Freelancer's Guide
A freelance career can be incredibly rewarding, but it's not without its difficulties. One of the most challenging aspects of being a freelancer is knowing how to bill your clients. How do you design an effective invoice and ask for payment, and on what timescales should you do so? Fortunately, help is out there. A wide variety of freelance platforms exist that can help you with all of your billing needs, and this guide is designed to help you navigate the rest. Remember: just because you're a freelancer doesn't mean that you have to do everything on your own. Read on to learn more about billing your clients as a freelancer.

How Do I Bill Clients?

Although freelancers usually bill their clients after they've begun working for them, the process of scheduling billing begins with negotiating an initial contract. A good freelance contract should include the total amount the customer has agreed to pay, the schedule on which they are committed to making payments, and how they are prepared to remit payment. Contracts can also include an upfront fee in case the freelancer would like to be guaranteed a percentage of the total project cost (typically 20-50%) upfront.

Once the contract has been vetted and signed, the freelancer can commence working. At that point, they can begin billing their clients.

What Should My Bill Look Like?

  • A good freelance invoice will include as much information as the client needs to send payment to you. This information includes:
  • Your name, phone number, email address and physical address. Having your contact information will make it easier for your clients to contact you with questions or concerns.
  • A specific and unique invoice number. This will make it easier for you to keep track of payments and for your clients to reference specific invoices when talking to you.
  • Important dates, including the date that the invoice was issued and the date on which payment is due. Payment can be due on receipt of the invoice, within 15 or 30 days, or on another timescale entirely (see below).
  • Line item descriptions. These descriptions should clearly state each service or product supplied as well as its cost.
  • Instructions for sending payment. Whether you prefer clients to send checks in the mail or pay you through a specific website, including payment information is helpful for your clients and can result in you getting paid faster.

How Often Should I Bill Clients?

Many billing cycles in the U.S. are 30 days. However, a billing cycle does not have to be 30 days long, as long as the due date for each payment in a given billing cycle falls on the same day of the month. As a freelancer, you can bill clients on a 30-day cycle, or you may consider shorter or longer timescales. Regardless of what you decide, make sure to include this information in your client's initial contract as well as on their invoices.

How Do I Remind Clients To Pay Their Bills?

As a freelancer, it can feel stressful to have to remind clients to pay you the money that you're owed. Having to remind a client about an upcoming payment due date is a surefire way to increase anxiety and generally leave you feeling uncomfortable. However, checking in with a client to remind them of an upcoming due date doesn't have to send you into a tailspin. Just follow these steps to ensure that you receive your payment on time.

First, consider sending out a reminder email to your clients before their payment is due. By reaching out a week or two before your deadline, you can not only remind your client that their payment will be due soon but also invite them to approach you with any questions they may have. By reaching out early, you have the potential to smooth out any issues before they even arise.

Second, if your client hasn't sent your payment within a day or two after the due date, reach out to them again. Use a firm but polite tone — never a rude one — and ask if there's anything with which you can help them. Remember that your clients are people too, and that they may have simply made an honest mistake in missing the due date or misplacing your invoice.

Finally, if your client has been late with your payment for a few weeks or more, feel free to reach out to them with a firmer (but again, never rude) tone. At this point, it's okay to let your client know that you're ceasing work on their projects until payment is received. You can also try to call them on the phone to determine what may be causing the delay in payment.


Billing and invoicing can seem daunting to any freelancer, but there's no need for it to be. Follow these simple guidelines, be consistent with your communication and consider using a freelancer productivity platform to manage contracts and invoicing, and you can bring your freelance business to the next level, allowing you to spend less time focusing on administrative tasks and more time on what you love doing.