Take it from me — pausing to remind a client about their late payment is, quite possibly, the least desirable thing about freelancing. That’s especially true when you’re in the groove. But invoicing is part of the freelance business model, so finding ways to do it more efficiently is worth your while.
Years into my freelance writing business, I’ve come to appreciate free online invoice generators and templates. They make getting paid on time a two-minute task — something I can tackle while brainstorming a better synonym for “fast.”
Below, I’ll walk you through how to use Keeper's freelance invoice template. As you read, learn a few tips for how I prefer to invoice my clients. Pillage as you please.
How to create an invoice with our free invoice generator
It’s much easier to get paid with the proper documentation in order. You’ll get bonus points for a professional invoice that’s crisp, clean, and clear.
Keeper’s free invoice template helps you build a professional invoice fast. That way, you can spend less time chasing payments and more time doing great work for new clients.
Step #1: Put in your project name
Start by adding a project name that will serve as a reminder to you and the client. This field can include:
- The project name: A short descriptor phrase is best, such as “Web Development Services — [Domain Name]” or “Copy Editing — XYZ Blog”
- The invoice number: On the same line, include unique invoice number, which you’ll need for recordkeeping
Your project name doesn’t need to be particularly long or detailed. Simply phrase indicating the freelance work you're billing for will do. I usually label my invoices using a descriptor and a timeframe, like “Writing Services — June.”
Include an invoice number to keep a record of all your paid invoices. That way, you can track your income compared to your expenses and projected taxes.
How to number your invoices
There are no particular rules for how your invoice numbers should look. Just follow a system that you can use consistently.
For instance, you might want to assign each client a numerical code. Alternatively, you can keep things simple by using a date or assigning invoice numbers in sequential order.
Step #2: Fill out your own details
Next, add your details, so clients can reference this info when processing your payment:
- Your business name: Pen name, business name, or given name — all options are okay here
- Your address: Useful for tax purposes and payments mailed by check
- Contact information: Your phone number, email address, and any other preferred methods of contact
Keep this section the same no matter who you invoice. It makes your recordkeeping easier, which you’ll appreciate when tax time rolls around.
In general, it's a good idea to provide as much contact information as possible on your freelance invoice template. Each client likely has a different billing process, and you’d hate to delay getting paid because of missing information.
Step #3: Fill out your client details
In this section, you’ll note who exactly needs to pay you for your services. Depending on the size of the company you’re working with, you may need the client's name, a billing point of contact, or the company name. (Large companies with several departments might require all three.)
Here’s what you should include:
- Client or company name: Client name, point of contact, company, etc.
- Client company address: On the off-chance you need to deal with late payments or failed electronic deliveries
- Client’s preferred contact details: A phone number or email address helps keep all relevant info handy in one central location should you ever need it
Who to address your invoice to
Make sure you’re clear on who needs access to your invoice before sending it off — the person approving payments isn’t always the person who approved your work.
Step #4: Specify your project details
Next, you’ll write out what you need to get paid for. Here’s some required information:
- Items: What you wish to bill for, itemized (i.e., “Article writing” or “XYZ branding graphics”) You can also include some high-level detail that helps you — and your client — recall the work done (i.e., “'How to use a freelance invoice generator' article” or “logo, banner design, typography”)
- Units: If you work on an hourly basis, this column reports the number of hours involved in delivering your service. If you work on a per-project basis, it simply represents how many deliverables you submitted
- Rate: The amount your client is being charged
The free invoice generator will calculate and display the total cost of your services.
How to customize your invoice
How you list your work will vary depending on what you’re billing for. For example, I designate one line item per article I write, followed by its cost.
If you work on retainer, you might add only one line item, followed by a description of all work you performed during this billing cycle.
Adding more items to your invoice
Did you offer multiple services during the same billing period? Don’t worry — you can up to 10 items.
Only two are visible in the invoice generator by default, but once you start typing in the second one, another line will pop up.
Don't forget that sales and use tax regulations vary by state.
Make sure to record the tax rate that applies to your specific transaction. You should verify which tax policies apply to your business.
Step #5: Choose when the payment is due
Using a simple dropdown menu, you can choose how long your client has to pay:
- 7 days
- 14 days
- 30 days
- 60 days
You’ve probably outlined payment terms in your onboarding contract, but adding a brief reminder on your invoice never hurts.
Step #6: Leave instructions for how to pay
Use the available white space to make your payment details super specific. Vague instructions only make it harder to get paid on time. (More on this later).
