Freelance In 40 Days [Day 17]: Invoicing, The Polite Way To Ask For The Cash

Posted: September 24th, 2009

Photo by Litherland (Flickr)

Photo by Litherland (Flickr)

This is Day 17 of the Freelance in 40 Days series where you’ll learn to freelance just by taking it one day and one task at a time. Today will be a quick crash course on invoicing clients.

Invoicing 101

So you just completed your first project (or you will soon). Now its time for the fun part, collecting payment. Since you are a business, though, you have to adopt the business practice of invoicing so you (and the client) can officially record the transaction for bookkeeping purposes.

Also you give your client the options for payment and a due date so you don’t have to keep sending “Hey, where’s my money?” emails.

Invoicing is simple, too. There are invoicing services specifically catered to freelancer that can automate this for you or you make your own template. If you decide on the do-it-yourself route, an invoice should contain the following elements:

  • A unique invoice number
  • A date for the invoice
  • Your business address and contact information (a logo here would make it look nice and pretty too)
  • The client address and contact information
  • An itemized list of costs being billed
  • Tax, if applicable
  • The amount due, or total of itemized costs plus tax
  • Methods of payment (including instructions if necessary)
  • Payment terms (can be “Due on Receipt” or “NET X” where X is the number of days from the date of the invoice, the business standard is NET 30)

You can create an invoice easily in Word, but it is best practice to convert the Word document into a PDF format so it cannot be edited further. If you use Adobe Acrobat, you can use the print function in Word to generate the PDF or you can use a free online Word to PDF converter.

There are online services, though, that can make the invoicing process much easier while generating professional invoices. Plus they are free or have a low monthly cost. A few are:

  • Paymo Timetracker: In addition to time tracking, this can be used to manage clients and send customized invoices. Free to use.
  • FreshBooks: Generates professional invoices and even sends automated late payment reminders. Free to use for up to 3 clients and 19 USD – 149 USD per month for advanced features.
  • SimplyBill: Handles time tracking and customizable invoices. 5 USD per month for up to 25 invoices (monthly) and max 10 clients. 15 USD – 25 USD for advanced features.

Your Homework For Today

Create you own invoice template or sign up for one of the recommended online invoicing services.

More on the author, Johnny Spence
Johnny is the founder of The Freelance Rant and a freelance web programmer with 8 years in the business. Have a visit at his company Oscarrr!web or see what he's up to on Twitter.

3 Comments. Join In!

  • L

    October 14th, 2009 at 10:49 am

    If you’re looking for more tool for invoicing check out

    You can find there about 50 different tools that can help with invoicing and paperwork.


  • Johnny

    October 14th, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Cheers Luke! That’s a nice list there with the user ratings.

  • Craig

    October 28th, 2009 at 1:02 am


    Just wanted to mention that our site, Simplybill, is about to have a major update. Check back in the next couple of weeks and the new version will be live. Free iPhone app to follow as well.

    Thanks for the mention!