How Should I Invoice My Freelance Writing Clients?

Invoicing is one of those details freelancers often don’t think about until you need to create one.

When suddenly faced with the need to send an invoice for the first time, it’s easy to feel lost. How do you create a professional-looking invoice from scratch? Where do invoice numbers come from? What if your client doesn’t pay?

How Should I Invoice My Freelance Writing Clients?

Invoicing is one of those details freelancers often don’t think about until you need to create one.

But invoicing doesn’t have to be scary. It’s quite easy to put together a basic invoice that your clients won’t ignore. Here’s how.

Should I Create Invoices Manually, or Use Software?

When creating invoices, you can either create and send it manually, or you can use the invoicing feature of a service like Paypal or Freshbooks.

Your choice here will depend on you, your business, and your clients. Consider:

  • How do you want to receive payments? If all your clients pay via Paypal, then sending a Paypal or Freshbooks invoice is ideal. But a manual invoice might be better if your client requests an invoice in the mail, requires a specialized invoice that can’t be created with software, or pays via other means.
  • Will paid invoicing software be a good investment for your business? If you’ll save a lot of money with Freshbooks’ PayPal Business Payments $0.50 flat fees, or if you’ll use the other features of the software for general bookkeeping, then they may be a great choice for invoicing as well.

What Information Should I Include on My Invoices?

Invoices will vary a lot depending on your business, your client, and the work involved.

Ultimately, you want to provide enough level of detail that they know exactly what the invoice is for, and can easily match it up with their own records.

At minimum, your invoice should include:

  • An invoice date (the date you send the invoice to your client).
  • A due date.
  • An invoice number.
  • Your name and contact information (at least your email address, possibly your business mailing address and business phone number as well).
  • Your client’s name and contact information (email, mailing address, phone number).
  • A description of the item(s) being invoiced. (To make things clear, try matching the exact language you used in discussions or contracts with your client.)
  • The total amount being invoiced.
  • A thank you!

You might also consider including:

  • Your logo, if you have one, and website address.
  • Titles: the title of each piece you wrote.
  • Submission dates: the date you sent them your work.
  • Project or website: If your client owns several websites or you’re working on different projects with them, make sure to note which website or project each piece belongs to.
  • Payment details: How should they pay you? This could be your Paypal email address, the mailing address checks should be sent to, etc.
  • Any discounts, add-ons, extra fees and charges.
  • Notice of late fees or other penalties for not paying.

What Should I Use for Invoice Numbers?

Your invoice numbering system is entirely up to you. You can use whatever helps you to stay organized.

Some people use dates, client numbers, or just sequential numbers for their invoices.

Should I Include Payment Terms?

You should always be sure to state a clear due date on your invoices to avoid confusion or misunderstandings.

Invoices can be due on receipt (as soon as the client received the invoice), in 10, 15, 20, or 30 days, or whatever terms you’ve agreed upon with your clients.

How Do I Track My Invoices?

Software like Freshbooks will automatically track your invoices for you, including sending reminders to your clients.

If you invoice manually, you can keep track of invoices in a spreadsheet. If you email your invoices, consider setting up automatic reminders to follow up on unpaid invoices using a calendar app, or an email app like Boomerang or Yesware.

How Often Should I Invoice?

Again, this will depend on you and your clients, and the agreement you work out ahead of time. This is a good issue to bring up in your initial client discussions, before you sign a contract.

You can let prospective clients know your standard terms when negotiating a contract (e.g. “For my ongoing clients, all work is invoiced upfront on a monthly basis.”), or just ask them how often they would prefer to be invoiced (e.g. “For most of my clients, I invoice on a weekly basis, but I’m flexible if you’d like to work out a different arrangement.”).

Get Started With These Templates

Need to create your own manual invoice? Try out these free templates as a starting point:

How do you invoice your clients, and what invoice issues have you come across? Share your favorite methods in the comments!

KeriLynn Engel is a freelance business writer who offers ghostwriting, copywriting, and blogging services to tech startups, online companies, and Internet entrepreneurs. She’s been writing professionally since 2010, and took the plunge to full-time freelancing in 2014. Her writing has been featured on Make a Living Writing, Blogging Wizard, WinningWP, WP Superstars, and more. Connect with her on LinkedIn or say hi on Twitter.

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I also think that Freshbooks is definitely a good invoicing app to use. This will surely help to accomplish business accounting easily. Thanks for sharing this article. A lot of my friends uses freshbooks as well and it really help them a lot and has a good review about the freshbooks.Reply to Wilson
Thanks for sharing this article.I think that when we use a software, we can accomplish more and do a lot of work.I think that it’s better to use software. This is a very useful post.Reply to Debtor
Hi Keri! I use PayPal for my clients except for one. I have a Canadian client and I use direct deposit. Overall, it’s been a good system and even though there is a PayPal fee, I come out ahead when I convert US funds into CDN funds. One thing I can’t really enforce is the deadline. Even though my deadline is on my invoices, a handful of clients pay within that time frame. Sometimes I’m waiting up to three weeks for payment. ElnaReply to Elna
I invested in Freshbooks this year after I realized I spent hundreds of dollars on Paypal fees last year – the only problem is, many of my clients are international, so it didn’t save me much money :/ At least I can deduct all the fees. I’m very fortunate to work with clients who all pay very quickly! But I mostly work with smaller businesses now. Seems like the larger the business, the longer they take to pay up!Reply to KeriLynn