So, I had no idea how to send a freelance invoice before I took my first writing job. I figured I would just have to figure it out once it was necessary. And that’s what I did.
I know myself, and if I get too caught up in details like this, then I know I’ll just not do them. So my advice: Never let these silly things stop you from going after the freelance life.
Because really…it’s so simple.
So, in this tutorial, I’m going to show you exactly what it looks like to invoice a client using Paypal.
Why Paypal? I’ve found Paypal to be the universal tool for all of my clients so far, and it’s the platform that I’ve used for all of my own invoices. You could make your own generic document in Microsoft Word or Excel, if you wanted. Just try not to overthink this.
You probably already have a Paypal account. If you don’t, it takes seconds to start one. Just do it. You’ll need a bank account to link it to, so have your routing number and account numbers available.
Don’t worry, I’ll wait…
K, so now you’re in Paypal.
See that little button that says Send and Request? Click that.
Then, you’re going to end up on a page that looks like this: Click on “Create Invoice.”
From there, you’ll click on “Create New Invoice.” Pretty self-explanatory so far, eh?
Now, you’re going to have a completely empty invoice to fill in as you see fit. It’s very straightforward, but just in case you’re wondering about it, I’ll walk you through all the parts anyway.
- Insert logo here. If you have a logo, you can add one. If you don’t yet, you can send it without. No one cares.
- Your business information. I only add my name and Paypal email address here. You can add whatever you feel comfortable adding. I’m not comfortable putting my address here, but if you have a physical biz address, then you might be ok with it.
- Bill to: Ask your client what email address they use for Paypal. Add that email address here.
- Invoice number: Paypal automatically populates this field for you, but you can manually add whatever number you want. Like, if you’re embarrassed by numero uno. But really, I don’t think anyone cares about this either, so don’t sweat it. Plus, it’s easier to keep track of your work if you start at 1. And think about how one day, three years down the road, you want to look back at where you started. Invoice #1. That’s the start of your story.
- Reference/PO number: I don’t use this field. You might choose to, but invoice number is good enough for me.
- Due date: there’s a drop down menu that allows you to choose when your client must pay, whether that is immediately, within 7 days, within 30 days, whenever. You’ve likely already discussed this in some capacity with your client.
- Item name and description: Paypal instructs you to make a detailed description, and I agree with Paypal. This is especially important if you’re having your client pay for your services up front. You need to spell out exactly what services you’re providing so it’s completely clear. For something like product descriptions, you might say “300 stationery product descriptions, each unique, with a catchy headline, 3-5 lines of description, and order details. Expected completion date: 1/1/17.” Explain each line item in detail.
- Price: Take a deep breath. Paypal does the math for you. Just enter the price, the quantity and the tax percentage, if applicable, and the math is done like magic. Thank goodness! (We’re writers, not mathematicians).
Now, on to the second half of the freelance invoice.
9. Total: Again, Paypal is your best friend and calculates everything for you.
10. Note to recipient: Say “thank you,” add a funny little tagline, send a knock knock joke (that’s a fun branding idea, isn’t it?). Or, on the serious side, you can send a note about when you’ll be in contact, what the next steps are, etc. I usually just say “thank you.” Plain and simple.
11. Terms and conditions: if you have any policies (i.e. refund policy), put them here. If you request payment before you begin a project (I recommend at least half upfront, in many cases), then you can paste your terms and condition here, instead of having your clients sign an additional contract. By sending payment, they’re agreeing to the terms. This is a touchy subject, so I’d advise speaking with your own attorney. But don’t let all the legal stuff stop you either! In all honesty, I’ve only done this once or twice so far.
12. Attach files: if you’re providing a document in exchange for money, you can easily attach it here. I find it easier to send my clients a link to my writing via Google docs, but this is just another option for you.
13. Preview and Send: You can “preview” your invoice before sending it. It just gives you more of a bird’s eye view of the document. And then, just hit “send” when you’re ready.
That’s it! See, that wasn’t too scary, was it?
Try not to overthink this. I flew by the seat of my pants on my first several jobs, so I didn’t let that stop me and I didn’t act clueless either. I just figured it out on my own and got on with it.
But I’m sharing this with you so you can save a few steps and really see for yourself how easy and doable it is if you had any hesitations before reading this.
Now, go get ’em!
Any other questions about invoicing your freelance clients? Or do you have a fun story about your first invoicing experience?