Last editedMay 20222 min read
Structuring a freelance writer invoice is straightforward. Unless you’re a freelance writer registered for VAT, a good place to start is a basic invoice template. If necessary, you can adapt it to your own needs.
The structure of a freelance writer invoice
There is no official structure for a freelance writer invoice. It is, however, customary to start with the names and contact details of the sender and the recipient. These must include the physical address details even if you’re billing private individuals (such as helping with autobiographies). This is so that HMRC can identify the source and destination of funds.
If you’re working from home and want to keep your address private, you can register a business address. However, you need to make sure that there is a clear and specific link between that address and you. For example, you could have a contract showing that you had contracted a service to collect mail for you at that address and forward it to you.
Technically, you do not need to include an email, phone number or Skype ID. In practice, it makes sense to do so. That makes it easy for clients to contact you if they have any questions. You can limit the chances of that by making sure that the invoice contains everything they need to know.
Your invoice needs to include what is being billed, at what cost and on what payment terms. If your client has requested you include specific details, usually a job number or a purchase order number, make sure you do.
Setting out payment terms
When it comes to payment terms, the best approach is to agree to them upfront and then repeat them in the invoice. A few agencies pay the next day or the next business day. Most, however, will pay weekly, fortnightly or monthly. If you’re working outside the agency structure, you’ll need to set payment terms on a case-by-case basis.
You can invoice in stages if you’re doing a large job for a client. For example, you could take an initial deposit and then bill when you reach certain milestones. This would usually be a number of words or could be after a specific time period. Some clients pay an hourly rate.
You should also specify what payment terms you accept. For most writers, direct debits or instant bank payments are likely the best options.
Choosing your payment methods
It’s often impractical for freelance writers to take card payments directly. Even if it were, the costs of doing so tend to be prohibitively high, especially if you’re working on a small scale. You can take payment cards through e-wallets, but again the costs for this tend to be very high.
This effectively leaves cheques, bank transfers and, now, direct debits. Cash is not a practical option for most freelance writing jobs, and neither is cryptocurrency. Cheques are painfully slow and come with security issues. This leaves bank transfers and direct debits.
There are two key problems with bank transfers. The first is that they require you to disclose your bank details. Secondly, they require your client to take action, meaning you get paid when they fit it into their schedule. The answer clearly points to direct debits.
With direct debits, your client has to give you an initial authorisation. You then set up the payment so that they are charged the correct amount at the agreed time. It’s easier for them and is often much easier and faster for you. Using direct debits can save you time and stress chasing late (and missing) payments.
We can help
GoCardless is a global payments solution that helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of financial admin your team needs to deal with. Find out how GoCardless can help you with one-off or recurring payments. GoCardless also enables businesses to collect invoice payments directly from their customers’ bank account, saving them time and money. Businesses can get paid up to twice as fast by accepting GoCardless payments on their online invoices.