Being a graphic designer can be a hugely fruitful endeavor – designing to make a living is fun! What’s just as important as creating great designs for clients however, is actually getting paid. Hence, getting your invoices paid on time or even before time should be a serious consideration for you.
What’s more, how you create your invoices and the information you include on them will play a huge role in determining how quickly you get paid. In an ideal world, your client would send the payment as soon as they get the invoice but in the real world, it rarely goes that way.
Here are some tips on how to get your invoices paid as a graphic designer.
Include Agreed-Upon Payment Terms
You might have heard from someone to include payment terms in the invoice, but what you might not have considered is to actually talk about them with your client before including them on your invoice.
Make sure your client sees exactly what they’re expecting when they go through the mentioned payment terms on the invoice. A slight change in the language or terms could catch them off guard, which may cause them to create a dispute, leading to payment delays for you.
The best practice would be to discuss terms about the following before commencing work:
- Payment methods
- Late payment penalties
- Notice periods
These terms might seem a bit too business-like for a freelance graphic designer, but they’re necessary if you want to be successful as a one-man business.
Ask For an Upfront Deposit
Asking for an upfront deposit won’t actually make the clients pay you faster, but it’ll help weed out the freeloaders. It’s common for freelancers to ask 30% or even 50% of the payment as an upfront deposit, and genuine clients will have no issues with this.
Make Your Invoices Look Good
Since we’re talking about graphic designers here, an invoice should be an opportunity for you to really showcase the range of your design abilities. An invoice isn’t an interesting document, but a talented designer can certainly make it look interesting.
Plus, if your invoice looks good it’s going to stand out from other dull, black-and-white invoices.
It doesn’t matter if you’re working on a per-hour basis or a per-project basis, including a breakdown of itemized costs on your invoice can provide a whole lot of clarity to your clients and customers. Simply including the total amount of hours worked on a project might not cut it for some clients. Being as transparent as possible about the work you’re doing for clients greatly reduces chances of payment disputes due to misunderstanding about the amount of work done.
Don’t Be Lazy About Sending Invoices
Get into the habit of sending invoices as soon as a project is completed or a key milestone is achieved. This creates a sense of urgency in the mind of the client as well, and they might get into the habit of paying your quickly as well.
Plus, when you send invoices as soon as the work is done, the value of the work you’ve provided is still fresh in the mind of the client, which increases your chances of getting paid faster.
To ensure that you send invoices on time, it also helps to be prepared for the time when you have to send invoices. You can send invoices quickly from a digital invoice template saved on your computer.
Avoid Payment Terms That Are Too Flexible On Timeframes
We get it, being flexible is important when it comes to business, but as with everything, there’s a limit. Providing a 30-day payment period window is kind of a standard practice for freelancers, but it’s not a rule. You can opt for shorter payment periods especially if you’re employing other people.
Remember, the more time you give a client to pay your invoice, the more chances that your invoice gets ignored.
Make It Easier to Get Paid
Make it simple for the client to pay you, by offering multiple methods of payment such as by cheque, wire transfer, online payments (Stripe, PayPal, Payoneer) and so on.
Also to keep in mind is to ensure payment details for all these methods are up to date and accurate. You really don’t want to send an invoice with incorrect payment details. That would send the wrong message to your client about your seriousness towards getting paid.
Setup Late Payment Notifications
Don’t be shy to remind your clients in case they’re running late on payments. You can easily setup an email client to send followup emails if a payment hasn’t been made.
Be polite and friendly within the email copy, but be sure to include late payment penalties or fees the client may incur.
Your Invoices Communicate Much More Than You Think
You might just think of invoices as documents to list work done, but they’re much more than that. Come to think of it, there’s a lot of details that can be included in an invoice if you’re really paying attention.
For novice freelancers, an invoice is a simple document that includes amount of work done or simple line items for services delivered. For experienced freelancers, invoices represent an opportunity to make it clear to clients that they’re dealing with a professional who’s serious about getting paid.