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Methods for Sending Invoices and Getting Paid Online

Sep 17, 2019 | By Steven Burns, FAIA | 0 Comments

Topics: Industry Insights

Sending invoices and getting paid online is a must-learn for anyone looking to get into online work. It could seem tough or scary to get into. There are plenty of stories of people not getting paid for their work, so it’s scary.

The basic method of invoicing may seem daunting. You have to fill out the paperwork with descriptions work you’ve done all the while imagining the maniacal employer receiving the invoice only to trash it. Even receiving payment is scary until you know that you’ve been paid the correct amount. It doesn’t have to be hard and scary when sending invoices and getting paid online for your time expense.

Maybe you’re a new freelancer, or maybe you’re a battle-tested freelance worker looking to increase the number of clients that pay you. Wherever you are in your online career, this blog will help you avoid any horror stories.

Invoice Methods

There are many methods for invoicing clients:

  • Basic email invoice
  • Old school mail invoice
  • Third-party invoice.

Each method has its drawbacks. But the old school method has the biggest drawback because it’s slow, which can lead to many other invoicing issues (Related: Invoicing Successfully: 3 Things to Consider When Invoicing).

So, sending invoices and getting paid online is easier. Unless your client is fossilized, then this method is unlikely to be used. Because of that, I’ll only go into detail about emailing and third-party account invoices.

Third-party Invoice Methods

Third-party invoice methods refer to websites that invoice for you. A client signs up on a website and posts a job that you would be able to apply for. If you’re accepted to work the job, then the client must first fund the project. They have to fund it to so that the people managing the website know that they have the money. For most of these websites, there is a contract the clients have to sign so that they don’t rip you off. This makes sending invoices and getting paid online easy and stress-free.

In a way, the third-party method is a safe way to get paid online because the website acts as a money holder and overseer. If a client doesn’t pay you, then they’re kicked off the site, but that’s not before they’re forced to pay the money they owe you.

The same goes for if you were to try and turn in a half-done job. You would either get paid half of your time expense and the client would take the rest of the work to another freelancer, or you would receive nothing but a bad review. It all depends on the circumstances and the website you choose.

Freelance Websites Make Invoicing Easy

There’re plenty of options for sending invoices and getting paid online. Some benefit from different careers, so find whichever one is best for your industry.

Upwork is all around when it comes to the jobs posted there. You can find writing, video editing, illustrator jobs, and the list goes on. It has two payment methods.

One is the milestone method. This method is for longer projects. Let’s say you’re editing a movie for a studio. You would choose the type of milestone you’d like to be paid for. If your milestone was for every twenty edited minutes of the movie, then you would get paid your requested rate every time you submit twenty edited minutes. You could also get paid in total once the whole project is completed if that is your preferred method of sending invoices and getting paid online.

The second method is hourly pay. Upwork has an app that tracks your hourly work. Once you log in, you can send and respond to client messages.

All you have to do is hit the clock in button and then the app periodically takes pictures of your screen to make sure that you’re staying on task. There is a way to send hours to a client in case your WI-FI doesn’t work.

There are other websites like Upwork, such as PeoplePerHour, TaskRabbit, Freelancer, and many more. As stated before, find the best one for your profession so you can make sending invoices and getting paid online straightforward.

Of course, with this easy method of invoicing there is a tradeoff. It varies from website, but usually, it’s that the website takes a percentage of your time expense.

For some of these websites if you have earned a lot of money on their platform, then they take a smaller percentage. None of the percentages they take will be ridiculous though, so you don’t have to worry about getting paid a fair amount.

If you have or can make your client base then go with the email invoices.

Email Invoice

Email invoicing all depends on the nature of your work and your client base. Sending invoices and getting paid online this way isn't as hard as it may seem. If your client likes it simple, then they may just have you write a description of the work you did in whatever time frame you did it (Related: 3 Effective Ways to Ensure Project Success).

You can craft an invoice word, but it’s easier to just download a template. There are many templates online and they’ll cover all the basics. Change the company name to your own name, and if your client doesn’t have a company, then just put their name. Put in all the necessary information. The most important part is the description section when sending invoices and getting paid online because it’s where you explain the details of the work you completed.

You should send the invoice via the client’s most convenient email as soon as the project is finished. Try and discuss the payday before you complete the project because you don’t want to get paid late.

Ensuring Pay

If you’re just starting, then you want to make sure that the clients you work with are trustworthy, this will help improve your cash flow. One way to test a client is to have them pay some money upfront. Whether it’s half or only twenty percent of the whole, have the client pay something toward the time expense. Starting this way will be hard unless you have samples and a portfolio.

Other things you can do when sending invoices and getting paid online via email is scheduling your invoices, using polite language, rewarding good clients, and penalizing late payers.

Now take all that you’ve learned, apply it, and make invoicing easier on yourself.

The Author

Steven Burns, FAIA

Steven Burns, FAIA, spent 14 years managing his firm Burns + Beyerl Architects. After creating ArchiOffice®, the smart office and project management solution for architectural firms, Steve brought his management expertise to BQE Software, where he is perfecting the business strategy and product development.

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