and in what currency.
Put reminders in your calendar as to when to bill each client. Your clients could all have different invoice schedules, for example, one might want to be invoiced weekly, another monthly, and another at the end of every project. Try not to forget or delay your invoicing process. It's common to invoice at a minimum monthly to keep things on track and to support your business.
Don’t Be Afraid to Follow Up
Don’t be scared to follow up! If a client is late with a payment, simply send a polite email reminder. It doesn’t have to be forceful or rude, it just has to be a little reminder that they are overdue. Don’t do it halfheartedly though, as this could create a potential pattern of late or nonpayments. If a client is giving you the runaround, then you can get firm with them. Specify in your communications when you have to be paid by them.
Escalate When it’s Necessary
If a client refuses to pay - don’t panic. It might need some legal action if they continue to refuse to pay you, but this doesn’t have to be a scary process. A lawyer can write a certified letter and threaten legal action. Generally, this tactic encourages a client to pay, even if they are more than unwilling.
Invoices can seem daunting, especially when starting out as a freelancer. By following these steps, you can make invoicing an easier process. By keeping track of your invoices, making sure your records are correct, chasing when necessary, and maintaining a good relationship with your clients, you will have an easy time getting paid. And remember - invoicing doesn’t have to be a harsh part of freelancing, it’s merely a way for you to get paid for what you do.