Being a freelancer is hard. You have to be constantly be on your A game- delivering high quality of work for your clients while simultaneously handling a morass of complicated tasks needed to manage your business. Everything from getting new prospects to ensure that you are tax compliant to getting paid by your clients.
An invoice serves several purposes. It is not just the catalyst that gets you paid, but also is needed by the client as a record so they can write off the payment. Every client you will meet will probably need an invoice from you. As a freelancer, you will probably generate a lot of invoices, so you might as well make it great.
Most businesses use the same sorts of information on invoices: contact information, sequential invoice numbers, etc. Because of the unique nature of freelance work compared to a usual job, freelance invoices should be adapted to reflect these differences.
A freelancing invoice should include the following:
Stick with what you know- I don't know many writers who can't use Microsoft Word or publisher in their sleep, so consider using one of the templates provided with these softwares to create your invoice. Of course, you can be adventurous and try to use other web based invoicing system such as Paypal, Freshbooks, or Waveapps. One advantage of of the web based invoicing is their ability to take credit card so you don't have to wait for the check in the mail.
Brand it- You want your client to remember you in the future if they have any other writing positions available. If you have a logo, or even a certain font, quote or layout that is unique to your particular service, consider putting it on your invoice. At the very least, you must include your name, address, and other identifying information in the header of your invoice.
Provide the details- The main body of the invoice should detail the services you provided. If you completed the services via an hourly rate, be sure to enumerate the hours worked. If you complete an item based project, provide those details too. Also, include any other cost that you incurred during your project so you could be reimbursed for your cost. You will want to detail exactly what you did, how, and how long.
Draw it out- Include a per charge column that cites your rate, and then draw it out to a total charges column. This not only helps eliminate math mistakes or typos, but it also provides the client and easy way to estimate the cost of hiring you for future work.
Bold the total- Make the total easy for your client to find so you can get paid quicker.
Cite your terms- Hopefully, these won't be a surprise to your clients, as terms are supposed to be discussed ahead of time. Gently remind your client by adding a one-two sentence blurb to whatever your agreed to under the total due.
Proofread- Then proofread again! Now is not the time to relax and space out. Do it after your invoice is turned in to your client. Make sure your invoice is as perfect and as flawless as your project.
Get paid- Celebrate your success!