You can include:
- Payment instructions: How you accept payments (i.e., direct deposit, PayPal, Venmo, or another payment processor), as well as the email address or name associated with those accounts
- Personalized note (optional): A simple “thank you” message that nurtures your working relationship
Step #6: Generate your invoice
Proofread your text first. (No one likes a typo, after all!) Then, hit “Generate.”
Your filled-out invoice will pop up in a new window, so you can print or email your invoice directly to your clients
Fixing mistakes on your generated invoice
Found a typo that your proofreading didn’t catch? Great news: You can easily go back to your original window, fix it, and generate a new invoice — all without having to redo your work.
Reasons to use this freelance invoice template
Unless you're a freelance bookkeeper who can draft invoices in your sleep, figuring out how to get paid for your talents isn’t always something that comes naturally.
Luckily, you only need a few minutes to learn how to invoice clients. This generator solves the top three pain points I commonly see with other invoice software.
✓ It won’t cost you anything
Keeper built this invoice generator so getting paid doesn’t become yet another self-employed business expense.
Commercial invoicing tools are pricey, and their added financial features are often a waste of money for beginning freelancers or side hustlers who simply want to get paid for their work.
Save your subscription budget for another service (like your website domain or advertising for our business). This freelancer invoice template is free.
✓ It takes two minutes
For freelancers with lightweight needs, simpler is actually better. The bells and whistles can lead to more wasted time.
Until your business is big enough to need accounting or payroll features — you’ll get there one day, I know it — a quick, streamlined template is all you need to get paid.
✓ It’s completely secure
Clients are protective of their assets — and so are you! The Keeper invoice generator won’t save your information or your client’s.
If you work under non-disclosure agreements, having a secure processor could be a big selling point when it comes to choosing your preferred invoicing software.
What is an invoice used for?
Invoices are the business documents you need to get paid. Here are two important functions they serve for freelancers.
Alerting clients so they can pay you on time
Clients want invoices to help them keep an organized record of expenses. As a freelancer, you need them to help streamline the payment process by alerting clients that payment is due.
Tallying up your income at tax time
You can also reference your invoices to help you total your income when it’s time to file self-employment taxes.
Because you’ve made getting paid so easy, why not find a way to eliminate other tax day stressors, too? Keeper is an approved e-filer with the IRS and all 50 states. Our app can help make filing your taxes directly just as easy as invoicing.
When should you send an invoice?
Generally speaking, businesses send invoices once a service is complete or a product has been delivered. As a freelancer (or small business owner), however, your process depends on how you structure your business and the services you provide.
For a one-off project
If you work with multiple clients for one-off projects, you’ll likely bill each time you turn in a predetermined deliverable. In these cases, you’ll appreciate working from a templatized invoice you can edit and send as you meet your deadlines.
For a long-term client
If you typically work with repeat clients and offer multiple services, you might send an invoice on a bi-weekly or monthly cadence.
I built my business by nurturing relationships with long-term clients, who offer a consistent amount of regular work. So I’ve found monthly invoicing to be the perfect frequency.
How many days should you give someone to pay an invoice?
Typical payment terms follow a 7-day, 14-day, 30-day, or 60-day cycle.
If your client is a small business
Most small businesses opt for a 30-day grace period (also known as net 30 terms). That said, you might offer a longer payment window for recurring clients you trust to pay on time.
If your client is a big company
Larger companies will likely have their own preferred payment cycle, which will determine when you get paid.
You can be flexible in the face of these, while still protecting your own business interests. For instance, when I work with bigger clients, I abide by their payment cycle but include verbiage that deems a payment late 15 days after their payment cycle ends.
Whatever the terms, make sure the language in your contract and your invoice match. That way, you’ll avoid confusion and late payments.
Dealing with late payments
To track late payments, refer back to your preset date toward the top of your invoice.
Sending reminder messages can be a total mood — and productivity — crusher. You can (politely) encourage on-time payment by implementing a late fee policy. It doesn’t have to be as steep as late credit card fees: 1% to 5% is usually enough to keep clients on track.
How to keep more of the money you invoice for
No doubt, freelancing can be frustrating when clients are late to pay. Because we invoice for each and every dollar earned, we’re much more aware of how much self-employment taxes cut into our earnings.
Sure, filing quarterly taxes can help soften the blow, but it’s certainly not very fun. Capitalizing on every available small business deduction available to us? Now, that’s my idea of a good time!
As freelancers, we have to:
- ✓ Streamline what we can
- ✓ Save where we can
Making money becomes fun again when we keep our administrative business functions simple. Implement an easy invoicing system first, then leverage Keeper to take advantage of applicable freelancer write-offs.
The app will automatically find deductible expenses for you based on what you do for work, so you can keep more of what you invoiced for.