Daily Archives: October 8, 2008

Advice #12: How To Design an Invoice

I have to design a form (invoice) for my future design company & I haven’t had much luck finding good examples from other designers to get ideas from. Do you know where I could find any? Do you have any tips for designing that sort of thing?

Having an invoice on hand is one of the most important components involved in running your business. Why, you ask? In the design world, it’s standard practice for a company to send you a check for completed work only after you’ve invoiced them. If you don’t bill them, you could be waiting a very long time to get paid.

ABOUT INVOICES:

In most companies, the person that you’ve completed work for is usually not directly tied to the accounting department. It’s up to you to forward an invoice for the work you’ve finished to the designated contact so that they have a record of who you are, what you’ve done and most importantly, where to send the check to. A neat, easy to read invoice with all of the necessary information will help you get paid in a timely manner and keep the accountant from dropping it into the dreaded ‘basket of no return.’


If you want your check to show up, send an invoice ASAP!

AN INVOICE SHOULD INCLUDE:

1. Your name (or company) and contact information: Make sure you have a mailing address, email address and phone number so that any issues or discrepancies can be handled immediately.

2. The client’s name, address and the job’s P.O. number (if provided): Who are you doing the work for?

3. An invoice number: For your purposes, this helps you keep your records tidy. I use a basic system of ‘NT000.’ Nubby Twiglet is the name of my design business and the number increases by one with every job I complete.

4. An intemized breakdown: This is a list of what you are owed for services rendered. This will vary depending if you charge a flat or hourly rate. I always charge a flat rate, so my listing might be for a “Full color logo design with unlimited usage rights: $1,000.00.” The more detailed your descriptions, the better.

If you’re curious about the pros and cons of charging hourly vs. fixed rates, read this article.

5. The total amount owed: Tally up those services rendered and clearly state the amount at the bottom.

6. Terms: Do you expect payment within a specific timeframe or do you have special rules regarding payment? Be warned, sometimes this is void with larger corporations that already have set rules. When I did work for Virgin Records, they sent payment within their predetermined 60 days of receiving my invoice.

Optional: An invoice branded with your company identity is always a nice touch, though it’s not necessary. When I’ve done filing at work, a beautiful invoice always grabs my attention, but I’ve seen successful freelancers stick with a simple text-only printout via Quickbooks on white computer paper and it works just as well. Legibility and simplicity should take precedence over beauty!

MORE RESOURCES:

1. Adobe offers a free invoice template that’s in AI format and super minimal. With some small modifications, it could suit almost anyone’s needs! For the below example, I made a quick version of my own from the template in about 10 minutes flat and with a little more work, it could look even more customized!

2. If you’re wanting to do your invoicing online, Freelance Switch lists 7 online apps for freelancers.

3. I did a search for vintage invoices on Flickr and here is some inspiration:

1. butter 3, 2. C. G. Offterdinger Dealer in Fresh Meats and Green Groceries, 3. Invoice, Chas M Stieff Manufacturer of Grand & Upright Pianos, 4. 1947 Sales Invoice Excelsior Stove & Mfg Quincy IL, 5. Bill, C. M. Guggenheimer, The Big Store, Dry Goods, 6. M. R. Scott, Dr. Butcher Dealer in Fresh and Smoked Meats

4. Here are some examples of what a professional invoice looks like. Billing Manager, a company with a history of helping businesses with products like QuickBooks and TurboTax has developed a free invoicing system that allows you to customize templates and drop in your logo!