Whether you work in interior, graphic, fashion or web design, learn how to invoice as a freelance designer in this article. 

We’ll cover everything you need to make your invoices functional and elegant so you can build a business with the professional style every designer needs. Discover:

  • What an invoice is
  • How to invoice clients for design work and what to include
  • How to implement late fees and payment terms
  • How to invoice clients seamlessly with Countingup

What is an invoice? 

Invoices are bills that sole traders and companies send to their customers that request payment for the products or services they’ve provided. 

Business invoices are an often forgotten part of business relationships as they’re a functional document, often including the same key pieces of information regardless of the industry and nothing more. These key pieces of information allow businesses and their clients (of which some are other businesses) to keep track of income and tax records for their accounting. 

It’s worth noting that invoices are not the same as receipts (which acknowledge successful payment) or purchase orders (which notify an intent to buy goods or services).

Freelance designers and other visually creative professionals have begun to embellish and refine their invoices while still providing the necessary information for clients to pay. Find out what to include in your business’ invoices below.

How to invoice clients for design work and what to include

Step 1: Decide on the work and payment with the client

Being able to invoice clients starts from the beginning of your relationship when your brief, timeline and requirements are set. During this period, you should make sure the client is able to pay by your preferred method, or if not, how else they can pay.

Depending on your customer, bank transfers and online card payments are the most common methods on invoices (which is why you should include these details) but freelancers sometimes also accept payments via PayPal, Klarna or Venmo instead.

Step 2: Making the invoice

According to UK Government guidelines, invoices are standardised across all industries to include key pieces of accounting and business information. As you’re making invoices for your business, make sure they contain:

  • Key dates about the work: delivery of the goods or services, expected payment, and the invoice’s creation.
  • Information about your business: trading name, address, contact details, website, etc., under the heading ‘supplier’.
  • Information about them: name, address, etc., under the heading ‘client’.
  • Itemised cost breakdown and description: detailing what you’re invoicing your clients for (including things like labour and VAT where relevant).
  • A payment reference: sometimes called a unique identification number that allows clients to specify which invoice they’re paying for (you can use a simple number or labelling system).
  • Payment information: specifying which payment method your business requires and the total amount due. This is typically bank account details but could also be a PayPal or website address. 
  • A memo: while not necessary, this can be a nice way to build good business relationships – something like “Thank you for your purchase!”

Depending on what type of freelancer you are, you can either provide invoices digitally and/or printed along with any goods you deliver. If you provide a digital copy, it’s best to use a PDF document so no one can tamper with cost or payment details –– making sure you get paid the right amount every time.

Step 3: Invoicing the client for the completed work 

Once you’ve completed the work for your client and you’ve made an invoice, send it as soon as possible.

If your business specifies 30-day billing cycles (where you expect payments to be made within a month), you need to give your client a reasonable amount of time to meet those requirements. 

Depending on the size of your project, clients may have to consider their cash flow to meet the payment. You can improve your business’ reputation and relationship by being accommodative of these issues and may help you bring in repeat business. It also helps to always be polite when following up with customers about invoices (especially unpaid ones) and use clear language about any part of your process, so your clients’ expectations of payment are clear. 

How to implement late fees and payment terms

Business isn’t always smooth sailing. That’s why many freelancers include late fees in their contracts and invoices to incentivise early payments from customers.

The UK Government specifies that payments are late 30 days after either the customer receives the invoice or you’ve provided the goods service (if this is later).

You help protect your business using late fees by including a clause in your contracts with clients mentioning them (make sure they have read and understood the full document before signing it, as well as a note on your invoices detailing them again.

Late fees and payment terms for freelance work will vary between businesses but often takes place as a rolling late fee with every additional day the invoice is delayed, or ongoing interest on top of the initial total. The UK Government sets a ‘statutory interest’ value of  8% plus the current Bank of England base rate for business to business transactions. Read more about late payment recovery under UK Government legislation here.

Create professional invoices in seconds with a simple app

With the Countingup app, you can create invoices in seconds, get notifications when you’re paid, and receive automatic invoice matching so that you don’t have to worry about bookkeeping admin.  

Countingup is the business current account with free, built-in accountancy software. 

With automatic expense categorisation, receipt capture tools and cash flow insights, you can get organised when it comes to your business finances and save yourself hours of manual admin, so you can focus on what you do best. Find out more here.