How to Invoice Clients as A Freelancer in 6 Steps (With Free Invoice Template)

So you landed your first online job and you’ve done the work perfectly according to your client’s expectation, now how do you collect your paycheck from your client without looking like an ass?

The next step in your journey as a Remote Filipino Worker is to send your invoice to your client in a professional and tactful way

Learn how to invoice clients as a freelancer in just a few steps!

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The first step you should do, even before creating your invoice, is to figure out when you should send your invoice to your client. 

In most situations and industries, the invoice is sent after the completion of a contracted job or at the end of a pre-determined billing period. 

On the other hand, there are some cases where it is appropriate and prudent for you to bill your client even before the job is complete.

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Scenario A: Invoicing After Job Completion

This is the most common and standard scenario. Oftentimes, the invoice is sent after completing the job to bill a client for services that have been fully accomplished.

Ideally, it would be best to send the invoice immediately after finishing the job so that you can get paid at the earliest possible time. 

You could also send your invoice at regular time intervals in case you’re working on a very long project that would take a long time time to accomplish.

Scenario B: Invoicing Before Job Completion

Generally speaking, clients don’t like to get billed for work that has yet to be finished. It gives the impression that you either don’t trust them to pay you or you’re jumping the gun and pushing your agenda down their throat. 

This can leave a bad and lasting impression that can strain your relationship with your client moving forward. 

Having said that, there are a number of scenarios where it is proper and prudent to bill your client prior to completing the work. Here are some of those scenarios
  • You need a downpayment. This is usually done if you expect to incur costs and spend money to properly accomplish the job. Some examples of include acquiring additional supplies and equipment, paying for ads in case your client is asking you to manage their marketing, and paying for additional manpower if the job is being rushed by your client. 
  • Your client doesn’t pay on time. If your client is a bit of a flight risk, it may be prudent for you to send an invoice earlier. It doesn’t make sense to finish a job where you’re not even sure that you’ll get paid.
  • It’s a big job that will take months to fully finish. In this case, you can send your invoice in advance and set up regular milestones that you and your client should agree on. You then ask to get paid in relation to each project milestone accomplished.

If you ever decide to bill your client ahead of time, be sure to give them a heads up and a good reason for doing so. It will go a long way in preventing animosity between you and your client.

Step 2: Determine How to Bill a Client (by the hour or by Milestone)

Not all services are the same, and thus they should not be billed similarly.

There are some professions that charge by the hour and some charge based on achievable milestones. This largely depends on the industry practice standards, your level of expertise in your field, and your manner of employment.

Either getting paid based on your time or on a per project will have their own set of advantages.

A. Timebased Billing (Invoice by Hours Completed)

Some Remote Filipino Workers will charge by the hour, especially if the outcome of the service cannot be guaranteed. Some examples of this would include consultation-based services of lawyers, nutritionists, and psychiatrists.  

There are also some service providers who will also charge by the hour because their scope of work is either routinary or very flexible in nature. An example of this is the work of a virtual assistant, who has both daily routines but also tasks that can vary depending on the current needs of the client. 

    Advantages of Getting Paid by the Hour

    • Steadier paycheck. Your incoming payments come in more regular intervals.
    • You can focus more on the quality of the work instead of the actual results. For example, a nutritionist can give the best advice in the world but it’s still up to the client to follow the nutritionist’s advice to see actual results.
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    B. Output Based Billing (Invoice by Project or Milestone)

    Generally, people who can get paid on a per-project or achieved milestone basis are those who can promise outcomes or specific results. In other words, you are getting paid for the results that you deliver to your client, and not only the time and effort that you put into the work itself. 

    Examples of Remote Filipino Workers who can charge on a per milestone basis include graphic designers, video editors, and writers.

      Advantages of Getting Paid per Project or Milestone

      • Ability to work on more than 1 job at a time
      • Freedom to set your own work schedule
      • You can potentially earn much more if you work fast enough since you’re paid strictly for your output and not your time.

      Step 3: Negotiate Your Payment Terms

      Once you have internally decided how you’re going to bill your client, it’s time to discuss your payment terms with them.

      This step applies to you if you’re a freelancer who gets clients directly instead of going through an agency with a fixed payment structure.

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        Tips on How to Negotiate Payment Terms with Clients

        1.  Find out your worth. Make an inventory of your achievements, experience, certifications, and other qualifications. Find out how much a person of your experience can get paid for the job you’re expected to do. 
        2. Get a gauge of how much a client can pay. This will depend on the size of the company you’ll be working for and how long they have been in the industry. The bigger the client, the better position they will be to pay you for more.
        3. Offer your client a feasible payment plan. Provide your client with payment options that can possibly ease the burden of having to pay you your demanded rates. This can include giving them discounts if you’re working on multiple projects for them. If you’re charging on an hourly basis and your client has a good payment track record, you can bill them at longer intervals. 

        Step 4: Configure Your Payment Setup

        As the service provider, you should find ways to make it as easy and as fast as possible for your client to pay you. This includes providing them with the most accessible payment methods available to both you and them.

        This will greatly differ from one client to another, depending on which are the most popular payment processors in their specific region.

        For the easiest and best results, you can ask your client which ones will be easiest for them based on what’s available to you.

        Step 5: Invoice Creation (With Free Samples)

        Now we get to the meat and potatoes of what needs to be done, the invoice creation. You can download our free sample invoice template so that you don’t need to make it yourself. 

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        But if you do want to make one customized invoice, here are some characteristics of a good invoice so that you have a better idea of how to make on yourself

        Characteristics of a Good Invoice

        1. Keep it Simple, Stupid (KISS) –  nobody likes to pay bills, especially if they’re hard to understand. Make your invoice easily understandable to make the payment process as painless and quick as possible for your client.
        2. Trackable. Make sure that you have an invoice number that both you and your client can track. This will come in handy, especially if you’re managing several accounts or billings for your reference.
        3. Completeness of details – It should have all the important details including:
          1. Date of invoice – when the invoice was sent
          2. Payment terms – including due date, special discounts, & notes
          3. Your contact details – includes your email and other contact information
          4. Your payment details – indicates where you want the money to be sent
          5. Name, Company name, and contact details of client
          6. Detailed description of each service 
        4. Accuracy – Your billing should be accurate if nothing else. This reflects how much thought and care you’ve put into making the invoice, as well as the work you’ve done for your client. An inaccurate invoice is a reflection of sloppiness at best and unworthiness at worst. 
        5. Cost Breakdown – This is especially important for itemized work where you charge by milestone or if you need to charge extra from the client in case you expect to incur costs to complete their project. Having a detailed cost breakdown will make it easier to justify your invoice amount to your client.

        Before you send your invoice to your client, be sure to send it as a pdf file so that it’s uneditable. 

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        Save the file as a pdf before sending it to your client

        Step 6: Send Your Invoice

        Now that you’ve created your invoice, it’s time to send it to your client. As mentioned earlier, you’d normally want to send your invoice immediately after accomplishing the job. 

        You can also check out these 8 bad virtual communication examples so that you know what to avoid when negotiating with your client.

        In case you’ve sent billed your client on and already received your money, you might want to check out this guide on how to withdraw money to your bank.

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        Jack Mina

        Jack Mina, the co-founder of Remote Filipino Worker and, has been in the digital freelancing industry for over 8 years. His aim is to help independent professionals and freelancers develop long-term and successful careers using the internet as their primary tool.

        He spends his free time cooking, gaming, and taking care of his pet cat Gremmie.