Invoicing is an essential part of self-employment. It is proof of your hard work and the time you have invested in helping your clients with your exceptional service. While invoicing can be automated, you might not have enough budget to spend on expensive accounting software.
Plus, using the same old invoice templates that everyone else uses won’t help your brand stand out. In this article, you will learn how to create an invoice from scratch to invoice your customers, one that is unique to you and that represents your brand.
Step 1: Create a list of essentials
An invoice contains the following essential information:
- Commercial information of both parties: Emails, phone numbers, addresses, etc.
- Bill number: A unique number to identify the invoice (example: # 1001).
- Date of issue: The date you issued the invoice.
- Due date: The date the customer is supposed to pay you.
- The description: A column containing all the services you provided to the customer.
- Price: Your charge per unit of each service provided.
- Quantity: The number of units of your service that the customer has purchased (example: 10 items).
- Total: The total cost of each item of service delivered, that is, the price multiplied by the quantity.
- Total: Total cost of all service items combined before adjustments.
- Tax: Tax payable (if applicable) by the customer on the purchase of your services. Consult your accountant to guide you through this process.
- Amount: The final expense that the customer will incur in exchange for your services after all adjustments.
- Payment details: All payment methods you accept, including your account details.
- Terms and conditions: The terms and conditions that you and your client agreed to before entering into the transaction.
Here’s a tip: It’s a good idea to include a small gesture of gratitude on your bill. Something as small as “Thank you for your business” adds a lot of personality to your bill. This lets your customer know that you can’t wait to do business with them again.
Also be careful when giving discounts. Newbie freelancers are often tempted to give their clients big discounts in the hopes that they’ll stick around. But it can have the opposite effect, as customers may perceive your original price as a misrepresentation of the value you are offering.
Step 2: Add your brand credentials
What separates a good craftsmanship from a poor one is the quality of its design. The latter may contain all the essential parts but looks incredibly boring and uninspiring. If done right, your invoice can serve as a subtle marketing tool in addition to being a legal document.
You can do this using your brand identifiers such as your logo, typography, and brand colors. With a clever combination of colors, fonts, and syntax, you can influence your customer’s mood when looking at your invoice and draw their attention to the most important parts.
Step 3: Finalize your template layout
Once you are done adding your brand credentials, the next step is to finalize your invoice layout. It means arranging everything so that all the elements of the invoice complement each other. The goal here is to create a custom template that can be used over and over again.
A good model is an organized, beautiful, precise and endlessly reusable model. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a graphic designer to do this. A simple basic understanding of design and a curiosity to experiment is enough. You can also check out models online for inspiration.
Speaking of designers, it may be a good idea to hire one for this process. They can help you use your brand credentials in ways you might not have imagined and better organize your bill. After all, hiring someone once is a lot cheaper than paying for a regular subscription to accounting software.
Remember, your model is meant to be a mix of design and data. This means that it should accurately represent all the necessary details of your invoice while still remaining presentable. It’s usually hard to get it right the first time, so don’t be afraid to mess it up; learn by trial and error.
Step 4: Fill in the details and check for errors
The information in an invoice is very important, both from a legal and professional point of view. An invoice with wrong information is an instant red flag to customers and can harm or even end your relationship with them.
Three things to pay special attention to are the final amount owed, your payment methods, and the agreed terms and conditions. Remember, no one likes surprises on an invoice. The easier it is for your customer to pay you, the more likely you are to receive your payment on time.
Step 5: Send the invoice to your customer
Once everything is in place (supposedly after a lot of revisions), send the invoice to your customer. Make sure that you haven’t used editable document formats like .docx and opt for .png or .pdf instead. The first adds confusion and mistrust to the business if a party changes the document later.
If you’re sending an invoice to a new customer and you don’t know what to write in the email, use this template:
thanks for choosing [your company name] for your requirements. Please find attached to this email your invoice for work delivered on / during [time of delivery of work].
Please do not hesitate to let us know if you have any doubts or need any clarification on anything, we would be happy to help. Looking forward to future collaborations.
Create a memorable invoice
You might think that spending the time designing an invoice isn’t worth it because, after all, you don’t get paid for it. So why bother creating a custom template when you can just use a ready-made one?
While this is true, note that a personalized invoice is a subtle yet powerful marketing tool. Not only does this signal competence and professionalism, but also leaves your brand mark on every new customer, making you memorable.
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