Collecting client payments through an invoice app can be very intimidating for both new and experienced freelancers.

How soon is too soon to begin bugging someone to pay you when they’re late on their bill? Should you call them or avoid an awkward conversation and send an email instead? Is it appropriate to charge late fees for serial late-payers?  

To help take some of the ‘scary’ out of client invoicing, I’ve outlined 10 things to explore before implementing a new online invoice software system into your business.  

1. Get Crystal Clear on Your Freelance Pricing Structure


First and foremost, it’s imperative that you get your pricing down to a science.

Figuring out what to charge clients can be a bit challenging; you don’t want to charge too much and risk losing the client, but it’s important that you’re charging what you’re worth, too. More often than not, new freelancers cut themselves short and underprice their services.

Avoid making this rookie mistake by doing your research online before you even think about delivering another proposal for services or using an invoice app.

  • Explore the average rate per hour and monthly retainer amounts of someone in your field. Marie Forleo, Carrie Dils and Entrepreneur all provide thorough (and free!) resources about freelancer payments for you to take advantage of online.
  • Reach out to a mentor, or someone in your area who has been offering the same type of services that you are and ask them what they recommend charging. If you aren’t comfortable asking someone, do additional research to get a clearer understanding; Forbes and Medium cover this topic well.
  • Understand the cost of running your business and then create service offerings that meet those costs. If you know you need a minimum of $2,500 each month to effectively run your freelance company, consider adding a few new service offerings to more easily reach that financial goal. This may involve creating an eBook, an online course or a webinar to supplement additional income for your business.  

2. Take a Hard Look at your Business’s Branding

Before you begin sending out requests for payment via an online invoice software system, take a step back and review your company’s branding.

Do you have a professional logo? Have you decided how your business name will appear on all official paperwork like invoices and RFPs?

Ask yourself some of the following questions before implanting an invoice app:

  • Have I established brand colors? If so, what are they?
  • Do I know what my company’s fonts are?
  • Am I using professional looking imagery in all my business communication?

The good news is that some systems provide easy to use tools that help your invoices appear more professional. Pick an invoice app that lets you easily add your logo, contact details and other information to a clean, professional looking invoice template.  

3. Find a Great Online Bank


Prior to setting up your online invoice software, you’ll want to make sure you have a good online bank that provides you the services that you need each month as a freelancer.

We offer simplified and convenient payment features through Spera. Banks like Ally and Simple.are also great options, as they don’t charge for international transaction fees, transfer fees or ATM fees.

If you’re a digital nomad who is often on the go, these aren’t just perks, they are necessities.

Confirm that your business bank account has been set up properly (check with your state’s Small Business Association if you’re unsure of what’s required in your area). Once your new account is up and running, you’ll need to sync your bank account to your new invoice app so that client payments can be automatically deposited into your business account.  

4. Make a Checklist of the Info you Need from Clients in Order to get Paid

Don’t wait until the last day of the month to scramble for the information you need from your clients (and they, you) in order to get paid. This could include tax documents like a 1099 or simply their mailing address.

Set a chunk of time aside before setting up your new online invoice software to figure out what you’ll need from your clients. Some of these may just be a matter of taking notes and keeping it with your client profile so that you can provide better service for them.

  • Your clients’ preferences on how to pay you; via snail mail, ACH online transfer, a credit card within an invoice app, or maybe even a cryptocurrency wire (hey, it’s an option!)
  • What information they need from you for their accounting purposes, such as invoice number, task descriptions, time spent per task, etc.
  • The preferred interval of time they wish to be invoiced – weekly, biweekly, monthly or quarterly – though you may already have set intervals at which you bill all your clients.  

5. Create a Financial Contact Spreadsheet for Each Client


Once you have addressed the items above, you may want to have a spreadsheet of contacts for each of your clients. This won’t just help with invoicing! Make sure you include:

  • Your main contact’s name as well as who is in charge of paying invoices, if they are different people.
  • The person who is listed in your original contract for services.
  • Their preferred form of contact; email or phone.

You’ll save yourself serious time if any issues come up with client payments. Avoid having to sort through piles of paperwork on your desk and hundreds of emails trying to track down your last month’s payment for services.  

What’s more, when you use a client and project management software that includes an invoice app as one of its features, you’ll be able to keep all this information in one organized place!

6. Develop an Invoice Calendar for your Business  

Take the initiative to set up an invoice calendar for you and your clients. It can be as simple as a Google Calendar that you share with each individual client. Ensure the calendar outlines:

  • When you’ll be sending your invoice via your online invoice software
  • The exact date it’s due
  • What happens when it’s more than X amount of days overdue; that may be 3 days, 5 days or a week depending on your preferences.

7. Establish Late Fees and Repercussions for Overdue Payments


No one wants to chase their clients for overdue payments. After all, you run a business like any other.

This is usually the worst part of freelancing (explore the blogs I wrote on how to get paid as a freelancer as well as 5 reasons creative entrepreneurs can stop dreading invoice software. Trust me, at Spera we get how much freelancers dread this topic!).

Although discussing late payments isn’t enjoyable, it can be a necessary part of the job when you’re your own boss and there is no one else to chase down invoices.

Here are a few things to get very clear on when it comes to clients owing you money – best discussed with your client when they sign the contract, not after you’ve already sent their first bill.

  • Don’t let late payments slide! Not even once. This is how you make a living, and you need to hold your clients accountable.
  • Be sure you have established what your late fees are and when they come into effect before using a new invoice app. You can even write it into your contract.
  • Consider drafting up specific language around late payments that you can quickly send clients when needed. This prevents you from nervously avoiding sending that email when the time comes, since it will already be done for you ahead of time. Save it as a templated email and never stress about that communication again.

8. Stay on Top of your Taxes!

Figuring out your taxes as a business owner can be a whole new world when you’re just starting out as a rookie freelancer.

Don’t worry, there are plenty of resources and articles on the topic, as well as specific organizations who can help you work through the process. Consider contacting your local government brand who deals with setting up new small businesses to get started.

Also, check out these resources, below:

Next, create a to-do on your calendar to balance your books each month.

This will help keep everything in order before, during and after you implement your new online invoice software or invoice app, so you always know where your business is financially and won’t have a headache come tax season.

9. Design a Budget Based on your Expense Types  


Make a budget with “buckets” or categories of your expenses so you can track overhead easily.

For example, how much do you spend on office supplies each month? What about your office space? Do you account for your on-the-go meals? Digital nomads: what about SIM cards and/or phone bills each month?

Begin grouping your freelance business expenses in the following categories:

  • Travel expenses
  • Office supply costs
  • Reoccurring utilities/ living costs related to your business

These are just a starting point, as you continue tracking expenses, you should be able to build out more categories that are specific to your business.

10. Do your Research on an Invoice App that Can Scale with Your Business

Once you’ve reviewed the list above and gotten all of your ducks in a row, it’s time to pull the trigger and begin using an online invoice software tool.

Be sure you’re opting for a system that will grow with your business – however fast or slow that may be. Be careful of tools and apps that charge you huge fees as your client base grows.

As you shop for the right invoice solution, make yourself a list of all the features your business will require.

Consider exploring Spera’s invoice app – which is one component of our full project management software – for freelancers and business owners of all sizes.


Author Cristiano

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