What's the best way to invoice your design clients?

Raise your hand if you like to get paid.

Ok, I can’t see if you’re raising your hand, but I would guess that you are because who doesn’t like to make money doing something they love?

But collecting money can be a difficult task if you don’t have much experience with it. Do you send a physical invoice in the mail? Do you email an invoice? Perhaps online invoicing is the solution…

And for every designer it’s different.

Today’s goal is to offer a few suggestions, and get your opinion in the comments section.

A few solid options

SNAIL MAIL
The most obvious choice is to send an invoice in the mail. But that can mean delayed payment, “the check is in the mail” excuses, increased mailing costs, etc.

ONLINE
Aside from the usual invoice in an envelope method, there are a few solid options for invoicing. Below you’ll find a few online options.

  • BlinkSale.com – as you can guess from it’s name, BlinkSale is all about helping you get paid quickly and easily.
  • FreshBooks.com – my personal invoicing service of choice, FreshBooks has an easy-to-use interface and works great for both you and your clients.
  • BillingBoss.com – a great solution if you’re looking for a free service that will help you track simple invoices.

OTHER
I’ve also heard other options from designers such as delivering the invoice personally, simply writing an email and requiring payment via paypal, or creating your own template in Microsoft Excel. What other options do you use?

Which is best?

So here’s the real question: What’s the most effective way to invoice your clients? You’ve probably used some great tools that I haven’t mentioned here and I would love to hear what you have to say. So go ahead, leave a comment and share your tips with the rest of us!

About Preston D Lee

Preston is a web designer, entrepreneur, and the founder of this blog. @prestondlee

Comments

  1. Years ago I developed a simple Filemaker database for invoicing that was customized to my business. It has worked like a charm ever since. I save the client invoice as a PDF and email them.

    I also have a couple of clients I meet with on a regular basis whom I deliver the printed invoice to.

  2. We’ve been using Freshbooks for the last 3 years and love it. Our clients appreciate it too. They can access all of their old estimates, invoices and payment history whenever they want. It’s been great for really clear time-tracking too. Interestingly, Freshbooks has also allowed us to get tougher with our slow-to-pay clients because of the payment reminders. The reporting tools are solid too.

  3. We use Freshbooks and love it.. there are a few things that needs to be improved, but overall a great tool.

  4. I’m currently creating a new service for freelancers to invoice their clients called AccountsApp (http://accountsapp.com). Its due to launch in a few weeks but stay tuned because its designed by freelancers for freelancers.

    Follow @accountsapp on twitter to hear about the launch as it happens

    George

  5. I use Zoho Invoice : invoice.zoho.com

  6. I send invoices electronically through CurdBee. It’s free, they can pay online, I can track when they view the invoice, and it allows for my logo to be on invoice.

    I can “guarantee” payment, because I don’t start a project unless I have received the deposit and I don’t send the final files until the final payment is made.

    So far, it’s been working *knocking on wood* :)

  7. I use a free accounting software called SohoOS. I was using QuickBooks but it is clunky, ugly and expensive. SohoOS is web-based, and it’s pretty streamlined. It has what I need as a freelancer including the ability to track leads, add contacts, plan marketing, create quotes and invoices that can be downloaded as PDFs or sent through email from their site. The only negative is that the pages load a little slowly and the receive payments option is non-existent, so you have to just set the invoices as paid or not.

  8. The good old traditional snail mail never goes wrong for us here.

  9. My approach may seem a bit outdated, but it works for me. I use Quickbooks Pro as my accounts receivable database. I create dummy invoices but don’t actually issue them to the client. Then I enter all the project info, work description, amount due, etc. into a custom designed template I created in InDesign. Generate a PDF. Email to client.

  10. Allen Screen says:

    I use PayPanther –> http://www.paypanther.com/ It’s one of the best free online invoicing tools out there. And it also has other features such as project management and CRM.

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