You just landed another collaboration (congrats!) and finalized negotiating rates for the campaign. As an influencer, blogger or other creative freelancer, this is when the hard work begins. You follow the creative brief but bring your personal brand to partnership and crush the IG and TikTok sponsored posts. But before you celebrate (well done!) and get ready for the next gig, there’s one last thing on your to-do list: make sure you get paid.
Invoicing at the end of campaigns as a freelancer is a chore. It takes time to put together a professional invoice, track the status of outstanding payments, go through required vendor sign up processes, and follow up on late payments. The question is how can you make invoicing take less time and energy?
If invoicing seems like a chore, the good news is with the right tools and process it can be easier than you think. By using a consistent process to set expectations upfront, generate an accurate "influencer invoice" and managing a follow up cadence, brands will be more likely to pay on time. We’ll walk through how freelancers can put invoicing and getting paid on autopilot.
It sounds simple, payment terms should be agreed to upfront and in the contract. This obviously includes the most important aspect - the payment amount and should also include:
Whatever you do, there’s no need to create an invoice from scratch every time you send one. You can find free invoice templates and customizable invoice generators (Sage, Freshbooks) or use invoicing software to automatically generate and send invoices for you (Lumanu, QuickBooks). Using software like Lumanu or Quickbooks has an added benefit - they handle payment reminders and processing to make it easy for your brand partners to pay by offering several payment options.
You need to know what information your brand partners require in order to process your payment. If your client or brand partner has outlined specific requests, such as a specific description or including a PO# (purchase order number), you can incorporate those into your template so that it will work for all your brand partners. Invoice and payment solutions like Lumanu and Quickbooks already have this built in and are flexible enough to support invoicing any brand partner.
A word of caution about including personal information: submitting invoices via email isn’t always secure, so be sure to limit any sensitive information to what is absolutely necessary and requested in order to get paid. Never include your social security number or bank information on an invoice. You never know where the pdf is going to be saved and who has access.
So what should you include in your invoice or invoice template?
Now you can save this invoice as a draft or get ready to send it off!
Some clients will be specific as to when you should invoice them. For example, invoice once the campaign deliverables are complete with a due date of net 30 from the date of completion. If your agreement includes those terms, be sure to follow them. If payment terms are not included in your agreement you will want to make sure they are next time! If payment is due once the campaign is complete, we recommend invoicing up front with a due date equal to your targeted post date. This gives time for completing any vendor setup required with your brand partner along with a little extra motivation to hit your deliverables. If your terms are net 30 or net 45 after completing your campaign deliverables then the typical approach is to invoice the day you complete the collaboration.
Many brands realize that working with influencers and other freelancers is NOT like working with a business and payment speed is important. Oftentimes you can negotiate sending an invoice with net 30 terms before content goes live and get paid (as long as campaign deliverables are completed before the invoice due date). Example: scheduled post date is Feb 14th for Valentine’s day, you send the invoice Feb 1 with a due date of March 3rd.
If you are manually invoicing, Remember to assign each invoice a unique number so that you can track it on a spreadsheet or with online bookkeeping software. Double-check that all the info is correct before sending it out. There’s nothing worse than accidentally sending the wrong invoice to a client.
Once your invoices are ready to send, draft a quick email to your client contact and attach your invoice. You may want to have a template for this as well. In the subject line, but sure to include your name and a shortened project title or the month and the word “Invoice.” This will help the recipient identify your email and know to prioritize it. According to Harvard Business Review, at some point in their freelance careers, more than 70% of freelancers face challenges getting paid, so you’ll want to do all you can to make it easy for your clients to process your invoices.
If you don’t use accounting software, you can track your invoices manually in a spreadsheet. At the top, create headers. The basics to include are Company/Brand, Invoice Number, Total Amount, Date Sent, and Date Received. Customize your approach to use whatever works for you. If you receive 1099s at the end of the year from your brand partners, you’ll want to total up your payments for the year and compare them to the 1099 at tax time. You may want to use highlighting to note which payments have been received and flag those that are outstanding or overdue so you know when to follow up with those clients.
If you notice payments are late, send a friendly email to your client contact or billing contact to remind them that payment is due. If this becomes a recurring problem, you may want to renegotiate your payment terms when and if it comes time to sign a new contract with that client, or reevaluate that relationship altogether.
One nice thing about using an invoicing system is it will follow up for you - as an example, Lumanu will CC you on the invoice and all reminder emails so you can jump in to help prompt payment. If you are sending an invoice for the first time it is a good idea to ask your client to confirm receipt - software can monitor email opens but it's harder to manage on your own so ask for a simple "got it" reply.
Manually generating invoices, tracking them, and sending follow-ups for late payments takes time. There are countless online invoicing tools available for large and small businesses, and some bookkeeping services can manage the invoicing process for you for a monthly fee.
Lumanu’s payment feature is purpose built for social media creators and influencers. Lumanu offers a "venmo-like" experience for invoicing that you can manage on your iPhone. Lumanu generates invoices automatically, sends them out, and nudges the payer with follow-up reminders to help eliminate late payments. Just input the company name and email address for your brand contact, add a short project description and the cost, and choose a payment due date that fits your contract terms. Lumanu does the rest! Your brand contact will receive a professional invoice with all of the information they need to pay you.
Lumanu also helps streamline onboarding, handling the vendor approval process and tax paperwork so you don’t have to. And there’s no need to send sensitive personal or banking info with each invoice, keeping your data safe and secure. And unlike online bookkeeping services or some influencer marketing platforms, there are no monthly fees. Lumanu handles the payment processing for you and routes funds directly to your bank account via real-time payments, meaning money hits your account in minutes!
No matter which invoicing process you choose, make sure it works for you and your freelance business. When manual invoicing begins to creep into the time you need to focus on the creative part of your business, the things you love most, consider automating as much of it as you can to get paid faster, more efficiently, and keep more of your hard-earned money.