This post appeared in its original form on the Business in Berkshire LinkedIn page as an answer to the question, “Why do creatives hate invoicing?”- a brilliant post and a subject close to many people’s hearts.
Here are my five tips for painless invoicing:
Set a daily rate: I used to agonise for days before giving someone a quote and when I’d finally come up with a figure, I’d invariably round it down by way too much. I asked myself, “What do you want to be earning in a day?” and then did a bit of research on other writers’ rates to make sure I was in the right ballpark. Now, I have a figure in my head so that when somebody asks me how much I charge, I can tell them straight away.
Set a discount zone: How much of your daily rate are you able to discount and why? The ‘why’ is important – can this client give you regular work? Even 1-2 days per month can give you all-important security and cash flow. Is this client likely to give you useful referrals, testimonials etc.? Will the job be good for your CV? If you offer a discount, make sure there’s something in it for you!
Negotiating beyond the discount: If the client tries to drive you down further, don’t walk away but say, “I can’t do the job for that price but I could do this for you instead.” Taking this further, if someone asks you for a quote for a particular task, don’t be afraid to show them what else you can do for them and how much it will cost. If somebody asks me for a simple proofread, I will show them what they could get for a ‘proofread and edit’ and very often, they go for the latter.
Agree the price up-front, whether it’s a fixed rate or an hourly rate: When I’m working on an hourly rate, I agree a ‘bar tab’-style cap with my clients which means I’ll let them know when the bill reaches a certain level. This doesn’t mean I’ll suddenly down tools (unless they ask me to!) but it does mean they won’t have a shock when they see the invoice.
Outsource your invoicing: It could be your partner, if they’re not afraid to ask for money (mine isn’t), a book-keeper/accountant, a credit control company, or even an experienced VA – you can always check the invoices and send them out yourself if you’re nervous about entrusting them to someone else.
Catherine Osborn is a freelance writer who helps to take the pain out of creating well-written, compelling copy. Find out more at www.catherineosborn.com.