When you’ve completed a job, the next stage is usually to get paid. If you’re just starting out as a freelancer, then this process can trip you up. 

You need to create and send documents known as invoices. Invoices tell your client how much they need to pay, and what they’re paying for

If you’ve never written an invoice before, then this guide should tell you everything you need to know. 

  • Why you need to invoice for freelance work
  • How to write an invoice for freelance work
  • How to send your invoices
  • How Countingup manages your invoices and income

Why you need to invoice for freelance work

Creating invoices can seem like extra work. After all, you’ve already completed the job, why can’t you just get paid for it? 

Invoices are how you get paid, and every business needs to keep a record of them. They also help protect you (the freelancer) in certain cases.

Create a record

Invoices act as a record of completed work. They show exactly what jobs you completed, along with the price you charged for each job. 

These records come in extremely useful when running your business, since HMRC can ask you to produce them at any point

Request for payment

Clients aren’t guaranteed to treat you with respect. In fact, some may try to get out of paying you. It’s here that invoices can help save you a lot of stress

If you’d never sent an invoice, there would be no record of you even asking for payment. With the invoice, you stand a better chance of claiming payment. 

How to write an invoice for freelance work

Writing an invoice can be pretty easy, once you know what has to go on it. Unfortunately, if you have to write a lot of them it can become long-winded and time consuming. 

Here’s what you need to include on your invoices.

Your contact information

At the top of your invoice should be your business’s details. These are:

  • Name (your name is suitable)
  • Address
  • Contact information (phone number and email address)
  • Website (if applicable)
  • Logo (optional)

Client’s information

You also need to include your client’s information, just below your own. This is so the right person or business gets the invoice. 

  • Client’s name
  • Client’s address
  • Client’s contact information (phone number and email address)
  • Client’s website (if applicable)

Include a unique identification number (UIN)

You may be wondering what a UIN is, or why you need to include one. Essentially, a UIN helps make sure all payments are properly tracked and documented. 

They’re a HMRC legal requirement for self-employed invoicing, and you must keep a record of them. They don’t need to be complicated either. If you’ve got a new client called Jason’s Food Van, then your first invoice could be “JFV-01”.

This is vitally important for both yourself and your client, for tax and accounting purposes. For instance, you might have to show where a payment came from during your Self Assessment

Alternatively, your client may need to write the amount as a business expense, but without the invoice and number there’s no evidence. 

Clear and accurate documentation makes everyone’s life easier.

Payment terms

All invoices should also state exactly when they were sent, and when payment is due by. These are known as your payment terms

The UK legal default is 30 days. This means that unless specified otherwise, you should expect your client to pay within one month of sending your invoice. 

If you need a faster payment, all you have to do is clearly specify that on the invoice. 

Your payment terms can also include how you want to be paid. For example, would you prefer bank transfer or cash? If multiple options are open to you, then pick the one that’s best for your business. 

Describe the goods and services provided

One of the most important things you need to include is an accurate list of what you gave your client. If you’re a writer this would be how many articles you delivered, and what length they were. 

You should also add the price of each individual job, plus the combined total. This breakdown doesn’t have to be long, but it should clearly show what the client owes payment for. 

If you’re delivering a lot of content to a single client, it might be easier to combine everything into a table. You could then split the table into categories and price.

Skip the setup with Countingup

If you want to take an easier route, you can create and send fully customised invoices all from the Countingup app

The app already has a usable template, and all you need to do is fill in the information. It’ll even save customer information, so future invoices are more time efficient. 

By using the app, you can create and send invoices straight from your phone — perfect for fitting around a freelance lifestyle. 

Need a walkthrough how to do it? Check out our ‘Invoice clients with Countingup’ guide.

How to send your invoices

If you decide not to use the Countingup app, you’ll have to send your invoices manually. This typically involves saving them as a PDF file, since this format can’t be edited.

You can then email the PDF over to your client. It’s a good idea to check that they’ve received your invoice, otherwise months could go by before you receive payment. 

How Countingup manages your invoices and income

Countingup is a two-in-one business current account and accounting software. That means it gets access to a couple of features that standard accounting software might not have. 

One of those is the invoice management feature. With the Countingup app downloaded on your phone, you can easily create fully customised invoices and even attach your logo. 

Plus, when these invoices get paid the app automatically pairs the payment with the matching invoice. It’s perfect for seeing which of your clients have and haven’t paid.

So if you want to simplify the financial management side of your business, download the Countingup app for free, today