Invoicing properly is crucial when you’re a freelancer because it’s how you get paid. While you might look forward to invoicing because often it means that payday is near, I personally just want to get it over with so I can continue meeting my deadlines for the day.
While invoicing can one of the less mentally draining parts of your day, you’re not getting paid to do it so you want to make sure you’re efficient and take advantage of as many hacks you can to minimize the amount of time it takes.
The best way to do this is to use an invoicing software program to make things much easier for you – especially around tax time. Once you start using invoicing software, you’ll realize that the small investment will provide you with a ton of value that you may not be fully utilizing.
Here are 6 invoicing hacks you probably aren’t using and why you should start using them regularly.
1. Personalized Messages
Almost all invoice templates will have space at the bottom where you can make a note for your client to see. This is a great opportunity to send personalized messages to your client whether it’s a simple thank-you or a small reminder so you don’t have to send multiple emails.
If you want to let your client know that you’ll be on vacation for a week the following month, you can add a message to your invoice to remind them and they’ll be more likely to see it since they have to carefully review the invoice in order to pay you.
You can also use that section to explain any updates to your invoice that might otherwise confuse your client.
2. Managing Discounts and Tips
Another cool feature you can use (if your invoicing software has it) is including discounts and tipping options for your work. If you’re a web designer who runs a referral program, for example, you can automatically calculate and apply a discount to your invoice for a website project.
If you freelancing in a field where tipping is common, you won’t miss out on any extra money when you include a tipping option/feature on your invoice. That way, clients can tip you conveniently as they pay securely online.
Using these features can often boost your business and help you better track expenses and income since everything is will be applied/deducted on one invoice.
3. Automating Late Payment Reminders
No one likes getting paid late, but it happens at times especially for freelancers. Sometimes clients forget to pay or lose your invoice and it can be a pain to take time out of your day to follow up with them and try to solve any issues to ensure you get paid soon.
To avoid having to deal with the rigorous follow-up process, set your invoices up so that automatic late payment reminders will be emailed directly to clients after a set number of days.
You can write a standard brief and polite message to send clients as a friendly reminder and even to remind them about your late fees if you have any. This can help regular the flow of payments so you can continue to work and rest uninterrupted.
4. Integrating Time-Tracking For Hourly Pay
If you track your time spent on certain projects and use that information to create your invoices, your invoicing program may be able to help you do that automatically.
If your business thrives off your hourly rate, there are much better ways to track your time than by hand. There are several programs and websites you can use to track your time completing various different tasks. However, your invoicing program might do this for you which allows you to easily integrate the date when you’re creating invoices.
This will come in handy if you have a team as well and need to accurately track their time spent working on different projects and it makes things so much easier whether you invoice weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
5. Processing International Payments
Being able to process international payments is crucial if you work with clients outside the country. You don’t want to risk not getting paid just because your client doesn’t use the same currency as you.
Plus, if you’re living a more nomadic lifestyle and travel often while you freelance and need to get paid without all the hassle while you’re out of the country, you’ll want to make sure you can easily process international payments.
I once worked with a contractor who moved from the U.S. to Hong Kong permanently while we were working together. It was a big hassle trying to pay her for her work at first.
She wasn’t familiar with how to send an invoice. She wasn’t motivated to send them either since she couldn’t actually access the money if I paid her in U.S. dollars.
As a solution, I was happy to recommend an invoicing program that would allow her to process my payments so she could get the money she earned.
6. Recurring Invoices
Finally, one of the easiest hacks you can use when it’s time to invoice is to set up recurring invoices for regular clients. If you do the exact same work for a client at a fixed rate, it doesn’t really make any sense to spend time creating the exact same invoice each month to send out.
I’m preaching to the choir with this one because after two years of freelancing, I finally started loosening the reigns a bit and getting into the habit of setting up recurring invoices and it’s saved me a lot of time.
If the work you do varies month-to-month, you may find it helpful to set up a few invoice templates where you can enter in some of the tasks you do regularly, then you can just fill the rest in whenever you’re ready to officially send the invoice.
Invoicing software programs can be a freelancer’s best friend. They’re affordable, easy-to-use, and can make your life so much easier when you’re trying to bill for projects as opposed to manually emailing invoices you design yourself.
Be sure to take advantage of the many features and hacks your invoicing program offers so you can get more bang for your buck and spend less time collecting payments.