Let’s face it, the digital space has made invoicing a lot easier than it used to be.
At this point in time, to create an invoice, you need only to follow a template. Rest assured that we have you covered to that end. But, because there are so many different businesses that you may be working in, it’s worthwhile to give some consideration to exactly what makes an invoice work.
To do that, we will take a look at a couple of examples of invoices and explain the basic sections, as well as provide you with a pair of invoice templates that you can grab for free.
In this how-to, we will cover the following:
Knowing the parts of an invoice
Creating your own custom invoices
Using invoicing best practices
Let’s dive right in with three invoicing tips that will get you paid (plus our free invoice templates)!
How to write an invoice tip #1: Knowing the parts of an invoice
The structure of your invoices will vary slightly, but the general flow of the parts of an invoice are as follows:
Your name/your business’ name
Tenant name and contact information
Goods or services (line items)
Practically all kinds of invoices will follow a similar format. Your business may call for unique specifics – like clauses, return policies, or disclaimers. Make sure you adapt the invoices you create to fit your unique business needs.
To help you nail this down, we offer two free invoice templates which can easily be modified to fit your needs.
- Rental invoice template – for landlords or landladies who need a quick and simple invoice. Though this invoice template was made with rental property in mind, if you edit it, it can apply to all sorts of rental agreements.
- Design proposal template – for all sorts of designers. Whether you are a Web designer, graphic designer, or interior designer, you can swipe this handy template, fill in the required information and get started sending out professional invoices to your customers in minutes.
- Commercial invoice template – will take care of your trans-border shipments.
- Tax invoice template – for charging VAT or sales tax.
- Proforma invoice template to get paid in advance.
- Or you can use this sample sales invoice template, service invoice template example or this blank invoice template to adapt for your own business!
How to write an invoice tip #2: Creating your own custom invoices
Since every business is different, you will likely need to custom your invoices.
One of the most important customizations you can make is adding an electronic payment method.
Online payment platforms like PayPal make this really simple. Inside PayPal, under the “Merchant Services” tab, you will find the option to create your own PayPal payment button. You can attach this to any document that can handle HTML and send it as an invoice, making it simple to receive online payments.
You may also have noticed that there is an option to create invoices in PayPal; however, the options are limited and the resulting output isn’t as professional-looking as sending your own custom made invoice. Using the HTML payment buttons leaves you open to the option of using any document of your choosing as an invoice – which you can still send using the cloud, via email.
How to write an invoice tip #3: Using invoicing best practices
Simply tendering an invoice is not exactly a guarantee that you will get paid, unfortunately. To do that, you need to be aware of some invoicing best practices.
We’ve covered a couple of the best ways to have your invoice actually get paid so far, and to that we’ll add the following:
Be grateful and gracious (thank the customer – plainly!)
Ask for feedback (this is important – it will let help you keep them coming back and could uncover a helpful customer testimonial)
Make it clear when you need to get paid – net 7? Net 15? Net 30? They won’t know if you don’t tell them
What’s more, the simple truth of the matter is that your customers may just forget to pay your invoice. For this reason, you need to develop a tactful follow up plan to make sure you get paid before things go awry.
Some businesses offer a discount to customers who pay early or on time to help steer them towards paying. Others set up an automated email response to let their customers know as the due date for an invoice becomes due, or remind them to pay when the outstanding balance becomes past due. Carefully note that, although it is important to follow and get paid, you don’t want to come off as pushy with a Mafioso-style non-payment follow up.
The following resources can help you with payment processing etiquette (definitely worth checking out):
- Late payment notifications (courtesy of FreshBooks Accounting)
- How to write a payment reminder
- Our integration partners Nimble and Harvest, both with invoicing capabilities.
Are you sending professional invoices that get you paid (on time)? You have to put some thought into your invoicing routine. Simple cobbling together a bill of sale is not the best idea – sure it’s easy enough considering everyone has a word processor on their computer. But making smart use of invoicing practices and implementing a few of the latest cloud-based tools will help you get paid on-time, every time.
Be smart - treat invoicing just as what it is: one of the most important parts of your business!
What type of invoicing system do you use? We’d love to add some perspectives on different industries’ invoicing demands. Please feel free to drop us a line in the comment space below.