As a consultant or contractor, you've probably asked yourself "how do I make and send an invoice?" Well, you're in the right place. We're going to break down the process into manageable steps, making it as easy as pie.
Invoice basics: What is an invoice and why is it important?
An invoice, simply put, is an official document sent by a supplier (in this case, you, the consultant or contractor) to a client. It details the goods or services provided, the cost for each, and the total amount due. But why is it important?
- Proof of service: An invoice is a legal document that confirms a transaction has taken place. It's your proof that you've provided a service and the client owes you money for it.
- Record keeping: Invoices help you keep track of your earnings. They're essential for tax time and for understanding your business cash flow.
- Professionalism: Sending an organized, detailed invoice shows you're serious about your work. It helps build your professional image, which can lead to more business down the line.
So, how do you create an invoice that ticks all these boxes? By following our step-by-step guide below, you'll learn how to make and send an invoice that's clear, professional, and effective.
(To learn more about invoicing as a contractor, take a look at this article on How to Invoice as an Independent Contractor. And for more on invoicing as a consultant, check out How to Invoice as a Consultant: Accounting Tips for ....)
Stay tuned for our next section where we will delve into the specifics of what to include in your invoice. We'll also cover how to send your invoice to clients, ensuring you get paid promptly for your hard work.
Step-by-step guide: Creating your invoice
Making an invoice doesn't have to be complicated. Here's a simple step-by-step guide on how to make and send an invoice that gets you paid swiftly:
Step 1: Choose your invoice template
You could create your invoice from scratch, but why reinvent the wheel? There are plenty of free invoice templates available online. They're professional, easy to use, and can save you a lot of time. One such place to find these templates is Adobe, which offers a guide on how to create an independent contractor invoice template.
Step 2: Personalize your invoice
Add your name or business name, contact information, and logo (if you have one). This not only adds a professional touch but also makes it easy for your clients to contact you if they have any questions or concerns.
Step 3: Assign a unique invoice number
Every invoice needs a unique number. This helps with record keeping and makes it easier to reference a specific invoice in case of any discrepancies or disputes.
Step 4: Detail your services
List out each service you provided, along with the cost for each. Be as detailed as possible to avoid any confusion. If you're unsure how to structure this, the article How to Invoice as an Independent Contractor [+ Template] provides a handy template.
Step 5: Calculate the total
Add up the cost of all services provided and list the total at the bottom of the invoice. Don't forget to include any applicable taxes.
Step 6: Include payment terms
Specify when the payment is due and what payment methods you accept. This will make the payment process smoother for both you and your client.
And there you have it! You've created a professional invoice. The next step? Sending it to your client. But we'll get to that in the next section. Stay tuned!
What to include in your invoice
Now that you know the steps of creating an invoice, let's delve into the specifics. What are the must-have elements in your invoice? What do you need to include to make sure you get paid on time? Here's what you need to know:
Your Details - This includes your name or your business's name, your address, phone number, and email address. Remember, you want to make it easy for your clients to reach you.
Client's Details - Similar to your details, make sure to include your client's name, their business name (if applicable), and their contact details.
Invoice Number - As mentioned in the previous section, each invoice should have a unique number for easy tracking.
Dates - Specify the date when the invoice was issued and the date by which the payment needs to be made. This helps to avoid any confusion regarding payment deadlines.
Detailed Description of Services - Break down what you did for the client. This could include the tasks you performed, the hours you worked, or the milestones you achieved. The more detailed, the better.
Payment Details - This is where you indicate how much the client owes you for your services. Include the rate, quantity, subtotal, any taxes, and the grand total. Also, specify how you want to be paid—whether it's via bank transfer, PayPal, or any other method you prefer.
Terms and Conditions - If there are any specific terms and conditions related to your services or payment, include them here. This could be your policy on late payments or any discounts for early payment.
To round out your invoice, you may also consider including a personal note to maintain strong client relationships. It could be as simple as saying "Thank you for your business!"
If you're unsure about what to include in your invoice, How to Invoice as an Independent Contractor and How to invoice as an Independent Consultant - Raise provide great insights and tips. But remember, the most important thing is to ensure your invoice is clear, detailed, and professional. After all, this is not just about getting paid—it's about representing your brand.
How to send your invoice to clients
So, you've created a professional, detailed invoice—great job! But, how do you make sure it gets into the right hands at the right time? Here's how you can send your invoice effectively:
Choose the Right Method - Consider your client's preferences when deciding how to send your invoice. Some clients might prefer email, while others may require a physical copy. If you're unsure, don't hesitate to ask!
Send it at the Right Time - Timing is everything. If your agreement with the client doesn't specify when to send the invoice, a good rule of thumb is to send it as soon as the project is completed or the milestone is reached. This ensures your work is fresh in the client's mind when they receive your invoice.
Follow Up - It's a good idea to follow up on your invoice. If the due date is approaching and you haven't received payment, a gentle reminder can help expedite the process.
Use Tools and Software - There are various tools and software available that can make the invoicing process smoother. These tools can automate the process, send reminders for you, and even handle multiple currencies if you work with international clients.
Speaking of tools, How to Invoice as a Consultant: Accounting Tips for ... offers some fantastic advice on using accounting software for invoicing. On the other hand, if you're looking to create a standardized invoice template to use again and again, How to create an independent contractor invoice template provides some great tips.
Remember, the goal is to make the payment process as easy as possible for your client. The easier it is for them, the quicker you get paid. So, ready to send your invoice and get paid for your hard work? You've got this!