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Small Business | Invoicing | Marketing | Entrepreneurship | Freelancing

6 Sure-Fire Ways to Make Your Invoices Look Professional

Written by on May 28, 2023

If you’re a freelancer, consultant, or small business owner, one of the most crucial aspects of your job is getting paid on time. And sending an invoice is the first step in that process.

Your invoices are a direct representation of your brand. They should be well-designed, error-free, and easy to read. So you shouldn’t just slap something together willy-nilly and hit send.

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Why? A poorly designed invoice can make you look unprofessional and potentially delay payment.

But don’t worry. In this blog, we’ll cover six sure-fire ways to build professional invoices to help you get paid on time every time.

Are you ready to learn more?

Let’s dive in.

1. Use professional invoice templates

Google Docs is your best friend as a small business owner. They help you outline all of your standard operating procedures, track your to-do lists, and even house the first draft of your blog content.

But at the end of the month, when you’re ready to hit send on your invoice, is it time to part ways with Google Docs? The answer is that it depends.

After all, it’s a time-consuming and tedious process to manually create an invoice template from scratch. And who knows if it’s professional enough to fit the bill (pun intended).

That’s where free invoice templates come into play.

Examples of free templates

A pre-built invoice template is the simplest way to make your invoices look professional. You can choose a template matching your branding or style and customize it with your information.

The best part? They come in a variety of different formats:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PDF
  • Open Office
  • Google Docs/Sheets
  • Numbers

Invoice templates are affordable, user-friendly, and perfect for swiftly sending an invoice to a valued client once the work is complete.

However, if your business is thriving and you have clients coming out of the woodwork, you may require a more automated solution to help you keep up with getting paid. At this point, it’s worth investing in invoicing software like InvoiceBerry to help create, send, and manage your invoices.

For the icing on the cake, look for product management tools like Zeda, which offers integration with your invoicing software. That way, you’re not flipping back and forth between too many tools.

Efficiency is key to growing a successful business from the ground up. Integrations across applications allow for a smarter, easier, and more efficient way to manage the whole product lifecycle (from ideation to payment).

It doesn’t get much better than that.

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2. Include all the necessary information

The last thing you want to do is send an invoice without all of the correct information. In fact, research shows that 61% of late payments stem from incorrect invoices.

But you can avoid this dreaded fate by double-checking that you have included the following information:

  • Your business name and contact information
  • The client’s name and contact information
  • An invoice number (or unique identifier)
  • Date of the invoice
  • Payment due date
  • Description of the services or products provided
  • Quantity of the services or products provided
  • The price per unit or hourly rate for services
  • Total amount due
  • Any applicable taxes or fees
  • Payment terms and instructions, including payment methods and how to address disputes
  • Late payment penalties (if applicable)

This information helps ensure that your clients understand the scope of the work you provide, the payment expectations, and the steps to take if there is a disagreement or dispute.

Depending on the industry you’re in or the services you provide, there may be additional information that needs to be added. For example, as a real estate agent, you may opt to include your license number in invoices to stay compliant and for easy reference. 

If your eyes rolled to the back of your head when you saw the checklist, don’t worry. Follow this example as a guide, or download it for free.

Example of what to include in an invoice.

3. Make it easy to read

When in doubt, go with the less-is-more approach. Keep your invoice simple and straightforward.

Avoid using complex or technical language that your client may not understand. And don’t use a design that takes away from your message. It’s important to be as detailed and clear as possible to prevent confusion or payment delays.

Here are a few simple tips to help make your invoices easy to read:

  • Pick a simple font: Use a clear and easy-to-read font like Times New Roman or Arial. Avoid using decorative or complicated fonts that are difficult to read.
  • Use proper spacing: Proper spacing between lines and sections can make your invoice easier to read. Avoid cramming too much information on one page, and consider breaking your invoice into sections to make it more organized and easier to navigate.
  • Highlight or bold important information: Adding bold to the important information on your invoice — such as the payment, due date, or total —  can make it easier for your client to quickly identify and understand the required action.
  • Use tables and columns: Organizing your invoice can make it easier to read and understand. For example, you could use a table to list each item provided, the quantity, and the price per unit, making it easier for your client to see the invoice breakdown.
  • Proofread for errors: It sounds obvious, but errors can instantly make you look unprofessional and may cause payment delays.
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4. Be consistent

As with many other things in growing a business, consistency is key to professional-looking invoices. You want to use the same template and layout for your invoices to create a cohesive and professional image.

