The invoice is your passport to payment. It lets clients know exactly what they owe you and how to pay you. The information it contains may be brief, but it is vital. Get it wrong and not only could your payment be delayed, but you risk coming across as unprofessional to the very people you hope to impress.
"THE INVOICE IS YOUR PASSPORT TO PAYMENT"
But the first-timers out there need not worry – here are some easy-to-follow steps to create an invoice with all the right elements and the stamp of professionalism.
Part 1: The Header.
Your name must be in the most prominent position – at the top of your invoice. Make this eye-catching – Remember – while an invoice is a means to an end, it is also an opportunity to showcase your brand. A nice logo goes on the header or on the position that you chose while it's shown properly to your clients.
You will need to title your invoice. If your name is in place on the left side of your header, then place the title ‘Invoice’ on the right side. Clarity is key with client communication and they should know this is an invoice as soon as they open it.
"CLARITY IS KEY WITH CLIENT COMMUNICATION"
Make sure your contact details are in place just below your name. Your invoicing address and your email must all be included.
Part 2: The Top of your Invoice.
Next up is your client’s name and address. For accounting reasons, your client may have a specific company name and address that they use so double check this with them. Missing out something as simple as a ‘Limited’ could lead to your invoice being rejected by accounts.
Do include the name of a person in the company you have been dealing with. This should get it to the right person and avoid it being lost in someone’s paper tray.
Each invoice should have its own unique tracking number to reference and monitor it. You can number it as simply as ‘1, 2, 3…’ .This may seem a tedious task but it will prove valuable in the long run when chasing invoices and doing your taxes.
An invoice date will be the date from which your terms apply so make sure to include one. More on this later.
Part 3: The Body of your Invoice.
The main body of your invoice must include the breakdown of services for which you are charging. This will help the accounts team match your charges up with their records. There are a number of ways you can present this, but a table format with headings (naming the items for example) is often the most effective.
Most important of all, this is the section where you include the amount you are due in payment. It helps to add a charge by each individual service provided so the breakdown is clear. If you are a company registered for VAT, you must include this here too and should split your totals as follows:
VAT (if applicable):
Make sure to double and triple check the amounts – miscalculations are common and could delay payment or worse, have to be addressed post-payment. The current rate of VAT is 20% in the UK.
Part 4: The Bottom of your Invoice.
Finally it is time to confirm how you would like to be paid. At the bottom of the invoice clarify whether you expect to be paid.
- For electronic payments, this is the place to confirm your account details (Sort Code, Account Number).
- Clarify your terms underneath. Most invoices have 30 day payment terms but this is something you can decide when you are negotiating payment with you client.
- Do include a polite note of thanks at the bottom. A well-mannered ending to your dealings with the client will always work to your benefit.
We can appreciate this can be a lot to take in at first. Here is a visual example to help:
Before sending make sure to check through your invoice for any errors – a simple typo can result in it being rejected by accounts.
You’re more likely to get paid on time when your client receives the invoice on the day your work is completed, so try and submit them promptly. We understand how difficult this is for freelancers to keep across and we have an ideal solution for you – the free mobile app Albert.
Albert is a simple-to-use mobile app that allows you to invoice your customers on the go. It produces excellent invoices in really professional format, with functions including easy logo upload which is shown on the client’s email once he opens the invoice and a database with all business invoicing addresses.
If you find yourself intimidated by the invoicing process, make your life a little easier by downloading Albert now.