There are many reasons why an invoice might be necessary. You could need to prove to a customer that you completed a task or project for them. You could also need to invoice the customer if you provided them with freebies (like samples, trials of products, or invitations to events) as part of the contract. You might need to track the money you spend (and get paid) as a freelancer, or you could simply want to keep track of your activities.
Whatever the reason for needing an invoice, creating one shouldn’t be too difficult. There are several different types of invoices, so you can choose the one that works best for you.
Simple Weekly Sales Invoice
A weekly sales invoice is one of the simplest and least formal types of invoices. You simply track your sales for the week, listing the products you sold and the amount you’re paid for each product. At the end of the week, you total the sales you made for the week and write up an invoice. As a freelancer, you can use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all your transactions. (If you’re a small business owner, you might want to consider using XERO or Wave for invoicing as well.)
You don’t need to itemize every transaction, but you should at least list the main items you provide. For example, if you’re a freelance graphic designer and you designed a logo for a company, you’ll need to include that in your invoice even if you don’t charge the customer for the logo design. Your invoice should also include the hours you spent working on the project. (If you bill by the hour, then you’ll need to use a different method to track your time.)
If you provide a product or service and you want to be paid for it, then you’ll need a billing invoice. A billing invoice is essentially the same as a simple sales invoice, except that you need to itemize all the components of the product or service you provide. Those components might include a free trial of a product, a logo design, copywriting, and so on. You can use an Excel spreadsheet to track all your billing transactions, itemizing what you provide and the amount you’re owed.
Writing an invoice for a product or service you provide is fairly straightforward. Just think of all the elements you need to include. That way you’ll be sure to cover all the bases when it comes time to create the invoice. For example, if you provide logo designs and web banners, you’ll want to ensure that you itemize those components and include them in your invoice. You can also choose the style of the invoice: Is it to be a simple, clean sheet with no logos or pictures on it? Or do you want to add a little flair and use a corporate logo or design on it?
If you’re a service provider, such as a plumber, electrician, or landscaper, then you’ll need to create a charging invoice. A charging invoice is a bit more formal than a simple sales or billing invoice, as it includes more information. You’ll want to use this type of invoice when you provide a product or service that has several components. One part of the service might be easier to calculate (like plumbing or electrical work), while another part might require more work (like landscaping).
A charging invoice should include the following components: a description of the work you did (so the customer knows what they’re paying for), the name of the product or service being provided, the date the service was provided, and an itemized list of all the components that went into the service. If there are a number of services that were provided and you want to itemize them all on one sheet, then you can use a template such as this one from Invoice Ninja.
The most important thing to keep in mind about invoices is that they must be accurate. As a freelancer, you’ll probably have to provide a number of different invoices to different customers. It’s likely that you’ll need to compare some of the invoices to ensure they’re all accurate and add up correctly. Once you’ve gotten everything squared away, you can send the completed documents to the customer to sign off on the invoice.
Keep track of all your transactions in a spreadsheet or use a tool like Xero or Wave to provide your bookkeeping and accounting functions. As a freelancer, you’ll need to keep track of all your expenses. To help you keep track of your money, you might want to consider using an app like Acorns to invest in stocks and earn a small amount of money when you spend.