'Richard Evans knows his subject inside out'.
Susan Elkin, The Stage, 2014
During your freelance career, invoices will be required in order to get paid for work you have done. If you are a performer and have an agent, they will do this for you and chase payments on your behalf, as that is part of their job, for which you pay them commission on the money you earn. However, there may be times in your career when you are unrepresented and don't have an agent to do this, or need to send invoices for other freelance work you've done, perhaps to pay the bills when not working in your chosen profession.
Many companies will not pay you until you send them an invoice (a producer told me recently that their company was still waiting to pay two freelancers, who hadn't yet sent invoices for work that was finished over a year before). A lot of time is also wasted by administrators and accountants, because the invoices that have been sent are incomplete or don't contain the necessary or correct information, so they therefore have to be returned and resubmitted.
So let's look at what information you must and can include in an invoice. The two types of invoice included here are the most common. The first is when you have agreed a fee for a job or project and the second is when you're charging for hours, days or sessions that you have worked. To help you, there are links to both templates in Microsoft Word format below, that you can edit and adapt, deleting the items that don't apply to you, before saving the document and sending it to your clients.
CLICK HERE to download the template in MS Word for when you have agreed a fee for a job
CLICK HERE to download the template in MS Word for when you are being paid an hourly, daily or weekly rate for a job
These MS Word documents are formatted for A4 page size, so they may appear jumbled up on smaller screens, such as phones. You may also have to realign the text if you add or take out information from the templates.
It is usually acceptable to send your invoice with receipts for expenses, timesheets and other evidence by email as attachments, though some companies might insist on hard copies of these being sent by post, so make sure you check beforehand.
ESSENTIAL INFORMATION TO INCLUDE (you'll see all of these items in order on the templates)
- Your name (either your birth name or the one you are known by professionally)
- Your postal address
- Your mobile and/or telephone number
- Your email address
- The date of the invoice (I usually email or send my invoices the day after finishing a job, to ensure I'm paid promptly)
- The name and address of the company or person you're invoicing
- An invoice number. This is important, as it's usually what the company will use as a reference when making a payment to you. I usually use the first three letters or initials of the name of the company I'm invoicing, followed by the last two digits of the year and 001 for a first invoice in that year, 002 for the second invoice etc, so, for example, REC22001
- Details of the services you have provided and the dates (and times) you worked
- The agreed fee or hourly/daily/weekly rate
- Any expenses that you have agreed beforehand (you may need to attach or send receipts for these, so make sure you get these and keep them safely)
- VAT on your fee (but only if you are registered to charge this for your services)
- The total amount that you are due to be paid
- It is important to agree a timescale for payment before you accept the job and issue the invoice, or know the payment terms of the company you're working for. You can then include this information on your invoice (I normally just put 'Invoice payable on receipt please' and if it happens, which it sometimes does, it's a bonus!). You should also agree the payment time in writing in an email and have it incorporated into any contract for a job. Sometimes you may be paid within a few days of invoicing, though it could be longer. 30, 60 or 90 days after you have completed the job or at the end of the following month are not uncommon, or even whenever the company or agency that is employing you gets paid itself from whoever has contracted them to employ you. You may have to chase late payments, though try to be businesslike about this and not to get angry. You have the right to charge them interest for late payment (though this can be difficult to enforce) or take them to the Small Claims Court if they still don't pay, but these measures should only be used as a last resort when there is no other option (especially if you want to work for that company again).
- Your bank account details for electronic payment
- Your VAT number (if you are registered to charge VAT for your services. CLICK HERE for more information about registering for VAT in the UK)
You may also be asked to provide these details (or you could include them anyway, to be on the safe side)
- Your full birth name (especially if you are known by a different name in your professional career)
- Your UTR (Unique Tax Reference) number from your tax return. CLICK HERE for more information about registering as self employed for tax purposes in tre UK
- Your NI (National Insurance) number
As you can see, invoicing isn't a difficult task or as daunting as some people think, so go for it and get any money you are owed rolling in!
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