People talk. And you never know what clients will talk to each other about. You don’t want word to get out that you sent one version to one client and a different version to another.

Why? Two clients receiving different invoices with different layouts could make your business appear disorganized and unprofessional.

And if you’re a repeat customer, when you receive an invoice from a business, you expect it to have the same layout and structure as the last one.

Think about it: if the layout is inconsistent from the last invoice, it can create confusion and make your client ponder if the invoice is correct or question the validity of your service.

They might even think it’s from a different vendor altogether. So once you find a template that works, stick to it for the long haul.

Case in point, most successful enterprises use the same software and templates for every meeting. It allows management to share detailed meeting reports in the same manner so that nothing slips through the cracks and that all teams are perfectly aligned on established goals.

When you stray away from the norm, it can open the door to confusion. And confusion can waste time and money. Both are things founders and freelancers lack.

5. Add your branding

Your invoices are more than just a piece of paper with some numbers — they reflect your business. That’s why invoices are a great opportunity to showcase your brand to your clients.

Adding your company logo and colors to your invoices creates a professional and cohesive image that reinforces your brand identity. Not only that but when your clients receive an invoice that features your company’s branding, it helps to increase brand awareness and recognition.

So, next time your client sees your logo, they’ll think of the great work you’ve done for them.

However, you should place your branding elements carefully to avoid cluttering them. If your logo is simple and minimalistic, like a vector image, you can place them directly on your invoices without issues.

But if not, you can create a simpler version of your logo using a logo maker tool. The key is not to overpower the invoice and turn it into another sales pitch but to include a small logo next to your company name and address.

It’s a nice touch that wraps all of the information together, immediately indicating the invoice is from your organization.

Don’t miss the chance to stand out by incorporating your brand into your invoices. It’s an easy way to reinforce your brand identity, boost your professionalism, and create a lasting impression on your clients.

6. Add clear payment instructions

Last but certainly not least, ensure your clients know how to pay you. That’s the goal, right?

If your payment instructions are unclear, your clients may not know what to do, which can delay payments and cause unnecessary back and forth. Clear payment instructions can help you get paid on time and avoid client misunderstandings.

Here are a few tips for making your payment instructions clear and easy to understand:

  • Include all accepted payment methods: Make sure to include all of the payment methods you accept, such as credit card, PayPal, bank transfer, and check. This step will help your clients know their options for paying you.
  • Specify the payment due date: Be clear about the payment deadline by specifying the payment due date on the invoice.
  • Provide clear instructions for each payment method: Include your bank account details and any necessary instructions for transferring the funds if you accept bank transfers.
  • Highlight any late payment penalties: If you charge late payment penalties, highlight these on your invoice so that your clients know the consequences of paying late.
Example of payment directions.

And if you’re unsure how to add the proper text to your invoices, like terms and conditions, consider using an AI writing tool to proofread your tone and word choice.

There are many tools to choose from, each one with a different set of features, so before picking a specific tool, you can stack them against each other and compare features or read online reviews like this one on Jasper.ai vs. Copy.ai.

It never hurts to get some extra help with technical writing. As the saying goes, measure twice and cut once.

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Wrapping up

As a small business owner or freelancer, you know that presenting a professional image to your clients is essential for success. So don’t hit send on your invoice until you’ve crossed your “t’s” and dotted your “i’s.”

Professional invoices make you look more credible and help ensure prompt payment. And we all hate delayed payments.

When it comes down to it, sending professional-looking invoices is a simple step to help take your business to the next level.

Kelly Moser is the co-founder and editor at Home & Jet, a digital magazine for the modern era. She’s also an expert in freelance writing and content marketing for SaaS, Fintech, and e-commerce startups. 

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