The website is made. That’s great, good job! Your creativity has produced a masterpiece exactly what your client needed who is nodding in praise now. BUT the most important is yet to be done… isn’t it the time for you to get paid and not just be praised only?
This is the time when we realize that invoicing might not be a very interesting subject to spend our time, but in fact, it is a compulsion every business has to face. It’s your invoice that reflects your branding and reinforces your professionalism as it is an impressive point that conquers your bright professional future, and of course, gets paid.
On the other hand, doing it wrong won’t let you stay in business for long. That’s why the freelancers and small business owners, who do the entire business activity by themselves, are often found struggling to create remarkable invoices.
In this post you cab observe this process and some relevant terms and practices.
Image Credit: bertop
Step 1: Understanding Invoice
Every issue can be solved with proper understanding. And this does not limit to invoicing only. But at the moment, we’ll only talk about invoicing.
An invoice is a commercial document, a bill that is issued by the seller i.e. designer and received by the customer i.e. owner of the design. An invoice is supposed to explains the details of payable amount such as prices and quantities of sold items, as well as the payment methods and the maximum time limit within which the customer have to make the payment.
This document has the importance for both parties as the seller needs to keep a record copy and the client needs to file it to maintain the record of purchase.
When you send an invoice, it is an indication about ‘someone owes you money’ and a receiving an invoice lets you know that ‘you owe them money’.
Step 2: Designing and Drafting Basics
The first glance look and the language of invoices should match your business card design, website design, letter head and tagline.
It should reveal the details about you or your company, company logo, contact info, payment schedule, etc. It should also include the specific information about your jurisdiction, such as ‘corporation’ in US and ‘limited’ in UK, if your company has a legal status.
Tip: The top section consists of the invoice options such as issue date of the invoice, due date, net terms, currency and P.O. code. It would be better to stay clear and not use any ambiguous terms. Write month’s name in words, don’t use terms like net 30 etc. Stay absolutely clear. Some people are rather stupid than we can imagine so don’t give them anything to unveil their true side.
The main idea is using professional language but no business terminology.
Step 3: Kicking Off
A perfect invoice should clearly indicate the name and address of your customer. That is very important, don’t ever assume that your invoice is going to the proper person/place. A clear mention of the client solves this issue.
One more point to take care of here is that sometimes you have communication with one person and the invoice goes to another person. For instance you are making a website for a company. The PR manager would be the one having all the communication but invoice would be named to the accounts department of the company.
Always know who is the responsible person or department to send the invoice to.
After the client’s introduction, the real bill starts. In most cases, it starts with the word invoice but in some cases, you might wanna use other words like bill or… something else maybe. But it’s mostly just invoice.
Every invoice must have a reference number. This can be just the serial number or it may include the date and time and invoice number to a particular client. You might just go with 00017 or you may go with jun-30-1998/org-001
Step 4: The Bill
Now comes the money section. Describe the products and services the client has received from you in an itemized list. You need to include unit price, unit quantity and every detail that could be useful to the accounts department about the product they received. Describe prices against each unit, make total, then add taxes, discounts (if any) and then make grand total.
Notice: This is the part of the invoice where you absolutely cannot make a mistake. No typo, no grammar no stupid spelling error. Always double check your invoices on screen and double check your invoices on paper.
Step 5: The Box
This is a box that contains additional necessary info, for instance payment methods. You can include your PayPal ID, back account numbers etc.
And in the end, don’t forget to thank the client. Studies show that a simple thanking message in the end can increase the chances of getting paid and getting paid early.
Invoice is a low-profile business tool. Usually it is not seen as a business and marketing tool but actually, the place to focus is always the place where others are not focusing.
Design your invoices creatively because they will stand out where others will not. This will increase your chances of getting returning customers and getting personal recommendations.
Online Invoice Tools
It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t give you any invoicing tools. Here are some of the best invoicing tools available on internet. They all offer free packages for small business clients like you.
100% Free. Unlimited invoices to unlimited clients. Simple as that. I rate this site high because of it’s neat design, and it is very easy-to-understand. It also allows you to make custom designed invoice template.
Send quotations or invoices. This one also is 100% Free. Unlimited invoices to unlimited clients. One of the good things about this site is that your account can be integrated with Paypal, Beanstream or Sage Payment Services so your clients can pay you immediately. They claim “Get your invoices paid an average of 2 weeks faster by accepting online payments through Billing Boss” It also interacts with your iPhone. This is the BEST invoicing tool but because of its so many features, it becomes a little hard to use, this is the only reason this is at #2
Yes, Paypal, this is also an invoicing service, so it should be mentioned.
Please comment and let me know how did I do with this article. Thanks