It always surprises me that small businesses and freelancers are still creating invoices manually because there are free invoicing solutions available that work much better.
Simply creating the invoices isn’t the important part. Tracking whether you’ve been paid or not is! While we can send invoices in PayPal and it has some elementary tracking ability, invoicing solutions provide far better tracking.
Take, for example, Due.com. Even their free version allows you to manage clients, projects, and tasks. The home page of the dashboard (shown below) shows you how many overdue invoices you have and what the outstanding balances are.
Due also acts as a task manager, showing you how many total current projects you have open, whether any tasks are overdue, and how many total clients you have. PayPal can’t do any of these.
Setting Up Invoicing Templates
Whatever you use, take the time to set up templates with your logo, contact information, and especially when the invoice payment is due.
In Want to Get Paid Faster? Make Sure Your Invoices Have These 5 Elements, Due shares this sage advice:
“Instead of putting wording like, “Due in 30 days,” put an actual date on your invoice and make sure that date is enforced. Your automated system should be set up to send a late notice once that due date has passed.
In addition to a due date, you should also include any fees that will apply if the invoice isn’t paid within a certain timeframe. You can include this information at the bottom of your invoice, with wording such as, “Late payments will be charged a penalty of X percent per day.” This late fee should be outlined from the start of your working relationship with a new client, usually through your initial work agreement or statement of work.”
Automating late notices and having a dashboard that reminds you as soon as you sign in will go a long way to making sure you get paid in a timely manner.
How many of us have wording that tells clients there will be a late fee when they don’t pay on time? I suspect very few.
Some of us bill 100% in advance which eliminates the issue of collecting payment when a job is complete. But sometimes new clients want to pay 50% in advance and 50% on delivery, and in those cases we really should be charging late fees after x days.
Invoice templates ensure that all the pertinent information is already on the invoice each time. Create and save different invoices for each type of work you perform or for each client.
Ensure Profitability with Time Tracking
Even if you don’t bill by the hour, you may want to avail yourself of the time tracking feature available in some invoicing solutions to ensure you aren’t underbidding particular types of jobs.
To use time tracking in Due.Com, first you must upgrade your account and create:
- A client
- A project
- A task
I have no doubt that undercharging is rampant because many small businesses and freelancers fail to track how much time they spend on each task.
Client Relationship Management (CRM)
If you aren’t already using a Client Relationship Management (CRM) solution to keep track of client information, using an invoicing tool that contains client and project databases is an efficient method.
While other CRM systems would be preferable for tracking leads, an invoicing solution would be sufficient for staying on top of tasks, projects, client work and client contact information.
Most CRM systems have monthly fees much steeper than the pricing for Due.com. They offer what they call the “Always Free” option for up to 5 clients, 5 projects, 5 tasks per month, and 2 invoices per month.
Even their free version is capable of billing in multiple currencies, allows you to save 2 invoice templates using your own logo, and uses SSL encryption. See the table below for more details on how their Always Free version compares to the upgrades. Time tracking is available for just $10/mo.
I found setting up a test account intuitive with no need to look for instructions on how to use it. If you’ve ever considered using an invoicing solution, check out Due.com.