Why Is Invoicing So Difficult for Freelance Writers and Other Creatives?
It’s embarrassing to admit, but Google analytics shows me that my more than a decade old post called Sample Invoice for Writing & Editing Work continues to rank as my most read article ever.
I mean who wants to be known for writing an article about how to invoice?
But I’m not adverse to trying to parlay that into more traffic by writing an occasional new article about invoicing — none of them have ever done as well. Maybe this one will be different.
The unsent invoice
As a writing coach and because over time I’ve talked with who knows how many new and would be writers plus a double handful of other kinds of creatives, I know that many absolutely hate invoicing. That is, they hate sending bills to their clients that might result in them getting paid.
Why would anyone hesitate to ask to get paid? Looking back on my own career I can tell you early on I wasn’t a damn bit certain that I’d actually earned the money I was charging for my writing. Believe me it wasn’t much, and I still wasn’t sure.
Do all creatives have trouble with money?
Obviously perhaps, this is a trick question because certainly not every single creative on the planet has trouble around money, but many seem to. I did and like many of my stripe I also had trouble with self-worth.
Sure enough as I worked my way toward feeling worthy more of the time my relationship with money and with invoicing changed.
I finally made invoicing a habit
My practice, and indeed treating my business like a business is a practice, is that every time I finish a piece of writing I’m to be paid for I invoice immediately. That way I don’t get distracted and postpone it nearly as much as I did when I tried invoicing monthly or weekly.
Which isn’t to say invoicing monthly or weekly is a bad thing — it works for many people, it just doesn’t work for me.
I used to make my own invoices using Word, now I use PayPal’s invoices. They are quick, easy and allow the receiver to pay me with a single click or two — and no, they do not have to have a PayPal account to use their credit card to pay me.
My formula for invoicing
If you’ve created something for someone, like a piece of writing or a sculpture or a song or a fence or… the list goes on, and they hired you to do so, you deserve to be paid. It’s just that simple.
It’s also clear that as a freelancer you’re the one responsible to ask for the money owed. Sure, the occasional client will pay automatically, particularly if you give them a way to do so. Most, however, will want an invoice.
Find an invoicing system you like — and unless you’ve got hundreds or more invoices to send every month, you really don’t need to pay for someone else to do your invoicing. Form a habit of using it. Your bank account and you will be too.
Write, create, well and often,