How to write an invoice for freelance work

by Jack Geary on 

How to write an invoice for freelance work

Freelancing is great, but it can also be demanding of your time and energy, particularly when it comes to invoicing for your services. After all, you’re the writer, marketing department, CEO and accounts department in one, which means your job doesn’t end when you send off your final draft.

But whether you’re a freelancer starting out, have recently founded a business, or are working up a new invoice template for your existing company, it’s always worth regularly reviewing your invoicing best practice. So, here’s a helpful one-stop guide on how to write an invoice for freelance work in the UK.

What should I know before I start?

First and foremost, all new clients should be walked through your standard invoicing template and ensure that it is fit-for-purpose for their specific business needs or setup. If any changes are made to your invoice template in future, key clients should also be alerted with a brief email. You will also need to settle on a consistent numbering system for each invoice and internally agree on where invoices should be securely stored.

Ideally, this should be in a secure, password-protected repository that allows you or other relevant employees to keep an overview of the invoicing history of a client. This allows you to quickly validate queries and metricise data to help see what utility clients have in the long and short term.

While invoicing can be arduous, it is also something that can be automated to a degree. Sites like Freelance Writing regularly upload guidance on the best apps to use and pages like The Balances can provide top tips on digital invoicing and exactly what tools your type of business should be going for. Regarding best practice, sites like E-Crunch keep regularly refreshed advice on client invoicing and how to make sure you’re taking the right steps to streamline your billing process and spend your time writing rather than fiddling with cashflows or sending reminder emails.

What should I check?

  • Does the client understand the template layout?
  • Are their bank or invoicing details correct?
  • Are there any unique considerations that need to be factored in for an invoice?

Design your layout: What should the page look like?

Every invoice should be clearly readable and show where it came from. This should involve a simple one-page layout split into thirds, with your company’s and the client’s details at the top, specifics for what the invoice is for in a box in the middle, and small print underneath in the final third.

If you do not have a logo for your business, sites such as Fiverr provide affordable access to skilled professionals who can produce high-quality graphic work with a tight turnaround. In addition, sites such as Make a Living can provide helpful tips on finding tools to tweak any work further or build your own from scratch.

The rest of the page should contain the following elements: Your own postal address, the client’s invoicing address, a ‘For the attention of’ (FAO) message, the date the invoice was tendered, and the invoice number. Any terms and conditions can also be placed in the document’s footer.

What should I check?

  • Does the client understand the small print?
  • Is the logo visible and does the layout remain consistent once the document is generated?
  • Is the style consistent with other in-house documents?

Invoice text: What are they paying for?

When your template design is complete, it’s time to let your client know what they’re being billed for. Out of all the sections on your invoice, the text present here will be critiqued by your client to confirm they were invoiced accurately and fairly for what was agreed upon or delivered. This should be detailed in clear, concise language and ideally be confirmed with the client before being added to the document.

Overall, this part of the document should include: the date the work was completed, a description of the work carried out, the amount for each distinct activity carried out, a total amount, the total amount payable, and finally, your banking and invoice details.

Once the above is detailed and validated, the client should be contacted directly, and the invoice sent.

What should I check?

  • Is the costing breakdown as they would expect it?
  • Have the dates been updated throughout the document?
  • If your client is working outside of your national border, have you included your IBAN number correctly?

What other key considerations are there?

When it comes to reliable professional invoicing practice, we would recommend the following:

Try to seek templates: If you are still struggling to come up with an invoice format that suits your specific needs, a range of templates are freely available online. Once you have added your watermark and detailed your design, this can be easily turned into a personalised template for each client and stored securely in-house. This can dramatically help cut down on any time spent constructing your invoices and allow you to make changes to the ‘master’ document, ensuring overall correctness and version control.

Remember PDF Gen: Most word-processing software carries the ability to save a document in a PDF format as standard – locking your document in an uneditable format. While your clients would never be deliberately dishonest, this means that payment and invoicing cannot be changed by mistake as the file is passed through multiple hands. In addition, the file’s universal format makes it readable on a range of devices, from laptops to tablets and smartphones – removing barriers for review if it is being accessed on the move and helping to cut down on ‘email tennis’ if a readable version needs to be secured.

Don’t forget to validate: Hopefully, either you or your employer produces high volumes of regular content. When it comes to invoicing for that work, it’s well worth remembering that tendering an incorrect invoice does not only affect you and your client, but an entire chain. In order to correct an invoice error, the client will be forced to contact their manager, and then accounting, with the message passing back up the line to confirm the mistake has been accounted for and a new invoice has been tendered. This means that one typo or incorrect calculation can spin out to affect different individuals or departments.

Therefore, make sure to check your document as any errors can result in a loss of confidence and goodwill when it comes to securing future work. And if any mistakes are made, these should be examined carefully to discover where the misstep happened and build checks into your future practice.

If you’re just getting started in copywriting, why not become a writer with Copify? Not only is invoicing taken care of for you, but you can choose from a range of jobs to build your writing skills.

Main image credit:

Internal image credit: Startup Stock Photosrawpixel.comVojtech Okenka

Jack Geary

With a degree in English, qualifications in media and a background in software development, Jack is a software tester and copywriter who joined Copify in 2017. A keen fiction writer too, he has also worked on several creative projects.