Small Business Advice

Free customizable invoice template: download & use

Download these free invoice templates to customize and use for your small business.

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Being a freelancer or self-employed professional often means doing it all, including creating your own invoices. However, finding a good freelance invoice template is certainly not a walk in the park. Yet, that’s not something you want (or should) compromise on.

According to statistics, only 63% of invoices are usually paid on time, and part of the problem is that some freelance business owners don’t use effective invoices. If you’re having a hard time creating the perfect template and billing for the work you’ve done, then our freelancer invoice template may be of help.

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To copy the template, just go to File and click Download, then select your preferred file type.

Our freelance invoice template is free to download, customize and use. It’s ideal for freelance business owners in all fields, including marketing, consultancy, technology, accounting, teaching, article writing, web development, graphic design, video editing etc. You can use it, whether you bill your freelance work on an hourly rate or a flat rate.

The freelancer invoice template also allows you to add your preferred means of payment. That may be a checking account, PayPal or pretty much any other method of receiving funds from clients. Additionally, this freelance invoice template lets you specify your payment terms. If, for example, you’re a self-employed graphic designer, you can mention that you’re only billing for completed and approved works.

And of course, the template is simple to customize. You can adjust fonts, add or remove rows and columns, and type out your own payment terms and payment methods.

The Key Takeaways

  • Freelancers need invoices for effective billing and bookkeeping.
  • A good freelance invoice template should include your information, your client’s information, invoice number, date of invoice, service details, payment terms, total amount due, and notes.
  • To invoice a client, make sure that you have working payment methods (checking or online account), then create a freelancer invoice template, fill it out upon delivering work to the client, review the invoice and send it to the client.
  • The best time to invoice a client is immediately after completion of freelance work, especially if the work has fast turnaround time. If it’s a running project, you can invoice a percentage of the total before beginning the work, then the remainder after completion.

Do freelancers need an invoice?

Yes, freelancer business owners need invoices. As a self-employed person, you have the right to be paid for the work you do. It’s also your right to set your own rates and terms of payment, both of which you can easily do with a professional invoice. For example, you can indicate that you’re charging a client on an hourly rate and that the bill due should be paid within 14 days.

You’ll want to communicate these rates and terms to the client even before starting the trading relationship. This will eliminate any misunderstandings or confusion between you and your clients. And when it’s time to bill, your invoice will formally act as your request for payment based on the pre-agreed rates and terms. Thus, an invoice doesn’t just ensure that you receive payments, it also helps you get paid faster.

Below are specific benefits of invoice for freelancers:

  • Invoices bill clients. Since it’s itemized, your invoice reminds clients of the goods or services you’ve provided so that they see the value they’re getting for their money.
  • Prompts payment. Unless you’re charging an upfront fee, chances are a client won’t pay you until they see an invoice. Therefore, sending them one is a polite way of asking for prompt payment.
  • You can use invoices to track how much tax you’ll need to pay. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) treats freelancers as self-employed individuals. Thus, as a freelancer, you must file your taxes as a business owner This is where invoices come in handy – they provide proof of income.
  • Invoices help with record keeping. You may need them to keep track of your progress over time. Besides, the IRS advises that all self-employed individuals keep tax-related records (which include invoices) for at least four years.
  • Invoices can act as marketing materials. They give you the chance to include your personal branding, complete with a logo, email and even web address. With a properly designed and polished freelance invoice template, you can create a good and powerful impression, which can help in client retention.

The bottom line is, as a freelancer you do need invoices. And if you’re a self-employed professional expert in your field, a personalized consulting invoice template may be all you need to keep track of your money inflows.

What should be included in a freelance invoice?

At the very least, a good freelance invoice template should contain basic information about you (or your business), basic information about the client, and details of the service you are providing to the client. This typically includes an itemized list of every service and the rate per hour or per service. You then use this information to calculate the total amount due, which you also have to indicate in the invoice. Make sure that the invoice captures any discounts that you extended to the client, as well as your payment terms and payment methods (means of receiving the money).

The way to organize your invoice is completely up to you. However, it should be an easy-to-understand document that a client can look at and process almost instantly. In case you’re not sure, here are the things to include in a freelancer or consulting invoice template:

  • Your information. Include your name (or business name), phone number, email address, fax, and website. You may also include a physical address if you have a business location. But if you’re working from home, then you can consider leaving it out in order to keep your residential address private.
  • The client’s information. A good freelancer invoice template should accommodate – at the very least – the client’s contact information. This includes a phone number and email address. If you know their physical address and website, the better.
  • Invoice number. Assign a unique and preferably sequential number to each invoice you send out. An invoice number is important because it helps you properly document your income for bookkeeping, accounting and tax purposes. You will use the invoice number as reference whenever you need to go back to a particular transaction or payment. For this reason, an invoice number can help you to track cash inflows and manage overdue invoices. A good invoice number is one that’s alphanumeric and has few characters – preferably 3 to 5. Assume you have a client named Sunny Limited. Rather than having a number like 78346220364, you can opt to have something like SL-001, SL-002, SL-003 and so on – where SL is the condensed form of Sunny Limited. Such a numbering system may help you identify clients and their invoices.
  • Date of invoice. This is the day you send out the invoice, not the date you created it.
  • Service details. Describe the services you provided in concise terms and in an itemized manner. For each item, include the date when the service was delivered, a brief description of what it entailed, billing rate, and the total amount.
  • Payment terms. Among other things, payment terms specify when the client should clear the amount due. It’s not unusual to demand for immediate payment, but net-14, net-15 and net-30 invoices are also common. These essentially mean that the client can take 14, 15 or 30 calendar days to pay the amount due. You will want to make sure that the date of the invoice and the due date lineup. So, if you’re giving the client a net-14 invoice, make sure the due date is precisely 14 days after the invoice date. Otherwise, your invoice will be ambiguous. You may also include terms for late payments and the currency that you prefer to be paid in. The latter point is especially important when dealing with international clients. Don’t forget to also include your account details under payment terms. This may either be a bank account or an online payment system like PayPal.
  • Total amount due. Tot up the amounts charged for each service to find the client’s sum total due. If you’re including a discount, make sure to factor it in the total and explain to the client the reason for the reduction in amount due. Additionally, you’ll want to calculate the applicable tax where necessary and factor it in the final cost. Traditionally, sales tax is only applied to goods, but there are situations where it may also apply to services. This is particularly the case for services that are associated with taxable goods. For example, if you sell washing machines which are subject to sales tax, and also offer installation services for the said machines, then you have to pay tax for every earning you make for installing the washers. But you should also know that as a self-employed individual, you’re entitled to deductions that can lower your tax liability.
  • Notes. Adding a personal touch to your invoice can help you make a lasting positive impression. It doesn’t need to be a long message, just a simple “Thank you for your business” or “Looking forward to working with you some more” can help a great deal.

