It’s a momentous occasion for freelancers and small business owners when they acquire their first client and deliver the work successfully. However, navigating through the process of billing your client for the first time can be daunting. By following some key steps, you can ensure a smooth, professional billing experience.
Step 1: Understand your client’s payment terms
Before you start any project, it’s essential to have a clear agreement on the payment terms with your client. Understand the scope of work, the payment amount, the payment schedule, and the preferred method of payment. Will it be a one-time payment upon completion of the project or will there be incremental payments along the way? Having a clear payment agreement minimizes the risk of misunderstandings and disputes later on.
See our blog explaining all the intricacies of payment terms here.
For instance, suppose you’re a freelance graphic designer working on a logo design for a client. Before you start the project, you might agree on terms such as 50% of the payment upfront, 50% upon completion of the project, and payment via PayPal. This sets clear expectations for both parties and helps avoid misunderstandings later on.
Step 2: Use professional invoicing tools
While it’s possible to create an invoice manually, using an invoicing tool can save time and ensure professionalism. Invoicing software provides templates that you can customize with your business name, address, and logo. Most importantly, they automatically calculate the total, reducing the risk of errors.
Let’s take the example of using an invoicing tool like SystemX. It offers professional, customizable templates where you can input your details and those of your client, add a breakdown of services, and it automatically calculates the total. This can save you time and reduce the possibility of errors compared to creating an invoice manually.
Step 3: Details are important
A professional invoice should contain all necessary details. These include the invoice date, unique invoice number, client’s details, your details, description of services provided, total amount due, due date, and payment terms. A detailed invoice not only provides a comprehensive record of the transaction but also promotes trust and transparency between you and your client.
Including details like:
- Invoice number: 001
- Invoice date: June 13, 2023
- Client’s details: ABC Corporation, 123 Business St., City, State, ZIP
- Your details: Your Name, Your Address, City, State, ZIP
- Description of service: Content Writing – 4 Blog Posts, 500 words each
- Total amount due: $400
- Due date: June 27, 2023
- Payment terms: Net 14 days
Step 4: Deliver the invoice promptly
Once you’ve completed your work and your invoice is ready, it’s time to deliver it to your client. Timeliness is crucial here. Sending the invoice promptly signals professionalism and ensures that you get paid in a timely manner.
Step 5: Follow up
If the payment due date approaches and you haven’t received the payment, a polite reminder is entirely appropriate. Some invoicing software even provides automated reminder features. Remember, the key here is to remain professional and courteous.
For instance, if the due date for your payment was June 27 and you haven’t received payment by June 26, you might send a polite reminder email like this: “Dear Client, I hope this message finds you well. I noticed that the due date for Invoice 001 is tomorrow. I’m sure you’re on top of it, but I wanted to send a gentle reminder. Thank you for your attention to this matter.”
To learn more about follow up check out our blog on how to get clients to pay
Step 6: Say thank you
Once the payment is received, don’t forget to send a thank you note to your client. This not only shows your appreciation but also helps to maintain a positive, ongoing relationship.
Remember, your first billing experience sets the tone for your future interactions with your client. By ensuring a professional, organized, and respectful approach to billing, you can not only secure your payment but also lay the groundwork for a successful, long-term client relationship.