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#FreelanceFriday: Billing is Hard

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  • Tip Bones

It's the end of your billing cycle, and ugh, you have SO many invoices to deliver and get paid... hopefully. But, when you run your own business, the more you have to bill, the more those small tasks pile up. Creating an invoicing system is a delicate process, and if your chosen system fails, you might not get paid on time, if at all! It's the bane of every small business! But you're smart, right? You know that you need a way to keep records and track your billing, to make sure that your hard work doesn't go uncompensated. Here are some ways that you can make getting paid as easy as billing isn't.

1. Use a Template

I can't recommend making a single, reusable template enough. Using the same format over and over will help you-- and your clients-- scan invoices quickly for pertinent information, which is especially great when there's an issue, or heaven forbid, an audit. Typically, programs like Microsoft Word offer a number of very clean and professional templates, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with using these or online offerings to design your invoice. You might even choose to create your own, if you're design savvy! Whatever you choose, look for a design with minimal design features. Your invoice doesn't need to be 'pretty' to be functional, but a spot for your logo is often helpful. You may also want to consider a table format, with the ability to add or delete table cells as needed. Make sure you choose a design that is easily edited, as well: you never know when the client's needs will change, and you'll have to alter your default text.

2. Choose a Billing Day

Yes, billing day might strike fear into your heart, but I promise that the bundle of invoices won't be hard if you do it all at once. If you deal with contracts on a weekly or monthly basis, or any other regular time interval, group as many as you can together. Bill all of your weekly clients on Monday, for instance, or your monthly contracts on the first of the month. If you can automate your billing, that's even better, and it might not take more than a few minutes and a quick double-check of your invoices to send out your billing on your chosen day!

3. Automate

Every business is a little different, so the software or method you may choose to organize your billing is entirely based upon the needs of your business. However, I definitely recommend looking into some invoicing software. If you need to buy one, it can be a tax write-off for many businesses, so make sure you keep your receipt! But, if you don't care to spend a lot of money on software for just a few contracts, you can check out some free invoicing software. Just make sure to read the fine print: many free invoicing software options are free forever, but have relatively small limits on how many clients you can bill, and how many invoices you can send. When you choose your favorite, you really can't go wrong with a service that reminds you to bill certain clients, sends a reminder to the client to pay, and integrates with any digital wallet or other software you may use. You might also consider software that tracks your profit or loss. Try out a few free ones, like Due, Invoicera, and Brightbook, and get a feel for what you like using. Don't be afraid to spend a little money if it will make billing day easier!

That's all for this installment! See you all next #FreelanceFriday!

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