Whether you’re a freelancer or the owner of a small business, it’s probably safe to assume that you like getting paid for your products and services.
But if you want to be taken seriously and increase your chances of actually getting money in your pocket, you’ll have to do better than a text message with a friendly reminder. You’ll need a real, professional invoice. And your clients will often require such an invoice for their own records, to be turned over to their employers or accountants.
The good news is that creating your own invoice is actually pretty simple, and once you’ve made one, you’ll have a template in place that will make issuing an invoice even easier every time.
How to Write an Invoice
Follow these 8 steps to write a professional invoice that will help you get paid on time.
1. Customize It
If your company has a logo, be sure to include it on your invoice’s header. According to a study of 250,000 real invoices by Due.com, invoices with a company logo were three times more likely to be paid than those that did not have one. You can also choose to customize your invoice with your company’s colors.
However, don’t get too carried away with customization: stick with professional, standard fonts like Calibri or Cambria. You want your invoice to be easy to read (and you want people to take it seriously!).
2. Clearly Mark Your Invoice
There’s nothing more frustrating than opening a piece of mail, presented with an array of confusing numbers, and being left to scratch your head in wonder: Is this a bill???
Make sure your invoice is clearly marked as such (most feature INVOICE written somewhere across the top), so your clients know they’re looking at a bill that needs to be paid, and not a quote, summary, or estimate.
Making it clear that this is an invoice to be paid, combined with a simple payment process (see #7), will help ensure that you get paid on time and without hassle.
3. Include Company and Client Info
Be sure to include your business’s number, email, and address below your name. Clients should be able to reach you quickly and easily in case they have any questions, and they should know exactly where to send the payment, if paying by mail.
Then, include your client’s name and address (mostly for documentation, and internal billings; you’ll also need to put their address on the envelope if you’ll be mailing the document).
4. Add an Invoice Number, Date, and Due Date
An invoice number will help you keep your records neat and easy to reference, which will be especially helpful during tax season. If you’re using an invoice software, this number will be generated automatically. Otherwise, make sure you have a system in place for keeping track of your numbers.
Then, you’ll also want to include the date the invoice was issued, and a clear due date. Usually, all of this information is summarized somewhere at the top or center of the page, along with the total amount owed, so the client can quickly see how much they need to pay and by when.
5. Itemize Services Clearly
Include specific line items with descriptions of exactly what your client is being charged for. Add the quantity and price of each item or service. Taxes and any discounts that were applied to the order should also be clearly listed.
While some people might just pay the total amount listed without questioning where that number came from, clients typically feel better writing a check when they know exactly what they’re paying for, which means they’ll also be more likely to pay you on time.
Plus, clearly itemized invoices create a feeling of transparency, which helps to build trust—and trust is essential for creating return customers.
6. Add Up All Line Items
In addition to breaking down products or services line by line, you should also add up all line items and present the client with a clear, grand total at the bottom.
You definitely don’t want to make things harder on your client by making them whip out a calculator in order to pay you!
7. Include Payment Terms and Options
You should have agreed to the payment terms before doing business with the client, but it doesn’t hurt to restate the terms on the invoice (i.e., within how many days you expect to be paid, penalties for no payment, etc.).
Most importantly, however, you’ll want to include clear instructions for how your clients can pay the invoice, along with any links, information, or resources that can expedite the payment process.
You want to get paid for your services, and most likely, your client is an honest person who wants to pay you—so make it easy for them whenever possible!
8. Personalize It
Finally, you can personalize your invoice with a friendly note, thanking the customer for their business, explaining any discounts that were applied, or letting them know about any special offers for their next purchase.
What Do You Say When Sending an Invoice?
If you’re emailing your invoice, always it as an attachment, not pasted directly into your message. If you can, make the document a downloadable PDF, so clients can easily print the invoice or upload it to a software for their records.
Include the word “invoice” in your subject line, along with the due date. This alerts the recipient that your email is time sensitive, so it’s less likely to get lost in the depths of their inbox, and you’re more likely to get paid on time.
Your actual message can be short and sweet—if you have other business to discuss with the client, it’s best to save that for another email. Make this one just about the invoice.
Here’s an example:
Hope you’re well! Please see attached invoice # [insert invoice number] for [product/service provided], due on [invoice due date]. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Free Invoice Template
Download our free invoice template to make creating your next invoice fast and easy. All you have to do is customize the information based on your needs and the invoice is ready to be issued! (Note that the customized message at the bottom is optional and can be removed or replaced with your own message.)
If you have a word processing software such as Microsoft Word or Pages, you can also find free invoice templates that are easily customizable and look great.
Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!