5 Points To Have On Your Freelance Invoice
One of the more common mistakes that freelancer make when it comes to invoicing their clients is not covering all-of-the-bases. In other words, you haven’t protected yourself from any unforeseen circumstances. This means you could end-up getting the short-end-the-stick from the client.
To prevent that from happening, here are five of the most important points that you need to have on your freelance invoice. But, to make sure that there are no misunderstandings, these clauses should be discussed with your clients before taking-on a new project.
If you want to ensure that you’re going to have a sustainable and successful freelancing business, then you need to be completely transparent about your rates. In fact, how much you’re going to charge a client should be the first discussion that you both have, and agree upon in writing. It just wouldn’t make sense to get complete a project and then argue with the client on the price.
How much you charge a client depends on the services that you provide. For instance, most writers charge by the hour, while a graphic designer would probably charge a flat fee for the entire project. Regardless if you charge hourly or by project, you can get your clients to agree on your rates by demonstrating how valuable of a freelancer you really are by selling your results, and not just your services.
If you do decide to go with hourly rates then you should determine a maximum or minimum work-hour clause, which is basically figuring out that a project will take no more than X hours, or no less than Y hours. The X is for your security since you’ll get paid for these hours, even if you complete the project ahead of schedule. The Y is for your client’s security since they won’t have to pay for more than Y, no matter how long it takes for you to finish.
After clearly spelling out your rates, you next need to agree on a payment schedule. This is completely up to you, and like your rates, should be approved by the client as well. Whether if it’s 50-50, 50-25-25, 40-40-20, it’s always best to get something upfront. This keeps cash flowing and prevents clients from bailing on the invoice – especially for larger projects.
How you get compensated also needs to be included in your invoice. Do you accept payment via direct deposits, credit cards, eChecks, or PayPal?
And, don’t forget to the due date of the invoice. Some freelancers send out invoices as soon as a project is completed, while others have certain dates, like the first and fifteenth of every month. However, clear this up with the client so that you can sync pay cycles. This will prevent any delays in payments.
3. Point of Contact
I have a client that is a part of a larger organization. During the course of a project I get feedback from the project manager, editor, and the founder of the company – at the very least. It can get frustrating and confusing sometimes. That’s why I’ve decided to have a single point of contact with them. This prevents any miscommunication, confusion, and doing additional work.
When it’s time to send the invoice, I also send it to this contact. I’ve been working with the client for years, so I trust the contact is going to handle the invoice and ensure that it’s paid-on-time. If you’re working for a client for the first time, I would suggest finding out who is responsible for handling payments and send them the invoice directly.
4. Cancellation Fee
What happens when you’re halfway through a project and the client kills it? If this wasn’t covered in the contract, then you’re out of luck. However, if you have a cancellation fee and put some work into a project that was terminated, you can still bill the client for the work that you put-in.
5. Revisions, Rewrites, and Copyrights
During the course of your freelance career you’re going to work with those clients who constantly request revisions or rewrites. Sometimes it’s a quick fix that only takes a couple of minutes. But, I’ve personally worked with clients who want a rewrite of an article, or every article. That’s going to take several hours to do, so clearly you will need to be compensated for this work.
While it’s alright to throw the client a bone here and there for simple revisions, if they ask you to start from scratch or make a handful of revisions, then these need to be included on your invoice.
You also need to cover copyright options. This isn’t necessary for every type of freelancer, but the Copyright Office states that following type of work can be copyrighted;
- Literary works
- Musical works, including any accompanying words
- Dramatic works, including any accompanying music
- Pantomimes and choreographic works
- Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
- Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
- Sound recordings
- Architectural works
Freelancers have copyright options like print right, first serial rights, electronic rights. However, freelancers typically prefer to own the rights of their work until full payment is made by the client. This prevents the client from using your work until you’ve been paid. At the same time, it means that once you’ve been paid, the client owns the work.
This blog comes as a guest post from John Rampton, CEO of Due.com. John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru, and startup enthusiast. He is the founder of the online payments company Due. Follow John on Twitter at @johnrampton.