It may be a hassle, but we all need to send invoices now and again. You may need to send a regular monthly invoice, or invoice your client at the end of a specific project, but whatever the case, there are some points that you need to cover in your invoice to make sure that it is paid on time.
1. Use an invoicing tool:
When you start working on invoicing your clients, choose an invoicing tool (yes, like Traxmo, but that isn’t the point). Invoicing tools, as opposed to pieces of paper, help those of us who aren’t of the financial turn of mind keep track of clients, projects and money that is owed to you.
Have a look around at the different online options you have today, and choose the one that suits you best.
2. Define the rules
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As much as we’d like our clients to always pay up on time, it doesn’t always happen. Some clients are just tardy, others are reluctant to pay at all – there are all sorts out there. To make sure that this happens less, rather than more, it’s up to you to set the rules in place, to make sure that clients understand what is expected from them in terms of payment.
- How do you expect to get paid? A bank transfer, or PayPal? Credit cards or cash?
- Do you expect some sort of down payment, before you start working on the project? If so, how much?
- Doe the invoice have to be paid straight away? What happens if the client is late?
- If you need to deliver a product at the end of the project, will it be delivered upon payment?
3. Abide by the rules
Once you’ve decided your rules, and notified your clients, then abide by them. That goes for you as well as your client – don’t change payment terms, or payment conditions, without giving them some sort of heads-up.
Clients (usually) don’t mind paying invoices when they understand them and know what they are paying for. When you suddenly spring something new on them – for example, you insist that payment be made on delivery, without explaining this from the outset – clients tend to take this badly. You will probably get paid, but you probably WON’T get repeat custom, or be recommended further.
4. You are worth it
You worked hard to get to where you are. You have the skills, you paid for the tools, and you invest the time. Slashing your prices because a client doesn’t want to pay, does nothing for your reputation, your bank account, and your time. When you charge a client, base yourself off the amount of hours you will need to put into the project, times the money that you want to make per hour.
(if you don’t know how much you want to make per hour, wait for my next post :))
A client doesn’t want to pay for the quality you provide? Thank them, and use the time you would have been wasting on working for peanuts to advance your business.
5. All included
Make sure that your invoice covers everything that you are charging for. This means that you don’t write down ‘setup services, $100’, and invoice $150, because you also added in the hosting that you needed to buy. Include ALL the services that the client is paying for in the invoice.
By the way, if you received part of the payment upfront, make sure that the invoice you issue details the payment you received, and what it was for.
6. How do we pay?
Make sure that you clearly state how you want the payment to be paid. I worked once with an overseas client, and neglected to mention that I accept payments via SWIFT or PayPal. I was sent a cheque via the post (which arrived three weeks after the project was complete).
You can choose PayPal, credit card, or even cash – just make sure that the client knows beforehand how he is expected to pay at the end of the contract.
7. When do we pay?
Another issue I’ve seen many times is the payment date. People usually do what they are told to. If you have a ‘Payment due by’ date, then most clients will pay by that date. But if you don’t include one, then not only will clients push it to the back of the table, and forget about it, you also don’t have much of a leg to stand on when you want to charge more for being late on payments. If you don’t tell your clients when you expect your money by, they certainly won’t do the job for you.
8. Who are you again?
Make sure that your details are in the invoice when you send it. Most invoicing tools (Traxmo included) make it easy to set up your company information so that your name, phone, email and address appear on every invoice that you send out to your clients. Some clients might require these details for their own invoicing software, or some clients might have questions about the invoice – having your phone number within easy reach makes it simple for the to call you and ask questions, and that prevents needless delays in your invoice being paid.
9. Answer quickly
Sometimes you are asked questions about an invoice, or you have to provide more details about your company. When this happens, remember that you are now the reason that your invoice isn’t sent on time. Respond quickly to your clients when they raise these questions, and you’ll get paid faster.