Being a freelance graphic designer can be hugely rewarding. Most graphic designers love their jobs because they can make a living by doing something they love, and that is designing.
And while we’re on the subject of making a living, let’s talk about invoices. Simply put, there’s no way around invoices even if invoicing isn’t as exciting as creating the next great design for your client. Getting your invoices right is important as it can make the difference between actually getting paid and dealing with late payments.
Because in an ideal world, you would simply tell your client about all the work you’ve done for them and they would send you the money. In the real world, however, that’s not how it works.
Invoicing is a process that involves creating a legally-binding document to initiate payment on your client’s end. This is an important document, and you can’t just create invoices half-heartedly since they enable the actual payment process. You don’t want all that hard design work to lead to late payments, do you?
Fortunately, great invoices aren’t rocket science. Anyone can create a professional invoice, and here are 5 invoicing tips to follow for graphic designers.
1. Include Payment Terms
Novice business owners and freelancers might not be aware of this (very) important invoice component. Nevertheless, be sure to include payment terms on your invoice to ensure it gets paid on time.
Payment terms are basically terms and conditions that you set in agreement with your client and customers. We say in agreement with clients and customers because that’s equally important. If you include payment terms that have not been discussed with the client before, they’re going to be caught off guard. And this is just not good for your business, as a confused client will delay the payment by raising a time-consuming dispute.
As a general rule, discuss the following terms with your client and include them in every invoice that you send:
- Late payment penalty
- Notice period
- Payment methods
These terms and conditions not only serve as a safety net for your business, but they also make you appear professional in front of clients and convey that you are serious about money matters.
2. Create Good Looking Invoices
Graphic designers are in the business of creating great designs that resonate with the desired audience. If they can design posters, banners and other media, why not use some design knowledge for creating invoices too?
Now you may be thinking, isn’t this taking invoices too far? After all, they’re just boring documents for getting paid. But that’s exactly why you need to create good-looking invoices. The better and more distinctive your invoices look, the more they’ll stand out in the pile of black-and-white, boring invoices that your client gets from other businesses.
Things that are pleasing to the eye invoke better reactions, so if your invoices look good, your clients may be more inclined to pay them. Plus, their opinion of your design skills will certainly improve if they see you’ve created a great looking invoice.
3. Dispatch Invoices As Soon As Possible
Creating invoices is the last thing any graphic designer wants to do. And let’s be honest here, would you rather create great, interesting designs or spend the same time on creating a boring invoice?
We understand the dilemma, but designers must realize that invoices that are sent as soon as the work is delivered have a greater chance of getting paid than invoices that are sent lazily weeks or even days after service delivery.
Just think about it, would your client be more inclined to pay you while the value of your work and services is still fresh in their mind, or after they’ve forgotten what you did in the first place? The answer to why you should dispatch invoices as soon as possible lies here.
4. Be Flexible, But To A Certain Extent
Being flexible as a freelancer is almost a requirement since you need to create long-term relationships with clients. If you’re inflexible you’ll find it hard to retain clients. But there is definitely something to be said about being a little too flexible.
For example, many freelancers deem it standard practice to provide a 30-day payment window to their clients, but is this really the right thing to do? Because the longer you allow your clients to delay payments, the more likely your invoice will shift to the ‘pay later’ category.
This can be a big problem especially for graphic designers who have other people working for them. If you can’t pay your employees on time, how can the business run smoothly and without internal disputes?
5. Offer Multiple Payment Methods
Time for a reality check – this is 2019 and there are many, many convenient ways of getting money into your bank account. Hence, don’t force your client to opt for cumbersome ways for payment by cheque or a wire transfer. PayPal, Stripe, Payoneer and Google Pay are all great online payment processors and they will save you and your client a lot of time when it comes to payments.
Oh, and there’s a tip that goes along with offering multiple payment methods. Be sure to include payment details that are up to date, on the invoice. The last thing you want is for your client to send payment to the wrong account.
Invoicing for Graphic Designers, In Sum.
Invoicing should be an important part of doing business for graphic designers, even if it isn’t the most exciting. Digital invoices are surprisingly easy to create, and you can even save previous invoices as templates for maximum efficiency.
Another viable option is to use the free graphic design invoice templates like the one you see here. These templates have been developed by professional accountants and graphic designers, so you don’t have to guess what to include on your invoice. So why not use these templates and ease yourself from the burden of using Excel.