I wish being a freelancer just meant creating innovative and thought-provoking work all day.
That’d be fun, right?
Unfortunately, If we want to create a business out of doing what we love, at some point or another we’re going to have to focus on the “business” part.
💔 Falling out of love with your clients? Trade some of your worst clients for the best companies in the world with SolidGigs, our premium weekly freelance job list & course library. Love your business again. Learn more »
“Invoicing” is such a boring word… But let’s attempt to rebrand it. Think of invoicing not as a means of billing your clients, but as a means to set up a predictable and stress-free business model for yourself.
If you master this part of your business, you’ll be able to maximize your time spent working on the creative part (which is the most important part of your business after all).
There is an element of sexiness to having money flow in every week. Maybe even multiple times per week, depending on how many clients you’re juggling, but think about what comes with this:
Enter your email. Grow your business.
Submit your email below and join 45,000+ creatives who get our most helpful content via email every week. 100% free. Unsubscribe anytime. Privacy protected.
More emailing. More sending invoices. More correspondence. More paying a book keeper (if you have one). More follow up emails… Where would you find time to do the work?
When it comes to freelancing, the fewer invoices you send, the better.
Before you look away from this article, let me apply some context to that statement.
Some tend to think that the more frequently we receive payment, the less stressful our lives will be. Others tend to rely on a monthly payment schedule as the golden rule. There are puts and takes to both, and both can be relevant depending on the project at hand.
For example, I have two long-term clients with ongoing maintenance work. In a given month, I may work 6 hours or I may work 120 hours. I benefit greatly from a monthly invoicing agreement, by which it is dictated in my working agreement, that I will send a monthly invoice and they agree to pay within a designated amount of time.
However, for smaller, more impulsive clients, I tend to bill more frequently.
The danger with more frequent billing cycles is that they suggest shorter-term project timelines. If you’re looking for a little extra side income, there’s nothing wrong with this.
However, If you’re looking to build an extensive and long-lasting freelance business, this is going to get very, very tiring.
3 things to remember when invoicing:
1. Focus on finding 3-5 long-term clients who you can bill to monthly.
Remember, our goal as freelancers shouldn’t be to get our hands in as much as we possibly can.
The key to freelancing is sustainability. If you find yourself focusing on one-off projects and billing daily or weekly, your drive is going to fizzle out like a match in the wind.
2. Only rely on short-term work when long-term clients are slow.
These types of one-off projects should be considered supplementary to a more reliable stream of income.
If we’re thinking “sustainability”, these short-lived projects are not ideal. Not only will you have to bill more frequently, but you’ll have to invest a lot of time and energy into populating your work queue, which is an exhausting song and dance that could fill another blog post on another day.
3. Remember your craft.
Take a systematic approach to invoicing your clients so that it feels like an extension of your craft and less like an annoying pile-up of emails or voicemails. Make sure your clients know when to expect an invoice. Bake an agreement into your contract.
The last thing you want to do is bill a client when they aren’t expecting it. This is a breeding ground for uncomfortable conversations and it will totally kill the creative vibe.
Instead, set the expectations when the project starts, and don’t deviate! Injecting some subtle branding into whichever delivery method you choose will help ensure a positive brand experience from start to finish, with little room for surprises along the way.
What methods for invoicing do you find successful? Let me know in the comments!
Keep the conversation going...
Over 5,000 of us are having daily conversations over in our free Facebook group and we'd love to see you there. Join us!