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Invoicing for Freelancers: Get Paid Quickly

Marc Chaput
Creating an invoice

One of the great things about freelancing is the freedom you get to organize your work day the way you want to. But, you also can't rely on a steady paycheck and have to bill clients and hope they pay on time.  These invoicing tips for freelancers will help you get you paid sooner.  

Invoicing tip: Consider using accounting software

Whether you are an occasional freelancer or at the helm of a growing business startup, accounting software like Freshbooks and Sage 50 can help you stay on top of your billing game.  Freshbooks starts at just $15 per month. It says it will help you look more professional and get paid faster. Among other things, this app lets you customize your invoices with logos and colours.  You can use Freshbooks to accept online payments, set invoice due dates, send late payment reminders and charge late fees. All of these features can help you automate your billing process. And when you use a service like Freshbooks, you can claim your membership as a business expense!

Create your own invoices

If you don't feel like shelling out $15 a month for an invoicing application, you can always write your own invoices using a word processor like MS Office. Make sure to include your name and address at the top of the bill.  You will need to include your sales tax numbers on every invoice. This only applies if you're registered with the CRA.  If drawing tables aren't your forte, try using one of the invoicing templates that are available in Word. To do this, simply select the option to open a new document from a template. You'll find an invoice template in there and many of these are very professional-looking.

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Keep track of invoices in a spreadsheet

When I first started freelancing, I would send invoices right away. But, I never kept track of when they were sent. This was a big mistake!  Without a record of when invoices were sent, I had no way of knowing what payments remained outstanding.  Even if you use accounting software to send your invoices, it's a good idea to keep track of everything in a separate spreadsheet. This will provide you with a backup of your receivables if anything goes wrong. You can also easily refer to this document to see if any payments remain outstanding.  Don't be shy to send a friendly reminder if any invoices remain unpaid more than 30 days after the issue date.

What info should you include in your invoice?

You don't need complicated spreadsheets. Just make sure you include

  • To whom is this invoice for
  • The amount invoiced
  • A description of the work being charged for
  • The date you send your invoices
  • Expected payment date.

Terms of payment

Consider including any terms of payment at the foot of your invoice. These may include the number of days within which you expect to receive payment. This is usually between 30 and 60 days.  You can also mention whether payments are receivable by check, PayPal, or bank transfer. I like to include this information in the e-mail I send along with my invoice as well. Remember, they'll likely pay you faster the easier it is to pay.

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