How to Write An Invoice For Freelance Work: 5 Things to Include

How to Write An Invoice For Freelance Work: 5 Things to Include

Are you ready to get paid for your freelance work? If so, you’ll need to create an invoice to send to your client. An invoice is how freelancers and businesses request payment for a good or service and document their business transactions. This is important because it breaks down the work completed into an itemized list and tells the client how to pay you.

If you’re managing your freelance contract on Upwork, then this entire process is handled for you. Plus, Upwork’s Direct Contracts feature allows freelancers to create contracts and quickly collect payment for non-Upwork projects. Check out these guides on how to get paid for Upwork’s hourly work contracts and fixed-price contracts for more information.

Freelancers that work with a client directly will have to create a custom invoice. Writing an invoice may seem daunting at first, but this guide will cover the five things to include in your invoice so that you can get paid quickly and easily.

How to create an invoice for freelance work

There are many different ways to create a work invoice. Below are four methods that freelancers can use when making their first invoice:

  1. Create an invoice template on Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or Excel.
  2. Download an online invoice template and customize it to fit your needs.
  3. Use bookkeeping software like Quickbooks, Freshbooks, or other online invoice generators to streamline the invoice creation process. There are a variety of free apps and paid software available for invoicing.
  4. The Direct Contracts tool helps freelancers to easily create work contracts for clients that do not have an Upwork account. Rather than creating an invoice after the work is completed, Direct Contracts enables freelancers to create milestones that get paid immediately once the client approves the work.

5 things to include on your freelance invoice

Regardless of how you create the invoice, it should provide all of the information needed to get you paid accurately and on time. There are five important things to include in an invoice for freelance work.

1) Invoice header with contact information

Your client is likely receiving multiple invoices for their business. A header indicating that the document is an invoice and identifying your company at the top of the page will make it easier for your customer.

If you have a business logo, include it in the upper left or right corner. Every invoice should have your contact details and the contact information for the company that you’re billing. The customer uses this information to identify where to send payment and how to contact you.

Sample contact details block:

Your Company Name

Your Name

1234 Address St.

City, CA 55555 or Upwork Profile URL

(555) 555-5555

It’s also essential to include the client’s information and your contact person’s name on the invoice template. Identifying the client improves internal record keeping and is necessary if the person paying the invoice is different from your point of contact for the work.  

2) Number the invoice and date it

Consistency is critical when creating a system for invoicing and bookkeeping. Two dates should be listed on your invoice, the date it was sent to the client and the date that the payment is due. Explicitly listing these dates will remove any confusion and can be easily referenced for follow-ups or discussions.

Each invoice should be uniquely numbered. Rather than using a single digit for your first invoice number, you should use a four- or five-digit invoice number. Using an invoice number that is multiple digits helps keep invoicing organized when you have numerous clients. With this system, you could use the first digit to note the company and the last digit to identify the invoice number. For example, use invoice number #10001 for your first client’s invoice and #40002 for your fourth client’s second invoice.

3) Detailed breakdown of work

The breakdown of work is likely the largest and most important section of the invoice. This section provides a detailed list of what the client is paying for, typically in a table. Your invoice items should be a reflection of the work contract or agreement you have with the client. The client should understand the line items they’re being charged for, and there should be no surprise expenses or fees.

The table should have a column to describe the task, with a new line for each unique item. The next column should list the rate charged for that line item—if the work is managed as an hourly rate, it should denote the rate per hour for that task. Hourly contracts will have an additional column representing the hours worked and a column for the total amount for each line item—calculated by multiplying the hourly rate by the number of hours.

Below is a sample itemized table for an hourly project with three tasks:

Item Description Hourly Rate Quantity (Hours) Amount
Website Task Write the webpage content about pizza toppings. $50 4 $200
Website Task Design the layout for the pizza toppings webpage. $50 2 $100
Website Task Find pictures of pizza toppings to use on the pizza toppings webpage. $15 1 $15

4) Total invoice cost

Below the itemized breakdown, you should include the total amount due and any taxes. While it seems simple, it’s necessary to identify the total that the client must pay. The invoice total will minimize miscalculations by the client and improve payment accuracy.

5) Payment method and terms

This section of the invoice tells the customer the best payment method and clarifies how to pay you. Include specific details about whether you prefer to be paid with cash, check, credit card, or through a money transfer service like PayPal, Square, or Venmo. It often helps to include step-by-step instructions with direct links to your payment methods.

After explaining the payment method, list the payment terms. This section reinforces the invoice due date and explicitly lists any discounts for early payment or penalty fees for late payment.

How to send your invoice to the client

Now that you’ve learned how to write an invoice, it’s time to send the client’s invoice. Be sure to express your gratitude and thank the client for their business when sending over the invoice. The best way to send the invoice is to email it to the client with the invoice as a PDF attachment. Include a clear subject line and in the body of the email reinforce some of the points of the invoice, such as the invoice number, due date, and total due.

Next steps for creating freelancer invoices

Are you looking for more help creating a professional invoice for your clients? With Upwork’s Direct Contracts, freelancers can easily manage client invoicing with simplified contract management, escrow services, dispute assistance, and instant payments. Plus, your client won’t need to create an Upwork account, keeping the invoicing process easy for everyone.


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Author Spotlight

How to Write An Invoice For Freelance Work: 5 Things to Include
Sean Cope
SEO Writer

Formerly a full-time in-house marketing director, Sean Cope began building an SEO and content creation company by freelancing on Upwork. He has enjoyed working with clients in various industries, leading them to achieve their business goals and higher Google search rankings. Sean is passionate about helping new clients in growing their businesses through search engine optimization, content writing, and digital marketing.

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