How to stay on top of your invoicing

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If there is one blog related task that I absolutely hate, it is invoicing for work I have completed. In the past I have dreaded it so much that I have actually completed work and then never sent the invoice over. Awful, I know. In this blog post I am going to share the tools and methods I have used for invoicing, how I got on with them and some general invoicing tips.

When to invoice

When you invoice will depend on your model and the time you have available. I have tried having a dedicated invoicing day per week or fortnight; doing it on an adhoc basis and also doing it as soon as I send the client the work.

The best method for me is to do it as soon as I can after I have completed the work for a client. It is a bit like eating the frog – start with the tasks you hate the most. If I don't get a chance to send an invoice immediately, it becomes a top priority for me. Doing it on an adhoc basis meant that I never got around to invoicing.

The sooner I invoice, the sooner I can be paid. With some companies taking 90+ days to pay, putting the invoice in sooner rather than later helps by business with cash flow.

Invoicing with Google Drive

You can create your own invoicing templates in Google Drive, and even save them as PDFs to send to your clients.

This free method allowed me to create different templates based on the work I was doing (sponsored posts, freelancing, etc) but it required a little bit of effort on my part.

First of all, when creating an invoice, I would have to refer to my invoicing spreadsheet to get my new invoice number, then create a copy of a template, edit that and then start filling in the details. Once I had done that, I would save it as a PDF, download it and attach it to an email and send to the client.

Then I would manually go through my banking and move paid invoices into the “old invoices” folder and reconcile my spreadsheet.

This process would take just a few moments, but let me remind you that I hate invoicing. I would put it off so much that I've worked for free.

Invoicing with Xero

I have been using cloud based accounting software, Xero, for some time now, and it makes invoicing an absolute dream, especially for someone who hates invoicing.

Sending an invoice is really simple – Xero will automatically put in the next invoice number for me, and it automatically assigns jobs to the correct code – for instance, if I am working on a sponsored blog post, it assigns the payment to a sponsored blog post.

Once an invoice is approved I can easily email it to clients – Xero stores their email addresses so I'm not searching through my email contacts for them.

Possibly the best bit is that Xero also connects to the business bank account and Paypal, so when a payment matching the invoice amount arrives, Xero will match the two together. If they are correct I just need to hit “ok” and Xero will mark the invoice as paid. If they don't match then I can still manually adjust it.

It is also great to see which invoices are outstanding, so that I can chase any outstanding payments.

Xero also integrates with basically every payment gateway, so there’s no excuse for clients not to pay you.

Xero has definitely helped me to keep on top of my invoicing, as well as other aspects of running my business.

Invoicing tips

If you find that invoicing gets away with you, or you simply hate it as much as I do, I've put together some invoicing tips.

First of all, you need a system in place. That includes when you will invoice and how you will invoice – whether you choose a free options like Google Docs or accounting software like Xero.

Make invoicing as easy as you can by using templates and keeping your payment details, along with your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) to hand.

Keep on top of payments received so that you can chase up any outstanding payments. You might want to set up a canned email response with standard wording to save time.

If you really cannot stand invoicing then you can always consider outsourcing it to a virtual assistant.

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