Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Back to Being a Professional

After yesterday's post (which turned to an impromptu conversation about "spitting" in the comments section, much to my delight), I thought I'd turn my sights to something more directly related to the business of freelancing: Invoices.

Much has been written about when to send invoices, how to collect outstanding payments (check out Words on the Page, Lori's blog, for some awesome ideas to make sure you're not missing out on paychecks!) and how to document your earnings. Thus, what I'd like to talk about today is the need for a professional-looking invoice.

To give you a bit o' background (less delicious than Bit O' Honey, a favorite candy from my childhood... delish!... but I digress...), I've been using the same basic invoice for over three years. It functions well, but looks a little... well... homemade. I know, homemade is kitchy and fun, but not when it comes to money.

I have been aware for a while that I needed to update my invoice, but it took a recent overdue (MUCH overdue) project to finally got me thinking: Would clients take my requests for remuneration more seriously if my invoice looked more corporate?

You can guess what my answer was.

Not sure where to start, I headed to trusty old MS Word for some template ideas--there were a ton. So I used a basic one, fashioned it a tad to make it fit my needs, and--voila!--it was complete. Easier than a three-legged dog running downhill.

(Yep, I made that analogy up. It sounds stupid, I agree, but makes me smile so I'm keeping it in the posting. Still, I'd like to make it clear that I'm not making fun of three-legged dogs, cats, or any critters who have lost a limb. I've owned three-legged animals and loved them dearly. It was just the first thing that popped into my mind. And the word "three-legged" has a silly rhythm to it. Please don't accuse me of being another Michael Vicks. I'm not. I can assure you of that. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...)

As of right now, I have only sent out a couple of these new-and-improved invoices. Therefore, I can't say whether they will make a noticeable difference in how quickly I receive payments. But no matter what, I actually feel more business-like than ever before. Perhaps that's more important than anything else.


the individual voice said...

As a private practioner for a few years, I actually had a computer program called "Therapist Helper" that helped to record sessions, fees, bills, payments etc. It worked great. But still, dealing with insurance companies was miserable and half the time they wouldn't pay no matter how professional or frequent the bill. I would hope freelance payers are more responsible.

The Quoibler said...

Tiv: Unfortunately, people seem to react to services far differently than they do when the product is more "tangible." I mean, you'd never go into a store, walk up to the counter, and announce, "I'm leaving and might pay for this sometime if it seems reasonable." But clients try this with me over and over. I'm experiencing problems right now with one and it's driving me batty! (Or battier. ha ha ha)