If creating your own freelancer or consulting invoice template seems like a daunting task, you’ll be glad to know that you can download and use our free online invoice templates. Better yet, there are some invoicing software like Alto that generate invoices automatically. All you need to do is fill out your service details, complete with the rate you charged for each service, discounts, and your tax rate. The invoice generator then calculates all the deductions (like discounts), additions (like taxes), and finds the amount due to the client.

Invoicing software like Alto makes the work of freelancers and self-employed individuals easier as far as invoicing. As an invoice generator, Alto handles most of the work, thus freeing up time for you to focus on your primary job. Alto integrates with the Nearside checking account. Click here to find out more about automatic invoicing with Nearside and Alto.

How do I invoice as a freelancer?

For many freelancers, the invoicing process basically starts with creating a professional invoice and ends with getting paid. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how to invoice if you are a freelancer:

1. Set up a means of payment

If you don’t already have a means of payment, you will want to set up one. Depending on the types of clients you have, you may want to open a variety of payment systems. Some will want to pay you via easy online platforms like PayPal as well as debit and credit cards. Others may prefer to send you checks, which make a solid case for opening a checking account. There are clients who can set up an ACH system so that you’re automatically paid on a weekly or monthly basis. Whatever the case, make sure to ask the client how they prefer to pay during pre-agreement talks.

2. Create a freelancer invoice template

You don’t need to create one from scratch; you can download and customize our free online invoice template. Give it a personal touch by including your logo, business name and other details. You can even change fonts to match the ones that appear on your freelance business branding.

3. Enter contract with client

As a service provider, you’ll want to start your business dealings with a solid contract. Among other things, make sure that the contract specifies whether the client is required to make partial or full payments. Do you need them to pay for freelance work when making an order or upon delivery of the work? What are your payment terms? Should they pay immediately or do you have net-14, net-15, net-30, net-60 and net-90 terms? What penalties do you have in place for late invoice payments? Including all this information will remove any billing confusion and misunderstanding between you and the client.

4. Fill out the invoice

Since you already have a freelance invoice template, feel free to fill it as you go. Don’t wait until you’ve done 10 or 20 tasks to start filling the invoice. Instead, jot down the details of a task right after you complete it. Filling out an invoice when the service details are fresh in your head will ensure that you capture every detail accurately – including the type of service, rate per hour and total amount.

5. Add a personal touch

Adding a note like “Thank you for your business” can help you create a lasting impression with the client. That is how you build brand loyalty.

6. Preview and send the invoice

Make sure that you have a copy of the invoice saved somewhere on your device. Preview and then send it to the client. It’s not unusual for some clients to take time to make payments. Such a situation may require you to do a bit of follow up.

7. Get paid

When the client pays, remember to mark the invoice as paid. This will help you keep a record of all the invoices that have been paid for and those that are outstanding.

How to deal with delayed payments as a freelancer

There are times when clients will delay payments for one reason or another. While this may be frustrating, it’s important to deal with delays in a professional manner. First, check that your freelance or consulting invoice template isn’t lacking any material information like a payment account. This may occur if you’re using free invoice templates for the first time and haven’t thoroughly reviewed them. In case you spot any material omissions or errors, be sure to contact the client immediately and correct it.

If all is well on your side, then the delay may be down to the client. In which case, do a follow up by initiating a discussion with them and reminding them of the payment terms set in the contract (and invoice). However, keep an open mind and listen; they may be going through cash flow challenges. That said, ask them to give you a timeframe that they think they can pay the invoice. Depending on your relationship with the client, you can either halt future projects until the current invoice is paid, or you can continue in good faith.

When is the best time to invoice a client?

There’s no hard-and-fast rule on the best time to send an invoice; it comes down to the nature of service you’re providing. For freelance work that requires a fast turnaround – like writing – you can send an invoice immediately after completion.

On the other hand, if you’re working on a project that will last for a long time, you can invoice the client an upfront fee (usually a percentage of the total) and send the final invoice upon completion. Alternatively, you can opt to send bi-weekly or monthly invoices as you make progress with the project.

Ultimately, the best time to send an invoice depends on the kind of work you’re doing. In fact, if you’re not pressed for cash, you can send invoices up to two weeks after completing work.

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